We know that content knowledge alone cannot determine students' success. This is true in school—where a student's likelihood of graduating can depend on mastering broad content requirements while also displaying persistence and other positive personal attributes. It is also true in college—where success has been linked to such qualities as conscientiousness, creativity, and academic self-efficacy. The non-academic competencies that are associated with success go by many names—including employability skills, interpersonal and intra-personal skills, or social and emotional learning.

Educators and policymakers are increasingly focusing on these competencies (and on aspects of school culture and climate that influence students' motivation to learn). Yet, these skills rarely appear in course lists. Rather, they cut across the curriculum, frequently incorporated into existing lessons. Social and emotional learning is not just a function of what is taught but how material is taught.

While organizations are working to develop resources and guides for teaching these skills, there remains a key gap in our knowledge: how to assess whether students have mastered them. But there are obstacles to making this vision a reality: there are few tools designed for measuring these skills that support instruction in K-12 classroom settings, and too few educators know anything about the tools that do exist.

Concern about the dependability of non-academic measures of student success is one reason that no state has yet adopted a measure of these non-academic competencies as an indicator of school quality in its Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability plan.

Along with that concern and a few others, these challenges point to the need for a method of making information about assessments widely available to potential users. With support from the Foundation Collaborative for Innovative Measurement, RAND is currently developing an online repository of measures of interpersonal and intra-personal and higher order cognitive competencies.

Read the full article about social and emotional learning by Brian M. Stecher and Laura S. Hamilton at RAND Corporation.