Peter Goodman, who writes frequently about education in New York, cites research showing that test scores on the SAT, Pearson, and PARCC tests matter less than overall grade-point-average, which shows the results of four years of study, work, and testing. The test score registered on a single test on a single day matters far less than performance over a long period of time: showing up, doing the work, trying hard, and trying harder. He calls it “academic tenacity.” Is this the same as “grit”? In a recent debate about a post by Paul Thomas, one commenter on the blog said that it was beyond arrogant for an affluent white person to tell an impoverished child of color to “get grit,” but it is also important not to dismiss the idea that non cognitive behaviors can make a huge difference. Goodman cites authorities who say these non cognitive skills and behaviors can be taught. Really smart kids who give up easily are not likely to succeed. How can we help them learn that persistence will help them succeed in meeting their goals?

 

What I firmly believe is that non cognitive behaviors and skills matter, but what matters most is to reduce poverty. If we raise up families,  we raise up the lives of children in those families. Goal-setting becomes more credible when goals are imaginable.