This week, we feature an interview with Susan Engel, a developmental psychologist and director of the Program in Teaching at Williams College (read her complete bio below). Her article, 7 Things Every Kid Should Master, was published Sunday, March 8 in the Boston Globe Magazine. While Ms. Engel agrees that measuring a child's academic progress is important, she suggests that educators shift to assessing what are essentially skills for life. She has identified seven skills and attributes through her research that are critical for success in academics and other areas of life: Reading, Inquiry, Flexible Thinking and Use of Evidence, Conversations, Collaborations, Engagement, and Well-being. Rather than the current system of standardized testing, with its many demands on educators, administrators, and students, Ms. Engel proposes a simpler system of sampling students' work for evidence of how a child's skills are developing.
"Most tests used to evaluate students, teachers, and school districts predict almost nothing except the likelihood of achieving similar scores on subsequent tests. I have found virtually no research demonstrating a relationship between those tests and measures of thinking or life outcomes."