The National Assessment of Educational Progress, often dubbed the “nation’s report card,” is working to include measures of non-cognitive factors in the background information collected with the tests beginning in 2017.

“Teachers self-report spending 10 percent of their teaching time on noncognitive skills. That’s more time than students spend on any subject other than English and math—more than they spend on arts, for example,” said Chris Gabrieli, an adjunct lecturer with the Transforming Education project at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a co-founder of the National Center on Time & Learning in Boston. 
“It’s not a question of whether schools are going to do more working on noncognitive factors,” he said, “it’s of whether we are going to have any instrumentation at all that lets us know which things are working and which things are not.”

Researchers from the Educational Testing Service described the project at a symposium last month at the annual conference of the Association for Psychological Science. The background survey will include five core areas—grit, desire for learning, school climate, technology use, and socioeconomic status—of which the first two focus on a student’s noncognitive skills, and the third looks at noncognitive factors in the school. These core areas would be part of the background survey for all NAEP test-takers. In addition, questions about other noncognitive factors, such as self-efficacy and personal achievement goals, may be included on questionnaires for specific subjects to create content-area measures, according to Jonas P. Bertling, ETS director for NAEP survey questionnaires.

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