- More than 4,000 parents, teachers, principals and others in education agree that soft skills, like creativity, collaboration and grit, are just as crucial to success as academics, according to new Gallup survey, commissioned by NWEA, a nonprofit assessment organization.
- There is less consensus, however, on which specific skills schools should prioritize, how those should be taught, and whether schools should even be taking the lead on imparting them to children (as opposed to parents or the community).
- The poll also shows that most parents feel their children are getting a better education than they did when they were children, but that their test scores are not indicative of what their long-term success will be.
The value of "soft skills" in the future job market and even everyday interactions has been solidified, leading school leaders to have an interest in bolstering and measuring them. But this is still a very new area of assessment, and the best ways to measure them, as well as how to communicate a child's progress in these areas to parents, is widely debated.
Even so, some organizations are forging ahead in developing such assessments. For instance, the non profit Project Lead the Way, which provides STEM curriculum and professional learning for teachers, will administer an assessment to high school students this fall. According to the group, the assessment will measure both "in-demand skills and subject matter knowledge."
The organization worked with prominent corporations, including FedEx, as well as university experts and the U.S. Department of Labor, to formulate the assessment. Participating students can opt to include their scores in college portfolios or for internships or job applications down the line. Having those scores can give a competitive boost to students who may shine in the area of soft skills, but not have the math and science scores that STEM fields typically demand.