ThisAmericanLife.org: In a recent podcast, the host of this radio show interviews Paul Tough, author of the book, How Children Succeed. The focus of the discussion, and of the book, is on new research that suggests just how important non-cognitive skills are to the success of kids.
So what exactly are non-cognitive skills? Qualities like character, impulse control, motivation and persistence are a few examples. Tough’s book outlines how traditional ways to measure intelligence in American schools may be not be the most effective. His research shows that non-cognitive skills are increasingly being viewed as vital in education and ultimately influence a kid’s success in school. And he presents evidence that these skills can be learned in the classroom.
What’s also mentioned is that poverty-related stress can inhibit the development of cognitive skills. Poverty and the difficult living conditions that go hand-in-hand with it affect many of the students served by Communities In Schools. In the podcast we learn that mentoring gives kids an opportunity to learn and strengthen these necessary non-cognitive skills, and that it can actually create positive change.
Also in the podcast, students talk about their struggles with some of the skills discussed, like restraint and impulse control, and how their involvement in structured programs is helping them overcome obstacles.
Facethefactsusa.org: The goal of this organization is simple: Report facts on key issues facing America, and present the information with colors and shapes in a daily infographic. They started on July 30 and are delivering a new fact every day, counting down 100 days before the Nov. 6 presidential election. Topics in the news have included the economy, life in America, health care and education. Fact No. 58, from earlier this week, touched on college education and the economy; data showed which degrees seemed to lead to higher paychecks.
As it turns out, getting a degree in the highly touted STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – can lead to salaries of nearly $35,000 more annually than the average American wage.
But the numbers also showed that only one in 10 degrees were awarded in these fields in 2009. Additionally, while 57.3 percent of whites hold STEM degrees, only 14 percent of black and Hispanic students received STEM degrees.
Communities In Schools site coordinators continue to introduce and reinforce the opportunity to take STEM coursework, so that students can prepare to be successful in the industries that demand these skill sets.
Readers are encouraged to join the conversation by posting comments on the website.
WSJ.com: Just how prepared are high school students who are about to enter college? Not very, if you go by the recent findings by The College Board, administers of the SAT college entrance exam. The SAT Report on College & Career Readinessrevealed this week that only 43 percent of students in the class of 2012 who took the college entrance exam actually graduated from high school with the level of academic preparedness they will likely need to have success in college.
“This report should serve as a call to action to expand access to rigor for more students,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “Our nation’s future depends on the strength of our education system. When fewer than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, that system is failing. We must make education a national priority and deliver rigor to more students.”
The study also reported on the increased number of students taking the test and the decrease in the average scores. More than 1.66 million students took the SAT in the class of 2012, making it the largest class of SAT takers in history. Both the average scores in reading and writing were lower by one point from 2011, but the scores in math remained unchanged from a year ago.