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Considering the context: Generalizing noncognitive scores across student groups

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This brief report provides an overview of challenges when interpreting and generalizing noncognitive scores across diverse groups of students. The aim of this report is to help support and foster greater equity in testing and interpretation of noncognitive measures. Noncognitive scores should not be interpreted without understanding the context. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY "CONTEXT"? Context refers to various environmental considerations—e.g., cultural, social, community, and historical factors that shape how we know what we know and what influences our interpretations. For instance, as noted by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), what is missing in SEL measurement is the school context and the interactions that shape the characteristics of students. This includes a student's home environment, such as cultural and economic differences, ways of learning, and also child-adult interactions. The sections below summarize three articles and a website 1 that discuss how we can consider the context. THE CONTEXT OF NONCOGNITIVE MEASUREMENT Noncognitive skills are also known as character skills, 21st-century skills, and social emotional learning (SEL). Measuring noncognitive skills is connected to the long history behind intellectual development. Sociological and psychological work discuss how noncognitive factors have deep roots in the social sciences and remind us to think about the connections between structural and individual factors. For instance: We know there are gender and racial disparities related to school discipline, as black and male students are more likely to be suspended or expelled. Given disparities and the damage they cause, educational discipline reforms have focused on incorporating SEL practices. Although incorporating SEL holds promise, it is crucial to consider the context: (a) Interventions are not "colorblind" and neglect issues of privilege, power, and cultural difference, and (b) SEL is centered on students and needs to also consider the adults who interact with them. Building educators' SEL skills is key to help foster positive student relationships and to prevent incidents of discipline. Programs such as RULER Program (https://casel.org/guideprogramsruler/) can help build such skills. When schools integrate equity reform, it is critical not to lose sight of ecological school-wide perspectives on SEL. It is necessary to consider how students from marginalized and racialized communities 1 5 CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENT DIVERSITY 1) Gender 2) Race/ethnicity 3) SES 4) Disability status 5) Sexual orientation/ gender identity 1 https://casel.org/whats-missing-in-sel-measurement-and-assessment-context/

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