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Considering the context: Generalizing noncognitive scores across student groups

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are expected to achieve the same levels of SEL competencies as white students and the unequal constraints imposed by power and privilege that diverse students face. Ideas for improving equity include educators drawing on their own self-awareness and social awareness. To advance equity, educators can examine conscious and unconscious beliefs as they relate to varying cultures. Increasing social awareness means adopting a sociocultural and historical orientation, so educators can better see how students experience inequalities. This includes learning more about systemic racism—in doing so, educators can move away from seeing racism as an individual act and instead recognize that the system favors certain characteristics and behavior. The sense of powerlessness also needs to be considered in causal relationships and outcomes, and this matters more for vulnerable populations. Consider a more systematic approach and "how a sense of control over one's future is connected to race, social class or gender." Additionally, it is important to think of SEL factors as related concepts, not in isolation. Treating SEL skills in isolation from structural factors alienates them from their history and rich discourse. Therefore, a key aspect to consider is the sense of powerlessness that is present see exercise below). Exercise for educators Consider one noncognitive skill (e.g., concept of grit) and how a score in this skill is considered reflective of an individual. To consider the social context means to understand how noncognitive scores may be related to several patterns, instead of a stand-alone variable. The questions on the left will help you consider the patterns related to the social experience of powerlessness and the role of social structure in individual behavior. Thus, it is important to reference the social context when thinking of individual noncognitive skills. ISSUES OF METHOD AND MEASUREMENT The confusing terminology in the area of noncognitive skill measurement is a constant concern, and clear definitions are needed. Unclear terminology can make it difficult to know what needs to be addressed in practice and how to assess the impacts of interventions, and it also makes it difficult to bring together research findings. Another challenge related to measuring and evaluating noncognitive skills is ensuring there are large enough groups of students to confirm the findings are generalizable. For instance, if we want to study the performance of Hispanic students, we need a large enough group in our 2 EXERCISE FOR EDUCATORS Are they likely to take initiative? Do they seek help? Do they recover from adversity? Do they attend to advice? Are they committed to their work? Do they attend to other information in their environment? How much do they value a given domain of activity? SEPT/OCT 2020 RESEARCH BRIEF: Considering the Context

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