K-12 Experience Must Be Expanded

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To the Editor:

Thank you for your Commentary, David T. Conley ("What's in a Name?," Jan. 23, 2013). I lead organizations composed of researchers, professional developers, and practitioners focused on researching, assessing, and teaching key social-emotional measures related to academic success.

Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, educators have focused on the most obvious approach: improving academic achievement by teaching better and more rigorous educational content more effectively.

However, the focus on the most obvious neglects what is equally obvious: Students learn only when they cognitively associate their academic activity as important and relevant to them personally, and proactively build the necessary social-emotional skills (such as academic confidence, stress management, and positive connections to teachers) to assure their academic success.

The problem is that focusing exclusively on the most obvious hasn't moved us toward improved academic outcomes, especially for our lower-socioeconomic students.

The data are pretty clear that the status quo focus on the most obvious in K-12 education will work for students who have their own sense of academic self-efficacy, motivation, and/or a focused, interested, educationally established parent or caregiver. That status quo is obviously not working for the rest—which, judging by graduation rates, is arguably at least 25 percent to 50 percent of the population we are trying to serve.

Accordingly, we must increase the understanding and practical application of the equally obvious by expanding the K-12 classroom experience to teach what Mr. Conley defines as "the full range of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs students [can] demonstrate while engaging in the learning process."

We remain devoted to that task and welcome such partnerships.

Steven Weigler
Chief Executive Officer
ScholarCentric and the Center for Academic Resiliency Research
Denver, Colo.

Vol. 32, Issue 23, Page 27

Published in Print: March 6, 2013, as K-12 Experience Must Be Expanded
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