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Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

The "Soft Stuff": What schools can do

Even in high school, teachers can help students develop the beliefs and habits that are needed for learning, says researcher Camille Farrington.

Farrington, lead author of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research report "Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners," says that high schools must shift from trying to raise test scores to get students into college, to developing the skills students will need to persevere in college. Farrington spoke Tuesday at the concluding forum in the 2012 Chicago School Policy Forum Series, "Sweating the Soft Stuff: What Schools Can Do."

She outlined five areas where schools can make a difference in student success: developing academic perseverance, academic behaviors, academic mindsets, learning strategies, and social skills.

Respondents were Liz Dozier, principal of  Fenger High School Principal (a Turnaround School); Sean Stalling, chief of schools, South Side High School Network, and Mary Ann Pitcher, co-director of the Network for College Success.

The annual forum series is organized by Business and Professional People for the Public Interest and Catalyst Chicago.

1 comment

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Is Camille Farrington setting up a straw man

The question I came away with after reading the paper was did Camille Farrington actually create an arguement that college admission test designers do not argree with in order to strike it down. Here is what I mean by that statement.

The paper states: "Students’ course grades, grade point average (GPA), or class rank are vastly better predictors of high school and college performance and graduation, as well as a host of longer-term life outcomes, than their standardized test scores or the coursework students take in school." I am not sure that the researchers at the the College Board, which owns the SAT would completely disagree with that statement.

The arguement now is that the best predictor of first and second-year college GPA is a combination of high school GPA along with SAT scores. See

Students with lower college GPAs in their first two years are less likely to complete a four year degree. The Consortium report does not discuss the more complex argument now being made by test producers.

Rod Estvan

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