HKS Authors

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Today in the United States, producing higher scores on standardized tests of academic skills is the dominant goal of teacher professional development, the primary gauge of teacher productivity, and the almost single-minded focus of educator accountability. Certainly, reading, computing, and reasoning well are critically important to success as parents, citizens, and economic actors. Therefore, testing these skills in elementary and secondary schools to make sure that students learn them is warranted. At the same time, there is growing agreement that scores on standardized tests of academic skills are incomplete measures of the important things that students learn from their teachers. A major challenge facing educators, policy makers, and advocates is to achieve a better balance across the educational goals that we prioritize. We present new evidence in this report that untested learning outcomes are measureable and that specific components of teaching influence them in nuanced and interesting ways. As targets for improved teaching and learning, these outcomes can supplement academic skills and knowledge as intentionally cultivated developmental foundations for school and life success.


Ferguson, Ronald F., with Sarah F. Phillips, Jacob F. S. Rowley, and Jocelyn W. Friedlander. "The Influence of Teaching Beyond Standardized Test Scores: Engagement, Mindsets, and Agency." The Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, October, 2015.