Schools that prioritize emotional and social development and other soft skills over test scores enable students to perform better in school and later in life, according to a Northwestern University study of more than 150,000 Chicago high-school students. "What we're showing is that schools that actually cause kids to become more gritty, those kids tend to be likely to persist more in college," says economist and study author Kirabo Jackson. Jackson has calculated that schools that build social-emotional qualities such as the ability to resolve conflicts and the motivation to work hard are getting even better short-term and long-term results for students than schools that only boost test scores. The schools that develop soft skills produced students with higher grades, fewer absences and fewer disciplinary problems and arrests in high school. Later, the students who attended these high schools graduated and went to college in higher rates.
This is still a working paper, which means it has not yet been peer-reviewed and may still undergo revisions. In February 2020, Jackson presented these early findings at conference of the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
Jackson, K. (2020). School effects on socio-emotional development, school-based arrests and educational attainment.