We know soft skills have a major impact on our everyday lives, careers and relationships. All students, regardless of race, gender or socio-economic background possess soft skills. Understanding the current state of your student population allows district and school leaders to adjust and thus positively impact your students. In this article, we explore observations and trends revealed by soft skills data and the resulting impact they have on a district, school or student.
Examples of the meaningful outcomes of collecting soft skills data
District Insight #1: Students taking world languages get more scholarships because of their advanced work ethic.
After your students complete their soft skills assessment you will begin to see, in real time, trends across your student population. After you combine this data with your student information, the trends reach a new level of relevance for you and your school leaders.
For example, you may be interested in the commonalities amongst the graduating seniors that received academic scholarships especially since these data points are important to your school board and parent associations. You have already identified that 70% of them took world languages, but what you also uncovered, thanks to the soft skills data from Student EI, is that same cohort of students also have advanced level work ethic. Now you can take use these insights to inform curriculum strategies that increase the percentage of students that receive scholarships in your district.
District Insight #2: Students that drop out of school in their freshman year have a low level of teamwork.
Let's say in general, the three middle schools in your district are doing a great job preparing students for high school. However, you have noticed there is a group students from a particular middle school that dropping out at a significantly higher rate. After completing the soft skills assessment provided by Student EI, you notice the 8th grade students at that middle school have significantly lower teamwork levels than their counterparts at the other middle schools. You take this data along with the drop out rates and work with the school leaders at that middle school to ensure teamwork is part of the learning strategies going forward. You also take the step to ensure teamwork is part of the curriculum for incoming freshmen. After a few years the dropout rates have begun to decline and the soft skills assessments are showing increases in teamwork as well as the other areas - overall improving student outcomes.
District Insight #3: Students within the top 10% of GPAs in this year's graduating class have advanced level curiosity.
Let’s say, for example, your graduating seniors take our soft skills assessment. A number of interesting trends emerge. One, in particular, you notice almost immediately after loading academic performance data into the Student EI system; students with higher GPAs have much higher levels of curiosity. You bring this to your school leaders who use our resource library to come up with ideas for fostering curiosity in middle and high school students. Together you develop strategies to encourage curiosity in students long before they reach graduation. After a few semesters you notice an improvement in GPAs for a number of students and your graduation rates have begun to improve as well.
District Insight #4: 90% of the students that participate in one or more
extracurricular activities have advanced level stress tolerance.
You have long suspected the benefits of extracurricular activities for your students. You have read the numerous studies that also support the benefits of after school activities. Your school board has recently expressed concern about the resilience of your student population and have tasked you with finding ways to help them strengthen that skill.
Unsure of where to start, you look at the most recent soft skills assessment in Student EI. You notice that the students in the marching band have remarkably higher levels of stress tolerance. You expand this group to any student enrolled in one or more extracurricular activity - and that's when you see and uncanny trend: 90% of the students that participate in one or more extracurricular activity have advanced levels of stress tolerance. The remaining 10% have between intermediate and advanced. The students that do not have any extracurriculars are all sitting at beginner levels, especially the 9th and 10th graders.
With this real student data, you go to your school board and present your findings. Together, you work to bring awareness to the after-school programs available to students in your district and perhaps add more offerings throughout the year.
District Insight #5: 100% of students moved from beginner to advanced communication level after completing just one semester of the elective Competitive Speech course.
You are reviewing the course offerings with your high school principals and looking to reduce the number of electives offered during the first semester. Currently it is down to dropping two courses: Competitive Speech and Typing. The teacher that teaches the Typing course is pushing for keeping that class on the schedule, despite falling enrollment numbers. The Competitive Speech course has seen consistent numbers for several semesters but they are below the Typing course. With your strategic goals top of mind, particularly the one focused on your students being future ready, you turn to the soft skills data in Student EI.
You look at the cohort of students that took the Typing course and notice no change in their skill levels over the last 3 assessments. The Competitive Speech student cohort however, has seen tremendous improvement in both their communication and teamwork skills. In fact, the students that took the Competitive Speech course improved their communication skills from beginner to advanced in just one semester after completing the course. With this information the decision is easy, Competitive Speech is proven to support the future-readiness of your students and therefore will remain an offered elective for high school students.
Did any of these spark some ideas? Are you surprised by the number of ways this data can support your district? Would you like to see the tool in action?