Edutopia: Should students be graded on their social and emotional learning?

by Joseph Parker

Have you heard of Edutopia?

Edutopia is The George Lucas Educational Foundation’s magazine. Although it focuses primarily on educational topics, it has for the most part, some really good stuff for us to think about in the area of academics.

The reason I bring it up now is they have just posted a survey question on their website that I think is a good one for us to ask:

Should students be graded on their social and emotional learning?

Personally, I believe this is an excellent question, one that we at KidTrek are continually working on; that is, we are continually working on how we can better develop kids’ social and emotional learning.

But should it be graded on?

The survey’s author, Sara Ring, says,

“Reading, writing, and . . . relating to others? Recently, educators have been paying a lot of attention to social and emotional learning, which includes skills such as problem solving and working well in teams. Teachers who have implemented SEL programs in their classrooms report increased productivity and fewer disruptions. The importance of SEL extends into the working world as well, where even highly intelligent employees may not succeed if they lack essential socials skills. Many agree that SEL can give students important communication tools, but it is less clear how to measure SEL achievement in academic terms. Should report cards simply notify parents of their children’s SEL strengths and weaknesses? Or should students actually be graded on their social and emotional learning?”

Visit the website by clicking here to take the actual survey (takes about two minutes), and then come back here and let us know what you think.

Should we turn children’s social and emotional learning into an academic grading system…what would be the pros and cons of tracking such a thing in children?


5 responses to “Edutopia: Should students be graded on their social and emotional learning?

  1. I would be against it. Social and emotional learning or development are completely subjective and have to be bound within the context of the students’ society. How would anyone create a grading scale that didn’t demand total behavioral conformity.

    That’s a step towards Orwell’s 1984 that I’m not comfortable taking.

  2. Jonolan,

    I wholeheartedly agree, in principle, with everything you said.

    But I still wonder if some sort of “system” could be created to help improve kids long term growth in these areas; should we at least try it (that is not an endorsement as much as “playing devil’s advocate”)?

    I lived in and amongst the kids of skid row in downtown Los Angeles for eight years and I saw many kids turn into societal deviants and in some cases develop severe psychological disorders, as a result of not having “healthy” adults to walk with them through very difficult situations/issues in their lives.

    So again, I wonder if we could somehow develop something to be intentional in helping kids develop these important life skills…but then again that comes back to the question-do we need to “grade” them on their progress?

    …as you might be able to tell I am doing a lot of thinking out loud and processing…no answers as of yet.

  3. Umm…I thought that – in the absence of reliable role models ands guides at home – that was what you (KidTrek) did – without the grading.

    I can’t see how any State funded institution could do this.

  4. Looks like we are on the same page…I just want to be teachable and open to ideas that may help kids…but in the end I think you are still right.


  5. I think it would be good for teachers to be trained in this area, but I definitely don’t think the children should be graded.

    The sad part is that so far schools have made things worse than better when they get involved in these areas. They seem not able to do the critical thinking that is necessary. To look out into the future at where the kids will be in 20 years if they take them along a certain path. For instance the self-esteem path that has left so many 20 somethings incapable of holding a job because their bosses ask them to do something they don’t want to do.

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