Innovative Learning Environments

Jennifer Groff said in her paper Technology-Rich Innovative Learning Environments addressed the long-standing question that our rapidly changing world has posed to education, “How can today’s schools be transformed so as to become environments of teaching and learning that makes individuals lifelong learners and prepare them for the 21st Century?” (Groff, Pg.1, 2013) The response to this question is the focus of the Organization for Cooperation and Development’s project, Innovative Learning Environments, and has produced a sampling of the new visions for education around the world.

Therefore, it is imperative that students are included in the co-construction of the vision of new learning environments and their subsequent change work and deployment. In this way, technology becomes not only a critical means for innovative learning opportunities, it becomes the vehicle by which learners, educators and all community stakeholders can partake in the evolution and transformation of the learning environment. Overall, the dramatic changes in our society due to the impact of technology emphasize the need for collaborative, public debate and exploration of the implications for learning environments. (Groff, 2013)

As we seek to further digitally-enrich our learning environments, this agenda should include such items as learner’s diversity, digital literacy, the new digital divides, the blurring boundaries between formal and informal learning, and the use of technology for monitoring and assessing learning (OECD, 2012).

Since the industrial revolution some 130 years ago Western K-12 education has seen the implementation of a myriad of pedagogical methodologies. In the United States the current system of interdependent standardization was designed to mass indoctrinate to democracy and educate for participation in a mechanized workforce. Without regard for the individuality of humans this methodology has forced schools to standardize the way they teach and test. (Christensen, et al, 2010) Innovation education and learning has been developed to guide the transformation of education from the interdependent standardization model back, ironically, in some ways to the one-room school house model of individualized teaching techniques. With the millions of students now in the education systems throughout the world this could never be done without digital technology and as high-tech as that sounds it all starts with the very-low tech of honoring and respecting each and every child and their particular uniqueness.

Teachers are no longer the primary sources of information and knowledge for students (Johnson, 2014). Because almost all of the information that is taught in K-12 can now be found on the internet it’s important that we primarily and continually teach media and digital literacy at all grade levels. And because most people will forget information that does not have an emotional interest to them (see: How We Think and Learn) we should be teaching students how to access information and not how to memorize data. Testing should be on a basic rather than an in-depth knowledge of a subject and how to retrieve that information if needed or wanted. The pursuit of in-depth knowledge should be optional and student specific. This method of instruction is similar to an adult learning theory called Andragogy (see; Student Agency through Adult Learning Theory) which focuses more on the process and less on the content being taught.

Digital technology is a driving force in education as well as society in general. Because of digital technology the speed with which we communicate and learn is accelerating daily. The reason “digital natives” are embracing this technology is because it not only allows the development of autonomous and personalized education environments it does so in a way that matches the speed with which the brain functions. Transforming the process of teaching and learning will mean that teachers create fundamentally different learning environments that promote interactivity. New ways of teaching will be accomplished through enhancing the skills of veteran teachers but also through future teachers. (Sessoms, 2008)



John Dewey is one of the great theorists on the processes of education. Not only did he re-imagined the way that the learning process should take place, but also the role that the teacher should play within that process. Throughout the history of American schooling, education’s purpose has been to train students for work by providing the student with a limited set of skills and information to do a particular job. The works of John Dewey provide the most prolific examples of how this limited vocational view of education has been applied to both the K-12 public education system and to the teacher training schools who attempted to quickly produce proficient and practical teachers with a limited set of instructional and discipline-specific skills needed to meet the needs of the employer and demands of the workforce.

In The School and Society (Dewey, 1976) and Democracy of Education (Dewey, 1980), Dewey claims that rather than preparing citizens for ethical participation in society, schools cultivate passive pupils via insistence upon mastery of facts and disciplining of bodies. Rather than preparing students to be reflective, autonomous and ethical beings capable of arriving at social truths through critical and intersubjective discourse, schools prepare students for docile compliance with authoritarian work and political structures, discourage the pursuit of individual and communal inquiry, and perceive higher learning as a monopoly of the institution of education (Dewey, 1976; 1980). Salmon Khan (2012) continues that instead of inspiring students to think creatively, classes are filled with soul-killing lectures and emphasize conformity and obedience over passion and individuality. “The old classroom model simply doesn’t fit the country’s and indeed the world’s changing needs,” Khan added,  “It’s a fundamentally passive way of learning, while the world requires more and more active processing of information” (p.1).

It is important that motivational techniques (see: Achievement Motivation and Engagement) be initiated early in the learning process. As soon as a child is born their education process begins both intrinsically and extrinsically. The younger the child the more willing they are to accept adult authority and values. Effort is associated in the young child’s mind with increasing competency. Adolescents, on the other hand, have reason to doubt the benefits of effort not only because they are more likely to reject adult values but also because beginning in late childhood, the concepts of effort and ability become separated as independent contributors to achievement, and that trying hard can compensate only so much for a lack of ability. (Covington, p. 71)

For the Love of the Children

Although most people who go into the K-12 education profession do so for the joy of working with children the realities and conflicts of the process can, over time, have a degrading impact. The implicit satisfaction of assisting in the development of a child in one’s care can be muted by the explicit demand of the school environment. A child will not receive the full benefit of the education effort if he or she does not receive the feeling of attachment that comes from unconditional love. As K-12 educators we have little control of what happens to children outside the school environment. The anxieties found in the American family cover the entire gambit from the struggle to earn a living; the lack of a loving environment; and to the lack of appreciation for education in a child’s life. But once inside the classroom, as Nell Noddings advises us, “we should always lead with respect for the child,” and this respect starts with teaching children to be patient and forgiving of themselves (Noddings, 1992).

Nel Noddings’ ideal teacher focuses on the nurturing of “competent, caring, loving, and loveable persons.” To that end, she describes teaching as a caring profession in which teachers should convey to students a caring way of thinking about one’s self, siblings, strangers, animals, plants, and the physical environment. She stresses the affective aspect of teaching: the need to focus on the child’s strengths and interests, the need for an individualized curriculum built around the child’s abilities and needs. Caring, according to Noddings, cannot be achieved by a formula or checklist. It calls for different behaviors for different situations, from tenderness to tough love. Good teaching, like good parenting, requires continuous effort, trusting relationships, and continuity of purpose—the purpose of caring, appreciating human connections, and ideas from a historical, multicultural, and diverse perspective. (Noddings, 1992)

As Noll (2007) points out, “Those who seek radical change in education characterize many of the present school environments as mindless, manipulative, factory-like, bureaucratic institutions that offer little sense of community, pay scant attention to personal meaning, fail to achieve curricular integration, and maintain a psychological atmosphere of competitiveness, tension, fear, alienation and intimidation or corporal punishment as a form of discipline.” As hard as it is to believe according to Education Week Research Center analyses of the most recent wave of federal civil rights data, more than 109,000 students were paddled, swatted, or otherwise physically punished in U.S. classrooms in 2013-14., retrieved 9/14/16.

In the digital world of today we simply have no time for this nonsense.  According to the U. S. Department of Education, in today’s increasingly global, knowledge-based economy, education has never been more important. Students need to master important skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and team work in order to be prepared for their community responsibilities, the jobs of today and tomorrow, and to provide the scaffolding for individuals to lead fulfilling, successful lives (as cited in U. S. Department of Education,; and In an article written for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) project: Innovative Learning Environments, Jennifer Groff (2013) writes:

Successfully preparing all learners with the skills and capacities for: 21st century citizenship; global awareness; creativity; collaborative problem-solving; self-directed learning is no small order, and many educational leaders are finding that the traditional forms of education that have evolved through the end of the last century are simply inadequate for achieving these goals. At the same time, while our outer world was transforming, considerable advances have been made in the learning sciences, forcing educators to reconsider how they approach learning, instruction, and the environments created to foster these. Dramatic advances in educational technology have inspired powerful new ways for learners to engage with all kinds of content and activities in their own self-direct learning experiences. (Groff, 2013)

One of the prime tenets of innovative education and learning is that as soon as cognitively possible children have to be taught to take responsibility for their own education. As we will see in the section on “Teaching and Learning Platforms,” the adult learning theory of Andragogy (see: Student Agency through Adult Learning Theory) must be interwoven into contemporary preK-12 methodology and curriculum to foster self-reliance in students. The scaffolding for student self-respect and self-reliance begins at birth and is predicated on the care-giver and teacher respect for each child. The sooner we start treating children as adults-in-training the sooner they will start responding like adult. All students are worth teaching and none are beyond hope; especially handicapped children who deserve the same funding as the gifted and average students. Love and respect of the child, regardless of temperament, is above all else (Nodding, 1992; Steiner,1923)

Teaching Character

Johnson, et al (2014) asks “What attitudes students need to develop in their formative years?” A number of school leaders have highlighted ‘grit’, understood as persistence and resilience, as the starting point of the conversation. A researcher from the University of Pennsylvania found that a person’s grit is a better predictor of success than IQ. In other words, those who demonstrated a more determined attitude toward achieving their goals and interests were more successful than those with raw intelligence. (142)

Teaching grit presents a new challenge; some educators believe the first step is replacing negative perceptions of failure with the understanding that mistakes are necessary for learning. Other teachers argue that telling children they are ‘gifted’ is an erroneous concept, and it is harmful in the long run. For these reasons, attitudes around ‘grit’ and determination are gaining support as key skills that will be relevant throughout a learner’s informal and formal education. (143)

Discussions around ‘grit’ are also calling attention to other non-cognitive, social skills students should learn alongside the Common Core and other national standards. Schools such as Henry Ford Academy Elementary, a public charter school in Michigan, are prioritizing the development of soft skills such as empathy and the capacity to love. Coney Island Prep in Brooklyn has established a PRIDE system to promote professionalism, respect, integrity, determination, and ethics as a manner of reinforcing student integrity and character. In a Huffington Post commentary, a former high school math teacher and analyst for The New Teacher Project noted that his teaching had been evolving to help young people develop traits like curiosity, kindness, and other characteristics. At the same time, while promoting these values has enriched the culture of the school, teachers are challenged to accurately measure character growth and prioritize these skills when the focus on standardized test outcomes supersedes all else. (144)

This requires an overarching vision that addresses the fundamental purpose of K-12 as it relates to the learner and their path from childhood to adulthood.

The Humanistic Teacher

By the end of the 20th century, the humanistic teacher was depicted by William Glasser’s “positive” and “supportive” teacher who could manage students without coercion and teach without failure. (Glasser, 1962) It was also illustrated by Robert Fried’s “passionate” teacher and Vito Perrione’s “teacher with a heart” – teachers who live to teach young children and refuse to submit to apathy or criticism that may infect the school in which they work. (Fried, 1998) These teachers are dedicated and caring, they actively engage students in their classrooms, and they affirm their identities. Students know that their teacher is interested in them, what he or she thinks of them, and knows their interests or concerns.

The humanistic teacher is also portrayed by Theodore Sizer’s mythical teacher “Horace,” who is dedicated and enjoys teaching, treats learning as a humane enterprise, inspires his students to learn, and encourages them to develop their powers of thought, taste and character. (Sizer, 1985) Yet the system forces Horace to make a number of compromises in planning, teaching, and grading, which he knows that, if we lived in an ideal world (with more than 24 hours in a day), he would not make. He hides his frustration. Sizer simply states, “Most jobs in the real world have a gap between what would be nice and what is possible. One adjusts.” (Sizer, 1985) Hence, most caring and dedicated teachers are forced to make some compromises, take some shortcuts, and make some accommodations. As long as no one gets upset and no one complains, the system permits a chasm between rhetoric (the rosy picture) and reality (slow burnout).

Actually, the humanistic teacher is someone who highlights the personal and social dimension in teaching and learning, as opposed to the behavioral, scientific, or technological aspects. We might argue that everything that the teacher does is “human” and the expression humanistic teaching is a cliché.



 All over the world, teachers are learning to repackage their curriculum so that students uncover and discover, rather than merely cover material. The Common Core Initiative Standards goes on to state that the assessment of the realigned standards should be both challenging and rigorous. Today instruction methods have changed drastically.

There is a real potential to promote a deeper engagement with the subject matter and enhance the student experience by creating opportunities for group learning but this does require the teacher to focus more on the design and development of the learning experience and less on transmission of content. However, many students will want to be given the solutions to problems rather than taking responsibility for finding information and discussing it together and so there is a need for induction and teacher training and support.

The realization of this type of the collaborative-based learning environment depends to a large extent on the skill of the teacher to lead and facilitate group discussion but many teachers find this task difficult to perform satisfactorily and too readily fall back in frustration on their reserve position of expert and prime talker.

Since the standards ask the student to read much more complex texts and do complex things with these texts for students to meet them, they need to be much more motivated. To help students become self-driven, teachers will have to learn motivational tools (see: MOTIVATION AND ENGAGEMENT).

Teacher Collaboration

Teacher collaboration is the key. The new standards have placed a premium on effective collaboration across content areas. The more that educators are involved and working together on the ongoing planning and assessment of literacy learning, the more optimistic they are that standards will have a positive impact. As Stigler & Hiebert (1999) noted:

American teachers, compared with those in Japan, for example, have no means of contributing to gradual improvement of teaching methods or of improving their own skills. American teachers are left alone, an action sometimes justified on grounds of freedom, independence, and professionalism. Our schools can be restructured as places where teachers can engage in career long learning and classrooms can become laboratories for developing new, teaching-centered ideas. If provided the time they need during the school day for collaborative lesson study and plan building, teachers will change the way our students learn (p. 13).

Teachers that don’t share what they do are obsolete. Teachers who work silently, don’t tweet, blog and discuss ideas with people around the world are obsolete. Teachers are no longer working locally but globally and it’s our job to share what we do and see what others are doing. If a teacher is no longer learning then he shouldn’t be teaching other people. We should all be tweeting, blogging and sharing what works and doesn’t work, get and give advice to and from co-workers around the world. We should constantly be improving our craft because professional development isn’t a 3 hour workshop once a month but a lifelong process. “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey. Ómarsson, I. H. (2014)

Tony Wagner, the author of the Global Achievement Gap says: “Isolation is the enemy of improvement.” The classroom should be open, teachers should be able to walk in and learn from each other, parents should visit often, with the so called Extra Open Schooldays (where all parents are encouraged to visit classrooms anytime during the day). Isolated classrooms are therefore obsolete.

Khan (2012) noted, “Conventional classroom teaching is one of the loneliest jobs in the world. Teachers should have access to some of the practical and emotional benefits that pertain in nearly every other profession – the chance to help each other, lean on each other when necessary, to mentor and be mentored by colleagues” (p. 197).



Good teachers, Freeman (2005) points out, “are expensive, as well they should be. They possess a magical combination of empathy, intelligence, ingenuity, patience and persistence – the very traits we’re trying to develop in our children.” When we refuse to spend money on schools, we turn away the hope of the children themselves. (p. 39)

Teachers are over-worked, underpaid and improperly trained for the responsibilities required of them in the classroom. Considering the role they play in the development of the “whole” child they are second only to the parent in the community. Conflicting or unclear education philosophies within a school district and the schools themselves can cause unnecessary stress on teachers which is passed on to the student either consciously or subconsciously through unnecessary learning-impairing impatience and anxiety.   One proof that education is in crisis is that so few students or teachers or administrators find it fun anymore – or delicious – or playful – or accessible. (Fox, 2005)

Schools that just send the entire staff to a workshop once a month where everyone gets the same are obsolete. Professional development is usually top down instead of the ground up where everyone gets what they want and need. This is because giving everyone (including students) what they need and want takes time & money. With things like Twitter, Pinterest, articles online, books, videos, co-operation & conversations employees can personalize their professional development (Ómarsson, 2014)

Some mathematicians have said professional development for math teachers should prioritize content knowledge over pedagogy. Treisman said many math teachers have the math knowledge to teach in a more open format that encourages growth mindsets, and they just need to strengthen the skills necessary to do so. Many of today’s math teachers were taught in very traditional classrooms, and many have not explored the subject in this way on their own, he said. That’s why teachers need to practice their own sense-making and model it for their students, Treisman said. If math were music, mastering the basic concepts would be like learning scales and leading students through discussions of open problems would be like playing songs, he said. “Teachers love the idea of mindsets as almost a panacea,” Treisman said, “but they themselves have very fixed ideas of their own learning.”

The best teachers are those who are continually reading, traveling, exploring ideas, attending artistic and musical events, engaging in philosophical discussions and political action, exercising their bodies – in short, searching for wisdom and understanding. The best teachers are always looking for ways to expand their knowledge and understanding. Conversely, the best students are those who are actively engaged in sharing ideas, conducting experiments and teaching others about their insights and visions. It may seem ironic, but good teachers are perpetual students and good students are active teachers. We reject the notion of a teacher’s guide, answer key or resource manual because it perpetuates the notion of fixed meaning and authoritarian expertise (Kincheloe, et al, 2000). Across subjects, researchers have found that a teacher’s own orientation to learning can affect whether their students have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset about their own abilities (Veronikas, 2004).

The best teachers have many interests and hobbies; they read journals and newspapers, write prose and poetry, attend plays and concerts, travel, organize community events, support social causes, meditate and, dream, volunteer in churches, lead youth athletics and cultural programs, visit museums, exercise and play sports, sing and play musical instruments, protect the environment, care for senior citizens and young children, nurture friendships, attend lectures, paint, plant, dance, carve, take photographs and much more. (Kincheloe, et al, 2000)

As changes have happened on the school front, voices calling for modifications in teacher preparation have become more strident. Indeed, while initiatives like The Kennedy Center’s partnerships with schools are assisting districts and arts agencies to work cooperatively with in-service teachers – with particular emphasis on the use of artists in the classroom – little is being done to prepare practicing teachers and preservice education majors to see the arts as integral instructional content and bodies of strategies to use on a daily basis. A new concept of arts integration goes beyond using media, singing, and drama for self-expression solely, important as these are. Instead, a broader conception depicts the arts as indispensable sources of cultural and historical information, diverse perspectives, and values. (Cornett, 1999, p. 3)

The worth of the arts as special disciplines, requiring teachers trained in each discipline, needs to be acknowledged; but a balanced perspective includes preparing classroom teachers to include the arts as content disciplines and means of learning—as alternative modes for expressing and understanding self, others, and the world (Cornett, 1999, p. 5).

 Dewey’s Teacher Qualifications

John Dewey (1904) not only re-imagined the way that the learning process should take place, but also the role that the teacher should play within that process. For Dewey, “The thing needful is improvement of education, not simply by turning out teachers who can do better the things that are not necessary to do, but rather by changing the conception of what constitutes education” (p. 18). Dewey felt that teacher qualifications should include:

  • A natural love for working with young children,
  • A natural propensity to inquire about the subjects,
  • Methods and other social issues related to the profession, and
  • A desire to share this acquired knowledge with others

Rather, than being a set of outward displayed set of mechanical skills they may be viewed as internalized principles or habits which “work automatically, unconsciously” (p. 15).

As Covington (1998) wrote, “The mission of schools will be best served, motivationally speaking, if we modify the rules of the learning game so that teachers and students become allies, not adversaries, with teachers acting as coaches, mentors, and resources for students as they prepare for their futures. This shift in the role of teachers requires a change in the prevailing way schools view the task of motivating students.” (Covington, p. 51)

Multicultural Empathy

In order to be effective in a multicultural society, teachers must understand and empathize with a diverse range of people and personalities. Too often nowadays people isolate themselves within their own social, political, church or ethnic enclaves, creating “cultural ghettos” where frustration, feat, prejudice and ignorance flourish. Educators must consciously step out of their own comfort zones to meet and accommodate other people, ideas and beliefs.

Like the Ulster Project, which gathers together Protestant and Catholic Northern Ireland teenagers in nonthreatening U.S. communities for a summer of friendship and learning, teachers and students should experience many cultures in a non-confrontational context. We could, for example, attend religious services in a tradition totally different from our own theological beliefs – Buddhist, Orthodox Christian, Pantheist, Unitarian, Wiccan, Catholic, Voodoo, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish – and enter into a sincere relationship with a person of that belief, or for that matter a confirmed atheist or agnostic.

In the process, we should learn and affirm without proselytizing or debating. Rather than convert or judge, we should seek to listen, learn, care, discuss, appreciate and befriend. We might also seek to befriend persons from minority or excluded groups in the community who are ostracized or feared – maybe a gay or lesbian, a physically challenged individual, a single mother receiving public assistance, a homeless family, a prisoner, a racially mixed couple, a child with learning or behavior problems, a socialist or a fundamentalist. When possible, educators should visit the homes and gathering places of students from various socioeconomic backgrounds.

We once spent a weekend as a part of a discussion group in the New Orleans Desire Housing Project. Several teachers came together with single parents living in poverty in a crime-infested, densely populated neighborhood. Getting to know real people with specific concerns, fears and hopes proved both informative and transformative. African American author Toni Morrison has observed that there really is no such thing as “the other” because “the other” is really “the self.” When we get to know people who are “different,” we enlarge our own self-understanding; we heal divisions one friendship at a time (Kincheloe, et al, 2000).

Teacher Training and Technology

Thinking of students as producers implies that students are actively participating in the learning process and this occurs in an interactive classroom that uses interactive tools. Producer also means that students are operating at the highest level of higher order thinking skills as they analyze, synthesize, and present knowledge to peers both locally and globally.

Integrating technological understanding within methods courses fosters the development of teaching philosophies enhanced by technology. While we can and should attempt to influence veteran teachers to use an interactive pedagogy supported by technological tools, it is even more critical to begin this process with pre-service teachers.

Schools of education believe that it is a good idea to have pre-service teachers intern (student teaching + observation) before actually taking the reins of an individual classroom. Similarly, pre-service teachers must grapple with the complexities of effectively integrating technologies that will create interactive teaching and learning environments for students.

It is important to have technology skills but teachers must carefully think about cognitive aspects of using technology in teaching and practice creating lessons that integrate technology while taking methods courses. Methods and foundations courses must infuse frameworks that highlight technology as an integral part of planning, designing, implementing, and assessing student learning. Future methods courses should have interactive technologies available, allowing pre-service teachers to practice with interactive technology as they learn. Pre-service teachers who enter the field without a concept of creating interactive learning environments may not develop an interactive philosophy as an in-service teacher. General technology courses coupled with methods courses that integrate interactive technology will create teachers who are prepared to transform the classroom into interactive learning environments.

Transforming the process of teaching and learning will mean that teachers create fundamentally different learning environments that promote interactivity. When teachers are prepared with a sense of integrating technology to create interactive learning environments, it will be part of everything they do in the classroom. Pre-service teachers need to be trained in ways that encourage them to think of learners as knowledge producers, rather than consumers. (Sessoms, 2008)

As Johnson, et al (2014) noted, digital badging is being implemented not only for the learner’s benefit, but for the teacher’s, too. The Worlds of Learning program at New Milford High School (NMHS) in New Jersey was developed to encourage the school’s teachers to learn about technology tools and applications in the classroom. (p. 175) Aligned with both ISTE’s NETs Standards for Teachers and Common Core standards, the Worlds of Learning program was intended by its creator to be a digital method of tracking and sharing informal, on-the-job learning experiences. The badges can be presented on Credly, a free, universal badge sharing platform; Mozilla OpenBadge; on teachers’ websites or blogs; and on the NMHS Worlds of Learning website. At the end of the year, teachers can incorporate their digital badges into their professional growth portfolios, which they present at their annual evaluation conference. (p. 176)

Teaching Authentic Learning

In order to facilitate authentic learning in their classrooms, teachers continue to need adequate support to update their pedagogies and teaching materials. policy makers, parent groups, and others are coming together to develop authentic learning experiences for secondary students, while providing education programs for teachers to help them incorporate this new curriculum in their classrooms (p. 84). As teachers’ roles become more multifaceted, their ability to manage social interactions in safe and productive ways is taking on more importance in the total school environment. The “Learning Positive Discipline” project is part of the Grundtvig Learning Partnership, an effort to address the kinds of behavior problems that may limit a student’s ability to communicate and work with others effectively. Funded by the EU, the project has produced a guide, three modules of professional development, and an appendix of 50 positive discipline techniques. The goal is to help teachers facilitate conflict management and stimulate positive behaviors. (Johnson, 2014, p. 147)

Teachers as Researchers

Teachers should be trained to be in-field education researchers. All teachers are social scientists in the classroom and because of the hours spent making sense of the complex interaction of and with their students, with the appropriate training they would be in an ideal situation to add to K-12 education research. As Banks (1998) held:

Social science and historical research are influenced in complex ways by the life experiences, values, and personal biographies of the researcher; It is not their experiences per se that cause individuals to acquire specific values and knowledge during their socialization within their ethnic or cultural communities; rather, it is their interpretations of their experiences. (p.10)

In a study about early social-emotional functioning (Jones, et al., 2015) teacher participated to reach the following objectives:

We examined whether kindergarten teachers’ ratings of children’s prosocial skills, an indicator of noncognitive ability at school entry, predict key adolescent and adult outcomes. Our goal was to determine unique associations over and above other important child, family, and contextual characteristics. Data came from the Fast Track study of low–socioeconomic status neighborhoods in 3 cities and 1 rural setting. We assessed associations between measured outcomes in kindergarten and outcomes 13 to 19 years later (1991–2000). Models included numerous control variables representing characteristics of the child, family, and context, enabling us to explore the unique contributions among predictors. We found statistically significant associations between measured social-emotional skills in kindergarten and key young adult outcomes across multiple domains of education, employment, criminal activity, substance use, and mental health. A kindergarten measure of social-emotional skills may be useful for assessing whether children are at risk for deficits in noncognitive skills later in life and, thus, help identify those in need of early intervention. These results demonstrate the relevance of noncognitive skills in development for personal and public health outcomes. (Jones, et al, 2015)