Non-Cognitive Skills: “Looking Beyond Grades and Testing”


I’ve been asked if investing time, energy and resources into a search for a Preschool is necessary, when High School is usually considered “the high stakes experience” for future choices in life. I invite you to consider this.

The basics:

  • We know that language development (e.g vocabulary) is most critical ages 0-5 and impactful in many ways over a lifetime.
  • We know that a quality Preschool experience is a long-term indicator for college and career success, whether college or vocation-bound after high school.
  • We know that cognitive, academically-focused skills and performance in High School are an essential consideration for college entrance and for some vocational schools.

However, is the connection between cognitive skills (the processes of thinking) and non-cognitive skills (processes of doing) taught or encouraged in a quality preschool then reinforced throughout K-12 schooling to “set up” a student for post-high school options, thus opening doors and opportunities for life?

Lisa Bleich, author of “The Quiet Revolution: Looking Beyond Grades and Testing”, wrote of a former admissions officer’s thoughts on non-cognitive skills that are used by college admissions to see a student for who they are as a person and to predict long-term success, beyond short-term academic performance. As a business owner, I see these to be the same or similar skills an employer would also appreciate, whether it’s for a job requiring a college education or vocational proficiency. (Could this list also be used to create meaningful job interview questions?)

  • Grit (do what it takes to get the job done)
  • Self-control (contribute in a positive manner)
  • A growth mind-set (belief they can get smarter or better)
  • Positive self-image (feel empowered to take advantage of opportunities)
  • Realistic self-appraisal (recognize strengths and areas for growth)
  • Ability to lead, cooperate, collaborate (work well with others to achieve an outcome)
  • Community involvement (in-house or not)
  • Openness/Tolerance (to those different than themselves)
  • Ability to Handle System/the “isms” (how to live with and handle the system they’re in)
  • Availability of Strong Support Person/Network (to ask for help and have support, for long-term success)


Whether searching for a preschool, elementary, middle or a high school, consider asking the school how they would help a student develop these non-cognitive skills that may be of help to them on a college essay someday and, most importantly, could assist them in life as a person, whatever their path and journey.

All Schools Consulting, in AZ and OR, provides Preschool – Grade 12 education consulting services and school search advisors committed to working with families living in, or relocating to Arizona or Oregon, to find the school that will best maximize their child’s education & school experience.  Call us at (602) 686-4480 or email us at

by admin in Articles

4 Responses to Non-Cognitive Skills: “Looking Beyond Grades and Testing”

  1. National Home School

    Non-cognitive skills are hard to judge. Kids can be smart and you may be measuring a weakness. If you judge and elephant by how high it can jump you wouldn’t be measuring its strengths.

  2. tutoring services in brentwood tn

    wow nice information.thanks for sharing….

  3. admin

    Thank you, for the response to my blog on non-cognitive skills. I agree with you! They’re hard to measure. However, I do believe that these skills are essential to life-long learning and opportunity and perhaps measurement is indirect?

  4. admin

    Thank you for your response to my blog on non-cognitive skills. You’re welcome!

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