Assessing Non-cognitive Skills

By Abner Oakes

ISA's Director of Outreach


With the development of its High School SuccessNavigator™ (HSSN) product, ISA has created a powerful tool to assess non-cognitive factors that affect academic achievement in schools.  A research-based, non-cognitive skill assessment, reporting, and resource tool, HSSN looks at nine non-cognitive factors linked to academic success.  These nine factors are grouped into four domains:

  • Academic Skills-tools and strategies for academic success
  • Achievement Motivation-active pursuit of personal and academic goals
  • Self-Management-internal reactions and the belief in a personal ability to succeed
  • Social Support-connecting with people and student resources for success
Non-cognitive Skill
Sub-skill
Academic Skills: tools and strategies for academic successMeeting Class Expectations: Doing what’s expected to meet courses requirements including assignments and in-class behaviors
OrganizationStrategies for organizing work and time
Perseverance: Determination and effort to pursue tasks/goals despite difficulty or delay.
Achievement Motivation: active pursuit of personal and academic goalsCommitment to College GoalsPerceived value and determination to succeed in and complete college.
Academic Self-Efficacy. Belief in one’s ability to perform and achieve in an academic setting
Self-Management: internal reactions and the belief in a personal ability to succeedManaging Test Anxiety: general reactions to test-taking experiences, including negative thoughts and feelings such as worry and dread.
Managing Stress: tendency to feel frustrated, discouraged, or upset when under pressure or burdened by demands.
Social Support: connecting with people and student resources for success.Connectedness: a general sense of belonging and engagement
Institutional Commitment:  attitudes about and tendency to seek help from established resources

Initial findings from a recent pilot test with 3,187 students in 23 high schools reveal strong evidence of HSSN’s measurement validity and reliability.  HSSN is an adaptation of SuccessNavigator®, ETS’ college student non-cognitive skill assessment, currently used in more than 150 colleges and universities nationwide to identify at-risk incoming freshmen, deliver targeted interventions, and improve first-year retention rates.

The availability of a non-cognitive assessment tool such as HSSN will make it possible for schools and educators to:

  • Identify and prioritize non-cognitive skills and behaviors that are most critical for integration into core academic instruction;
  • Assess students’ academic and social behaviors and mindsets
  • Determine students’ progress on non-cognitive learning indicators; and,
  • Collect baseline and annual end-of-school-year data.

To learn more about HSSN, email us at info@www.studentachievement.org.