William H. Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Columbia University
Emeritus Professor, Stanford University
Most attention in large-scale assessments of educational progress and outcomes addresses cognitive measures of student proficiency. In part, this focus is due to the assumption that “skills” are cognitive in nature and have a high predictive value in terms of productivity. However, the predictive value of cognitive scores on worker productivity and earnings is more modest than commonly assumed. In fact, attempts to relate cognitive test scores from surveys to economic output, although meritorious, require substantial liberties in the interpretation of data. At the same time, there is considerable evidence that non-cognitive attributes of individuals related to school experience are as important as - or even more important than- cognitive attributes in predicting both school outcomes and economic productivity. Non-cognitive outcome measurement is more challenging to assess than cognitive dimensions because of its highly diverse dimensions and difficulties in sampling performance on these dimensions. This presentation will address the highly incomplete knowledge-base on the potential importance of non-cognitive aspects of students and schools, issues of measurement and assessment, and their predictive value on adult outcomes.