Research

Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework

June, 2015
Authors: 
Jenny Nagaoka, Camille A. Farrington, Stacy B. Ehrlich, and Ryan D. Heath; with David W. Johnson, Sarah Dickson, Ashley Cureton Turner, Ashley Mayo, and Kathleen Hayes

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Amid growing recognition that strong academic skills alone are not enough for young people to become successful adults, this comprehensive report offers wide-ranging evidence to show what young people need to develop from preschool to young adulthood to succeed in college and career, have healthy relationships, be engaged citizens, and make wise choices. It concludes that rich experiences combining action and reflection help children develop a set of critical skills, attitudes, and behaviors. And it suggests that policies should aim to ensure that all children have consistent, supportive relationships and an abundance of these developmental experiences through activities inside and outside of school.

The Wallace Foundation awarded a competitive grant to UChicago CCSR in 2013 to undertake the project, which included a review of relevant literature spanning decades as well as interviews with national experts in research, policy and practice, and young people and the adults who work with them in schools, programs and agencies throughout Chicago.

The report offers evidence to show how, where, and when the “key factors” to success develop from early childhood through young adulthood, emphasizing the kinds of experiences and supportive relationships that guide the positive development of these factors. Recognizing that there are no silver bullets to promoting social-emotional learning, the report emphasizes a range of factors that build on one another over time. It also emphasizes factors that are particularly malleable, as well as the age at which each of the key factors comes into prominence, offering adults the most promising window for positive intervention.

A key problem the report identifies is that disadvantaged youth often face extra challenges. For example, they often have fewer in-school and out-of-school opportunities for consistent, positive developmental experiences and relationships and face significant opportunity gaps to developing the essential skills to become productive adults.


Click below to view a session from Teach For America's 25th Anniversary Summit - Broader Student Outcomes: Educating the Whole Child, featuring report author Camille Farrington (February 6, 2016).

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