Parents are often stymied by the process of picking a good school for their kids. Word-of-mouth recommendations can be misleading. High test scores provide only a limited picture of a school’s effectiveness since they often reflect family income with wealthier students scoring better. Northwestern University economist C. Kirabo Jackson believes two additional elements point to an effective school: social and emotional skills and student behavior. He argues that schools that boost those two plus test scores propel more students to graduate high school, go to college and reduce the number of students who get arrested.
“We’re talking about schools that have a positive, causal impact on children’s subsequent outcomes,” said Jackson. “Not everyone buys into these non-test score measures of school effectiveness. I think what we’re showing here is that they do require attention.”