The Other Side of the Report Card: Assessing Students’ Social, Emotional, and Character Development


Maurice J. Elias, Joseph M. Ferrito, Dominic C. Moceri

After all of the talk about accelerating academics, I am pleased to see this publication. It is designed for administrators and other decision-makers within education. To determine the success of current programs for social-emotional learning and character development, it is important that the information on the right side of the report card be assessed and reported consistently and meaningfully. Consider the following…

Each student is on a trajectory that will shape and influence the type of citizen he or she will eventually become. The current educational climate raises questions about whether our focus on preparing students for academic tests is balanced with preparing them for life. We need to prepare students for the tests of life and not just for a life of tests.


There are specific social-emotional skills composing five major areas that improve academic achievement, increase positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors. The skill areas are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.


Issues about character also have a place on “the other side of the report card”. Among the commonly agreed-upon dimensions of character strengths are grit, gratitude, responsibility, optimism, zest, and temperance (self-control). These are drawn largely from the work of Paul Tough as reported in his book How Children Succeed.