Including noncognitive skills in adult basic education


I would like to revive a rich discussion held two years ago in the College and Career Standards CoP about "noncognitive" skills. You will find it at

The Economic Policy Institute has a new publication, "The Need to Address Noncognitive Skills in the Education Policy Agenda" By Emma García  December 2, 2014. Although the focus of that article is on teaching noncognitive skills in K-12 education, Garcia's conclusion in the review of research on noncognitive skills, The association between noncognitive skills and labor productivity and earnings,  caught my attention: "the fact that employers stress the value of noncognitive skills in the workplace speaks to both those skills’ overall impact and to the need to readjust our perceptions of such constructs as college-and-career readiness."

I wonder if more adult basic education programs (all levels, including ESOL/ESL), or transition to college programs, are now explicitly including noncognitive skills, especially as there is evidence that they are needed for college and career readiness. If you or your program have included noncognitive skills it would be great to hear about what you are doing and how you believe adult learners are affected by including these skills.

David J. Rosen


Happy New Year to all,

David, I want to thank you for bringing the new publication from the Economic Policy Institute to our attention.  We did have a robust discussion two years ago about "noncognitive" skills in the College and Career Standards Community of Practice.  Some of you may refer to these skills by using the term "soft" skills.

I would also like to hear from programs and find out if noncognitive skills is included in your curriculum.  If you are including them in your program have you identified the standards from the CCRS that align with your lessons?

Let us hear from you.

Meryl Becker-Prezocki, SME

For those who wonder what noncognitive skills (soft skills, performance character skills,executive function skills) are, the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) Wiki has a topic area on  noncognitive skills at  Because it is a wiki, you can also add to this page. (See the "How to Add Text" instructions at the bottom of that web page.)

If you are curious about Paul Tough's book on noncognitive skills, How Children Succeed...Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, I have reviewed it in the latest issue of the COABE research and practice Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, Fall 2014.

David J. Rosen