Measuring MESH

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Rigorous longitudinal research demonstrates that certain Mindsets, Essential Skills, and Habits (MESH) can help students succeed in college, career, and life. Transforming Education (TransformEd) believes that assessing students’ MESH competencies can give educators valuable information that helps them understand students’ strengths and identify the areas in which students need additional support. When used in this way, surveys assessing students’ MESH competencies can help educators tailor their instruction and classroom environment to serve students more effectively. Such surveys can also help educators identify which of the many practices already in use to build students’ MESH skills seem to be working best. 

In partnership with California’s CORE Districts, TransformEd has curated a set of survey-based MESH measures that were originally developed by leading researchers and later field tested with nearly half a million students. The data from that field test were analyzed by our partners at the Harvard Center for Education Policy Research, who concluded that the measures used were internally reliable and were significantly correlated with students’ GPA, test scores, attendance, and suspension rates. See “Should non-cognitive skills be included in school accountability systems?” for more details.

TransformEd fully supports the use of MESH measures to inform instruction and programming. We also recognize that some states and districts – like the CORE Districts - may choose to include results from these surveys in their school-level accountability systems. It is important to note that CORE’s accountability system is unique in that it is a “low stakes” system developed by the districts themselves to focus on supporting continuous school improvement. As Rick Miller, Executive Director of the CORE Districts describes, “Our model is about getting better, not doling out punishments.” 

Both TransformEd and CORE recommend that the surveys NOT be used for high-stakes decisions about individual students or educators. This set of measures is still in the early stages of development and that evidence regarding its validity is just beginning to emerge. Additionally, it is important to note that, as with all survey-based measures, these measures may be subject to various forms of intentional gaming, particularly when used in a high-stakes setting.  Finally, we acknowledge that validation is an ongoing process and will continue to work with our school partners and research partners to collect, assess, and publish further data on the validity of these measures for various purposes.

If you have questions or feedback about the measures or this user guide, or if you want to share your own approach to incorporating MESH in your district or school, please e-mail us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!


The four MESH competencies prioritized by the CORE Districts are described below, along with a brief summary of the research related to each competency. For a more detailed summary of the research on the importance of MESH, please see Ready to Be Counted.

For more details and full research citations please see Measuring MESH: Student and Teacher Surveys Curated for the CORE Districts


Have questions about how to measure MESH?

TransformEd supports educators and education systems in equipping students with the mindsets, skills, and habits they need to succeed in college, career, and life. Some of the ways we might support you include:

  • Measuring MESH: TransformEd draws from existing and emerging research as well as the most recent data from our on-the-ground partnerships to support districts and states in selecting which MESH measures are most appropriate to use and rolling those measures out responsibly.
  • Data Use and Interpretation: TransformEd facilitates data inquiry sessions to support educators in interpreting data on MESH. We can recommend promising approaches to build students' MESH competencies in response to trends that emerge from the data. 
  • Inventory of MESH Programming: TransformEd works with districts to conduct an inventory of existing programs and practices already in use within schools to develop students' MESH skills. Districts can combine this information with the data gathered from MESH measures to generate hypotheses about which programs and practices may be most effective in helping students develop MESH skills. 
  • Training and Professional Development:  See our growth mindset and self-management toolkits for a sample of the materials we use to help educators deepen their understanding of specific MESH skills, internalize the research about why these skills mater, and build new strategies to strengthen these skills in students. 

To inquire about how TransformEd can assist your school, district, or state in identifying, field testing, and employing measures of students’ MESH competencies, please reach out to us at 617-378-3939 or [email protected]

To stay abreast of new developments in the MESH field, please subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter (@Transforming_Ed).