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!