Student Experience Research Network Blog

At the Education Writers Association’s 69th National Seminar in Boston last week, several leading journalists predicted that school finance (e.g., funding equity and adequacy), race (e.g., school integration, school discipline), state accountability systems under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, and implementation of the Common Core State Standards would receive the most coverage during the 2016-17 school year.

Given the recent spate of media coverage of learning mindsets and social-emotional learning, it was notable that non-cognitive factors did not receive a single mention in the session—at least explicitly.

If you scratch the surface, however, learning mindsets emerge as a common thread across several of the stories that the journalists predicted would rise to the fore in the coming school year.

What are some examples of how learning mindsets figure into the top education stories in 2016-17?

School finance

  • Students in under-resourced schools are increasingly aware of the disproportionate resources and opportunities available to their peers attending more affluent schools; what messages do such disparities implicitly convey to students about their academic potential and society’s value of them?


  • Students develop a greater sense of belonging in school when their teachers convey high expectations and assurances that they can meet those high standards. A new study finds that African American teachers hold higher expectations for African American students than their white colleagues. What are the implications for these students’ sense of belonging, particularly in a system in which the majority of teachers are white?
  • Awareness of racial bias in discipline practices diminishes trust and belonging in school among students of color. A new study shows that when teachers adopt empathic mindsets about student misbehavior, they suspend students at much lower rates and build stronger relationships with their students. How will new state policies on discipline and practices such as restorative justice affect students’ sense of belonging in school?
  • Higher ed protests, social media campaigns such as #ITooAmHarvard, and several news articles on the experiences of first generation college goers highlight persistent and pervasive challenges to creating diverse, inclusive college campuses. What steps will colleges take to convey to underrepresented students and first generation students that they belong and are valued?

State accountability systems

  • Current measures of students’ motivational beliefs (e.g., learning mindsets) and social-emotional skills (e.g., self-control and self-awareness) rely on surveys, which can be subject to faking and reference bias that undermine their validity for comparing and evaluating schools. How will researchers and policymakers work together to ensure appropriate measurement under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires states include indicator(s) of school quality and student engagement? What steps will schools take to improve on these measures while evidence-based approaches are still being developed?

Common Core implementation

  • Students will encounter far more challenging material under the Common Core State Standards and persevering on difficult tasks is an explicit component of the Common Core math standards. Will figuring out how to foster a growth mindset through daily instruction be key to unlocking the potential of the Common Core in practice?

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