Schools experimenting with social skills assessment

October 30, 2009
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In schools across America, social skills are lagging behind exam grades. Although many Americans feel that education is the key to success, they cannot reach their goals without crucial social skills. Schools are debating whether it is necessary to teach socialization in the curriculum.
New Haven Middle school students in Connecticut are being tested by a broad social skills curriculum. “Having social skills would improve the way students work with one another. This could help in the future when working at a job,” said Lesley, a freshman at Roslyn High School in New York. The curriculums at the Middle schools are developed to involve parents and help students by raising their self-esteem. It was designed by James P. Comer, the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center and associate dean of the Yale School of Medicine, and Roger P. Weissberg, associate professor of psychology at Yale.
The schools are creating role-playing exercises as well as training teachers. The program is also working on areas such as high dropout rates, substance abuse and even teenage pregnancy. It emphasizes problem solving, improved communication, decision making, self control and stress management.
Mr. Geller, a Guidance Counselor at Roslyn High School, feels that a socialization class should be offered in all schools. “With English, math, family and social lives it might be too much to mandate,” said Geller. “But it needs to be offered because everyone would benefit.”
When discussing the need for a social curriculum within all schools, Daniel, a Roslyn High School freshman said, “I don’t necessarily agree with the fact of students being tested on social skills. I think that many students feel that the schedule is hectic enough without the testing on social skills and many kids would not want to be tested because they are comfortable with the way they are.”

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