A new study shows that kindergarten teachers’ ratings of social competence strongly predict important adult outcomes. The study has received much attention in the popular press, including a number of thoughtful reactions:
The gist from a summary by the study’s funder, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:
Overall, research findings show that teacher-rated social competence in kindergarten was a consistent and significant indicator of both positive and negative future outcomes across all major domains: education, employment, criminal justice, substance use and mental health. Study results also showed the greater the difference between students’ social competence scores in kindergarten, the more pronounced the difference in their outcomes by the age of 25. Children who scored “well”—at the higher end of the spectrum for social competence—for example, were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than children who scored “a little”—at the lower end of the spectrum.