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Articles: Soft skills

Maine led the nation in 2012 in becoming the first state to require that students demonstrate proficiency in academic areas to earn a high school diploma. (Gettyimages.com: qingwa).

Eighth-graders in Maine in the 2017-18 school year will be the first to adhere to proficiency-based standards.

Districts have several options when introducing a badging program.

For students, the process tends to be more intricate because these badges, often awarded for soft skills and career-preparation activities, contain metadata that details what students did to earn the badges. Such higher-tech “open badges” can be shared on social media and live on an online platform such as Credly, Mozilla or Badgr.

Districts are advised to go through the graphic design process to create high-quality badges that drive engagement—rather than using stock art.

A growing number of districts now award digital badges to students who demonstrate creativity and critical thinking, and even for noteworthy experiences in after-school programs.

Pre-K programs for students with special needs vary widely in quality and scope. Some states and districts have long included students with special needs in pre-K classes alongside their more typically developing peers.

K12 educators increasingly embrace life skills curricula that promote social-emotional learning, mindfulness, problem-solving and other soft skills. Many districts no longer view such programs as “nice to have,” but as essential components of overall instruction.