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The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 17, 2019

A dear friend and colleague shared a podcast with me this morning and encouraged me to listen to it. The podcast, What's Not On The Test: The Overlooked Factors That Determine Success, was published by NPR as part of their Hidden Brain podcast series. It featured an interview with James Heckman, a professor at the University of Chicago who, in 2000, won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

The podcast really got me thinking about and questioning a lot of things…

What makes some people more successful later in life than others?

What skills are necessary for someone to have positive life outcomes?

Are there certain personality traits that contribute to more success in life?

Can we teach these personality traits or qualities to our students?

What should we be teaching in our youth programs to set kids up for more success later in life?

How does All Stars contribute to long term success for students?

Maybe you wonder or question the same things as I.

In the early 1990s, James Heckman traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas. He was there to see something that had been described to him as a miracle. It was a program for students who had dropped out of high school.

He learned that the program took high school dropouts and converted them into high school graduates within a few months. "I said, 'Wow, this is amazing,'" Heckman recalls.

The program that gave young people a second chance is now known widely across the country. It's called the GED.

Heckman wanted to know whether, on average, people with a GED were as successful as people with a high school diploma. He started by looking at their test scores.

"What really surprised me was their test scores were virtually the same," he says.

Within a few months, the GED program was allowing students to catch up with peers who had spent years in high school. But then Heckman looked further: Were GED grads holding on to jobs? In long-term relationships? Staying out of trouble?

The short answer was, no.

What was going on here? Why were GED recipients struggling so much more as adults if they had the same test scores as high school graduates?

This week’s blog, The Gift that Keeps on Giving, untangles the mystery that James Heckman discovered in Corpus Christi and the astounding implications of his findings in our work with kids.

It just might answer some of those questions that have been on your mind. It did for me.

All My Best,


P.S. Don’t forget…the cart is closing on Monday, May 20, at midnight (CST) for the first class of All Stars Core Signature Digital Training at the low introductory price of $349 per person! Seats are limited! Enroll today!