Researcher: ‘Grit’ Isn’t Ready For High-Stakes Measures

Grit, known as the skill to persevere during hard times, has often been used as a measure for student success. But in a new study by the Educational Researcher, scientist Angela Duckworth found that may not be the case.

“I feel like the enthusiasm is getting ahead of the science,” Duckworth said in an interview. “I’m hearing about school district superintendents getting very interested in things like character and grit, and wanting to evaluate teachers based on them.” That, she says, would be gravely premature.

Here’s the problem. Much of grit research is based on self-reporting. That is, if you want to find out whether someone is gritty, you simply ask them to grade themselves on statements such as, “I am a hard worker.” Over large populations and in repeated experiments, Duckworth has found significant correlations between self-ratings on her 12-item “grit scale” and people’s actual accomplishments.

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