MONTGOMERY, Ala., Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- It is a fact that some students are more ready to learn than others. Some students have strong academic skills but lack motivation, self-discipline, and persistence, otherwise known as "grit." How important are those non-cognitive skills? According to Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed, "Practitioners all across the education system have been emphasizing cognitive skills to the exclusion of non-cognitive skills. The reality is that those skills are not necessarily the most important in terms of the types of success we really do care about, such as college graduation rates." What does this mean for colleges and universities faced with record enrollments, growing online offerings, and increasing pressure to improve retention? Schools which invest heavily in attracting new online students want to retain the students across their degree program. The 2012 Student Readiness Report (SRR) includes data about 303,872 unique students from 324 colleges and universities. This is the fourth consecutive year the report has been published and trending data reflects that females continue to score higher in Individual Attributes, Academic Attributes and Time Management. On the other hand, males have consistently scored higher in Technical Knowledge. Measuring students' level of readiness and non-cognitive skills is beneficial to both schools and students. The data measured in the report comes from students who took the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator assessment from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Data from each of these students was analyzed in aggregate, and the findings are now being reported in the SRR. Among these students, 70% were female, only 35% were of traditional age (18-22 years old), 22% had "social" as their dominant learning style, 37% exhibited between 70%-79% of mastery in technical knowledge, and 53% scored 100% on technical competency skills. Statistically significant differences were found among the demographic factors of gender, ethnicity, age, institution type, and the number of prior online courses taken. For example, females were found to have statistically significant higher means on the constructs of individual attributes, typing accuracy, and life factors. Males were found to have statistically significant higher means on the constructs of reading rate and technical knowledge. Miami Dade College's Virtual College uses SmarterMeasure as a key component of their orientation course. Sofia Villalobos, Director of Student Services, reports "As of the Fall 2011-1 Term, the Virtual College developed a best practice of using the assessment results as an opportunity to deliver retention initiatives by sending information on several academic resources. The Virtual College sends students an email through SmarterMeasure with valuable information about MDC and SmarterMeasure academic resources. These messages offer several tools to help students reach their goal of academic success. Some students have responded to these emails to discuss score reports and to request more information on specific resources". When asked about how the SRR data could help schools understand the importance of measuring student readiness and in particular non-cognitive skills, Dr. Mac Adkins, President of SmarterServices said, "One substantial finding which has been consistent over the past four years is that experience matters. As students gain more experience learning online or in a technology rich environment, they become more competent and confident. The take away for leaders is that we must really hold the hands of the learners who are new to the experience. If we can strongly support them early on, there is a much greater likelihood that they will persist." To download a free copy of the report, go to www.smartermeasure.com/smartermeasure/assets/File/Online-Student-Readiness-Report.pdf. About SmarterServices, LLC SmarterServices LLC is the industry leader in measuring online learner readiness. Our clients benefit from our deep internal expertise on education as well as the insights gathered through our decade of service to 400+ educational institutions. Our mission is to organize and analyze data that empowers people to make smarter decisions. We help you obtain data about your students, faculty, teachers, employees, and courses.