Acting on Character: The Character Skills Snapshot

September 16, 2019 EMA Team

Acting on Character: The Character Skills Snapshot

By Meghan Brenneman, Ph.D.

The Enrollment Management Association’s testing and research team is pleased to announce the initial release this fall of the Character Skills Snapshot (formerly the Character Skills Assessment). This release builds upon extensive research by our Think Tank on the Future of Assessment, collaboration with numerous independent school enrollment leaders (the “G32+ schools”), and statistical analysis performed by both The Enrollment Management Association (EMA) and the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The Character Skills Snapshot is a 30-minute online evaluation of character skills currently not measured by cognitive standardized testing. 

The Enrollment Management Association brought together a committee of representatives from over 45 diverse schools (the G32+ schools, see below) to discuss the scope of the assessment, the character skills it would measure, and the desired outcome, including the importance of this type of measure to the decisionmaking process in admission offices. This tool will provide enrollment professionals with an important additional piece of information to use during the admission process. The richer data provided by a combination of cognitive plus character skills will allow a fuller, more complete view of the whole child.

The Character Skills Snapshot was designed to measure eight essential character skills that the committee deemed were prevalent among independent school missions and those which schools sought to nurture in their students: resilience, open-mindedness, responsibility, teamwork, social awareness, self-control, intellectual curiosity, and initiative. The assessment will be made available to members of The Enrollment Management Association, with an initial release in September and a full-scale release in fall 2018. Members of EMA can opt in to use the tool during the member renewal process this spring.

Field trials of the assessment were conducted over the past two years, with more than 11,000 students (including students applying to independent schools as well as those enrolled in the G32+ schools) completing the assessment. Additionally, user testing was conducted with parents to gain feedback on the design and content elements of the results report, as well as the assessment itself.

Participating schools convened for a summit on May 16. Training and more information for members interested in using the Character Skills Snapshot will be offered this summer and fall.


Dr. Meghan Brenneman recently joined The Enrollment Management Association as director of character assessment programs. She brings utilizes her extensive background in research, K-12 education, and project management to develop items, design research studies, interact with schools, and work with thought leaders in the field. She joins us from a previous research and development position at the Educational Testing Service (ETS).


The G32+ Schools
Aspen Country Day School (CO)
Blue Ridge School (VA)
Cannon School (NC)
Castilleja School (CA)
Cate School (CA)
Chaminade College Preparatory School (MO)
Choate Rosemary Hall (CT)
Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CO)
The Community School (ID)
Concordia International School Shanghai (China)
Crescent School (ON)
The Ethel Walker School (CT)
The Galloway School (GA)
The Grauer School (CA)
Greenhills School (MI)
The Greenwich Country Day School (CT)
Groton School (MA)
The Hun School (NJ)
Kamehameha Schools (HI)
Lakeside School (WA)
Lakeside School-LEEP (WA)
The Lawrenceville School (NJ)
Marist School (GA)
Mid-Pacific Institute (HI)
Middlesex School (MA)
New Canaan Country School (CT)
Newark Academy (NJ)
NJ Seeds (NJ)
Norfolk Academy (VA)
The Oakridge School (TX)
Phillips Academy (MA)
Phillips Exeter Academy (NH)
Renbrook School (CT)
Riverdale Country School (NY)
Salisbury School (CT)
St. Mark’s School (MA)
The Taft School (CT)
Takatuf Scholars Programme (Oman)
The Thacher School (CA)
Trinity Midland School (TX)
University of Toronto Schools (ON)
Viewpoint School (CA)
Westminster School (CT)
The Westminster Schools (GA)
The Wheeler School (RI)
The Wight Foundation, Inc. (NJ)
The Winchendon School (MA)
The Woodlands Christian Academy (TX)
The Woods Academy (MD)
Woodward Academy (GA)

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