SOURCE: Partnership for 21st Century Skills

June 21, 2005 13:36 ET

National Advocacy Group Issues Report, Online Tool Focused on Educational Assessments That Measure 21st Century Skills

"Innovative Learning Must be Measured" Challenges the Partnership for 21st Century Skills

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 21, 2005 -- Moving education assessment forward to embrace the teaching of 21st century skills will help prepare our students to meet the demands of the global community and tomorrow's workplace, according to a report issued today by the Partnership for the 21st Century Skills.

"The Assessment of 21st Century Skills: The Current Landscape," highlights emerging progress in the U.S. and abroad to develop means to measure complex, higher-order thinking skills. The report also emphasizes the critical need for a national commitment to the assessment of 21st century skills in order to make U.S. education more globally competitive. Additionally, the Partnership released "Assess 21," an online hub for information on the assessment of 21st century skills. Both resources represent a significant step towards creating a comprehensive agenda focused on educational assessments that measure 21st century skills.

"There is an urgent need to produce a nation of critical thinkers and problem solvers prepared to succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace," said Charles Fadel, co-chair of the Partnership's Assessment Committee and Global Lead for Education at Cisco Systems. "To accomplish this, we must foster higher-order thinking skills within our education system and embrace more diagnostic, performance-based assessments that measure students' ability to engage in the kinds of complex thinking and problem-solving tasks required of a 21st century learner."

With spending on assessment development expected to reach $3.9 billion, according to recent Government Accounting Office estimates, it is vital that this investment focus not merely on fulfilling federal requirements, but on measuring the readiness of today's children to face the challenges of tomorrow's complex workplaces and communities.

"Educational assessments are powerful levers that can effect change," said Dr. Margaret Honey, special advisor to the Partnership and vice president of the Education Development Center (EDC). "Most educational assessments in widespread use today have thus far only measured a student's knowledge of discrete facts, rather than a student's ability to apply knowledge in a real world environment. The assessment of 21st century skills will help foster the application of higher-order thinking skills and provide critical feedback to inform instruction and student learning."

"The Assessment of 21st Century Skills: The Current Landscape" is written for policy, education and business leaders who are focused on moving forward an agenda for 21st century learning. The report not only offers the current landscape of educational assessments that measure 21st century skills, it also defines key terms and concepts in the field of measurement, describes current activities in particular content and skill areas, highlights promising assessments in development, and outlines key principles and strategic recommendations for making these assessments a more prominent component of the U.S. educational system.

To guide efforts in building assessments of 21st century skills, the report identifies several critical recommendations including large-scale public education initiatives that help build a national consensus around the issue; policy that supports a broad vision for the adoption of such assessments; a research and development infrastructure for building assessments that measure cognitively complex and real-world-related tasks; and support in the private and public sectors to create viable production and distribution networks for assessment instruments and tools that measure 21st century skills.

"The report uncovers real progress towards measuring 21st century content areas, including twelve states that are devising initial forays into global awareness assessments and nineteen others that have civic-skills testing," said Caroline McDowell, co-chair of the Partnership's Assessment Committee and manager, Education Outreach for SAP. "While these examples are encouraging, they do not yet indicate a broad focus on assessing 21st century skills. We challenge all states to adopt a system that assesses the full range of 21st century skills and 21st century content knowledge by 2010."

"Assess 21" is a Web-based repository for information on assessments of 21st century skills. The tool highlights assessments currently available, while emphasizing where particular gaps in the assessment of 21st century content and skill domains exist. Initially stocked with current assessments uncovered in the Partnership's research, this repository is designed to serve as a central hub for background information on 21st century skills assessments as they become available through submissions to the website. The online tool can be found at

The pre-publication report and online tool were formally announced at the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) 35th Annual National Conference on Large-Scale Assessment, where the Partnership also delivered the keynote address and hosted a panel of experts on the subject of the assessment of 21st century skills.

About the Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has emerged as the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The organization brings together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child's success as citizens and workers in the 21st century. The Partnership encourages schools, districts and states to advocate for the infusion of 21st century skills into education and provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change.

Member organizations include: Agilent Technologies, American Association of School Librarians, American Federation of Teachers, Apple, Bell South Foundation, Cable in the Classroom, Cisco Systems, Inc., Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Dell Inc., ETS, Ford Motor Company Fund, Intel Corporation, JA Worldwide, Microsoft Corporation, National Education Association, Oracle Corporation, SAP, Texas Instruments Incorporated, Time Warner, Inc. and Verizon. Organizations interested in joining the Partnership may contact or visit the Partnership's website at

Based in Washington, DC and Tucson, Arizona, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is administered by Infotech Strategies. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 organization.

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