Finding ways to assess 21st-century skills. A powerful foundation to change learning, curricula & the classroom itself.

One of the important pieces of news discussed mid- January at the Education World Forum, held in London, was that the OECD’s international PISA study in 2015 will include a new and mandatory area of 21st Century Skill assessment – Collaborative Problem Solving.

Just three years away, this announcement will have implications for governments, schools and teachers from countries across Europe and beyond, because this assessment will measure a new area of skills that has not been taught or measured in the past at national levels. Bridging the gap between industry relevant competencies throughout the learning process is precisely one of the goals of the multi stakeholder call to action, the New Skills for New Jobs Initiative.

Very evident in London was the work of the ATC21S project, which stands for Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills. This is a global private/public partnership founded and funded by Cisco, Intel and Microsoft and headquartered at the University of Melbourne, that is building the in-class and system-wide teaching tools and assessment frameworks that will enable school systems to teach these new skills; assess students’ progress towards proficiency; track and report performance for every student; and provide guidance on teaching and policy regulations. Through this project over 200 academics and researchers have contributed.

Delegates at the EWF conference were able to experience first-hand a demonstration of the sample assessments used in field trials in six countries (Finland, Singapore, Australia, US, Netherlands and Costa Rica), along with how this will be reported and inform teaching and learning processes. The quality of the research was clear with the following quote provided from Andreas Schleicher, the global head of the PISA study at OECD:

“ATC21S has played an essential pathfinder role to move the assessment agenda forward. It fills a critical gap between existing basic research on assessment design and methodologies, on the one hand, and the implementation of large-scale assessments that provide reliable data at reasonable cost, on the other. Its latest venture, the piloting of tasks to assess collaborative problem-solving skills, provides important insights for OECD’s efforts to broaden future PISA assessments to encompass interpersonal skill dimensions.”

Development of these skills and maximizing the contribution of every citizen can be closely linked to a country or system’s ongoing global competitiveness, employment, and economic growth. Now is the time for governments, schools and teachers to start to prepare for new assessments that will allow teachers to teach and measure 21st Century Skills. To find out more visit

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