National 21st Century Assessments for Higher Education and for High Schools

Current state and national tests focus strictly on content knowledge and provide no feedback to students, schools, districts, and institutions on how students are doing on core 21st Century Skills, as identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

A national test from the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) addresses this deficiency in state and national tests. The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) was developed in the late 90s and piloted and validated in the next 5 years. It now is in widespread use at colleges around the country demonstrating the value-add of the college experience. It focuses on critical thinking, problem solving, analytic reasoning, and written communication, the core 21st Century Skills.

The test itself is a performance task. CLA tries to get colleges to consider these four outcomes as collective outcomes for all disciplines.

A high school version of the CLA, the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA+), is also available and as of 2015, is being used at many independent and public high schools around the country. The CWRA+ is the performance task only, and does not include the "make an argument" and "break an argument" sections of the CLA.

CWRA+ is an innovative assessment designed explicitly for the twenty-first-century student. Unlike many standardized tests, which measure students' abilities to memorize numbers, dates, and facts, CWRA+ measures critical-thinking and written-communication skills (such as analysis and problem solving, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical reading and evaluation, critiquing an argument, as well as writing effectiveness and mechanics).

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