Measuring Tomorrow’s Skills

In all of the conversational chaos about student achievement and the validity of standardized assessment, something really important seems to be getting lost. Is what we have been attempting to measure during this last decade and a half what we really need to measure? According to Daniel Pink, in his book A Whole New Mind, we are engaged in a post-Information Age era. He calls it “The Conceptual Age.” This century is characterized, thanks to Google and its ilk, by ubiquitous information; the amalgamation of data, the remixing of ideas, and the synthesizing of concepts to arrive at something new. Do we want to continue to gauge student proficiency by testing discreet language and math skills? Or should we be aiming to teach (and test) broader life skills that assure students in our classes learn how to learn?

Which direction will you choose?

Which direction will you choose?

America stands at a crossroads in the battle over student evaluation and assessment of Common Core. What we teach and assesses has become a political battleground. As teachers we can continue to present and test isolated facts, processes, and concepts in lock step with our colleagues across the country.  We can be content with proficiency. Or, we can take a heroic stand by integrating those facts, processes, and concepts into larger constructs that provide opportunities for deeper thinking; thinking that takes the learner beyond proficiency toward expertise.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s compare some of the most current “standards” with an equally formidable set of 21st Century Skills first outlined for me by Laura Greenstein.

QUICK Selection of Common Core Standards 6th Grade QUICK Selection of 21st Century Skills
•  Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
•  Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics
•  Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
•  Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments
•  Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not
•  Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
•  Establish and maintain a formal style
•  Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters
•  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience
•  Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking
•  Recognize and correct vague pronouns
•  Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word
•  Consult reference materials, both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech
•  Make tables of equivalent ratios relating quantities with whole-number measurements, find missing values in the tables, and plot the pairs of values on the coordinate plane
•  Use tables to compare ratios
•  Fluently divide multi-digit numbers using the standard algorithm
•  Understand ordering and absolute value of rational numbers
•  Identify when two expressions are equivalent
•  Reason about and solve one-variable equations and inequalities
•  Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures
•  Summarize and describe distributions
•  Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots
•  Researches and uses information and data to bolster conclusions and analysis
•  Applies past experience to future planning
•  Applies a system for responding to unfamiliar situations
•  Generates varied options for solution
•  Possesses fundamental curiosity and inquisitiveness
•  Questions to discern deeper meaning
•  Designs, calculates, and produces original works, performances, and presentations
•  Frames creativity in the context of responsible risk-taking and resilience
•  Employs learning strategies to compensate for weaknesses in a particular modality
•  Develops core civic dispositions: justice, equality, and personal responsibility
•  Is willing to participate in the democratic process
•  Contributes to the well-being of others
•  Learns from and works collaboratively with individuals from diverse cultures, religions, and lifestyles
•  Takes the perspective of people from other cultures
•  Accepts the concept of human rights and equality
•  Uses interpersonal skills to work with and guide others toward a goal
•  Balances goals with time management
•  Purposefully acts toward goal achievement
•  Applies communication skills in a variety of formats and contexts
•  Discerns the intent of and information in still and video images
•  Produces effective communication through multiple media and technologies
•  Appreciates the purpose and use of media messages
•  Recognizes the persuasive nature of media messages
•  Uses a variety of technologies in effective ways to increase creative productivity
•  Continuously learns and critically evaluates emerging technologies
•  Modifies one’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors in response to new information
•  Accepts and deals with praise and criticism
•  Monitors own performance
•  Stretches beyond basic mastery (proficiency) to develop expertise 



Read MORE > CommonCore_21stCentury

It is up to us to decide which educational outcome we prefer for our students.  Shouldn’t we prepare them for the dynamic future they face? What do you think?


One thought on “Measuring Tomorrow’s Skills

  1. Pingback: Active Assessment of the 7 Cs | Marcy's Musings

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