sections briefly review these trends, which are changing expectations for student learning and the assessment of that learning.
Societal, economic, and technological changes are transforming the world of work. The workforce is becoming more diverse, boundaries between jobs are blurring, and work is being structured in more varying ways (NRC, 1999a). This restructuring often increases the skills workers need to do their jobs. For example, many manufacturing plants are introducing sophisticated information technologies and training employees to participate in work teams (Appelbaum, Bailey, Berg, and Kalleberg, 2000). Reflecting these transformations in work, jobs requiring specialized skills and postsecondary education are expected to grow more quickly than other types of jobs in the coming years (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2000).
To succeed in this increasingly competitive economy, all students, not just a few, must learn how to communicate, to think and reason effectively, to solve complex problems, to work with multidimensional data and sophisticated representations, to make judgments about the accuracy of masses of information, to collaborate in diverse teams, and to demonstrate self-motivation (Barley and Orr, 1997; NRC, 1999a, 2001). As the U.S. economy continues its transformation from manufacturing to services and, within services, to an “information economy,” many more jobs are requiring higher-level skills than in the past. Many routine tasks are now automated through the use of information technology, decreasing the demand for workers to perform them. Conversely, the demand for workers with high-level cognitive skills has grown as a result of the increased use of information technology in the workplace (Bresnahan, Brynjolfsson, and Hitt, 1999). For example, organizations have become dependent upon quick e-mail interactions instead of slow iterations of memoranda and replies. Individuals not prepared to be quickly but effectively reflective are at a disadvantage in such an environment.
Technology is also influencing curriculum, changing what and how students are learning, with implications for the types of competencies that should be assessed. New information and communications technologies present students with opportunities to apply complex content and skills that are difficult to tap through traditional instruction. In the Weather Visualizer program, for example, students use sophisticated computer tools to observe complex weather data and construct their own weather forecasts (Edelson, Gordon, and Pea, 1999).
These changes mean that more is being demanded of all aspects of education, including assessment. Assessments must tap a broader range of competencies than in the past. They must capture the more complex skills