cognitive skills, Herman thinks we know how to assess problem solving embedded in content, as Kuncel was arguing for. She noted that we also know how to develop assessments that require students to apply their knowledge, to evaluate evidence, and to perform other critical thinking and analytical reasoning tasks. There appear to be rich learning models on which to base these assessments, she added, but evaluating higher-order thinking skills has not received the attention it might have over the past few years.
With respect to some of the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills discussed at the workshop, she was somewhat more hesitant, but she said her hesitancy was in relation to the purposes and uses for the assessments, not the relative importance of the skills. She noted these days the word “assessment” has come to mean only large-scale, summative, accountability assessment, and, in her judgment, many of the measures of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are clearly not ready to be used for this purpose. As she put it, “The long research histories in each area give rise to any number of measures for assessing individual constructs, but measures that are suitable for summative accountability purposes are few and far between.” Assessments can serve many purposes, however. For teachers, she pointed out, assessments are most useful if they provide information that can be used for formative purposes, to help make instructional decisions on a day-to-day basis. Some of the measures of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills seem to be well suited for this purpose or for purposes that involve small-scale administration.
As part of this discussion session, presenters and audience members raised a number of issues with regard to strategies for assessing 21st century skills, particularly the skills classified as interpersonal and intrapersonal. This chapter provides a synthesis of some of the main points raised by steering committee members and workshop participants and closes with a discussion of the implications for policy and strategies for moving forward.
REFLECTIONS ON ASSESSMENT STRATEGIES
Naming the Skill, Defining the Constructs
One point that arose repeatedly over the course of the workshop was the issue of labeling and defining the skills—from the name given to 21st century skills in general to the specific definitions of the constructs. Together, the collection of 21st century skills are sometimes referred to as “noncognitive” skills, a term to which several participants objected because all of the skills require some sort of cognition. These skills are sometimes referred to as “soft skills,” a term that some participants dislike