The remainder of this chapter is intended to provide context for the report, describing the changes in both the labor force and the workplace over the past few decades and discussing the skills that workers need to adequately perform in the currently available jobs. Chapter 2 discusses the skills included within the cognitive cluster. The chapter first explores issues related to defining these constructs, then presents four examples of assessments of these constructs, and concludes with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of these assessments. Chapters 3 and 4 follow the same format for skills within the interpersonal and intrapersonal clusters, respectively. Chapter 5 summarizes two workshop presentations that focused on key measurement issues to consider when developing assessments of 21st century skills. Chapter 6 concludes with workshop participants’ synthesis of important points raised over the course of the two workshops and a discussion of the policy implications.
It is important to be specific about the nature of this report, which is intended to document the information presented in the workshop presentations and discussions and lay out the key ideas that emerged from the workshop. As such, the report is confined to the material presented by the workshop speakers and participants. Neither the workshop nor this summary is intended as a comprehensive review of what is known about assessing 21st century skills, although it is a general reflection of the literature. The presentations and discussions were limited by the time available for the workshop.
This summary was prepared by an independent rapporteur, and it does not represent findings or recommendations that can be attributed to the steering committee. The steering committee was responsible only for the quality of the agenda and the selection of participants. The workshop was not designed to generate consensus conclusions or recommendations but focused instead on the identification of ideas, themes, and considerations that contribute to an understanding of assessing 21st century skills.
THE CHANGING NATURE OF THE WORKPLACE
Richard Murnane, an economist with the Harvard School of Education, opened the workshop with a presentation about the changes that are occurring in the workplace and the types of skills workers will need to perform these tasks. He began by presenting two graphs—one for men and one for women—that displayed average hourly wages from 1979 through 2007 for individuals grouped by their education level.1 These graphs, reproduced as Figures 1-1 and 1-2, show wage informa-
1Murnane’s presentation is available at http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bota/21st_Century_Workshop_Murnane.pdf [August 2011].