on a plethora of different constructs in the cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal domains. Our taxonomy offers a useful starting point, but further research is needed to more carefully organize, align, and define these constructs. Second, there are psychometric challenges. Progress has been made in assessing a range of simple and complex cognitive competencies, yet much further research is needed to develop assessments of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies. Such research should initially focus on developing assessments for research purposes, and later on assessments for formative purposes. If these efforts are successful, then summative assessments of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies could possibly be developed for later use in educational settings. Experiences during the 1980s and 1990s in the development and implementation of performance assessments and assessments with open-ended tasks offer valuable insights, but assessments must be reliable, valid, and fair if they are to be widely used in formal and informal learning environments.

A third challenge is posed by political and economic forces that influence assessment development and use. Policy makers have favored standardized, on-demand, end-of-year tests that are easily scored and quantified for accountability purposes. Composed largely of selected response items, these tests are relatively cheap to implement but are not optimal for assessing 21st century competencies (see Chapter 7). In the face of current fiscal constraints at the federal and state levels, assessment systems may seek to minimize costs by using these types of tests, rather than incorporating the richer, performance- and curriculum-based assessments that can better support the development and assessment of 21st century competencies.

The fourth challenge is teacher capacity. The principles of instruction we outline above are rarely reflected in the knowledge and practices of teachers, students, and school administrators and in administrators’ expectations of teachers and teacher evaluation rubrics. Teacher preparation programs will need to help teacher candidates develop specific visions of teaching and learning for transfer and also the knowledge and skills to put these visions into practice. Both novice and experienced teachers will need time to develop new understandings of the subjects they teach as well as understanding of how to assess 21st century competencies in these subjects, making ongoing professional learning opportunities a central facet of every teacher’s job. Certainly, teachers will need support from administrators as they struggle with the complexity and uncertainty of revising their teaching practice within the larger effort to institutionalize a focus on deeper learning and effective transfer.

  • Recommendation 7: Foundations and federal agencies should support research to more clearly define and develop assessments of 21st century competencies. In particular, they should provide sustained


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement