with co-workers and supervisors points to the need for careful definition of "literacy" in the context of workplace performance and productivity.
Part III addresses the implications of changing workplaces for the assessment and measurement of skills. Robert Mislevy's principal suggestion is that assessment tools need to be developed that more accurately reflect real-world situations in which learning takes place. Mislevy argues that increasing heterogeneity in the workplace demands that assessment tools provide fair and accurate information on a wide range of skills and abilities and that tests alone cannot measure abilities independent of cultural and other factors that influence the effectiveness of learning environments.
Kenneth Pearlman concentrates on the manager's perspective of screening and selection decisions and on the importance of "cross-functional skills," such as organizing, planning, decision making, negotiating, and teamwork, in the evolving high-performance workplace. Pearlman suggests that assessment and learning need to be tightly integrated activities and argues for the creation of "programs that integrate, motivate, and reward development of [cross-functional] skills in K-12 education."
How will changing definitions and requirements of work, coupled with new approaches to selection, screening, and assessment, be constrained by the legal and social environment? This was the basic question posed in the fourth session of the conference, which included papers by Dennis Parker and Neil Schmitt. Parker calls attention to the purpose of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act—to improve the school-to-work transitions of all students. The goal of greater inclusion holds important implications for testing and assessment. On the one hand, linking schools and workplaces more tightly suggests a significant role for testing as a means of evaluating the extent to which young people have acquired the requisite skills; but as Parker notes, schools and school districts must be aware of the legal and social issues that surround the use of tests as gatekeepers for employment opportunity.
In his paper, Schmitt discusses the formidable challenge of using valid assessments to achieve a capable and diverse work force within the constraints of the 1991 Civil Rights Act. His paper offers five approaches to meeting the challenge: (1) include additional measures of job-related constructs that have little or no adverse impact; (2) change the format of questions or the types of responses required; (3) use computer or video technology to present test items; (4) employ procedures currently used in education, such as portfolios and "authentic" assessments; and (5) change the way scores are used and interpreted and consider the use of "bands" rather than cut scores and rankings. Schmitt is guardedly optimistic about the combined effects of these strategies but argues for continued exploration of new assessment methods well suited to the changing demands of work and learning.
Part V of this volume offers three overarching perspectives on the evolving literature and policy debate over school-to-work transitions and the roles of assessment.