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Innovating Assessments to Measure and Support Complex Skills

image of Innovating Assessments to Measure and Support Complex Skills

Policy makers around the world recognise the importance of developing young people’s 21st century skills like problem solving, creative thinking, self-regulation and collaboration. Many countries also include these skills as part of the intended learning outcomes of their education systems. To shift intention into practice, educational assessments need to better measure what matters. Innovative assessments are needed that combine conceptual, technological and methodological advances in educational measurement.

This report explores new approaches to measuring complex skills through a practical and applied assessment design lens, bringing together perspectives from leading experts to consider what we can learn from the learning sciences to define more authentic assessment experiences and expand the range of skills we are able to measure in both disciplinary and cross-disciplinary contexts of practice. The report also examines how technology can expand our possibilities for innovation, including the creation of more interactive and immersive problems and the generation of meaningful sources of potential evidence about students’ proficiency. Finally, the report explores how we can make sense of the rich data captured in interactive digital environments using new analytical approaches, and how we can ensure the valid interpretation and use of results from innovative assessments.

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Introduction: Arguments in support of innovating assessments

This introduction establishes assessment as a process of reasoning from evidence and presents the main arguments for why we need to innovate assessments. The first argument is that assessment should measure what matters, not just what is easy to measure. This means expanding the range of educational outcomes we assess to include the complex cognitive and socio-cognitive constructs that students will need for the worlds of today and tomorrow. The second argument is that we need new assessment designs that leverage the affordances of digital technology to provide rich and meaningful sources of data. Following from the first two arguments, the third is that assessments should measure what matters and measure it well. Careful attention must be paid to the issues of validity and comparability when complex constructs are targeted for assessment, and when new tasks and tools are used for generating and interpreting evidence about student performance.

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