Enabling the assessment of 21st century skills

Extensive 21st-century literacy assessments aligned to an ambitious array of national and state standards

Learning.com's innovative 21st Century Skills Assessment—blending interactive, performance-based questions—needed to be updated to reflect refreshed ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards. We helped align the product to an ambitious array of disciplines, including: Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration, Research and Information Fluency, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making, Digital Citizenship, and Technology Operations and Concepts.


In 2007, the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S)—published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)—were extensively revised. In 2008, Learning.com hired us to develop a significant collection of content aligned to these new national standards—plus those of three states—for the next version of their TechLiteracy Assessment product.


We developed the assessment design and strategy; performed a correlation analysis of the NETS-S and the technology standards of Maryland, New Jersey and Texas; generated more than 700 assessment items at the 5th and 8th grade levels for national pilot-testing and psychometric validation; and created a series of supplemental, portfolio-based assessment exercises to complement the primary assessment instrument.


The next generation of the product launched in the spring of 2009. The 21st Century Skills Assessment provides deeper insight into a student’s grasp of critical 21st century skills, creativity, information fluency, critical thinking, decision-making and digital citizenship. The product utilizes a psychometrically validated blend of interactive, performance-based questions that allow students to authentically perform complex tasks in simulated applications, and multiple choice, knowledge-based questions. The 21st Century Skills Assessment is in use by South Dakota, Texas, Maryland, Arizona, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, with over 500,000 assessments completed.