Employers seek a broader, deeper approach to assessment

10/06/22

Originally posted on Rethinking Assessment.

Employers take great pride in the civic activities of their staff. They recognise that people gain huge benefits from volunteering in a wide range of areas.  Such activity has a major benefit to their approach to their career and enables them to obtain new knowledge and skills that contribute to their paid work.

Yet, when it comes to looking at the qualifications of new, younger workers, they are painfully aware that such experiences are rarely captured by the assessment system.  Employers consistently tell me that the national assessment system is too narrow in its scope. Some essential skills and attitudes that they deem essential for a productive and fulfilling life, were simply not covered. They believe that the focus must be much wider than just delivering what their businesses required. There needs to be an emphasis on a deep understanding of the link between lifelong learning, reskilling and regeneration for a successful economy.

An Australian research paper, ‘Assessment of General Capabilities – Skills for the 21st Century learner’, correctly states that there is a growing recognition that ‘general capabilities or 21stCentury skills, as they are often called, are important for learning’ and that they are crucial in a world of quickly developing knowledge and innovation. The research sets out to assist teachers in delivering these capabilities and assessing them. It is clear that the research has provided greater knowledge about skill identification and assessment.

Colleagues at Rethinking Assessment have drawn on the Australian research. They have revisited pupil profiles and created a new digital learner profile. It aligns closely to the forward thinking and civic-minded views I hear from employers.

We should consider whether the profile might serve as a valuable transition between education and employment. It encourages individuals to reflect on their recent, wide range of experiences and what they gained from them. It also provides a vehicle for recording successes and identifying what further support is required. And it draws participants into a deeper understanding of skill acquisition and what they might need to do to secure improvement.

The new learner profile is worthy of serious consideration. All those passionate about creating a more relevant approach to assessments should take a closer look and join the conversation.

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