Evaluating Assessment


Assessing 21st Century Skills: A Guide to Evaluating Mastery and Authentic Learning
By Laura Greenstein
(Corwin, 2012 – Learn more)              

k musselwhiteReviewed by Cindy Musselwhite

Assessing 21st Century Skills by Laura Greenstein is a comprehensive guide for evaluating students beyond the use of paper and pencil testing. This book gives an overview of the demands placed on educators in the 21st century in regards to evaluating student progress and mastery. It also provides detailed models for creating assessments and describes the skills needed for students to be successful in the 21st century. This book, which aligns with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), addresses progressive new ways to assess learning and gives educators a fresh approach for tackling the growing demands of accountability.

Greenstein considers assessment fundamentals in a straightforward Common Core State Standards format. She links the requirements of the CCSS with 21st century assessments that are responsive, flexible, cohesive and informative, balanced, varied, and technologically sound. She also addresses assessment strategies in a clear, detailed manner, listing types and examples.

Assessing21Skills_CCSS musselwhite

What’s inside the book

The heart of Assessing 21st Century Skills revolves around assessing the necessary skills for thinking, living, and taking action. They include: critical thinking, metacognition, communications, collaboration, visual and technology literacy, civic and citizenship skills, global understanding, leadership and responsibility, and college and career skills. All these skills are components of a successful 21st century life and are the foundations of Greenstein’s assessment formats.

Each skill is addressed in detail, and the author provides examples of rubrics for scoring assessments as well as examples of success plan checklists and lesson plans.

In addressing multipurpose assessments, Greenstein gives detailed accounts of student projects that can be evaluated using 21st century criteria. These projects include student-focused assessments and group oriented initiations involving peer-to-peer reviews as well as reflection and teacher reviews.

Greenstein, who draws heavily on the work of Robert Marzano and John Hattie and their “high yield strategies of clear goals, questioning, summarizing, and feedback,” also urges the use of student portfolios including paper and electronic works and samples of projects and display materials.

As Greenstein notes, her book leans in the direction of the secondary grades, about which she says:

During the elementary grades, it is reasonable to introduce critical thinking and concepts such as comparing, synthesizing, and reflecting. At the secondary level, it is more feasible and realistic to expand these building blocks to include higher-level thinking, metacognition, media literacy, and global awareness.

Assessing 21st Century Skills calls for reform of student evaluation in a time when this revision is much needed.  It is a must-have for any educator wishing to assess students beyond the knowledge-based level. This innovative book addresses the needs of all educators looking to fulfill the requirements of assessments that focus on the Common Core State Standards.

Cindy Musselwhite is the Band Director at Ethel High School in Ethel, MS. She is currently in her 18th year as a music educator. She has taught in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Mississippi State University.


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