Opinion
Assessment Opinion

Testing Problem-Solving

By Robert Rothman — May 16, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

This year, some 20,000 eighth graders took part in a new test of technological and engineering literacy. The computer-based test asked students to solve the kinds of problems used in real settings, like fixing a broken water pump, and measured how they came up with solutions. Thus the test is a measure of students’ abilities to solve genuine problems, as well as a test of their engineering knowledge.

As Liana Heitin writes in Education Week, the test, which is oart of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), has been a hit with leaders in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as with students. Peggy Carr, who directs NAEP at the National Center on Education Statistics, told Heitin that students who were not selected to take the test “were coming to the door wanting to take it.”

Results of the test are expected to be released in 2016. But another test, whose results were released last month, suggests that U.S. students might fare fairly well. As part of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development administered a test of creative problem-solving. Like the NAEP test, the PISA problem-solving test measured students’ abilities to confront a real-world problem and come up with a solution. And U.S. fifteen-year-olds performed above the average of industrialized countries--far better than they did in mathematics and literacy.

These abilities are increasingly important. As the PISA report states, the twenty-first century workplace places a premium on the ability to solve non-routine problems. “In modern societies, all of life is problem solving,” the report states. “Changes in society, the environment and in technology mean that the content of applicable knowledge evolves rapidly. Today’s 15-year-olds are the Robinson Crusoes of a future that remains largely unknown to us. Adapting, learning, daring to try out new things, and always being ready to learn from mistakes are among the keys to resilience and success in an unpredictable world.”

The NAEP test reflects the growing recognition of that realization. And maybe the attention the assessment receives might encourage more schools to focus on problem solving.

The opinions expressed in Learning Deeply are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty
Assessment Opinion Q&A Collections: Assessment
Scores of educators share commentaries on the use of assessments in schools.
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Assessment Standardized Tests Could Be in Jeopardy in Wake of Biden Decisions, Experts Say
Has the Biden administration shored up statewide tests this year only to risk undermining long-term public backing for them?
6 min read
Image of a test sheet.
sengchoy/iStock/Getty