PACE Event

21st Century Assessments

Implications for California

Concern for global competitiveness and the slipping rankings of the United States on international assessments have prompted the Obama administration to call for new student assessments that reliably measure the higher-order thinking and performance skills demanded in the 21st Century global economy.

California is one of many states facing important decisions on how to assess its students. This conference is an opportunity for policymakers, educators, education researchers, administrators, funders, and community partners to discuss the potential and challenges of performance assessments to support deeper and more rigorous student learning.

Unlike multiple choice tests, performance assessments use analytical questions, challenging tasks, and projects that require students to use research, writing and complex problem-solving skills to come to their conclusions. Widely used in high-achieving nations, performance assessments not only provide more meaningful ways to assess what students know, they help students develop the critical thinking skills they need to succeed in college and careers.

A panel of leading education researchers, administrators, educators, funders, and community partners convened for a daylong forum to discuss assessment policies and practices that support improved student achievement in California.

This conference is cosponsored by PACE and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE).


Welcome and Introduction: David N. Plank., Executive Director, PACE

Keynote “Overview of Assessments and Standards:" Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education, Stanford University, and SCOPE Co-Director

Panel 1: “Experiences Beyond California: International and State Perspectives”

  • Practices in Canada and Internationally: Carol Campbell, Executive Director, SCOPE
  • Practices in Singapore: Lay Choo Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Examination and Assessment Board
  • Practices in England: Jeffrey Goodwin, Independent Consultant, Assessment, Curriculum, Research
  • The Costs of Assessments: Lawrence Picus, Professor, USC Rossier School of Education

Panel 2: “Assessments in California"

  • David N. Plank, Executive Director, PACE
  • Bob Lenz, Chief Education Officer and Co-founder, Envision Schools
  • Monica Martinez, President, New Tech Network
  • Edys Quellmalz, Director of Technology Enhanced Assessments & Learning Systems, WestEd
  • Susan Schultz, Associate Director for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Stanford University

Panel 3: “Policy Strategies: Bringing Effective Assessment to the Classroom”

  • David N. Plank, Executive Director, PACE
  • Geno Flores, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education (effective July 1, 2010).
  • Gary Hoachlander, President, The California Center for College and Career (ConnectEd).
  • Maggie Mejia, Former Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District.
  • Gerry Shelton, Chief Consultant California State Assembly, Education Committee

Concluding Remarks: Linda Darling-Hammond and David N. Plank