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Eather Care photo.jpg

Esther Care is Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution, Washington DC.

Esther – a researcher and author - promotes constructive assessment practices that inform both educational policy and classroom practice. She has worked extensively in the Asia Pacific and Africa to explore impact of system alignment on effectiveness of education reform. With the increasing focus globally on the promotion of generic skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration, she collaborates with country teams to incorporate these skills into the educational process.

Dr Care currently leads the Optimizing Assessment for All (OAA) project through which national education teams work together to develop classroom assessment tasks to inform teaching and learning of 21st century skills. OAA is based out of two regional networks, NEQMAP in Asia, and TALENT in sub-Saharan Africa, and is a collaborative effort among countries in the regions to examine teaching and assessment of 21st century skills, and to draw attention to the constructive use of assessment to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Previously a Professor with the University of Melbourne, Esther is founding director of the Assessment Curriculum and Technology Research Centre (funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the Philippines), which conducts large and small-scale research in the Philippines to inform that country's major K-12 education reform.

Esther publishes widely in journals and books spanning vocational and educational psychology through to education assessment and policy, with most recently an emphasis on the assessment of 21st century skills. Titles with co-authors include Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills, Comparative Approaches in Education, A Framework for Teachable Collaborative Problem Solving Skills, Considering Authenticity of Skills Assessments, 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Classrooms.

Keynote Session

Thursday 12 September, 10.30am

Skills for a Changing World and Optimizing Assessment for All – Trends in Education

Changes in the workforce and the implications of these for education of our youth have been extensively documented. In response, countries worldwide have reviewed their educational goals in order to meet what are seen as the human resource needs of the 21st century. This presentation moves the discussion to the next phases; How do countries reflect a changed set of goals in their visions for education? How do countries set about the process of reform? What are the challenges and obstacles that they encounter?

More than 70% of countries worldwide are identifying 21st century skills as on their educational agenda, but how this is reflected in curriculum, in pedagogical practices, and through assessment strategies, varies widely. Of particular interest are the implications of the very nature of these skills for how they might best be nurtured and developed in the classrooms of formal education systems. Do we teach hurdling in the same way as we teach a mathematical process? Most of us would respond “no”. So, do we teach problem solving in the same way that we teach the facts of World War 2? Questions such as these have major consequences not only for teaching, but for assessment.

Based on the Optimizing Assessment for All project in which countries across Asia and Africa are participating, some key principles to support teachers in implementation of “Skills for a Changing World” are held up for examination.  Underpinning both the exploration of the global skills movement, and the formulation of approaches to assessment, the critical issue of alignment within education systems is clarified and illustrated.

Spotlight Session

Thursday 12 September, 1.30pm

Key Lessons from Optimizing Assessment for All (OAA)

Everyone knows what problem solving is. And what collaboration is. Or do they? Can you teach problem solving or collaboration? How do you do that? What do the students do that makes you believe they are engaging in and using these skills?

We often talk about things, rather than directly address them. In this spotlight session, participants will engage in two practical tasks, collaboratively, in order to experience and identify the cognitive and social elements of their behaviour. In groups of four – two collaborators, one facilitator, and one note taker – participants will grapple with tasks which are not well defined, and which stimulate the use of problem solving and collaborative skills. Task reflection will focus on the implications of the findings for classroom practice.

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