This fall, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) examination is going to begin to measure students’ ability to collaborate by pairing them up anonymously during the test to solve a problem (see Is Your Child a “Group Problem Solver?” The PISA Test Will Decide).

Here are a few (unconnected) excerpts from that Scientific American article:

Instead of short-answer questions or lengthier explanations, the test taker will record outcomes of games, solve jigsaw puzzles and perform experiments with the help of a virtual partner that the test taker can communicate with by typing in a chat box.

Jenny Bradshaw, senior PISA project manager, who oversees the test: “Working with unseen partners, especially online, will become a bedrock skill for career success. Increasingly, this is the way the workplace and the world will function.”

Plenty of critics say the new domains are a blunder. “Is there an independent set of skills—in this case, collaborative problem solving—that is transferable across domains of knowledge?” asks Tom Loveless, an education researcher at the Brookings Institution. “Is problem solving between two biologists the same as problem solving between two historians? Or is it different? Progressive educators since John Dewey have insisted it is the same, but we just don’t know that.”

School systems that want to prepare students for the future should help them achieve mastery of complex math, science and literacy instead of putting resources into promoting nebulous concepts.

It seem pretty ironic that PISA is measuring social skills and NAEP is going to measure grit at the very same time leading researchers in the field of Social Emotional Learning are saying valid testing procedures for these qualities don’t exist.

No wonder PISA is being criticized by so many education experts (scroll down when you get that link).