New CAE Webinar Explores How to Increase Students’ Future Employability

K12 education experts share actionable guidance for school leaders to improve the higher-order skills employers seek

NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Council for Aid to Education, Inc. (CAE), the leader in designing innovative performance tasks for measurement and instruction of higher-order skills and for subject area assessments, today released a new on-demand webinar that examines how educators can best prepare students to be future-ready through the development of critical thinking, problem solving and written communication skills.

Moderated by CAE Chief Academic Officer Doris Zahner, Ph.D., the webinar features Doug Mesecar, former deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education, and Johnny Key, the former secretary of education for the Arkansas Department of Education. Both Mesecar and Key are partners with the consulting firm Strategos Group.

Entitled “A Roadmap to Employability: Integrating Higher-Order Skills Into Curricula and Assessment,” the Sept. 19 live presentation of the webinar drew more than 200 K-12 educators, counselors, and school and district leaders from across the nation.

The experts lead an engaging conversation on how to prepare students to be future-ready, focusing on actionable guidance to ensure students graduate with the knowledge, skills, and experience they’ll need to be successful in college, career, and life. They also explain how federal funding and policy can support the integration of higher-order skills into instruction, curricula, and measurement.

“Momentum is clearly growing behind rethinking assessment to incorporate higher-order skills,” said Mesecar. “We are seeing a change among states and districts around assessment, as we start to think about, `How do we incorporate competency-based learning in ways that we haven't before?’”

Using his experience in Arkansas, Key shares examples of innovative ways states and districts have incorporated higher-order thinking skills, and how they are preparing students for employability and new pathways for their future.

“The challenge for all of us is to create greater learning opportunities for all students, whether they are rural students, minority students, students with disabilities, or whatever they come to our schools with,” said Key. “We must make learning relevant, and students need to see the application of content knowledge and higher order skills. As state leaders, as local leaders, as classroom teachers, it's our responsibility to find what those sparks are for our students.”

Zahner, who oversees research and psychometrics for CAE’s performance-based assessments, shares examples of how the New York City Department of Education is using performance-based assessments to connect with and complement content knowledge, and how Texas A&M University Mays Business School is embedding critical thinking instruction and practice into its curriculum.

“Our research shows that students with greater proficiency in higher-order skills tend to have better academic and career outcomes,” said Zahner. “While these data are not surprising, our data also show that to improve these skills, they must be intentionally taught with opportunities for deliberate practice. Increasing students’ critical thinking, problem solving and written communication skills will make them more future-ready.”

To learn more about CAE’s performance-based assessments and curriculum for higher-order skills, visit

About CAE
As a nonprofit whose mission is to help improve the academic and career outcomes of secondary and higher education students, CAE is the leader in designing innovative performance tasks for measurement and instruction of higher order skills and within subject areas.

Over the past 20 years, CAE has helped over 825,000 students globally understand and improve their proficiency in critical thinking, problem solving and effective written communication. Additionally, CAE’s subject area assessments have helped millions of K12 students across the US. Supported by best practices in assessment development, administration and psychometrics, CAE's performance-based assessments include the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) and College and Career Readiness Assessment (CCRA+). To learn more, please visit and connect with us on LinkedIn and YouTube.

About Strategos Group:
Founded in 2011, Strategos is a national consultancy comprised of former state education commissioners, legislators, White House appointees, and recognized business leaders advising Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, startups, philanthropy and private equity. Strategos Group operates at the national, state and local levels with offices in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C.


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