Empower Students with Higher-Order Skills for College, Career & Life Readiness
Content knowledge is no longer sufficient for college and career success. CAE’s performance-based assessments authentically measure the college and career readiness skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and effective written communication. These are the skills most in demand by higher education institutions and employers.
Do Your Students Have the Skills for Success Today and for Their Future?
60% of entering higher education students are not proficient in higher-order skills — yet these skills are predictive of positive academic and career outcomes.
Critical thinking and analysis, problem solving, and written communication have consistently been ranked by employers as the most important skills over time.
Activities & Resources to Help Students Build the Higher-Order Skills Needed for College & Career Success

The Missing Piece for Future Readiness

Measure and Teach the Higher-Order Skills Needed for Academic and Career Success — Today and Tomorrow

The specific knowledge that will be needed in the jobs of tomorrow is unknown. But whatever the future holds, today’s students will need strong higher-order skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and communication in order to adapt and thrive. 

Using CAE’s performance-based assessments and tailored instructional materials, K–12 school districts and higher education institutions can support the development of the skills students will need for their next steps — whether that’s continued education, the military, or the workforce.

Content mastery paired with strong higher-order skills that help students apply their knowledge is the winning formula for success. And educators and employers agree.

The Higher-Order Skills for Academic and Career Success

CAE’s data show that 60% of students entering higher education are not proficient in higher-order skills and that these skills are predictive of positive academic and career outcomes. This makes it critical that educators provide explicit instruction to help students develop and practice these skills before they graduate and move onto their next step.


  • Making inferences and hypotheses
  • Evaluating data collection methods
  • Detecting questionable assumptions
  • Supporting or refuting a position with scientific evidence
  • Drawing a conclusion
  • Recognizing when additional research is required

Reading &

  • Supporting or refuting a position
  • Analyzing logic
  • Identifying assumptions in arguments
  • Evaluating the reliability of information
  • Identifying connected and conflicting information

Critiquing an

  • Detecting logical flaws and questionable assumptions
  • Addressing information that could strengthen or weaken an argument
  • Evaluating alternate conclusions


  • Stating a position clearly
  • Presenting evidence in support of an argument
  • Elaborating on facts or ideas
  • Constructing an organized and logically cohesive argument
  • Including the use of effective transitions

Writing Mechanics

  • Using vocabulary correctly
  • Demonstrating effective use of varied and complex vocabulary
  • Constructing grammatically and syntactically correct sentences
  • Varying structure and complexity of sentences

Close the Gap in Future Readiness

Higher-Order Skills: The Missing Piece for Academic Success & Career Readiness

CAE’s Higher-Order Skills Solution complements and enriches instruction in core academic subjects, helping students build their higher-order skills and apply the knowledge they’re learning across curricula. 

Our flexible, customizable solutions for K–12 and higher education include:

  • Materials to support the explicit instruction of future-ready skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and written communication 
  • Performance-based assessments to measure and monitor the growth of students’ higher-order skills and to allow them to demonstrate these skills in content area assessments
  • Professional development to help educators effectively use performance-based assessment and integrate critical thinking instruction and practice across content areas

CAE is your partner in education innovation. Using our Higher-Order Skills Solution, your institution can help students build both the content knowledge AND higher-order skills they’ll need wherever their next steps take them.   

Formerly part of the RAND Corporation, CAE has developed hundreds of performance-based assessments, tens of thousands of assessment items, and played a key role in local, national, and international assessment efforts.

Used by 850,000+ students at over 1,300 institutions worldwide & supported by leading foundations

Customers who trust CAE

Our Partners


Build Students’ Portfolios and Resumes with Micro-credentials for Higher-Order Skills

Micro-credentials showcase students’ applied knowledge and skills as they pursue their next steps. Through our partnerships, institutions can offer students micro-credentials for their mastery of critical thinking, problem-solving, and written communication skills, as demonstrated through CAE’s performance-based assessments.

Have Specific Skills You Want to Measure?

CAE partners with national, state, and district organizations to design
innovative custom assessments that measure the constructs
most important to students, educators, and institutions.