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 in Their Next Steps?
60% of entering higher education students are not proficient in essential skills — yet these skills are predictive of positive higher education outcomes.
Critical thinking and analysis, problem solving, teamwork, and communication through writing and speaking 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

Content knowledge alone is no longer sufficient for success in academics and the workplace.

Uncover Students’ Strengths and Opportunities for Growth

To build students’ skills, educators first need to know the areas in which students need support. CAE’s performance-based assessments authentically measure the essential academic and career readiness skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and effective written communication, providing students and educators with valid and reliable insights to support students’ successes today, and in their next steps — whether moving from middle school to high school, from high school to higher education or the workforce, or through higher education and into a career.

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



Skills Assessment for


Skills Assessments for

Essential Skills for College and Career Readiness

CAE’s data show that 60% of students entering higher education are not proficient in these skills and that these skills are predictive of positive academic and career outcomes. This makes it critical that educators provide targeted instruction that helps students develop and practice these skills.


  • 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

CAE’s Performance-Based Assessments Deliver Actionable Insights to Support Student Growth and Success

CAE’s assessments leverage a performance-task model to uniquely measure students’ ability to think critically, solve problems, and effectively communicate.


  • Are placed in real-world scenarios with engaging tasks
  • Review authentic documents from more- and less-credible sources that contain related and conflicting information
  • Are presented with open-ended problems with no single correct solution
  • Must apply knowledge and produce a response

Scores are provided for individual students alongside comparisons with others in their institution and with CAE’s national sample, incorporating assessment data from nearly 20 years.

The assessment results can be used to inform next steps with instruction, supports, professional learning, and institution-wide programming to build the skills that are predictive of positive college and career outcomes and in demand by employers: critical thinking, problem solving and effective written communication.

CAE also supports student growth by providing critical thinking instructional materials and practice performance assessments as well as professional development on how to use performance tasks in the classroom and how to integrate essential skills into course content.

Used by 800,000+ students at over 1,300 institutions worldwide & supported by leading foundations

Customers who trust CAE

Foundations who trust CAE

Build Students’ Portfolios & Resumes with Microcredentials for Essential Skills

Microcredentials showcase students’ applied knowledge and skills as they pursue their next steps. Through a partnership with Edalex, institutions can offer students microcredentials for their mastery of critical thinking, problem-solving, and written communication skills, as demonstrated on 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.

Our Partners