Press Release

CAE Introduces ‘Next Step’ Assessment Management Platform

Modern system improves delivery and reporting experience for students, educators and institutions


Council for Aid to Education, Inc., (CAE), a nonprofit developer of performance-based and custom assessments that authentically measure students’ essential college and career readiness skills, today announced the launch of the Next Step platform. Through Next Step, clients can more easily assess and analyze the essential skills of critical thinking, problem solving and effective written communication.

Next Step consolidates all client-facing applications used throughout the assessment process, including support and account management, with a single login. To better engage students, clients can now embed technology-enhanced elements, such as video stimuli and response, simulations, highlighting and drag-and-drop functionality into their performance-based assessments. New reporting capabilities allow students and educators to better understand individuals’ readiness for their next step.

“CAE is proud to provide a full-service resource that leverages the latest in user experience design and creates a more efficient assessment process,” said Kelly Rotholz, product director, assessment solutions, CAE. “As a result of our conversations with clients, we prioritized and streamlined the features that enhance assessment administration for all users.”

For educators, Next Step offers a convenient way to deliver CAE’s performance-based assessments, such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) and the College and Career Readiness Assessment (CCRA+). The platform also allows clients to easily design, develop and administer custom assessments, reducing time and effort.

Students can complete assessments and quickly receive their results through enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) scoring and reporting. CAE’s partnership with edtech company Edalex offers students using the platform the opportunity to earn micro-credentials, an evidence-based measure of real-world skills that they can share with colleges and prospective employers.

CAE licensed the ADAM, OSCAR and EMMA products from MZ Development (MZD), an end-to-end performance assessment technology firm, to build Next Step. The company selected these products after an exhaustive analysis of best-in-class vendors.

“We are excited CAE selected us to collaborate on this advanced platform, which reflects the future of meaningful assessment,” said Zac Henrich, CEO, MZD. “CAE’s development of unique performance-based assessments to measure college and career readiness skills is a perfect fit with our technologies. We look forward to helping them grow.”

About CAE
A mission-driven, nonprofit organization, CAE develops performance-based and custom assessments that authentically measure students’ essential college and career readiness skills and identify opportunities for growth. CAE’s Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) for higher education and College and Career Readiness Assessment (CCRA+) for secondary education evaluate the skills educational institutions and employers demand most: critical thinking, problem solving and effective written communication. Based on CAE’s research, these skills are predictive of positive college and career outcomes. CAE also partners with its clients to design innovative performance assessments that measure the constructs vital to students, educators, and institutions, including subject area and grade specific assessments.  Since 2002, more than 800,000 students at over 1,300 secondary and higher education institutions globally have completed CAE’s assessments. To learn more, please visit

About MZD
MZD was formed in 2015 by a group of assessment industry experts. They had one goal – to make performance-based assessment a reality for organizations of any size. Since the release of their flagship platform, OSCAR, MZD has gone on to upend the status quo of the industry, delivering versatile new products that help educators and assessors perform better. They believe in the power of authentic assessment to align skills with real-world needs. Education must keep moving forward to address the challenges of tomorrow.

CAE is proud to provide a full-service resource that leverages the latest in user experience design and creates a more efficient assessment process. ~Kelly Rotholz, Product Director, Assessment Solutions, CAE