The use of ICT for the assessment of Key Competences (COMPASS)



There is a general agreement that, to prepare learners for life in the 21st century, learning and teaching has to focus on developing “Key Competences for Lifelong Learning,” or the so-called “21st century skills,” rather than on relaying and testing facts. In their 2006 Recommendation, the European Union acknowledges the need to move away from knowledge-based learning and teaching to the more holistic, authentic and applied competence-based learning, which respects and considers the importance of attitudes and skills, such as in particular critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem solving, risk assessment, decision taking, and constructive management of feelings.

There have been enormous efforts in many European countries to facilitate this shift by re-designing curricula, investing in teacher training, encouraging teacher collaboration and promoting innovative pedagogical methodologies. However, the firm belief by many practitioners, experts and policy makers alike is that to really make this shift happen, assessment processes and procedures have to profoundly change as well. As long as traditional “teaching to the test” patterns prevail, it is the structure, format and content of the test which will ultimately determine what students learn. That’s why, in the Staff Working Paper accompanying the recent Rethinking Education Communication, there is a focus on promoting innovative assessment strategies that allow to better capture competences as these are displayed in complex and authentic situations.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can contribute to facilitating the transition to competence-based assessment, by providing more complex and authentic contexts for embedding assessment. However, currently ICT are mainly used to improve the efficiency of traditional, knowledge-based tests.


Scope of the Study

This study investigates how ICT can support modernising schools, education and training practices by exploring assessment strategies that adequately capture all dimensions of the key competences for the 21st century for all learners. Current trends in the area of ICT for learning and assessment are discussed in view of their value for supporting the assessment of Key Competences. Based on an extensive review of the literature, an overview of current ICT-enabled assessment practices is provided, with a particular focus on more recent developments that support the holistic assessment of Key Competences for Lifelong Learning in Europe.

The study considers both summative and formative assessment; discusses how ICT can lever the potential of more innovative assessment formats, such as peer-assessment and portfolio assessment, and illustrates how more recent technological developments, such as Learning Analytics, could, in the future, foster assessment for learning. Reflecting on the use of the different ICT tools and services for each of the eight different Key Competences for Lifelong Learning policy options are derived for further exploiting the potential of ICT for competence-based assessment.


  1. To provide an overview on the ways in which ICT are and can be used for assessment of knowledge, skills and attitudes of key competences, especially those transversal competences such as learning to learn, creativity, entrepreneurship and digital competence.
  2. Based on the research evidence available, reflect on the potential of ICT for assessing key competences, taking into account issues related to curricula, learning outcomes, teachers, learners and educational institutions.
  3. Indicate implications and options for policy, with a view to guiding for policies related to the assessment and promotion of key competences.


Policy Context

The study contributed to the work of the European Commission Thematic Working Group on the Assessment of Key Competences, and to the preparation of the European Commission Staff Working Document "Assessment of Key Competences in initial education and training: Policy Guidance" (SWD(2012) 371 final), accompanying the Communication from the Commission on "Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes" (COM(2012) 669 final).

The study has relevant links with the one on Digital Competence (DIGCOMP).


Dissemination activities of the project

Related events:

  • Thematic Working Group on the Assessment of Key Competences Meeting (Brussels, 28 October 2011)
  • Thematic Working Group on the Assessment of Key Competences Meeting (Brussels, 16 June 2011)


Related publications:

  • Redecker, C., Y. Punie, et al. (2012). eAssessment for 21st Century Learning and Skills. 21st Century Learning for 21st Century Skills. A. Ravenscroft, S. Lindstaedt, C. Kloos and D. Hernández-Leo, Springer Berlin Heidelberg. LNCS 7563: 292-305.



Project Leader: Christine Redecker, christine.redecker(at)

Theme Leader: Yves Punie, yves.punie(at)