Employers, educators, and workforce developers alike can all gain insights on ACT’s new Holistic Framework. Fifty years of ACT research culminated in a powerful collection of the knowledge and skills to succeed at school and work alike.
Four Domains of the Holistic Framework
- Core Academic Skills: knowledge and skills necessary to perform essential tasks in the core academic content areas of English language arts, mathematics, and science.
- Cross-Cutting Capabilities: general knowledge and skills necessary to perform essential tasks across academic content areas. This includes technology and information literacy, collaborative problem solving, thinking and metacognition, and studying and learning.
- Behavioral Skills: interpersonal, self-regulatory, and task-related behaviors important for adaptation to and successful performance in education and workplace settings.
- Education & Career Navigation Skills: personal characteristics, processes, and knowledge that influence individuals as they navigate their educational and career paths.
The Holistic Framework (a) takes into account important developmental periods and transitions, (b) provides alignment between education and work contexts, and (c) recognizes that this expanded set of knowledge and skills can be used in a variety of ways to structure learning and development opportunities (e.g., curriculum) as well as evaluation systems (e.g., assessments) to help all individuals develop the skills necessary for college and career. The value of assessing noncognitive skills extends beyond accountability purposes to areas such as formative feedback and student development. Cultivating these skills early on will better position students to achieve both academic and nonacademic success by the end of high school (and beyond). As a Midwest District workforce representative, WIB director Jasen Jones assisted in ACT’s National Steering Committee for State Organizations and ACT Public Affairs division as part of ACT’s new Holistic Framework.
Recently, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) was approved as a major revision of Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. In contrast with previous federal education acts, most notably the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, ESSA contains more flexibility for how states and local education agencies measure academic achievement in core academic content areas such as math and English. It also requires states to include noncognitive indicators in the accountability algorithms they use to identify schools that need comprehensive or targeted intervention. Thus, for the first time in decades, federal education policy is in alignment with research showing that noncognitive skills (e.g., behavior, interests, mindsets, study skills, goals, values) are important supplements to core academic content for facilitating college and career readiness and success.