Mission Skills Assessment

At The Lexington School


  • Finds solutions during conflicts
  • Demonstrates respect for feelings of others and listens well
  • Knows when and how to include others
  • Adapts effectively to different group situations


  • Generates new ideas
  • Synthesizes information in new ways
  • Explores new ideas eagerly
  • Asks and answers questions to deepen understanding


  • Makes decisions and takes actions based on the needs of the community and not just self
  • Treats people with respect, sensitivity, and fairness
  • Demonstrates honesty and trust


  • Finishes what he or she begins
  • Tries very hard even after experiencing failure
  • Works diligently and independently
  • Sees setbacks as temporary


  • Pursues opportunities for independent learning
  • Shows enthusiasm for trying and learning new things
  • Asks and answers questions and knows how to ask the next question

Time Management

  • Comes to class prepared to learn
  • Pays attention and resists distraction
  • Gets to work rather than procrastinates
  • Maintains a system to complete work and prioritizes tasks

Mission Skills Assessment

Mission Skills Assessment: a tool to alter the way schools think about education. MSA measures six character strengths—Teamwork, Creativity, Ethics, Resilience, Curiosity, Time Management—that have proven essential for success in school and in life. The assessment gives each school a more scientific way to measure its curriculum's success at meeting the goals outlines in its mission.

Why we teach it

What if a test could answer this important question: Does The Lexington School fulfill its Mission and Philosophy Statement? Math and vocabulary skills are more concrete,and standardized tests have fairly successfully measured them through the years. The life skills that The Lexington School and many other independent schools value such as perseverance, work ethic, integrity, lifelong learning, and teamwork, however, are much more difficult to measure and assess.

What it is

The Lexington School, along with fellow schools from the Elementary Schools Research Collaborative (ESRC) has made a groundbreaking shift in the focus of assessment in our schools.  The Mission Skills Assessment (MSA) is developed with the sole intent of measuring the skills that schools like The Lexington School hold in highest regard.  These are the skills woven into the school's mission statement and philosophy of education.

In recent years, The Lexington School along with the ESRC has formed a partnership with ETS, the well-known non-profit testing organization based in Princeton, NJ. Dr. Rich Roberts and a research team from ETS’s Center for New Constructs worked to determine whether it is possible to assess “21st century skills” with a standardized test.  Their findings show that The Lexington School can measure skills in its mission with reliability and validity.  The MSA is a valid test.

The MSA differs significantly from typical standardized tests. It is web-based and given twice a year. It takes less time than other tests, approximately 60 minutes. The six subtests of the MSA include creative thinking, intellectual curiosity, collaboration, resilience, ethics, and time management. Each subtest is comprised of three components: a self-assessment, a teacher assessment, and a “situational judgment” assessment. For creative thinking, for example, students are asked to rate themselves in various aspects of creative and original thinking. Then a teacher will rate individual students using similar prompts. Finally, students are presented with real world problems or dilemmas and are asked to come up with creative solutions or explanations. The results of all three sections will ultimately be cross-referenced to provide a dense analysis of an individual student’s creative thinking abilities relative to other students. These are not right or wrong or content questions; rather, they attempt to measure creative thinking aptitude at a particular point in time. The focus for The Lexington School is on gathering institutional and longitudinal data, not on isolating individual performance.

The Lexington School is proud to have led the way in designing a test that accesses many of these “21st century skills.” While it is unlikely that any test will be able to truly reflect and assess the true abilities of every child, TLS is excited to be a part of a pioneering group of educators who are looking for a more authentic way to determine whether we--as a school--are doing what we truly say we are doing. If anything, it gets rid of that darn #2 pencil.