Assessing countries’

The 4D index: ranking of skills,
character and meta-learning

Leading Education 3


This report is not a Research Paper; it is a Discussion Paper. It is intended to advance the imperative for multidimensional assessments of countries’ competencies. The authors fully and openly recognise the methodological challenges – in conceptualisation, in data sources, in construction and in establishing validity. This paper does not claim to have resolved those challenges.
However, we wish to point out that:
The process used is not unusual, even in education circles: for instance,
the construction of university rankings,1 with several competing views about which parameters matter, and their weights.
Similarly, The Economist, financed by the Yidan prize,2 has published its ‘Worldwide Education for the Future Index’ in 2018 and 2019,3 with arguably opaque parameters, such as:

2. There is a tendency by the education research community to focus on
‘demonstrable validity’, which, if pushed too far, impedes progress. There are limits to demonstrability, and even the best instruments like PISA have their share of uncertainties.
Furthermore, implying resolution of validity problems misrepresents the quality of the underlying data (for instance, debating the weight given to a parameter, when the error bar of the parameter might exceed the weight variation). The Centre for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) paper ‘Theory of Change and Research Process’4 describes this complexity under the section ‘Evidence’.
3. The parameters at stake are hard to define to begin with, although CCR has established specific criteria during its research. CCR is collating large statistical surveys with variable validity, so it considers that triangulation is the best way to ascertain the hard-to-measure Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning abilities described here. This is a clear demarcation from, and complementary approach to, the traditional psychometrician approach of ‘few data points with high validity’.
If readers are keen to learn more details of the proxy parameters used in this study, please contact the Centre for Curriculum Redesign. CCR is committed to further investigation and development of this work and sincerely welcomes constructive feedback to this Discussion Paper.

Overview & Preview

9 Chapters

26 Pages

Building on the initial work done in collaboration with Brookings Institution, the CCR has developed an Index to highlight the disconnects between measures of students and adults education on one side, with the aggregate results of their countries on the other side. It expects this report to serve as a mindful thought-provocation about the importance of societal learning, and Competencies learning rather than only Knowledge – Knowledge is critical but not sufficient.

About the author.


Charles Fadel is a global education thought leader and author, futurist and inventor; founder and chairman of Center for Curriculum Redesign; project director Harvard GSE; member President’s Council at Olin College of Engineering; chair education committee at BIAC/OECD; co-author of “Artificial Intelligence in Education” (2019); “Four-Dimensional Education” (framework in 21 languages) and best-selling “21st Century Skills”; founder and president Fondation Helvetica Educatio (Geneva, Switzerland). Has worked with education systems and institutions in more than 30 countries. Spent 25 years in technology management (M/A-COM; Analog Devices); founder of Neurodyne AI; formerly Global Education Lead at Cisco Systems, visiting scholar at MIT ESG and Wharton/Penn CLO, angel investor with Beacon Angels. BSEE, MBA, seven patents.

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There is a tendency by the education research community to focus on ‘demonstrable validity’, which, if pushed too far, impedes progress

Charles Fadel

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