Report: Results that Matter: 21st century skills and high school reform


Reform: School improvement


Partnership for 21st century skills




Partnership for 21st century skills


l levels of Across the country, there is a refreshing and growing movement to improve America’s
government to implement high schools. However, as it is envisioned now in the many admirable initiatives under
way in both the public and private sectors, high school reform is not likely to produce
some fundamental
graduates who are prepared for the challenges of the modern world.
reforms that will result
in signiicantly better the reason is straightforward: there has been little or no consideration given to the
results that matter for today’s high school graduates. Creating high schools that truly
will improve learning, achievement and competencies demands a clear understanding
— SuSan Sclafaniof the knowledge, skills and attributes that are increasingly important for every high , co-Director,
america’s choice State school student today. alliance
for High Performance, and former
High schools must be designed, organized and managed with a relentless focus on
assistant Secretary for Vocational and
the results that matter in the 21st century — in addition to the traditional metrics of
adult Education and counselor to the
attendance, graduation and college matriculation rates — or they risk missing the mark.
Secretary at the u.S. Department of
traditional metrics are important, but they are no longer suficient indicators of student
there is broad agreement — and ample evidence, which is highlighted in this report
— that for many students, high schools are not working and need to be overhauled.
this report presents three fundamental ideas about high schools that are not yet
widely perceived:
1 There are results that matter for high school graduates in the 21st century
— and these results are different from and go beyond traditional metrics.
even if every student in the country satisied traditional metrics, they still would remain
woefully under-prepared for success beyond high school.
2 Improving high schools requires the nation to redeine “rigor” to
encompass not just mastery of core academic subjects, but also mastery of
21st century skills and content. Rigor must relect all the results that matter for
all high school graduates today. today’s graduates need to be critical thinkers, problem
solvers and effective communicators who are proicient in both core subjects and new,
21st century content and skills. these 21st century skills, which are detailed beginning
on page 10, include learning and thinking skills, information and communications
technology (ICt) literacy skills, and life skills. twenty-irst century skills are in demand
for all students, no matter what their future plans — and they will have an enormous
impact on students’ prospects.
3 The results that matter — 21st century skills integrated with core academic
subjects — should be the “design specs” for creating high schools that
are truly effective for students and the nation. only by setting clear goals that
incorporate 21st century skills can high schools truly prepare students to succeed in
postsecondary education, workplaces and community life.


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