“Equally important to the domestic achievement gap is the global achievement gap between U.S. students–even top performers–and their international counterparts,” said Paige Kuni, worldwide manager of K-12 education for Intel Corp. and P21 chair.

“Quite simply, for the United States to stay economically viable and remain a world leader, the country must make closing all achievement gaps a national priority.”

Abroad, developed and competing nations have focused on imparting a different set of skills–21st-century skills–to their graduates, because these skills increasingly power the wealth of nations, the report says. Furthermore, businesses now require workers who can handle more responsibility and contribute more to productivity and innovation. In fact, from 1995 to 2005, the United States lost three million manufacturing jobs, but, during that same time, 17 million service-sector jobs were created. It is critical that the United States graduate students capable of filling those jobs and keeping pace with the change in skill demands, the report warns.

“It has become apparent that there isn’t a lack of employees who are technically proficient, but a lack of employees who can adequately communicate and collaborate, innovate, and think critically,” said Ken Kay, P21 president.

“At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, legislators and policy makers must focus on the outcomes we know produce graduates capable of competing in the 21st century and forging a viable economic future.”

The report says every aspect of the U.S. education system–from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary and adult education, including after-school and teacher preparation programs–“must be aligned to prepare citizens with the 21st-century skills they need to compete.”

It encourages U.S. schools to do a better job of teaching and measuring advanced, 21st-century skills beyond simply assessing science, reading, and math. In addition, it outlines several actions at the national, state, and local levels that U.S. leaders must undertake to improve economic results and better prepare citizens to participate in the 21st-century economy.

“All Americans, not just an elite few, need 21st-century skills that will increase their marketability, employability, and readiness for citizenship,” the report says.  These skills include critical thinking and judgment, complex problem solving, creative thinking, and communication and collaboration.

P21 is a national advocacy group focused on infusing 21st-century skills into education. The report is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, and the National Education Association.


“21st Century Skills, Education, and Competitiveness”

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the “ Creating the 21 st Century Classroom ”resource center. Preparing today’s youth to succeed in the digital economy requires a new kind of teaching and learning. Skills such as global literacy, computer literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation have become critical in today’s increasingly interconnected workforce and society–and technology is the catalyst for bringing these changes into the classroom. Go to Creating-the-21st-century-classroom

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