Plan calls for action on 21st-century skills

Here are the agenda’s other principles:

• Wide-scale integration of 21st-century skills and knowledge into the teaching and learning process cannot be accomplished through isolated programs or minor tweaking of existing programs. We must entwine them in our education, labor, economic, and technology/telecommunications policies. Governments at the local, state, and national level must align their education, economic, labor, technology, and commerce functions to support 21st-century education from early childhood through higher education and employee retraining programs.

• It’s not enough simply to respond to these needs rhetorically. Educators and policy makers must act on these needs.

• The United States must address both of its educational achievement gaps–the gap between traditionally underserved communities and their more affluent peers, as well as the overall achievement gap between U.S. students and many of their international peers. We cannot do this in steps; both gaps must be bridged, and all students must be able to compete successfully with their peers around the world.

• 21st-century skills and knowledge are not limited to any particular grade or age level, and they should be incorporated into pre-K through higher education, workforce development, and career retraining programs.

• We must invest in our educational infrastructure so all communities have educational systems that provide students with equal access to 21st-century learning environments.

• Educators must have consistent access to the tools and support systems they need to transition to a 21st-century teaching and learning environment. Both in-service professional development and pre-service education must reflect the realities of high-quality teaching in this century.

• The corporate, public policy, and education sectors should collaborate at all levels to ensure that schools provide high-quality education that equips students for this century. The future viability of all these sectors rests in the success of this mission.

Kathy Hurley, chair of the P21 Strategic Council and senior vice president of strategic partnerships for Pearson Education, said educators face a challenge in transforming teaching and learning in a way that prepares students for the workplace and citizenship of the future.

“These competencies fall into three major areas: learning and innovation skills; information, media, and technology skills; and life and career skills,” she said. “This combination is critical for our children’s success in a world where they are literally studying today for jobs we don’t even know will exist 10 years from now.”


National Action Agenda

Laura Ascione