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Board Chairman Calls for Creation of a 21st Century Skills Task Force

"Americans increasingly recognize that the U.S. education system can and should do more to prepare our young people to succeed in the rapidly evolving 21st century. Skills such as global literacy, problem solving, innovation and creativity have become critical in today's increasingly interconnected workforce and society." -- The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Massachusetts' leaders in business, government education believe that if the Commonwealth is to be competitive in the future, our education system must do a better job of education our young people in the core disciplines and in those subjects and skills necessary for success in the 21st century. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education presides over the state's education system and has taken leadership in setting ambitious standards for students' learning in the core academic subjects. Those standards must be complemented, not replaced or diluted, by additional standards of knowledge and skill which will ensure that all of our students are prepared for success in post secondary education and in the jobs of the 21st century. A recent report (jointly released by the departments of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education) about the high level of first year college student's remediation needs underscores this point.

We are not currently providing students with the skills they need to be successful in a technologically complex, globally competitive world. In many of our schools, there is insufficient time and attention given to broader skills' development and learning in areas such as oral communication, information processing, the application of technology to complex problems, critical thinking, media literacy, creativity/innovation, global awareness, cultural competency, problem-solving, teamwork/collaboration, self-directed learning and leadership. In many cases, these skills can be, and sometimes are, included in the strategies teachers use to address core subjects, however too often, these skills are neglected. Recognizing time limits and the pressures of current accountability incentives, the Board, nonetheless, is considering how to encourage a balanced education.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is convening a Task Force on 21st Century Skills to assist the Board in considering how to infuse 21st century learning into the work of the state's public schools. Specifically, the Task Force is being asked to recommend how the Board might supplement its work on standards, assessments, accountability, curriculum, professional and teacher development to signal educators across the Commonwealth that 21st century skills should be infused into the curriculum.

The Task Force on 21st Century Skills will be charged with:

  • Reviewing the literature on 21st century skills;
  • Making recommendations on how 21st century skills can be integrated into or used as a supplement to the state's existing educational program;
  • Identifying appropriate standards, assessment and accountability components as well as curriculum, professional and teacher development that will lead to successful inclusion of 21st century skills; and
  • Preparing a white paper to assist the Board in giving further consideration to these issues.



Last Updated: May 1, 2008
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