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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3016 or JC Considine 781-338-3112

Task Force Recommends Integration of 21st Century Skills Throughout K12 System

Calls For Changes to Educator Preparation, Assessment and Accountability

MALDEN - To compete successfully for tomorrow's jobs, today's students will need to learn to be future leaders who can think creatively, work collaboratively, use technology to solve problems and take initiative.

Doing this right will require educators to dramatically change their thinking and expectations of public education by integrating the use of 21st century skills in every subject and at every grade to prompt students to learn the skills as they learn the content, according to recommendations presented on Tuesday to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education by its Task Force on 21st Century Skills.

"Today's employers have been clear that basic skills just aren't enough to be successful in today's high-technology, fast moving global economy anymore," said Board member Gerald Chertavian, who chaired the Task Force. "We need to take bold steps now to move our system of public education forward so that our students will have the academic knowledge, tools and skills they will need to be successful when they leave our schools."

The definition of 21st century skills stems from extensive research done on the real skills employers nationwide say they need, and have led to the development of the Partnership on 21st Century Skills and statewide efforts across the country. The catch-all phrase covers a spectrum of skills and abilities ranging from critical thinking to creativity, innovation to leadership, global awareness to media and financial literacy.

The 22-member Task Force (see attached list) was formed in April by then Board chair and current Education Secretary Paul Reville, and tasked with developing a set of recommendations for ways to integrate 21st century skills into the state's educational program through improvements to existing standards, assessment tools, measures of accountability and professional development efforts.

The Task Force recommendations include:

  • Educator Training and Development: Overhaul the state's teacher training and professional development programs to recruit and retain high achieving educators who have a background in and up-to-date knowledge of 21st century skills.
  • Standards: Raise the state's bar on rigor by embedding 21st century skills and content through the Commonwealth's curriculum frameworks in every subject.
  • Assessment: Become a national leader in assessment by integrating the measurement of 21st century skills throughout the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).
  • Accountability: Hold teachers, administrators and the state accountable for incorporating 21st century skills into the curriculum in a complementary way and hold students accountable for learning them.
  • Demonstration Vehicles:

    • Establish up to five 21st Century Districts and up to ten 21st Century Schools
    • Expand the number of Expanded Learning Time Schools to 100 or more
    • Establish the "Creative Teaching Partners Initiative," and strive to place up to 1,000 artists, scientists and/or engineers-in-residence in schools part-time over the next five years

Secretary Reville called the recommendations "visionary" and pledged to work with Governor Patrick and the Legislature to prioritize their implementation.

"Even in difficult fiscal times it is critical that we continue to look to ahead and provide our students with the right set of skills," he said. "We have the best standards in the country, but if we do not address this issue now we will short-change our children's futures."

Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester agreed.

"These recommendations appropriately challenge us to make our schools not just among the best in the country, but among the best in the world," he said. "I wholeheartedly accept this challenge and look forward to turning this vision into a reality for the children of the Commonwealth."

The recommendations will be discussed by the Board in detail in December.

  View HTML PageStatement from Secretary Reville on 21st Century Skills Task Force Report

Members of the Task Force on 21st Century Skills

  • James Canavan, Director of Human Resource Operations for Boston Medical Center
  • Harneen Chernow, Vice Chair of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Gerald Chertavian, Founder of Year Up, Member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chairman, Task Force on 21st Century Skills
  • Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor of Technology, Innovation, and Education
  • Nick Donahue, President and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation
  • Paul Dulac, Superintendent of the Marblehead Public Schools
  • Kathy Ennis, Executive Director of Primary Source
  • Charles Fadel, Global Lead, Education for Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Andrew "AJ" Fajnzylber, Chairman of State Student Advisory Council, Member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Tom Fortmann, Member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Chris Gabrieli, Chairman of Massachusetts 2020
  • Paul Grogan, President of the Boston Foundation
  • Rep. Patricia Haddad, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Education
  • Robert Richardson, Education Program Manager at Intel
  • George Russell, Executive Vice President of the State Street Corporation
  • Eric Schwarz, President and CEO of Citizen Schools
  • Gail Snowden, CEO of Gail Snowden Consulting Services
  • Adria Steinberg, Vice President of Jobs for the Future
  • Paul Toner, Vice President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association
  • Anita Walker, Executive Director of MA Cultural Council
  • Andrew Zimmer, Broad Institute
  • Isa Zimmerman, University of Massachusetts



Last Updated: November 18, 2008
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