Mass.gov
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Go to Selected Program Area
 Massachusetts State Seal
 News  School/District Profiles  School/District Administration  Educator Services  Assessment/Accountability  Family & Community  
 > Administration  Finance/Grants  PK-16 Program Support  Information Services  

District/School Administration

District Use of 21st Century Skills

To:Superintendents, Charter School Leaders
From:Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Date:Thursday, October 1, 2009

stopline

As statewide and national discussions continue about the need to integrate so-called "21st century skills" into teaching and learning in our schools, we need a common understanding about the practical meaning of the phrase in public education.

The phrase "21st century skills" is broad, but to me means the application of academic content knowledge (literacy, English language arts, math, science, social students, including global awareness and financial and economic literacy) and skills needed to communicate effectively and persuasively, develop solutions to real world problems, and work productively by managing time and resources and collaborating with others. This definition can be most clearly illustrated through examples of ways in which these skills are currently being used in the classroom, and evidence that shows they are leading to improved student achievement.

To that end I have formed a committee of educators, business leaders and key stakeholders to collect and evaluate ways in which these skills are currently being used and taught successfully in our schools. The information you provide will help advance the primary goal of this committee, which is to identify ways that these applied skills are promoted and assessed.

This work is being done in conjunction with the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, which has secured funding to conduct a multi-phased project on this topic that will begin later this Fall. They intend to do a detailed online survey of superintendents, principals and charter school leaders statewide. Those survey results will allow the Rennie Center to look more deeply at specific schools and districts throughout the state that have created learning environments infused with these skills. Based on the information gathered through interviews, site visits and classroom observation, a policy brief containing themes and promising practices occurring at the classroom, school and district level will be released in Spring 2010. The Rennie Center will reach out to you directly later this Fall.

For our purposes we are focusing primarily on students' application of academic content knowledge and skills to real world situations. Specifically, our focus is on identifying examples from the Massachusetts public schools where this application is being promoted and assessed, including examples that key in on:

  • Higher order cognitive skills (e.g., synthesis, critical reasoning, problem solving)
  • Communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Information/media and technology skills
  • Life/career skills (e.g., time and resource management, collaboration)
  • Global awareness
  • Financial and economic literacy
  • Civic literacy and engagement

Please complete the attached questionnaire and provide us with a description of a particular program, curriculum or initiative in one or more of your schools that, in your judgment, is your district's best example of how these areas are being implemented in the classroom. Please submit all responses no later than Friday, October 30, 2009 to Heidi Guarino at hguarino@doe.mass.edu, or by mail at 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148.

Thank you in advance for your submission to us and for your cooperation with the Rennie Center effort later this year. We appreciate your support and look forward to learning more about your success stories in the coming months.

Request for information on your district's use of 21st Century Skills

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is seeking information to gain a better understanding of ways in which the Commonwealth's schools and districts are integrating the use of 21st century skills into teaching and learning as a tool to reinforce the teaching of traditional curricular content.

For our purposes we are focusing primarily on students' application of academic content knowledge and skills to real world situations. Specifically, our focus is on identifying examples from the Massachusetts public schools where this application is being promoted and assessed, including examples that key in on:

  • Higher order cognitive skills (e.g., synthesis, critical reasoning, problem solving)
  • Communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Information/media and technology skills
  • Life/career skills (e.g., time and resource management, collaboration)
  • Global awareness
  • Financial and economic literacy
  • Civic literacy and engagement

Please review efforts in your districts that fall into one or more of these categories and submit the information requested below as an illustration of how 21st century skills can be used and/or taught successfully. All of the information submitted will be closely reviewed and select examples will be highlighted in a report distributed statewide later this year, and visited by Commissioner Chester.

To help us in our research please submit:

  1. A description of a particular program, course, curriculum or initiative in one or more of your schools that, in your judgment, exemplifies how educators can implement 21st century skills teaching and learning in the classroom, school or district-wide.
  2. Details on how the program was developed and estimated costs.
  3. Logistical details including staffing/professional development needs, classroom and technology requirements, maximum class size, etc.
  4. Any supplementary materials, reports, examples of student work or data that further describe and support your example.
  5. Explain why you feel this program has been successful and the ways in which you have measured this success.

Please submit all of this information to Heidi Guarino no later than Friday, October 30, 2009 by email at hguarino@doe.mass.edu, or by mail to the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148, Attn: Heidi Guarino.



Last Updated: October 13, 2009
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search · Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact ESE