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Partnership for 21st Century Skills Releases Updated Framework for 21st Century Learning

Posted Aug 2, 2007
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The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national education-business coalition that developed the country’s first Framework for 21st Century Learning, has released an updated version of its framework that addresses two key questions of the U.S. education system:

·         What are the skills, knowledge, and expertise today’s students must master to compete globally and become successful 21st Century citizens?
·         What are the critical support systems schools need to produce 21st century teaching and learning outcomes?

The newly revised framework addresses these key questions by developing a clear vision for 21st century student outcomes in the new global economy. It also for the first time defines how school systems can best support these outcomes by focusing diligently on 21st century standards, assessments, professional development, curriculum and instruction, and learning environments.

Karen Cator, chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and director of education leadership for Apple, explained that while the Partnership’s new framework outlines a clear distinction between the 21st century student outcomes and the critical school support systems that are needed to help students master the multi-dimensional capabilities required of them in the 21st century, “all the components must be fully interconnected in the process of 21st century teaching and learning.”

This new framework provides a “compelling roadmap for the entire education system to help students learn the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly global, interconnected workforce and society,” said Bernie Trilling, Partnership board member and senior director of the Oracle Education Foundation. “The education system must move beyond its current focus on basic competency in core subjects to promoting deeper understanding and real-world applications of content.  Weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes and learning projects throughout the core curriculum will go a long way toward engaging students in acquiring essential 21st century skills.”

An example of these skills can be found in a new framework category, created by the Partnership, called learning and innovation skills. These skills are increasingly recognized as distinguishing those students who can thrive in the complex life and work environments of the 21st century. The Partnership’s framework advocates for a focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration as essential to preparing students for the future.

Mastery of information, media, and technology skills is also an essential part of 21st century skills outcomes, said Charles Fadel, Partnership board member and global lead for education, Cisco Systems Inc.

Another key element of 21st century student outcomes, life and career skills, such as flexibility, innovation, self direction, social and cross cultural skills, as well as leadership and responsibility, are increasingly being identified by U.S. employers as the skills they need from their 21st century workforce. According to a 2006 workforce survey sponsored by the Partnership, The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Society for Human Resource Management, the majority of recent hires are not demonstrating these essential skills.

For more information on the Partnership’s expanded framework, go to

Member organizations in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills include: Adobe Systems, Inc., American Association of School Librarians, Apple, AT&T, Blackboard, Inc., Cable in the Classroom, Cisco Systems, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Davis Publications, Dell, Inc., Discovery- Education, EF Education, Education Networks of America, Education Testing Service, Ford Motor Company Fund, Intel Foundation, JA Worldwide, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, LeapFrog SchoolHouse, McGraw-Hill Education, Microsoft Corporation, National Education Association, Oracle Education Foundation, Pearson Education, PolyVision, SAP, SAS, Texas Instruments, THINKronize, Thomson Gale, Verizon. Organizations interested in joining the Partnership may contact

Source: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills,

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