P21 – A Framework for the Future

The real focus here is knowing that our students are graduating from high school without many of the skills that are going to carry them to the next step in employment or college.  The hardest part is getting the general public, policymakers, parents, and teachers—yes, teachers—to understand this fact as well.  For the next few weeks, I want to talk about some of the people and organizations who see the trends of the future—the workplace, the economy, academia, and the global up-and-comers—and who are working tirelessly to keep America in the race.  Today, I will write about a collaboration that culminates in a model that prepares students to be world-class citizens, not just high school graduates.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), through research and contributions from (and in response to) partner corporations, has built a Framework for 21st Century Learning, which is a vision for learning that outlines the skills and concepts that students must master to succeed in life.  The framework has been organized into a graphic model, with support systems as the base and student expectations as the product.  Within its foundational model of “21st Century Support Systems,” P21 has the following listed in order of broadest support to narrowest: learning environment, professional development, curriculum and instruction, assessment, and standards.  In other words, each piece of the model is supported by the preceding piece.  In this model, it is clear that curriculum and instruction are supported and put in motion by the development of the professional educators.

Several states have adopted the framework and have passed legislation that mandates the use of the framework in all aspects of K-12 education, from learning environments to curriculum design and core content to life skills.  With the help and feedback of educational, technological, and other large corporations, the framework has been honed to provide the essential building blocks of a solid, well-rounded education that will not only prepare our kids for the high-paying and productive jobs of the new century, but will also create citizens that are charged with keeping our democracy intact and safe for all.

Please read more about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills at http://www.p21.org

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About Kris Nielsen
Kris L. Nielsen has been a middle grades educator and instructional leader for ten years in New Mexico, Oregon, and North Carolina. He is a graduate of Western Governors University’s Master of Science Education program, with emphasis on child development and instructional technology. Kris is an activist against corporate education reforms and has had his writing featured in several online magazines and blogs, including those of the Washington Post and Diane Ravitch. Kris currently lives in New Mexico with his young son and beautiful wife.

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