21st Century Skills

This week I wanted to take a look at the article Beyond the Three Rs Voter Attitudes toward 21st Century Skills. Over the last few years I have started taking more interest in the voting for school board members for the district I live and also happen to teach in. This is what sparked me to look into what some of the research says about the voter attitudes toward these skills.

Boy was this article full of stats! I feel like every other sentence had a new number or percentage attached to it. On page three of the article, there was a graphic that shows the different gaps between the skills that the voter valued and how well they thought the school teach those skills. I've included a screenshot of the bar graph for you to see right away.
Screen Clipping from article, pg 3

I found it interesting how reading comprehension was voted low in how it was being taught compared to the level of computer and technology skills. One would think that while teaching computer and technology skills that the reading comprehension would be worked into those lessons as a given.

Overall the voters believe that schools can and should include 21st century skills, but feel that the schools are doing only a fair or poor job at meeting the needs of the students. I don't necessarily disagree with their results. I do agree that the students should have 21st century skills included in their learning, but I don't think teachers are just doing a fair job. There are plenty of teachers out there that are fantastic at including these skills, and making a huge impact on their students. The resources that teachers need to include these skills within the classroom can be one of the major components that effects how well the teacher can present the skills.

Screen Clipping from article, pg 6
The last line on the article is what strikes my interest. the policymakers do need to make the education system better. They are the ones that can provide the resources any educator needs to make education equal for all students across the nation.


  1. Karen what do you think educators can do to change the mindset of the voters that think teachers are only doing a "fair" job at teaching 21st century skills? Do you think there needs to be more PR on the part of districts? Teachers themselves? More community meetings?

  2. I agree with the voters about reading comprehension. I think we need to change some middle and high school content-area teachers' thinking about reading comprehension. I'm not sure they have been taught how to teach this, and though they assign much material to be read, they don't teach students, especially the strugglers, how to do that. Being taught the skills for reading comprehension should not end in third grade. I'm a reading specialist and when I observe other teachers I'm surprised sometimes at what I'm seeing...That graphic is fascinating, thanks for sharing.
    Carol G.

  3. The poll strike me as useful for our purposes that the public is in near universal agreement and are "captivated" by 21st century learning. It should certainly give us leverage to get the resources we need to spread ICT as a method for teaching and learning. I'm encouraged too that public opinion is moving on from school being all about basic skills and they're "not at cross purposes". Is it me or did they sort of refer to digital literacy as a (new) basic skill? What a cool thought that is! Given that this poll is 10 years old I wonder what the results would be today. I'm wondering too on what those polled are using as a basis for their answers. Along the lines of Nicole's questions, what qualifies those polled to rate school performance? So, Karen for school board president?!

    1. A sentence got deleted from my reply before it posted -- concerning my question about the qualifications of those polled and to what extent should we consider their opinions valid. That question stems from my growing impatience with non-educators believing they're qualified to assess and evaluate the incredibly complex work of our profession. There are elements of this poll I think should be taken with a grain of salt, such as the perceptions of the polled. That said, as long as there are community members and policy makers who would find this information compelling, it could be very useful to move the digital ball forward. Does that make me a hypocrite, a pragmatist, or an opportunist? 😁

  4. I would agree that schools and teachers are doing just a "fair" job of teaching 21st century skills to our students. We have not been provided with the resources or training in how to do this effectively yet. I agree with you, Karen, that teachers are doing the best that we can do and making a difference for our students that are entering this modern world of learning, but we cannot say that we are proficient at teaching these skills to our students because it is such a new structure of education that is just beginning to be discussed and explored.

  5. I also was intrigued by the last line of the article. It is so true that as educators sometimes we are stuck with what is allowed and given to us. If a school doesn't provide you with technology, it is hard to incorporate technology into the curriculum to prepare students to use it in the real world. If the policy is they need to be prepared to take the ACT/SAT by April of Junior year, it also leave us teaching to the tests and teaching them the skills/tricks to take those tests to help get them into college rather than teaching them the skills they need to know to be successful in their careers/lives. What policy would you like to see changed or added to provide teachers with the resources to educate student's better?


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