Partnership for 21st Century Skills Honors Recipients of Inaugural 21st Century Skills Practice of the Year Awards

Innovative Education Initiatives in North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin Receive National Recognition

CHARLESTON, W.Va., June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — North Carolina’s statewide education policy on 21st century skills, West Virginia’s 21st century learning skills’ standards and Wisconsin’s global literacy initiative were the three programs honored as the inaugural recipients of the 21st Century Skills Practice of the Year awards, which were announced Tuesday by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The Partnership is the leading national education-business coalition focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The awards were presented to representatives from each state at a ceremony held during the Partnership’s annual best practices’ meeting.

The awards celebrate the best 21st century skills’ initiatives in the Partnership’s member states. In addition to North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin, applications have been approved for three additional states to join.

  Judges used the following criteria in selecting the awards:

— How well the practice encompassed the Partnership’s Framework for 21st
Century Learning
— How easily the practice could be replicated in other states; and
— The level of innovation.

North Carolina’s 21st Century Skills’ Policy

The guiding mission of the North Carolina State Board of Education is that every public school student will graduate from high school, globally competitive for work and postsecondary education, and prepared for life in the 21st century. The Partnership’s Framework for 21st Century Learning was used to develop the new policy which has the following guiding principles:

  — North Carolina public schools will produce globally competitive
— North Carolina public schools will be led by 21st century
— North Carolina public school students will be healthy and responsible.
— Leadership will guide innovation in North Carolina public schools.
— North Carolina public schools will be governed and supported by 21st
century systems.

Upon completion of the new mission and goals, the board conducted regional community meetings across the state to broaden public understanding of the skills — and to gain key stakeholder support of and traction for the effort. State Board approval of the new education policy led to the development and approval of school leadership standards that are consistent with the Partnership’s framework and a principal evaluation instrument is being developed for piloting in July 2008. The state’s teaching standards are also under similar review.

The judges said this was a strong example of education policy that embodies 21st century skills and supports the 21st century skills’ movement.

Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, commended North Carolina for including key elements of the Partnership’s framework to create a statewide 21st century skills’ initiative, including 21st century metrics for professional development, assessment and standards. “North Carolina’s work creates a model 21st skills’ policy for other states to replicate,” he said.

West Virginia Standards for 21st Century Learning

Teams of West Virginia teachers, West Virginia Department of Education staff and staff from the state’s higher education institutions worked to incorporate rigorous 21st century learning skills and technology tools into the curriculum. Teams also revised West Virginia’s Content Standards and Objectives to broaden the scope of the curriculum that triangulates rigorous content, learning skills and technology tools in addition to including performance descriptors.

The newly created content standards and objectives created were reviewed by local and national experts and deemed to meet world-class status.

Judges said this was large-scale undertaking of the state’s education department, demonstrating West Virginia’s systemic approach to 21st century learning.

“Successful state-level 21st century skills’ initiatives are grounded in standards that infuse learning skills into content standards,” said Karen Cator, chair of the Partnership and director of education leadership at Apple. “West Virginia has taken a bold step forward in building a 21st century education system.”

Wisconsin’s Global Literacy Initiative

Wisconsin state leaders recognized that its citizens need to be globally literate to understand the linkage of economies, peoples and cultures around the world, and to function comfortably and effectively in other languages and cultures. The state superintendent and governor convened the Statewide International Education Council in 2002. For almost five years the council has led Wisconsin’s efforts to bring international perspectives and skills to PK-16 education. Visible results include publication of Wisconsin’s guide to “Planning Curriculum in International Education,” the only one if its kind in the nation; the development of five Regional Leadership Alliances, each with business and education co-chairs; an International Education Summit to gather a broad range of perspectives to help shape recommendations for internationalizing education; and publication of statewide international education recommendations, “Global Literacy for Wisconsin,” stating five key goals:

  — Global literacies for all students
— World languages for all students
— Global training for all teachers
— Intercultural experiences for all citizens
— International linkages for Wisconsin businesses and government

Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction also is connecting to educators and communities in France, Germany, Japan and Thailand. These official collaborations lead to many opportunities for schools to bring broad perspectives to all subject areas and to prepare students for living beyond their customary borders.

Judges said that this practice represents a comprehensive international education program and is a solid example of global awareness in practice.

“Wisconsin is a nationally recognized leader in bringing an international perspective to its educational system,” said John Box, vice chair of the Partnership and vice president of product development and support for JA Worldwide(TM). “The state has demonstrated its continuing commitment to equipping its graduates with the international education and world languages its students need to compete in a globally competitive work force.”

North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin are leaders in the 21st century skills’ movement and “their work should serve as models for building a world-class education system,” Kay said. “These awards applaud the collaborative leadership in each state and bring well-deserved national visibility to their exceptional teaching and learning practices.”

About the Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has emerged as the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The organization brings together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child’s success as citizens and workers in the 21st century. The Partnership encourages schools, districts and states to advocate for the infusion of 21st century skills into education and provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change.

Member organizations 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(TM), 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.

For more information,

Source: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

CONTACT: Barbara Michelman for The Partnership for 21st Century Skills,
[email protected]

Web site: