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Survey reveals school leaders’ opinions on 21st-century skills

Redesigning school assessments to incorporate 21st-century skills is a key educational technology priority, NSBA survey reveals; cyber bullying, professional development, and digital content also are top concerns

Digital content and access is essential to 21st century skill-building, educators say.

Access to digital content is essential to building 21st-century skills, district leaders say.

As school district leaders increasingly incorporate so-called 21st-century skills into their instructional strategies, many believe the federal government should support the development of new school assessment models that effectively measure those skills, a new survey suggests.

Thirty-five percent of respondents in the survey, conducted by the National School Boards Association, listed “assessing 21st-century skills” as the top educational technology priority that Congress and the Obama administration should address. NSBA released the results of its survey during the organization’s annual educational technology conference in Phoenix.

More than 43 percent of survey respondents said their district already has created new school assessment measures to incorporate such skills as problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking.

But with the federal and state governments playing such a large role in school assessment, standardized testing, and accountability, lawmakers need to be involved in finding solutions, respondents said.

“One of the most positive results we are seeing is the widespread use of [educational] technology tools to support collaboration and problem-based learning,” said Anne L. Bryant, NSBA’s executive director. “But [school] assessment models need to change to reflect these higher-level 21st-century skills.”

The survey also found that school leaders are taking school safety and cyber bullying seriously, with nearly 57 percent noting that their districts have created specific policies to prevent online threats and harassment.

An additional 34 percent said such conduct already is covered under existing anti-bullying and school safety policies. Educators say they are using staff development, student awareness campaigns, and parent education programs to address cyber bullying.

Many educators appear ready to cut their ties with the traditional print textbooks in a move to more digital content if equity concerns about student access to devices can be resolved.  Thirty-five percent of survey respondents said textbooks are still necessary because not all students have access to digital content devices, while an equal number (35 percent) believe the money could be better spent on other instructional resources. Twenty-four percent believe textbooks could be eliminated because students find them boring and prefer digital content and electronic resources. Only 7 percent said they felt the texts are necessary because educators do not have the time or skills to create their own digital content or materials.

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Comments:

  1. brannow

    October 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    One concern in the article that I noticed was “helping teachers effectively use technology”. Library Media Specialists are uniquely qualified to work with teachers on this (I have been doing it for 13 years) and also help incorporate 21st Century skills in the curriculum, but across the country districts are cutting their library media specialists. I was full time at the middle school but now must also cover the high school making it very difficult to do a quality job. With the emphasis on 21st Century skills and integrating technology in the curriculum the federal government needs to get behind library media center programs and help districts fully fund them. Our expertise is as critical as the core subject teachers, but districts are viewing these programs a fluff.

  2. brannow

    October 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    One concern in the article that I noticed was “helping teachers effectively use technology”. Library Media Specialists are uniquely qualified to work with teachers on this (I have been doing it for 13 years) and also help incorporate 21st Century skills in the curriculum, but across the country districts are cutting their library media specialists. I was full time at the middle school but now must also cover the high school making it very difficult to do a quality job. With the emphasis on 21st Century skills and integrating technology in the curriculum the federal government needs to get behind library media center programs and help districts fully fund them. Our expertise is as critical as the core subject teachers, but districts are viewing these programs a fluff.

  3. gpflieger

    October 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    In many schools, Library Media Specialists are the technology integrators. They are the school experts at using Web 2.0 tools to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information.

  4. gpflieger

    October 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    In many schools, Library Media Specialists are the technology integrators. They are the school experts at using Web 2.0 tools to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information.

  5. Jessica Reeves

    November 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Media center teachers are not “fluff”…as brannow pointed out. I utilize my Librarian nearly everyday. She set up wiki pages for my kids, glogster account, blogs, and even regular e-mail. She is a life saver when it comes to 2.0 questions..no fluff indeed=)

    http://msjessicareeves.edublogs.org

  6. Jessica Reeves

    November 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Media center teachers are not “fluff”…as brannow pointed out. I utilize my Librarian nearly everyday. She set up wiki pages for my kids, glogster account, blogs, and even regular e-mail. She is a life saver when it comes to 2.0 questions..no fluff indeed=)

    http://msjessicareeves.edublogs.org