Improving high schools requires the nation to redefine “rigor” to encompass not just mastery of core academic subjects, but also mastery of 21st-century skills and content, many experts believe. Today’s graduates need to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and effective communicators who are proficient in both core subjects and new, 21st-century content and skills–including learning and thinking skills, information and communications technology literacy skills, and life skills. “Results That Matter: 21st Century Skills and High School Reform,” a new report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, makes the case for this shift in the nation’s focus. The report also includes a vision for 21st-century learning and assessment and provides a set of recommendations for federal, state, and local education leaders to follow to make this vision a reality. “High schools must be designed, organized, and managed with a relentless focus on the results that matter in the 21st century–in addition to the traditional metrics of attendance, graduation, and college matriculation rates–or they risk missing the mark,” said John Wilson, the group’s chairman, who is also executive director of the National Education Association. “Traditional metrics are important, but they are no longer sufficient indicators of student preparedness.”
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