Perpich Center for Arts Education

Linking Education Policy and Classroom Practice
Twenty-First Century Skills: Education for the global economy
This issue of Linking Policy and Practice focuses on a 21st Century lens for student outcomes and support systems that are geared to the new global economy. Both students and teachers will need to master 21st Century skills and knowledge to be successful in this fast-paced world.

SEPTEMBER 2008 - Read this issue online
A vision for student success
Creative learning key to innovation
Voters concerned: U.S. not preparing young people for global economy
Knowledge economy requires educated workforce
Ohio governor encourages student creativity and innovation
Students "mind-numbingly" bored
U.S. needs conceptual and creative workforce
Teacher development critical to reform
Is the U.S. ready to innovate?
Student performance assessment of complex skills
Questions about learning in the 21st century
The pace of change
How competitive are U.S. High Schools?
Let us not think of education only in terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education. Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.
President John F. Kennedy

A vision for student success
In it's Framework for 21st Century Learning, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills identifies the four student outcomes for this century. The following outcomes are the knowledge, skills and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life:
• Learning and Innovation Skills
• Life and Career Skills
• Information, Media, and Technology Skills
• Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes.

More specifically, the Partnership says that students will need the following Learning and Innovation Skills to be prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments:
• Creativity and Innovation
• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
• Communication and Collaboration

For more information visit the Partnership's website at

Creative learning key to innovation
The American Association of School Administrators devoted their March 2008 issue of The School Administrator journal to "The Arts at K-12's Center Stage: Finding Ways to Increase Student Access to Creative Learning."

Richard Deasy, former Director of the Arts Education Partnership, contributed an article, "Why the Arts Deserve Center Stage: Committing to Creative Learning for Students that will Restore America's Role as a Leader in Nurturing Innovation." He describes the nature of learning in the arts. "As students learn the content, processes and techniques specific to each of these art forms, they are at the same time developing and applying these capacities: imagination, innovation and creativity, engagement and achievement motivation, conditional reasoning, symbolic understanding, critical thinking, and collaborative learning and action." (pgs. 14-15)

For more information visit: The American Association of School Administrators

Voters concerned: U.S. not preparing young people for global economy
A nationwide poll published by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, "Beyond the Three Rs: Voter Attitudes Toward 21st Century Skills," reveals Americans are deeply concerned that the United States is not preparing young people with the skills they need to compete in the global economy.

There is wide agreement, with 99 percent of voters saying that teaching students a wide range of skills - including critical thinking, problem-solving skills, computer and technology skills, and communication and self-direction skills - is important to our country's future economic success.

Americans think schools have not kept pace with changing times.
88 percent of respondents believe schools should incorporate 21st century skills into the curriculum. 80 percent of respondents say that the skills students need to be prepared for the jobs of the 21st century jobs are different from what they needed two decades ago.

For more information visit:

Knowledge economy requires educated workforce
In his article, Charting a New Course in American Education, former U.S. Secretary of Education, Richard Riley says, "I believe we are where we are because the majority of Americans still see the education of our children as just a family and local matter rather than a national priority. In poll after poll, the majority of Americans are satisfied with their local schools, but they view less favorably the quality of education on a nationwide basis. Education and business leaders, however, see clearly the growing economic competition from the rest of the world and realize that we are in the midst of a knowledge economy that absolutely requires an educated workforce." (pg. 123)

The article was published by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, in a collection of essays: Building a 21st Century U.S. Education System.

Mr. Riley recommends greater emphasis on setting standards at the national level while engaging state and local education leaders in the education reform process. He says, "I believe that, at the national level, there is some merit to the idea of a 'grand bargain' - a set of challenging national standards in core subjects that would include reading, math, science, history, social studies, music and the arts, civics and economics - in return for giving the various states greater flexibility and positive inducements to meet those standards." (pg. 126)

The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) challenges the nation to provide every child in America with 21st century teaching.

Ohio governor encourages student creativity and innovation
In an article: "Strickland aims to make education more personalized," the Columbus Dispatch reported in June that Governor Ted Strickland's Institute for Creativity and Innovation in Education is designed to bring together teachers and education advocates to share ideas and come up with new ones.

"It is an attempt. . . to talk about how we can have a system of education that does in fact encourage and foster creativity and innovation." Strickland says, "Because we have become scared and frightened we have fallen behind, there has been a tendency to emphasize sameness in the curriculum. We are trying to force some students into a mold, and we perhaps neglect to appreciate or understand the full array of abilities and potentials that exist within a student."

Students "mind-numbingly Bored"
In his article, Young Minds, Fast Times: The Twenty-First-Century Digital Learner, Marc Prensky, wonders why "when it comes to how we structure and organize our kids' education, we generally don't make the slightest attempt to listen to, or even care, what students think about how they are taught." (pg. 34-36). Prensky writes:

Ok, so kids love computers. They all agree on that. There's another thing they agree on: No matter where I go in the world - the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, or New Zealand - students are mind-numbingly bored in class. Listen up:

"I'm bored 99 percent of the time." (California)
"Pointless. I'm engaged in two out my seven classes." (Florida)
"[I wish] teachers would not talk at us, but with us." (West Virginia)
"They don't let us do things - they just talk to us." (Texas)
"If you don't talk to us, you have no idea what we're thinking."(Hawaii)
Mr. Prensky says we don't listen enough to our students. "This approach no longer works. Not that the inmates should run the asylum, but as twenty-first century leaders in business, politics, and even the military are finding out, for any system to work successfully in these times, we must combine our top-down directives with bottom-up input." (pg. 36)

Find the article in the July/July 2008 issue of Edutopia.

U.S. needs conceptual and creative workforce
Paul Houston, former Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators, presents his point of view in a September 2006 Phi Delta Kappan article: "Barking Up the Right Tree."

"Reports of U.S. jobs, especially high-tech jobs, going to India and China have led to calls on the schools to emphasize math and science. Wait a minute, cautions, Mr, Houston. What if the future belongs to artists, storytellers and poets?"

Mr. Houston argues that if we expect our children to become adept in the range of important subjects necessary to meet future demands, "we must begin to educate our teachers to be more knowledgeable about their subject matter and to be more creative in the way material is presented. Teachers must be designers and storytellers."
(pg. 68)

Teacher development critical to reform
Results that Matter: 21st Century Skills and high school reform, by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, identifies teacher professional development in the 21st century as one of the five essential components for successful school reform.

"Educators need much better pre-service and in-service training that focuses on teaching and measuring 21st century skills. Teachers need to learn how to incorporate learning and thinking skills into core subjects." (pg. 15)

An innovative program, the Quality Teaching Network (QTN) at the Perpich Center for Arts Education infuses creativity into expectations for teacher development. Teachers and artists work to build a spiraling curriculum in the arts to support student achievement and district systems for assessing student learning in the arts, including evidence of students meeting standards in creating, responding and performing.

In his article, 21st Century Learning and Minnesota School District Accountability Systems, Byron Richard, Coordinator of the Quality Teaching Network, explains that "These 21st century professional development activities build collective teacher capacities so that school districts can align their professional development goals and strategies and their student achievement goals and strategies…"

Is the U.S. ready to innovate?
In Ready to Innovate, a study developed as part of The Conference Board Workforce Readiness Initiative, along with Americans for the Arts and The American Association of School Administrators, examined how to foster creativity in new entrants to the U.S. workforce.

"Overwhelmingly, both the superintendents who educate future workers and the employers who hire them agree that creativity is increasingly important in U.S. workplaces (99 percent and 97 percent respectively), and that arts-training - and to a lesser degree, communications studies - are crucial to developing creativity. Yet, there is a gap between understanding this truth and putting it into meaningful practice."

When asked to name the educational backgrounds and experiences they believe are indicators of creativity:

School administrators rank arts study as the highest indicator of creativity, followed by experience in performing arts/entertainment.

Employers rank arts study second, topped only by self-employed work, as an indicator of creativity.

Student performance assessment of complex skills
An Education Week article Showing What They Know describes performance assessments being required for high school graduation in Rhode Island. English teacher, Kevin Blanchard, of Barrington High School says, "It really ramps up the meaning of senior year." He comments, that requiring students to actively engage in a topic tends to better prepare them for college-level academics, as well as the work world, where on-the-job performance is generally the only gauge of competence.

A panel of judges listens to presentations by high school seniors designed to demonstrate the kind of achievement not easily measured on paper and pencil tests. While admittedly there are problems with taking a performance-based system to full scale statewide, students are being given a chance to demonstrate their learning in senior projects. "Students who choose to assemble a portfolio must defend their body of work, including a research project that spans four years, in front of a panel of judges."

Questions about learning in the 21st century
In his keynote address, Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century David Warlick, a thirty-year educator, suggests, "Being literate in the future will certainly involve the ability to read, write and work with numbers. However, the concept of literacy in the 21st century will be far richer and more comprehensive than the 3 Rs of the one room school house. He asks questions like:

- What do you need to know, when most of the recorded knowledge is a mouse-click away?
- How do you distinguish between good knowledge and bad?
- What does it do to the value of information, when everyone is a producer?
- How do we teach ethics, when we are empowering our students with such prevailing skills?

The pace of change
The powerpoint/video Did You Know gives an 8 minute overview of the pace of change in the 21st century, saying, "Shift happens" at an exponential rate!

How competitive are U.S. High Schools?
Participants in a Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, (PDK) were asked, "How about in terms of creativity and problem-solving abilities, where do American high school graduates rank in their creativity and problem-solving skills compared to those in other developed countries - near the top, in the middle, or at the bottom?"
23 % - near the top
51% - in the middle
19% - at the bottom
7% - don't know

The PDK poll also found that 6 in 10 Americans agree that the senior year of high school is not academically productive. However, they don't favor students leaving high school early. Nor do they support the idea that students could receive a diploma based upon a proficiency test as opposed to attending four years of high school.

Also in the PDK poll, more than four of ten public school parents believe there is too much emphasis on achievement testing with only one in ten saying there is not enough.

Prepared by Pamela Paulson, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Policy
Perpich Center for Arts Education
6125 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN 55422
763-591-4700 • 800-657-3513 • 711 (MN Relay Service)

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