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Economic Development and Education Take Center Stage

May 08, 2006

Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine wants to know what business leaders look for when hiring new employees. Paine kicked off the 21st Century Education Skills in Business Forums on Monday, May 8, 2006 in Morgantown, West Virginia. The initiative is a series of eight gatherings throughout the state designed to encourage open discussion with businesses on ways to better prepare West Virginia students to enter the workforce.  

“We must nurture the relationship between education and economic development,” said Paine. “I have already traveled the state talking with teachers about what they need in the classroom in the 21st century. Now I want to hear from business leaders about what skills they are looking for in potential employees.”  

West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in November 2005. The Partnership's framework puts a special emphasis on information and communications technology literacy, critical thinking, communication skills, global awareness, and business, economic and civic literacy. These same skills are at the core of the West Virginia Department of Education’s 21st century education model.  

“We must bridge the gap between what students learn today and what they need to know to be successful in the 21st century world in which they will live,” said Paine. “Growing numbers of our nation’s workforce are engaged in jobs that require expert thinking and complex communication. Major corporations tell education leaders that one reason they hire workers from other countries is because U.S. schools have failed to produce enough graduates with higher level math and science skills.”  

The 21st century education model that assures our students will have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and prosper today and tomorrow includes six key elements:  

Core Subjects: The 21st century learner must demonstrate knowledge of core subjects like math, reading, science and English/language arts at much higher levels beyond minimal performance levels.  

21st Century Content: Education and business leaders have identified additional content areas that are critical to success of 21st century learners in communities and workplaces: global awareness; financial, economic and business literacy, and civic literacy.  

Learning Skills: Certain learning skills, when utilized to learn core subjects and other content, will ensure that the 21st century learner is able to understand and process knowledge. These skills include:  

-Information and Communication Skills: Accessing and analyzing various forms of information and the use of oral, written and multimedia communication.  

-Thinking and Problem Solving Skills: Critical thinking skills for understanding and making complex choices, and the ability to analyze and solve problems.  

-Interpersonal and Self-Directional Skills: Demonstrating teamwork, leadership and the flexibility to work productively with others; exercising personal responsibility, including personal wellness, and demonstrating ethical behavior.  

21st Century Learning Tools: In a digital world, the 21st century learner needs to learn to use 21st century tools and learning skills to master the core subjects and 21st century content that are essential to everyday life and workplace productivity. The 21st century learner must have the interest, attitude and ability to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access, manage, integrate and evaluate information; construct new knowledge; and communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society.  

21st Century Context: Learning skills, such as communication, teamwork and problem solving need to be taught in a real-world context using 21st century tools.  

21st Century Assessments: The world of the 21st century learner is much more complex and requires more sophisticated pre-requisite skills than in the past. Current high-stakes assessments alone do not evaluate the skills that the education and business communities believe will ensure success in the 21st century. There is no single assessment tool that will accomplish everything. The most appropriate assessment tool must be used in order to evaluate skills or core subject competencies adequately.  

Each business forum will take place from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.:  

May 8, Morgantown, WV, Clarion Hotel Morgan, 127 High Street  

May 15, Wheeling, WV, Perkins, 680 National Road  

May 24, Martinsburg, WV, Comfort Inn, 1872 Edwin Miller Blvd.  

May 25, Mineral Wells, WV, AmeriHost Inn South, 201 Hospitality Lane  

May 30, Summersville, WV, Country Inn and Suites, 106 Merchant Walk Shopping  

June 1, Charleston, WV, Charleston Marriott, 200 Lee Street  

June 1, (4 .p.m.), Barboursville, WV, Hampton Inn, 1 Cracker Barrel Drive  

June 2, Beckley, WV, Country Inn and Suites, 2120 Harper Road  

The West Virginia Department of Education has partnered with The EdVenture Group to facilitate the business forums. For more information about the business forums contact Liza Cordeiro in the WVDE Communications Office at 304-558-2699.  

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