Paine addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance about Realizing Competitive Education: Identifying Needs, Partnerships and Resources and West Virginia’s effort to prepare students for today’s global economy.
“Rather than preparing our students for their future, we realized we had created an educational system that was preparing students for our past,” Paine said in his testimony. “Through our 21st Century Teaching and Learning initiative, our graduates will enter a fiercely competitive, digital world equipped with the necessary intellectual capital and the finely honed skills that will enable them to compete as productive citizens of a diverse and interconnected world.”
The current generation of 18- to 38-year-olds will likely work an average of 10 jobs in their lifetime, compared to one or two jobs that their parents and grandparents held.
As educators nationwide consider ways to address the need for 21st-century learning to meet the needs of the 21st century work place, many are looking to West Virginia as a model.
In 2005, West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The Partnership's framework puts a special emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, global awareness and business literacy.
West Virginia has adopted six elements of 21st century learning that focus not only on the basics like math, science and reading, but also skills backed by the Partnership.
The state Board of Education also has strengthened the curriculum to add rigor and increase alignment with national and international assessments. Those include the National Assessment for Education Progress, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
“While we know our students must develop learning proficiency in the core subjects that have been the bedrock of America’s education, we also know that these core subjects must be joined by content of the 21st century,” Paine said.