W.Va. Receives One of Three Inaugural 21st Century Skills Practices of the Year Awards

June 05, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s 21st Century Learning Skills initiative on Tuesday received a 21st Century Skills Practice of the Year award from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The Partnership is the leading national education-business coalition focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The award was presented to West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine during the Partnership’s annual best practices’ meeting. North Carolina’s statewide education policy on 21st century skills and Wisconsin’s global literacy initiative also were recognized.  

The awards celebrate the best 21st century skills’ initiatives in the Partnership’s member states. In addition to North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin, applications have been approved for South Dakota and Maine to join the Partnership.  

Judges used the following criteria in selecting the awards: how well the practice encompassed the Partnership’s Framework for 21st Century Learning; how easily the practice could be replicated in other states; and the level of innovation.  

West Virginia Standards for 21st Century Learning Teams of West Virginia teachers, West Virginia Department of Education staff and staff from the state’s higher education institutions worked to incorporate rigorous 21st century learning skills and technology tools into the curriculum 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).  

Teams also revised West Virginia’s content standards and objectives to broaden the scope of the curriculum that triangulates rigorous content, learning skills and technology tools in addition to including performance descriptors.  

The newly created content standards and objectives created were reviewed by local and national experts and deemed to meet world-class status.  

Judges said this was large-scale undertaking of the state’s education department, demonstrating West Virginia’s systemic approach to 21st Century Learning.  

“Successful state-level 21st century skills’ initiatives are grounded in standards that infuse learning skills into content standards,” said Karen Cator, chairwoman of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. “West Virginia has taken a bold step forward in building a 21st century education system.”  

West Virginia’s 21st Century Learning initiative was developed after educators acknowledged the current system was “preparing students for our past instead of their future,” Paine said.  

“Teaching students can no longer be about how many facts can be memorized,” Paine said. “Students must be able to comprehend, problem solve and communicate solutions if they are expected to compete globally. To do that, we must have systemic change not only in what we teach but how we teach. Our 21st Century Learning initiative will provide our graduates with the intellectual capital to compete in an interconnected world.”  

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has emerged as the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The organization brings together the business community, education leaders and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child's success as citizens and workers in the 21st century. The Partnership encourages schools, districts and states to advocate for the infusion of 21st century skills into education and provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change.  

Member organizations include: Adobe Systems, Inc.; American Association of School Librarians; Apple; AT&T; Blackboard, Inc.; Cable in the Classroom; Cisco Systems; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Davis Publications; Dell, Inc.; Discovery Education; EF Education; Education Networks of America; Education Testing Service; Ford Motor Company Fund; Intel Foundation; JA Worldwide™; LeapFrog SchoolHouse; McGraw-Hill Education; Microsoft Corporation; National Education Association; Oracle Education Foundation; Pearson Education; PolyVision; SAP; SAS Institute; Texas Instruments; THINKronize; Thomson Gale; Verizon.  

For more information, see www.21stcenturyskills.org.  

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