21st Century Skills Are Key to Future Student Success

October 03, 2007


CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ Twenty-first Century Learning skills are part of a proactive approach to teaching higher level, analytical thinking that will help West Virginia students succeed in the global economy, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine said Wednesday.



Paine told Charleston’s Vandalia Rotary Club members about West Virginia’s plan to change not only what is taught in schools but how it is taught to students from preschool to high school.

“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. Our 21st Century Learning initiative will provide our graduates with the intellectual capital to compete in an interconnected world.”  

In 2005, West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which marries business interests with classroom instruction. The partnership has 35 members, including Adobe Systems, Apple, Cisco Systems, Dell, Ford Motor Co., Intel, Oracle, Microsoft and Time Warner, among others.  

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has emerged as the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education and 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.  

Since joining the partnership, West Virginia has worked to add rigor to its educational system and incorporate 21st century skills, including learning and thinking skills; information and communications skills; technology skills; and work place productivity skills. The state department also has conducted numerous professional development opportunities for superintendents, principals and teachers. 

David Yaussy, a past president of the Vandalia Rotary, said it was nice to hear about the good things going on in education in West Virginia.

“Many of our members are the same people who are hiring college graduates so they are very concerned about education,” Yaussy said. “These changes are very promising.”

Paine warned that increasing rigor likely will not come without costs. West Virginia will likely see test scores drop until students adjust to the tougher curriculum.

"That is a risk we must take,” Paine said. “As the world becomes more competitive and complex, our nation’s future depends on the education of our young people. We want our students to be ready for the world and we want West Virginia to have graduates of 21st century schools who are the best-prepared generation in history.”

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