Techniques Magazine Techniques March 2011 : Page 10

L EADERSHI p M AttERS CTE and 21st Century Skills in College and Career Readiness By Alisha Hyslop tHE CONCEptS OF COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS have become central to conversations about education reform efforts on the local, state and na-tional levels. In October 2010, the Associ-ation for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Educa-tion Consortium (NASDCTEc), and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) came together to emphasize that career and technical education (CTE) and 21st century skills should be central compo-nents of these conversations. The groups assert, “States, districts and educators will be more effective if they take on the 21st century readiness challenge comprehen-sively: the knowledge and skills embed-ded in CTE and the 21st century skills framework together provide the education system students need now.” In the report “Up to the Challenge: The Role of Career and Technical Education and 21st Century Skills in College and Career Readiness,” ACTE, NASDCTEc and P21 explore shared understandings and common strengths of CTE and P21 efforts, emphasizing that: “Integrating 21st century skills and CTE into the entire education system will put more students on the path to success.” Consider the following excerpt from the report’s executive summary: • College and career readiness is the new direction for K–12 education. Preparing students to transition, with-out remediation, to postsecondary education or to careers that pay a living wage, or both, is the ultimate aim of federal and state education policies, initiatives and funding. • Very few K–12 schools can meet this goal for all students today. Most schools have neither the expectations nor the measures, neither the instruc-tional programs nor the learning environments, to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to compete and succeed in a global economy. • This is all too evident in numerous and varied indicators, including increasing international competitive-ness (both economic and educational); a lack of qualified workers and a skills imperative from employers; mediocre student performance; an achievement gap and a dropout crisis in K–12 schools; and a proliferation of reme-diation in higher education. creating a Better Path to college and career readiness A comprehensive strategy to teach both knowledge and applied skills—includ-ing the “4 Cs” of critical thinking and problem solving, communication, col-laboration, and creativity and innovation skills—is one that employers, educators and the public are ready to support. In addition, employers want prospective workers to acquire at least some level of industry-specific technical skills before they enter the workforce. ACTE, NASDCTEc and P21 are essential partners in shaping a unified vision of college and career readiness. Our three organizations and the commu-nities we represent share understandings that should inform the nation’s efforts to improve 21st century readiness. Incorporating CTE and P21’s Frame-work for 21st Century Learning through-out the entire education system will help transform learning experiences and out-comes for all students. A unified vision of college and career readiness will empower every educational stakeholder to work more effectively in preparing all students to succeed. A more strategic alignment of CTE programs and the Framework for 21st Century Learning with the entire education system will help break down the silos among academic, CTE and 21st century initiatives, programs and teachers. Making these connections will PhOTO BY STOCk.xChNG.COM 10 Techniques March 2011

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