Measuring 21st Century Student Outcomes
I have read over and used the P21 Commissions 21st Century Student Outcomes, linked below, to drive systematic linkages between the rigorous core curriculum and emerging 21st Century work force drivers. This is an outstanding research vetted framework I would highly encourage school districts adopt. The challenge with these outcomes, not unlike any outcomes, does not lie with the development but with measuring of impact. Schools are adept at using existing measurements for student content knowledge mastery but that is not to say there isn’t room for improvement. The challenge is how to measure mastery in innovation, technology skills, life skills, etc… There are many forces at play in school districts acting against this critical work. First and foremost, school districts and staff must be willing to open up the conversation and relinquish some of the control to the business community in designing the student outcomes and examples of student outcome mastery. Business representatives must be at the table to help develop the outcomes and the instructional activities, projects and work place experiences that will provide our student the necessary opportunities for relevant mastery of the 21st Century Student Outcomes.
A second major hurdle for most school districts is the inability or reluctance to invest monetary capital into technology infrastructure, professional development, hardware and software necessary to ensure our students are technology literate and proficient. Contrary to my college math teacher, the graphing calculator did not ruin the intellectual capacity for math in myself or others. It was simply a tool where I could use efficiently only after I understood the content and principles taught. Technology is tool that our students must be adept at using to be successful and competitive in a 21st Century global work force. Without providing students daily access to these essential tools and them expecting them to be a successful employee would be akin to training a surgeon without surgical experience and saying go forth and operate.