A copy of the poll and the key messages
will be posed on the P21Web site sometime today.
U.S. STUDENTS NEED
21ST CENTURY SKILLS
COMPETE IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY
Express Strong Support in National
for Teaching More Than Basic Skills
WASHINGTON, DC – Oct. 10, 2007 –
A new, nationwide poll of registered voters reveals that Americans are
deeply concerned that the United States is not preparing young people
with the skills they need to compete in the global economy.
An overwhelming 80 percent of voters
say that the kind of skills students need to learn to be prepared for
the jobs of the 21st century is different from what they needed 20 years
ago. Yet a majority of Americans say that schools need to do a better
job of keeping up with changing educational needs.
The national poll was conducted by Public
Opinion Strategies and Peter D. Hart Research Associates on behalf of
the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
Among the other key findings:
Eighty-eight percent of voters
say they believe that schools can and should incorporate 21st century
skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills, computer
and technology skills, and communication and self-direction skills into
Sixty-six percent of voters
say they believe that students need more than just the basics of reading,
writing and math; schools also need to incorporate a broader range of
Fifty-three percent say they
believe schools should place an equal emphasis on 21st century skills
and basic skills.
“This is a powerful set of data from
American voters that we need to expand what our schools are teaching
to keep pace with the demands of our modern workforce,” said Bill
McInturff, Public Opinion Strategies. “This poll also reveals the
strong connection Americans make between our future economic success
and our education system, a conversation that currently is not happening
among our elected officials.”
“The loud and clear message from this
poll is that Americans recognize the need for our schools to help our
students regain their competitive advantage in a quickly changing world,”
said Geoffrey Garin, Peter D. Hart Research Associates. “Right now,
far more Americans perceive us as falling behind other countries in
this regard than see us as taking the lead.”
The poll’s findings are particularly
relevant given the current debates over the future direction of the
federal No Child Left Behind law, which is up for reauthorization, as
well as the focus that important domestic issues such as education will
receive during the 2008 presidential election cycle. For years U.S.
education policy has been focused on the important task of narrowing
the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged and minority students,
and improving underperforming schools. But stopping the conversation
there denies U.S. students the expanded skills set they now need for
success in the globally interconnected society and workforce of the
21st century, according to the Partnership. Providing all students
with 21st century skills and making education relevant to today’s
world are critical to closing both the achievement gap and the global
“Americans know that a 21st century
education must incorporate a different set of skills that reflect changing
economic demands,” said John Box, chair of the Partnership and vice
president of product development and support for JA Worldwide®. “And
they strongly believe that schools can and must play a role in preparing
students for the challenges they will face.”
The latest findings mirror a similar
study in 2006 of employers by The Conference Board, the Partnership
for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families and the
Society for Human Resource Management. In that study, “Are They Really
Ready to Work?” employers said that the future U.S. workforce is “woefully
ill-prepared for the demands of today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce”
and they cited 21st century skills as “very important” to success
“We now know that employers and the
public are united in their understanding of what it takes to compete
today,” said Partnership President Ken Kay. “These new polling results
provide education leaders and policymakers the tremendous opportunity
to make our education system more aligned with the needs of the 21st
century workforce. The public strongly supports more rigorous expectations
for students that integrate 21st century skills into core academic subjects.
Educators want to equip students with these skills, but they need the
public policy, professional development, assessment and curricular tools
to accomplish this.”
Kay said that the results validate the
efforts of states such as Massachusetts, Maine, North Carolina, South
Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin that are working to infuse 21st
century skills into their standards, assessments and professional development.
He urged education stakeholders nationwide to use these results as a
call to action toward implementing a 21st century skills framework for
learning in their states.
He also added that toward its commitment
to helping education leaders implement 21st century teaching and learning,
the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is developing an online, one-stop-shop
for 21st century skills-related information, resources and community tools called Route 21. Set
to debut on the web on November 7, Route 21 will showcase how 21st century
skills can be supported through standards, professional development,
assessments, and teaching and learning.
“We all recognize that U.S. education
can and should be doing more to prepare our young people to succeed
in the 21st century,” Kay said. “Skills such as problem solving,
innovation and creativity have become critical in today’s global economy.
Integrating 21st century skills into the teaching of core academic subjects
is a win-win proposition for everyone involved. It’s now clear that
U.S. voters understand this. And it’s up to every one of us to ensure
our children receive them.”
Visit the Partnership for 21st Century
Skill’s Web site for more information on the poll and 21st century
About the survey: Public Opinion Strategies
and Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted this national survey
of 800 registered voters from September 10-12, 2007. The survey
has a margin of error of + 3.46%.
About the Partnership for 21st Century
Skills: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is 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.
Funding for this poll was made possible
through the support of the following Partnership for 21st Century Skills’
board member companies: Blackboard Inc., KnowledgeWorks Foundation,
National Education Association, Pearson and SAP.