Americans value 21st century skills, poll says

Americans are deeply concerned that the United States is not preparing young people with the skills they need to compete in the global economy,’ says a new poll commissioned by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

The Partnership, which includes a mix of education groups and high-flying Silicon Valley companies, focuses much of its effort on publicizing a “rainbow” framework of 21st Century skills, important student outcomes, and necessary support systems.

Here are some poll highlights from the Partnership’s “Key Findings” document:

•    Voters applaud schools for the manner in which they have embraced computer skills and technology, and have incorporated these skills into the classroom.

•    But, there are skills areas voters believe are critically important in the 21st century that are not being taught well in our schools today.

•    These include 21st century skills such as critical thinking, ethics and social responsibility, teamwork and communications skills.

•    While expressing strong support for 21st century skills, voters are not backing away from traditional, basic skills such as reading, math and science.

•    Reading comprehension ranks highest in importance among voters polled.

•    Americans seem to recognize that literacy remains a fundamental gateway skill for learning core academic content, acquiring 21st century skills and performing on the job.

•    At the same time, voter attitudes clearly have shifted away from the “back to basics” movement that was a strong theme for school improvement during the 1990s.

•    But voters want more than just the basic skills taught in our schools.

•    Two-thirds (66%) of voters say we need to incorporate a broader range of skills in our curriculum.

Read the press release — and check out the poll details in this slide presentation.