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.

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