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Common Core: Putting Students on Paths to 21st-Century Success

A little more than 20 years ago, I graduated from college with a degree and an eagerness to help students. During my time as a camp counselor, I had the opportunity to work with young people, so I knew I possessed two gifts: the ability to reach young people and enjoy the intrinsic reward of their successes.

Once I began teaching, I struggled mightily, as most young teachers do. I definitely had my middle school students’ attention, but I wasn’t sure they were reaching their potential. The solution came when I decided to focus on students’ needs: what they needed to know and what they needed to be able to do. As my career progressed, I had a lot more learning to do—but focusing on my students’ needs put me on the path toward becoming a more effective teacher.

This year, while serving as a teacherpreneur with the Center for Teaching Quality, I started to examine our educational landscape and saw many needs involving the new standards. I spoke to both parents and teachers who wanted more resources about how the standards relate to 21st-century learning and career and college readiness.

I’ve studied the standards, and I believe wholeheartedly that they will make students more effective thinkers and learners who are better prepared for life after high school. Teachers across the nation are working hard to implement the standards and prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century—but sometimes it’s difficult to explain how the standards play a part in this journey.

Introducing Two New Tools for Parents and Teachers

I recently created two resources to help teachers and parents navigate what the new standards mean to children. The standards are just one of many paths to 21st-century success.

This downloadable, shareable, and printable poster has two parts. On the left side, you’ll see six classroom scenes that show a necessary 21st-century skill that teachers are developing through their instruction with the help of the standards. All six of these skills lead to 21st-century success—and can be found embedded in various lessons and activities at every grade level.

The right side of the poster shows where these classroom paths lead: to three top skills that employers say students will need to be college and career ready. (Research shows that college and career readiness is the #1 topic of interest to parents when discussing the standards.) So this poster shows exactly what parents want to see—how teachers are preparing students for 21st-century success. 

This tool also includes an evidence sheet for teachers to use when speaking with parents about the standards. Teachers can “plug in” their own classroom activities to help parents understand how those activities build 21st-century skills and prepare children for college and careers:

I invite you to use, share, and comment on these tools. I hope to help all teachers communicate some of the many strengths of the new standards with parents. And I hope you’ll join the Collaboratory and the Common Core lab to share your experiences with the standards, including strategies for how you develop 21st-century skills in your classroom.


Download the poster and evidence sheet for your state here.


Jennifer Maria commented on July 16, 2014 at 9:09pm:

I love the poster!!

Thank you for sharing the poster!  I LOVE IT and shared it with my math supervisor.  Unlike many people, I am support the CCSS. Parents of my students are complaining that the new standards “make math difficult.”  I often hear, “I do not understand my child’s math homework anymore”.  I understand that there are new approaches and strategies taught in math class, but parents do not understand that this is not what the CCSS are about.  The homework and test questions that parents are complaining about are developed align to the standardized assessments required by each state.  Parents need to be aware of what the standards are about and I think your poster does an excellent job doing so.  The standards are to help students become college and career ready, but it is difficult to understand exactly what that means.  You displayed it so nicely.  Thanks again!    


Rob Kriete Rob Kriete commented on July 17, 2014 at 4:57pm:

Happy it can help


Thank you so much for your comments! I hope it helps build some substantive bridges in communicating a somwhat bigger picture to what we are doing in our classrooms daily.  Please continue to share it.

Thanks again.

Terry Jones commented on July 17, 2014 at 8:12pm:

Thank you

Rob, you get 10 out of 10 for this one, my good man. Job very well done indeed!

Cheri Husby commented on August 11, 2014 at 9:47am:


Thanks so much for putting these together is such an easy to follow format. I think parents will love to see our vision. 

Rob Kriete Rob Kriete commented on August 12, 2014 at 5:52pm:


Thank you all for your support of the Core! (or whatever your state is calling the new standards)

I hope this tool builds some clearer understanding of what we are teaching and how we are preparing our students for career and college readiness.

Sundi Pierce commented on August 12, 2014 at 9:51pm:


Love the posters.  I am sending it via internal to my teachers at Benito.

Darlene commented on September 25, 2014 at 6:53am:


Just found the Florida one- thanks!

Marsha Ratzel commented on October 7, 2014 at 7:10am:

Well done and it will b well used

Dear Rob,

I think this tool would be terrific to have just outside my door at Parent Teacher Conferences.  It might start some excellent conversations and I would think it would give the community stakeholders a more informed set of facts to use in those conversations.


Carrie Kamm commented on October 9, 2014 at 10:20am:

Thank you!

Hi Rob,

Thank you for creating these!  I plan to share them with teacher in my district as a resource for parent teacher conferences.  Thank you!

Kristi Gaines commented on January 26, 2015 at 9:20pm:

Thank you! These will help me

Thank you! These will help me so much with my Teacher Leadership Initiative Capstone Project! Any specific ways you'd like me to credit your work as I share with colleagues and parents??

Jenna Hansen commented on May 1, 2016 at 12:13am:

Great resource for families!

Thanks for sharing these!  They'll  be a great tool to have available for families!

Angie Waugh commented on May 6, 2016 at 10:06pm:

Middle School Science/Math

Excellent Tool! Can't wait to share this tool with everyone in my district. Thanks So Much, Angie

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