State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the California Department of Education has joined the national Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) network of 18 states, designed to teach every student real-world skills to meet the needs of a competitive global economy.
“California is part of a growing national movement to teach students the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they need for college and careers,” said Torlakson. “Forging a partnership with P21 provides California with additional tools and resources to implement the Common Core State Standards and our newly revised Career Technical Education Standards. This partnership underscores our commitment to prepare every student for the challenges of a changing world.”
P21 is a national organization based in Washington, D.C. and a catalyst in the 21st Century Skills Movement. P21 works with education leaders, the business community, and state and federal policymakers to ensure that the U.S. education system equips students with rigorous content knowledge and the skills they need for college, career, and citizenship.
Member states include Arizona, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. P21 and its members provide valuable tools and resources for educators, policymakers, parents, and communities. These tools and resources include information, publications, research, networking, and advocacy efforts.
“We are thrilled to add California to our cadre of leadership states that are working hard to implement 21st century learning,” said Dr. Steven Paine, President of P21. “As a former State Superintendent, I am committed to supporting the hard work of 21st century skills implementation and congratulate Superintendent Torlakson on taking a bold and thoughtful approach to ensuring students in California graduate ready for the challenges of college, careers, and citizenship.”
P21 focuses on getting every student ready for an increasingly competitive economy that demands innovation. P21 strives to teach all students what it calls “21st century readiness” skills by integrating the “4Cs” into all academic core content areas and classes. The 4Cs stand for, (1) critical thinking and problem solving, (2) communication, (3) collaboration, and (4) creativity and innovation. California’s updated Career Technical Education Standards also reflect the “4Cs” by addressing “Career Readiness Practices” that will help schools prepare all students for careers as well as higher education.
Nationwide, 40 million of the 50 million new jobs being created over the next decade will require at least two years of additional education or training beyond high school. That means in today’s knowledge-based economy, college or other postsecondary study have become the price of admission to the job market. In order to meet that need, Torlakson’s goal is to teach students 21st century problem-solving and critical thinking skills as part of his A Blueprint for Great Schools initiative.
Further, California has expanded the number of career technical educational courses and has emphasized the integration of career readiness into the academic mainstream as part of Torlakson’s Career Readiness Campaign. Students now have access to multiple career pathways in high tech, computer science, health sciences, construction, the arts, agriculture, and other industries.
Partnership with P21 provides California with additional tools and resources to further Torlakson’s initiatives, as well as assist toward implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS and the Career Technical Education Standards provide a practical way to prepare students for the challenges of a changing world by helping them learn step-by-step the real-world skills they need for college and careers. The CCSS keeps the best of the standards California currently has, replaces what’s outdated, and serves as a foundation for remodeling California’s education system, which include new tests that focus on improving teaching and learning.
Torlakson made his announcement this morning in Sacramento during the Educating for Careers Conference: Career and College Ready the California Way event. The three-day conference provides professional development for career technical education practitioners and administrators interested in career technical education.