Road Map for 21st Century Skills in the U.S. Classroom

February 21, 2016 | By: Dr. Dovi Weiss & Chaim Rosenblum

Many Americans are deeply concerned that not enough is being done to prepare their young people with the skills needed to compete in the global economy. In fact, a national poll conducted on behalf of P21: Partnership for 21st Century Learning showed that 88% of participants believe that U.S. schools were not doing enough to incorporate 21st century skills.

group of school kids with tablet pc in classroom

Although U.S. students perform relatively well when compared to other international student populations, there are significant skill gaps when compared with their high-performing peers, such as in Japan, Finland or South Korea. In order to compete in the global marketplace, many feel that U.S. students must be on par with or higher than the current statistical leaders.

21st century skills – What does it mean?

21st century skills mean: skills, knowledge and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century. These skills were defined by some leading international organizations such as  and When looking at the various definitions of 21st century skills one can find out that all of them are talking about the need to promote the following 5 skills:

  • Collaboration: Working effectively within groups and making compromises to achieve common goals.
  • Creativity: Generating and improving on ideas and working creatively with others.
  • Communication: Communicating effectively across multiple media and for various purposes.
  • Critical Thinking: Analyzing, evaluating, and understanding complex systems and applying strategies to solve problems.
  • Computer & Information Literacy:  “… the ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand.”( The United States National Forum on Information Literacy)

We call them “the 5C’s of 21st Century Learning.”

Implementation Fundamentals

In order for the 21st century skills effort to be effective, the following elements must be implemented:

  • 21st Century CurriculumThere must be a rich curriculum developed and implemented to address the 21st century competencies.
  • 21st Century Teaching: The 21st century education can be challenging for some teachers, many of whom are simply comfortable in the current methods and practices. It is critical that teachers be equipped with the training and skills in order teach a 21st century curriculum.
  • 21st Century Testing: A new set of assessments must be produced in order to measure 21st century skills. Many believe that it may be a major challenge to deliver 21st century skill assessments at scale.
  • 21st Century TechnologyThe world is quickly evolving in terms of technology, and as such, digital literacy is an essential aspect of every 21st century skill. Technology is a powerful tool for enhancing a 21st century education and is best incorporated via the digital classroom model.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of educational technology for 21st century skills depends on successful implementation and support. If you are interested in learning more about 21st century skills and education technology, contact the team at Time To Know. Our customized ed-tech solutions are backed by a decade of pedagogical expertise.

By: Dr. Dovi Weiss (Chief Scientist) & Chaim Rosenblum (Technical Writer)

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