To the Editor:
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is encouraged that other members of the business community are as committed as we to ensuring that the reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act includes metrics to prepare U.S. students for citizenship, work, and postsecondary education in our increasingly competitive and global society. (“Big Business Going to Bat for NCLB,” Oct. 18, 2006).
But your article’s characterization of the partnership’s advocacy for a new layer of state testing in the law’s reauthorization misrepresents our vision for 21st-century learning. We don’t advocate more testing; we want to improve our existing tests to assess the presence of 21st-century skills throughout all content areas.
In international benchmarking tests, U.S. students perform substantially worse than students across the globe when important 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving are added to the assessments. Our international competitors understand the key role that their education systems play in producing workers who are prepared for the demands of the modern economy. The United States is now in a race to catch up.
America must ensure that its educational standards are tough enough to equip our students with the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global society. This is the conversation education, business, and public-policy stakeholders must have as we work to improve the No Child Left Behind Act. Otherwise, we risk relegating the U.S. workforce to second-class status.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills
A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2006 edition of Education Week as Federal Education Law And ‘21st-Century Skills’