Career-Themed Academies Provide '21st-Century Skills'

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

The "flak" over 21st-century skills creates a needless dividing line that has already been successfully crossed ("Backers of '21st-Century Skills' Take Flak," March 4, 2009). Across the country, students in career-themed academies are engaging in project-based learning and experiencing paid internships that combine both academic-content knowledge and work-skills training. Projects that are based on industry-authentic problems and behaviors lead to 21st-century-skill attainment practiced in the internships.

There are hundreds of such academies in the United States, with results demonstrated in a recent MDRC study that found a significant earnings impact linked to career-awareness activities and work internships during high school. The study groups included low-income communities of the type discussed in your article. Furthermore, these academies are graduating students at a significantly higher rate than their nonacademy peers. Academy students take college-preparatory courses augmented with career-oriented courses.

The career-academy model can address 21st-century skills without sacrificing academic rigor. What is needed now is a more robust approach to assessment beyond testing. The National Academy Foundation is piloting a combination of tests and independently evaluated project portfolios that holds great promise for providing a more complete picture of student knowledge and skills.

Andrew Rothstein
Senior Director, Curriculum and Academics
National Academy Foundation
New York, N.Y.

Vol. 28, Issue 27, Page 29

Published in Print: April 1, 2009, as Career-Themed Academies Provide '21st-Century Skills'
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories