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Results That Matter: 21st Century Skills and High School Reform

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High schools need a relentless focus on the results that matter for student success in the 21st century according to The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (the Partnership). The Partnership issued a new national report, “Results That Matter: 21st Century Skills and High School Reform,” outlining a compelling framework for 21st century learning that focuses on the results that matter for today’s high school graduates.

  • The report is available to download here.
  • For a complete overview of the "Principles for Connecting High School Reform and 21st Century Skills" click here.

The report presents three fundamental ideas about high schools that are not yet widely perceived:

  • There are results that matter for high school graduates in the 21st century — and these results are different from and go beyond traditional metrics. Even if every student in the country satisfied traditional metrics, they still would remain woefully under-prepared for 21st century success beyond high school.
  • Improving high schools requires the nation to redefine “rigor” to encompass not just mastery of core academic subjects, but also mastery of 21st century skills and content. Rigor must reflect all the results that matter for all high school graduates today. Today’s graduates need to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and effective communicators who are proficient in both core subjects and new, 21st century content and skills. These 21st century skills include learning and thinking skills, information and communications technology literacy skills, and life skills. Twenty-first century skills are in demand for all students, no matter what their future plans — and they will have an enormous impact on students’ prospects.
  • The results that matter — 21st century skills integrated with core academic subjects — should be the “design outcomes” for creating high schools that prepare students for success in the 21st century. Only by setting clear goals that incorporate 21st century skills can high schools truly prepare students to succeed in postsecondary education, workplaces and community life.


The report also outlines the following opportunities for working collaboratively with high school reform advocates to improve high schools:

  • A Vision for 21st Century Learning: These elements are the “signature mark” of the Partnership because it is a vision for learning in the 21st century that highlights: core subjects, 21st century content, life skills, thinking, learning and innovation skills and 21st century assessments.
  • A Set of Principles: A set of principles which are critical to high school redesign. Highlights include advocates working together, preparing students with 21st century knowledge and skills; students demonstrating achievement of 21st century knowledge and skills; high school designs strategically integrating 21st century knowledge, skills and assessments; understanding that professional development of 21st century skills is critical for success and advocates should partner with the business community and community-based organizations.
  • Next Steps for Actions: A set of recommendations are provided at the federal, state and school district and local leader level in the areas of leadership, assessment, professional development and infrastructure.