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New Tool to Get Your District 21st Century Ready

The MILE Guide helps K12 leaders provide their students with successful skills.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has released the Milestones for Improving Learning and Education (MILE ) Guide, a new tool for K12 leaders to assess where their district falls in providing their students with critical 21st century skills.

The MILE Guide is the most recent release from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an organization that promotes the integration of these critical skills into core academic subjects.

The guide offers a self-assessment tool along with a booklet that offers recommendations and suggestions for improvement. The self-assessment tool is a colorful matrix that uses a grid to organize a list of essential skills, as well as the levels of implementation into which schools can be classified. For each section, a school may be ranked in the early stage, transitional stage or 21st century ready. “This tool uses a 21st century strategy to help articulate what stage a school is in, identify their highest priorities, and determine what efforts need to be made in their district to achieve them,” says Valerie Greenhill, director of Strategic Initiatives at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

In early November 2009, Blake West, president of the Kansas National Education Association, joined district leaders of Emporia, Kansas to discuss bringing the 21st century skills emphasis to their schools.

“The district was interested in the idea of having a greater sense of confidence that what their students are learning is what they need for success in life,” says West. “Standardized tests may be an easy way to measure some skills, but they do not always reflect what is important.”

Currently, Emporia, Kansas districts are in the process of moving ahead with the MILE Guide to begin district-level committees that include administration, teachers and parents to have greater discussions as to what can be done to strategically move the learning environment forward.

“The 21st century requires different types of competencies than times past,” says Greenhill. “Students need to be problem solvers and self-directed learners. You can’t get by in the world with one skill set. Schools have an obligation to ask the question: What are we doing to purposefully and intentionally provide students with these skills?”

The self-assessment tool and the evaluation booklet can be downloaded for free from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ Web site.