April 2010 • Volume 13 • Number 4 • Page 2
Editor, Pat George
In announcing Arne Duncan as
U.S. secretary of education, President Barack Obama said, "We need a new vision for a 21st century education system—one where we aren't just supporting existing schools, but spurring innovation."
From my perspective, it appears that middle grades educators are already "spurring innovation." Week after week, I hear about exciting projects that engage young adolescents in their own learning, that stretch their minds and imaginations.
So, what more should we be doing to prepare our students for success in the 21st century? Learning for the 21st Century, a report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, suggests that educators at all levels should focus their attention on teaching core academic content at higher levels while connecting content to the real world. They must promote critical thinking, analysis, collaboration, and problem-solving skills while incorporating information and communication technologies. And, they should explore alternative assessments.
While it doesn't seem as though there's a lot new here, maybe that's the point. We need to continue on our path, but with more fervor, more focus—more innovation. Ensuring student success in the 21st century is about more than using technology in the classroom. It's about more than differentiating instruction and using alternative forms of assessment. It's about putting all these elements together so all the students in every classroom in the nation have the tools they need to succeed in the global workforce that is just around the corner.
A recent study of California middle schools by EdSource researchers concludes that what most differentiates higher-performing schools from lower-performing schools is a shared district and schoolwide culture that focuses on improving academic outcomes for all students and "designs its instructional program to prepare all students for a rigorous high school education." (You can learn more at www.edsource.org)
The findings also emphasize the role all educators play in establishing this culture of success and the importance of collaboration at all levels to ensure student achievement. And that's where you come in.
The very fact that you are a member of National Middle School Association attests to your commitment to improving middle grades education beyond your own school or classroom. You have chosen to contribute to the collective voice of middle grades education. In doing that, you are playing a vital role in establishing a culture of success for all young adolescents across the country and around the world.
And for that, we thank you!
Copyright © 2010 by National Middle School Association