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P21 Names Exemplars of 21st Century Learning

What's different about schools that are considered excellent examples of 21st century learning? They use engaging learning approaches, such as project-based learning or inquiry-based instruction. They're able to provide evidence of student mastery in core subjects and other areas. They involve community partners in their work, including local colleges and universities, civic leaders, parents and others. And they can show evidence of a commitment to college, career and life readiness for their students.

Those are the primary indicators used by P21, a non-profit that brings together education, government and business leaders to push for innovation in teaching and learning. Each year the organization seeks applications from schools and districts that undergo a self-assessment to determine how far along they are in their efforts to adopt the best practices advocated by P21. Those who make the cut are held up as "exemplars" and promoted through text and video case studies on the P21 site.

This year's group of exemplars encompasses 16 schools and three districts in Arizona, California, Illinois, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Among them are:

  • Avonworth High School in Pittsburgh, which was recognized for its innovative practices in integrating creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication as a major thread of its program;
  • Catalina Foothills School District in Tucson, AZ, called out for its exemplary engagement with the school board, school site leadership, teacher leaders, parents, community and students; and
  • The Goddard School, an early education facility in Cedar Park, TX, recognized (along with two other Goddard sites in the state) for its partnerships with the local school system, university and businesses. The school has also implemented a STEAM curriculum with robotics and other technology initiatives in addition to music, chess, dance and fitness.

"We are thrilled to share what's working in education through the stories of these innovative learning communities," said Helen Soulé, P21's executive director, in a press release. "P21 is proud to showcase how 21st century learning can boost student achievement, engagement and preparation for life-long learning and success in a world where learning doesn't stop."

The organization is currently accepting applications for its next set of exemplars. Those are due by January 15, 2016.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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