Arlington, VA — Even as the world has advanced into the Knowledge Age, when technology has made information about almost anything available at the press of a button, the model for education and schools in the U.S. remains entrenched in the past. And that needs to change.

A report, released in October 2010, from a National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) study group, No Time to Wait: Creating Contemporary School Structures for Students Today and Tomorrow, concludes that for the U.S. to prosper and compete in the 21st century, the education system will need to change its goals and practices so all students may succeed. That is, as information has become ubiquitous, schools need to emphasize 21st century skills such as analyzing, synthesizing, and creating along with understanding and applying the basics.

“The time to shift from the traditional model of a lone teacher lecturing a room full of students has passed,” said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn. “The whole structure of education must be more fluid and able to match the right resources with every student’s needs and education plan—whether these resources are just down the hall, in the community, or halfway around the world.”

In this report and its companion study, Next Generation Learning: Transforming the Role of Educators Today for the Students of Tomorrow, state board of education members from across the country determined that developing sound, new structures for education and the methods of teaching within those systems is not only inevitable, but critical. Here, structures for education are not the physical plant, important as that is, but the systems of pedagogy and assessments, school calendars, credits hours, and all that follows.

With these considerations in mind, the study group arrived at a trio of detailed recommendations for state boards of education. They are:

  • Eliminate barriers for student learning based on the agrarian calendar, seat time, and fixed physical boundaries. Create an environment that actively promotes and supports innovation within and beyond the school walls (e.g., in the school community, students’ homes, and school building).
  • Allow technology to facilitate student learning that transcends the traditional building and school day.
  • Create human capital policies that support effective teaching and leadership leading to next generation student learning. Eliminate barriers based on certification and professional training.

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