Microsoft Supports Leading Education Organizations to Help Schools Assess 21st Century Skills

SEATTLE, June 30, 2003 — Microsoft Corp. today announced at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC) 2003 its collaboration with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills initiative in support of developing 21st-century-quality assessment and guidelines. Microsoft and ISTE will work together to build a formative, online technology learning assessment tool. Through the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Microsoft has chosen to sponsor Kent School District, in Kent, Wash., to display its commitment to integrate 21st century skills into today’s learning environment.

To date, 47 states and the District of Columbia have relied on the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) in setting their standards for educational uses of technology that facilitate school improvement in the United States. To complete the package and help meet the needs of those schools utilizing the NETS standards, Microsoft and ISTE will be offering a free online formative technology learning assessment tool based on Microsoft®
technologies. Available in pilot programs starting in 2004, the tool will offer schools the ability to legitimately document their progression toward and support their implementation of technology standards.

“Many states and schools are using the NETS standards as a target for improving teaching and learning with technology; the challenge has been finding a good resource for measuring growth toward those standards,”
said Don Knezek, CEO of ISTE.
“With the addition of Microsoft’s industry leadership and technology, we feel we can help remove an assessment barrier for schools as they prepare students to be competitive in the 21st century work force.”

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a unique public-private initiative that unites educators, business leaders and policymakers to influence the development of curricula and assessments so they reflect 21st-century realities. Microsoft and the Kent School District are supporting the Partnership by helping it to create a road map and practical tools that education leaders can use as a benchmark to assess their schools’ readiness for preparing students in a new learning paradigm.

“Every citizen today needs access to ongoing and timely education to fully participate in the information age and to realize his or her potential, removing limitations and creating opportunities,”
said Sherri Bealkowski, general manager of the Education Solutions Group at Microsoft.
“Schools have a big challenge in keeping pace with the technologically advanced, multifaceted, multitasking world that today’s students are entering, and we are committed to doing our part to make 21st century skills a reality.”

The current architecture of education was created at the end of the 19th century, when the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic served well enough for individuals to develop a career and become active citizens. In the information age, however, businesses seek employees who can solve problems, communicate effectively and make decisions in an increasingly literate society that requires more education and continual learning.

“We realize that it takes all parties joining together in a collaborative effort to deliver on the promise we have made to our students in preparing them for their future,”
said Barbara Grohe, superintendent of Kent School District in Washington.
“How we educate our children in the 21st century is a question of paramount importance to America’s educators, employers, parents and the public, and we are pleased to have been chosen by Microsoft as the K–12 sponsored district in this endeavor.”

To help bring this vision to light, Microsoft is actively engaging with industry and academic leaders through programs such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the ISTE to help redefine a new model of learning. In addition, Microsoft continues to develop and expand programs including the Microsoft Centers of Excellence, Microsoft Innovative Teachers, Model Professional Development sites, and the IT Academy while delivering software solutions that meet the needs of today’s educational environment.

More information on ISTE can be found at . More information on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills can be found at . Details on Microsoft’s education products, solutions and programs can be found at .

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