Prioritize the integration of durable skills (e.g., communication, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking) in instruction so all students develop the habits and mindsets to succeed in career and life.
Context and Arkansas Progress
Building durable skills like problem solving, communication, and digital literacy, as well as collaboration, persistence, and a growth mindset prepares students for lifelong success in and outside the classroom. In 2020, 48% of Arkansas job postings required one or more of these skills, making development of durable skills a top strategic action to align student learning with business needs and one that the business community has identified as a challenge across the state.
Arkansas has initiated the process of developing systems and supports to promote durable skills development through the G.U.I.D.E. for Life curriculum, which is backed by national research.
Opportunities for Arkansas
Grade-appropriate learning experiences to cultivate students’ durable skills need to be woven into the current academic curriculum. To support this shift in districts, Arkansas will likely first need to engage community, education, and business stakeholders to align on a shared “portrait of a graduate”- which defines durable skills that are prioritized in every student’s learning experience. Once this is done, the state could consider:
- Extensive communication to educators and communities around the need for, and value of, durable skills.
- Focus on knowledge and skill building in teacher and school leader preparation programs and ongoing professional development that grounds educators in the research base behind durable skills and how to integrate them into core content areas.
- Work with districts to support a balanced approach to measuring these critical durable skills through the development of local assessments aligned with the state’s “portrait of a graduate.”
As the needs of Arkansas’s business community evolve, durable skills curriculum, resources, and educator professional development should be continually updated to align with high-demand jobs in Arkansas.