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High School Principals' Rating of Success in Implementation of 21st Century Skills

Sonn Sam, Johnson & Wales University


The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate how Rhode Island high school principals rate success in implementing 21 st century skills in their schools. Secondly, this study investigated how high school principals rate the influence of implementing of 21 st century skills in curriculum and instruction in their schools. The high school graduation rate in the United States is lagging at 74.9%, behind many developed nations, and drop out rates are at 4.1% (Public School Graduates and Dropouts from the Common Core Data, 2010, p. 3; Zhao, 2009, p. 3). Not only are students not graduating at higher rates, but also even those who do graduate are reported as not fully prepared for post secondary education or careers (Conley, 2008). Due to advancements in technology the world is much more intricately connected (Wagner, 2008). Hands-on work, such as assembly line work, is being outsourced to under developed countries, and there is a shift to knowledge work or work of the mind (Trilling & Fadel, 2009). In the 21st century, employers are demanding much more of their employees such as critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to communicate effectively (Wagner, 2008). Even though the United States is struggling to increase graduation rates, a larger concern is looming that students are not fully prepared for college, work, or citizenship. Hence the question that lingers and needs to be addressed is, what will happen to these students who are not fully prepared? Research indicates that there is an array of complex challenges facing urban school districts (Lippman, Burns, & McArthur, 1996; Council of Great City Schools, 2006). The principals of these districts face these remarkable challenges, with research suggesting that their work has become more complex and, at times, unmanageable (Council of Great City Schools, 2006). More importantly, school accreditation organizations, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), are making 21st century skills a requirement if schools intend to be accredited. A quantitative approach (Creswell, 2009) was used to collect data to determine the degree to which high school principals rated success implementing 21st century skills in their schools and the influence of those skills on curriculum and instruction. Questionnaires were administered to N = 97 current Rhode Island high schools principals. Participants responded to the survey through Zoomerang, a web based survey instrument. The data gathered from the questionnaire were analyzed in order to identify any patterns, which helped form conclusions. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the quantitative data in this study. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software (PAWS/SPSS, 2010) was used to analyze data. The results of this study may play a crucial role in helping school leaders recognize the importance of 21st century skills improving teaching and learning, which in turn could improve student preparation for success in the 21st century.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Sam, Sonn, "High School Principals' Rating of Success in Implementation of 21st Century Skills" (2011). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3450048.