CFES Brilliant Pathways received high marks from an external evaluator for helping 25,000 students develop and strengthen the Essential SkillsTM, identified by researchers and corporate leaders as key attributes for success in 21st Century jobs.
CFES, a nonprofit that helps K-12 students become college and career ready, is committed to “helping our students develop the Essential Skills,” according to their CEO, Rick Dalton. This trend aligns CFES with what 1,400 corporate leaders are urging. Findings in the Journal of Education show that “soft skills” – a term that CFES has replaced with Essential Skills – are the most important qualities in hiring 21st Century workers.
“The No. 1 cause of failed hires is an Essential Skills problem – not a technical issue,” says Joe Fuller, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “This has to get baked into the curricula of every topic and CFES is helping make that happen.”
The decision to trademark Essential Skills and make it a key component of CFES programming was part of an innovative K-16 strategy designed to help students become college and career ready. “The term soft skills is outdated and demeaning,” said Dalton. “Essential Skills are now considered just as important as hard skills by employers and educators.”
“With its unwavering commitment in helping more than 100,000 students become college and career ready over the last 27 years, CFES is positioned to be a national leader in the Essential Skills Movement,” writes outside evaluator Dr. David Holmes, head of the Institute on Character and Admission.
The evaluation assessed the effectiveness of the Essential Skills of goal setting, teamwork, leadership, agility, perseverance and networking over the 2017-2018 school year in moving CFES scholars to college and career readiness. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with CFES professional staff and educators in 150 CFES schools. Essential Skills workshops, curriculum plans, student activities and other strategies were also evaluated.
The following findings were shared:
- Focus on the Essential Skills is timely, relevant and influential.
- Essential Skills provide a common vocabulary centered on college and career readiness that resonates with students and educators
- Essential Skills align with Common Core State Standards and enhance K-12 classroom curriculum
The recommendations in the report urged CFES to further develop activities and curricula to implement the Essential Skills and to refine its assessment of individual student progress in the Essential Skills.
“CFES is a critical player in helping our nation thrive in the years ahead by building on its foundation of success in preparing youth with the Essential Skills,” concluded the evaluation report.