Curriculum - Educational Issues

Following is an overview of current educational issues and the role of the National Entrepreneurship Content Standards.

Integration of the Standards into the curriculum, whether as subject-specific content or as context for a broader range of educational learning objectives, can help address many of the issues facing elementary, secondary, higher and adult education programs. Educators who can demonstrate the link between incorporating the Standards and achieving the goals identified by many of these issues will be more successful in implementing the Standards into their curriculum.

Standards-based education requires that instruction be based upon a clear and complete listing of the skills and knowledge the student should be able to demonstrate at the completion of the instructional program. The Standards provide this listing in the form of standards and performance indicators that should be used to develop curriculum appropriate for the learner and program. The Standards set out a commonality of content and performance for entrepreneurship education programs. For additional information about standards based education visit www.battelleforkids.org/bfk/rt/reform/sbr

Mastery of academics is the basis for life-long learning. The Standards can contribute to this mastery by providing the context for learning and applying academic skills and knowledge. Contextual learning theory states that learning takes place when students can process new information or knowledge in such as way that it makes sense to them in their own frame of reference. Students learn best when they can make the connection between what they are learning and how that knowledge will be used. Educators who use the Standards to define context for the teaching and learning of academic skills are using applications that are familiar to students of all ages. The result is improved achievement of all students, which is the focal point of education legislation in many states and the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Learn more about mastery of academics and the federal legislation at www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml?src=pb

Performance-based Assessment requires that students apply the skills and knowledge they have gained in such a way as to demonstrate mastery. The Standards provide guidance for the design of many performance-based assessment activities, both as context for the application of academic skills and to demonstrate mastery of specific entrepreneurship standards and performance indicators. Whether it's communication arts in the writing and presenting of the business plan, mathematics in the analysis of the financial statement and projections, science in the development of prototype products, economics in the understanding of the effect of supply and demand on potential sales, or marketing and business skills required for success as an entrepreneur, these standards can be used to design performance-based assessments for a wide range of subjects and students at all levels. More about performance-based assessment can be found at www.ericfacilitynet/databases/ERIC Digests/ed410229.html

21st Century Learning Skills emphasize academic skills and learning skills, as well as curriculum content that has been largely overlooked in the past but is essential to the 21st century. The Standards can assist educators in developing a curriculum which addresses these and the other essential elements of learning for the 21st century. In addition to gaining academic skills as described above, entrepreneurship education develops the skills to learn. Information and communications technology skills are acquired as students conduct research, communicate with others, and prepare written and visual presentations of their work. Thinking, problem-solving, interpersonal, and self-directional skills are inherent in a curriculum that includes the Standards and Performance Indicators. By using the real world of entrepreneurship to apply 21st Century skills, students are learning the content and context necessary to adapt to our changing world. The 21st Century Partnership, an alliance of education, business and government leaders working to fully address the education needs and challenges of work and life in the 21st century, has accepted an additional statement to their document supporting 21st Century Content related to "Financial, Economic, and Business Literacy." Specifically they advocate "Developing entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options." Details are on their website at www.21stcenturyskills.org

Workforce Development programs can benefit from the implementation of the Standards. The Standards can serve as a basis to prepare people for creating their own businesses by establishing the skills and knowledge that are required for success. Programs can focus their resources on meeting the needs of the clients identified by review of the Standards and Performance Indicators, thereby best utilizing the limited resources to meet specific client needs. In addition to preparing individuals for their own futures as entrepreneurs, the Standards can serve as a basis for programs which develop employee skills and knowledge to make them more effective and efficient. Understanding the components of business ownership and acquiring the entrepreneurial spirit increases employee productivity, improves customer satisfaction, and moves business forward. Using the Standards as a framework for program curriculum will assist local communities, states and the nation better compete in the world marketplace through building a skilled workforce with life long learning skills and work training. A summary of the Workforce Investment Act can be found at www.nga.org/center/divisions/1,1188,C-ISSUE-BRIEF^D-1758,00.html

Higher Education programs in community colleges and four-year colleges and universities will find the Standards helpful for establishing a commonality of program content across departments and institutions. The Standards and Performance Indicators also provide a basis for accountability of learning goals required for effective program management and review. The Standards will allow various programs and departments to integrate the appropriate components to support their curricular offerings and degree programs. Institutions can achieve leadership in economic development and support one-stop career training offerings by using the Standards and related programs as a vehicle for community outreach. A summary of issues related to higher education can be found at www.sheeo.org/issues/htm