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21st Century Skills in Colorado's Reading, Writing and Communicating Standards

The reading, writing, and communicating subcommittee embedded 21st century skills, school readiness, and postsecondary and workforce readiness skills into the revised standards utilizing descriptions developed by Coloradans and vetted by educators, policymakers, and citizens.

Colorado's Description of 21st Century Skills

The 21st century skills are the synthesis of the essential abilities students must apply in our rapidly changing world. Today’s students need a repertoire of knowledge and skills that are more diverse, complex, and integrated than any previous generation. Reading, Writing, and Communicating are inherently demonstrated in each of Colorado’s 21st century skills, as follows:

Critical Thinking and Reasoning

Critical thinking and reasoning are vital to advance in the technologically sophisticated world we live in. In order for students to be successful and powerful readers, writers, and communicators, they must incorporate critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students need to be able to successfully argue a point, justify reasoning, evaluate for a purpose, infer to predict and draw conclusions, problem-solve, and understand and use logic to inform critical thinking.

Information Literacy

The student who is information-literate accesses information efficiently and effectively by reading and understanding essential content of a range of informational texts and documents in all academic areas. This involves evaluating information critically and competently; accessing appropriate tools to synthesize information; recognizing relevant primary and secondary information; and distinguishing among fact, point of view, and opinion.


Reading, writing, and communicating must encompass collaboration skills. Students should be able to collaborate with each other in multiple settings: peer groups, one-on-one, in front of an audience, in large and small group settings, and with people of other ethnicities. Students should be able to participate in a peer review, foster a safe environment for discourse, mediate opposing perspectives, contribute ideas, speak with a purpose, understand and apply knowledge of culture, and seek others’ ideas.

Self Direction

Students who read, write, and communicate independently portray self-direction by using metacognition skills. These important skills are a learner’s automatic awareness of knowledge and ability to understand, control, and manipulate cognitive processes. These skills are important not only in school but throughout life, enabling the student to learn and set goals independently.


Applying new ways to solve problems is an ideal in reading and writing instruction. Invention is one of the key components of creating an exemplary writing piece or synthesizing information from multiple sources. Invention takes students to a higher level of metacognition while exploring literature and writing about their experiences.

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