Free Resources to Grow the Conversation
Students and parents are critical partners when it comes to redefining student success. As companions to the book, here are resources ready for you to share with your community.
Success skills poster brings six key competencies into focus, enabling students to assess their progress as 21st century learners.
These free resources, developed with the help of student and parent focus groups, were supported by a grant from the EDU21C Foundation. Special thanks to artist Rachel Brian for bringing our vision to life. To print these resources as booklets on 11 x 17 paper, use these pdfs: Student Guide Print, Student Guide Spanish Print, Parent Guide Print, Parent Guide Spanish Print.
About the Book
Are your students developing the skills and knowledge they need to reach their goals?
Or are they still waiting for schools to catch up with the demands of the 21st century?
Redefining Student Success provides you with tools, strategies, and inspiration to accelerate the transformation of your school system so that all students are ready for the future they want to pursue. Insights from education leaders who are at different places on this journey will show you what’s possible.
Co-authors Ken Kay and Suzie Boss, longtime advocates of 21st century learning, interviewed more than 250 education leaders, teachers, students, parents, and other community members to gather practical advice and compelling examples of reimagined learning. You will hear how leaders across diverse contexts are engaging their communities to create a bold vision and then backwards planning to align instruction, assessment, and professional learning with shared goals.
Tony Wagner, education expert and author of The Global Achievement Gap, offers this advice in his foreword to Redefining Student Success: “Read it, study it with your colleagues, discuss it with your students’ families, and act as if our children’s and our country’s futures depend on your bold leadership—because they do.”
Praise for Redefining Student Success
“Fasten your seatbelt! This book brings clarity and insight to education priorities that prepare students for their futures, and pragmatic guidance for how schools can fulfill this promise. Grounded in decades of field expertise, the authors offer a powerful education North Star of immense value to educators, parents, and concerned citizens around the globe.”
Founder, What School Could Be
Author, What School Could Be
“With the demands of the workplace never greater, and the need for effective citizenship never more urgent, the world demands a new generation of self-directed creative problem solvers. Redefining Student Success is the guide every leader needs to build an education system worthy of the students they serve.”
—Daniel H. Pink
Author of When, Drive, and To Sell Is Human
“We must reconsider what we’re working towards in education and reorient towards a purpose that’s relevant for today’s world, with all its challenges and opportunities. Redefining Student Success is an incredible gift—it’s a roadmap for educators and other stakeholders seeking to develop a shared vision of the capabilities students (and educators) need to develop so they can shape a better future.”
—Wendy Kopp, CEO & Co-founder, Teach For All
Founder, Teach For America
“Let’s face it: most people know our schools can be better but they are not sure where to start. Redefining Student Success brings the steps for school transformation to life with sound advice, practical strategies, and rich stories sharing the whys and hows.”
—Cindy Johanson, Executive Editor
“All children, no matter their zip codes, deserve every opportunity to turn their dreams into reality. Redefining Student Success can serve as a ‘go-to’ resource to help ensure that education for all learners becomes equitable, engaging, and authentic.”
—Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
“Ken Kay has long been a significant thought leader and contributor to advancing 21st century education. In this new book, Kay and Boss offer powerful stories of school system leaders engaged in 21st century, deeper learning and how the changes made have positively impacted young people. Their amazing examples of real work in districts across the country is inspiring!”
—Karen K. Garza, President and CEO
Battelle for Kids
“What if you could design schools where students were passionately invested in the learning process and in the meaningful outcomes of that process? The good news is you can. With powerful examples, reflection and action tools, Ken and Suzie show us how to engage parents, teachers, students and leaders in a critically important conversation about what learning must look like now and for our future.”
—Aaron Spence, Superintendent
Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia
“Ken Kay and Suzie Boss bring home the point that leadership matters in promoting transformational change in school organizations. I love the ‘ask yourself’ sections of this book! They pose critical questions for reflection on the myriad ways in which education practitioners have worked to implement change in our nation’s schools.”
—David W. James, Ed.D., Superintendent
Akron Public Schools, Ohio
“Redefining Student Success makes the case for why every student deserves equal access to 21st Century Learning Experiences and provides leaders with a set of tools and strategies to make this vision a reality.”
—Steven Holmes, Superintendent
Sunnyside Unified School District, Arizona
“As we emerge from a global pandemic, we literally have the opportunity to ‘reopen the schools of the future.’ Suzie Boss and Ken Kay provide a clear path forward for educators to solidify the best we’ve learned about 21st century education. Brilliantly written and easy to navigate, let this book be your GPS for true educational transformation.”
—Michael R. McCormick, Superintendent
Val Verde Unified School District, California
“Ken Kay and Suzie Boss have created a practical path that has the potential to transform American education. It includes an inspiring vision, vital components of change, and a realistic path forward. It is the long, overdue bridge from ideas to implementation. Redefining Student Success supports teachers and leaders in their journeys to create modern, personalized education for all students.”
—Elizabeth Fagen, Superintendent
Humble ISD, Texas
“When two authorities on 21st century skills and project-based learning join forces, the whole can be greater than the parts—and that is the case with this book. Ken Kay and Suzie Boss bring their exceptional expertise together to offer a synthesized vision that can truly transform schooling. If you’re ready to embark on the journey toward ‘future proof’ learning, this book is for you!”
Co-author of the Understanding by Design® framework and Leading Modern Learning
“The vision of education needs to change and to make that happen, it must engage the community in a robust conversation about what our students really need for college, life, and career. Ken and Suzie’s book takes the premise that our new vision of education needs to be rooted in our communities and shows us what is possible as we build that vision and allow it to take root deeply in every phase of education. It turns out when the community is engaged in developing the vision, they become co-owners and help light the path for students to obtain the skills, mindsets and dispositions they need to be successful.”
Executive Director, Ford Next Generation Learning
“Redefining Student Success is an inspirational reminder that education is only limited by our vision, and teaching is first and foremost an act of leadership.”
Senior Director for Strategy, National Education Association
“Ken and Suzie have both made so many helpful contributions to innovative learning and teaching. I love that they have teamed up. The strengths of this book are the specific strategies that help educators translate their visions for learning into concrete, actionable structures. The ‘field trip’ examples from schools across the country and the Portrait of a Graduate connections are fantastic!”
—Scott McLeod, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
University of Colorado Denver
Founding Director, CASTLE
“For 20 years, Ken Kay has been the leading advocate for 21st century skills. Two decades into the century, Kay and Suzie Boss offer a timely update on what young people need to know and be able to do to thrive with a focus on creative problem solving and the addition of self-direction and civic engagement. This bold vision is a must read for any school or system reconsidering learning goals. We appreciate how they have incorporated sustainability, innovation, and entrepreneurship into a call for community connected project-based learning.”
—Tom Vander Ark, CEO, Getting Smart
Author, Difference-Making at the Heart of Learning
“Suzie Boss and Ken Kay are veteran edu-leaders in our march to transform K-12 learning. In Redefining Student Success, they give school leaders a powerful, detailed, and ready-to-use set of tools to move beyond the ‘why’ and on to the ‘how’ of school change. The book is a cornucopia of examples of schools, leaders, and teams that are already well on the way.”
Author and Chief Provocateur
Association for Career and Technical Education
December 1–4, 2021
Ken is presenting at CareerTech VISION 2021 in New Orleans, LA.
January 19-21, 2022
Join us for a virtual session, "Give the Green Light for Creative Problem Solving."
February 17-19, 2022
Join Ken for a session in Nashville, TN, on "Redefining Student Success: A Powerful Strategy for District Superintendents," in collaboration with two superintendents.
March 31, 2022
Join Ken and Suzie at this annual event in San Diego, CA.
April 1-4, 2022
On April 1 in San Diego, Ken and Suzie facilitate a pre-conference workshop, "Redefining Student Success" (book included with registration). Later in the conference, they lead a breakout session, "How to Talk to Your Community About Achievement and Accountability."
To launch our book, we facilitated a three-part book study with this global community. Recordings are archived and ready to use for your own professional learning. Join here, and then look for the Redefining Student Success group for recordings and resources.
Jeff Rose, vice president of leadership development at Cognia, hosted us for a lively Leader Chat discussion.
At Deeper Learning 2022, Dr. Michelle Pledger of High Tech High Graduate School of Education interviewed us for a Den Talk.
Tom VanderArk at Getting Smart sat down to talk with us about Redefining Student Success in this recent podcast. Take a listen.
We had a terrific conversation with Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner as part of What School Could Be's Game Changer series. Watch here.
Thanks to Karen Garza, CEO of Battelle for Kids, for hosting us to talk about Redefining Student Success. Listen to the podcast here.
About the Authors
Ken Kay is one of the founders of the 21st century education movement. He served as Chief Executive Office of EdLeader21, a professional learning community for education leaders committed to 21stcentury education. Prior to EdLeader21, he was the founding President of the Partnership for 21stCentury Skills. He also served as Executive Director for the CEO Forum on Education and Technology. Along with Valerie Greenhill, Ken wrote A Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts. For nearly a decade, Ken was a member of the board of PBLWorks (formerly the Buck Institute for Education). He is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Denver College of Law. Active on social media (@kenkay21), he maintains a website at kenkay21.com where he explains his ongoing role as “education provocateur”.
Suzie Boss is a writer and educational consultant who focuses on the power of teaching and learning to improve lives and transform communities. She is the author of 10 popular books for educators, most recently Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences and Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age, 3rd Ed. She collaborated with award-winning teacher Stephen Ritz to tell his inspiring story about classroom innovation in The Power of a Plant. A regular contributor to Edutopia, PBLWorks National Faculty emeritus, and frequent conference presenter, she consults with schools and nonprofit organizations around the world interested in shifting to a more student-centered, innovative approach to teaching and learning. Active on social media (@suzieboss), she maintains a website at suzieboss.com.
Ken Kay and Suzie Boss are available to support your school system’s transformation with keynotes; presentations to staff, parents and community members; and professional development to help your team design creative problem-solving experiences for your students. Please tell us more about your context.