American high school graduates must possess the knowledge, skills and cross disciplinary proficiencies necessary to succeed in an increasingly competitive, complex and ever-evolving world. Whether graduates immediately enter college, the workplace or both, they must not only have mastered core content, they must also be adept problem solvers and critical thinkers who can contribute and apply their knowledge in novel contexts and unforeseen situations. From working in a team to solve a problem to conducting research and making a presentation to selecting a mortgage or the right health care plan, all high school graduates must be well-informed thinkers and decision makers in order to flourish in the 21st century. In 2004, Achieve, the Education Trust, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation released the American Diploma Project (ADP) Benchmarks. Based on extensive research with employers and postsecondary faculty, the benchmarks identified what knowledge and skills high school graduates must possess in English and mathematics to be successful. While organized by traditional subject areas, cross-disciplinary proficiencies are infused throughout the ADP benchmarks. The proficiencies are embedded in —rather than separate from—the benchmarks because critical thinkers and problem solvers need both content knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to challenges in the classroom, the workplace and in the community. There are four cross disciplinary proficiencies—Research and Evidence Gathering, Critical Thinking and Decision Making, Communications and Teamwork and Media and Technology—embedded in the ADP benchmarks.
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