College and Career Success Through Lifelong Learning Skills

What are Lifelong Learning Skills and Why Do They Matter?
College and career readiness and success requires that students are prepared to engage productively with academic and workplace demands. This means that students are both able to accomplish various academic and career tasks, and are able to develop their abilities and adapt in response to various challenges. To do this, students must:

  1. Become proficient in the academic and career skills required of them; and
  2. Master the foundational skills that support continuous progress in learning and working.

At a time when rigorous content standards and evaluations of teacher and student performance are on the rise, it is especially pertinent and critical to ensure that teachers and education leaders attend to the foundation for learning and working. Education researchers have identified the components of that foundation as a collection of skills commonly referred to as Lifelong Learning Skills. These skills are also known as 21st Century Skills, Hard-to-Measure Skills, Employability Skills, and Skills for Deeper Learning.

Lifelong Learning Skills (LLS) are a group of cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills that enable students to both acquire and act on knowledge. These skills can be integrated throughout the curriculum and/or supported through low-cost interventions. LLS are discretely identifiable and measureable, and assessments are being developed to evaluate them. These skills are increasingly being validated as predictors of academic achievement and postsecondary and career performance. Ensuring that LLS are prioritized in college and career readiness initiatives can powerfully impact the success of those same initiatives.

Incorporating Lifelong Learning Skills into Policy
In order to inform policymakers and state education agencies about the importance of Lifelong Learning Skills, the College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center released a new policy brief on April 23, 2015 titled, Lifelong Learning Skills for College and Career Readiness: Considerations for Education Policy. In it, policymakers and education leaders will find:

  • Key takeaways from the research on Lifelong Learning Skills (LLS)
  • Policy considerations related to Lifelong Learning Skills
  • Guidance for how to use the annotated bibliography
  • A sample review of LLS assessments

The brief is designed to help states and districts develop and support a rationale for integrating LLS into their college and career readiness (CCR) strategy. Key information from LLS research is presented in an easy-to-use chart and organized by LLS cluster. The policy recommendations are also presented in a quick-reference chart, following the four strands of the CCRS Organizer.

For more information about lifelong learning skills and how to incorporate them into your state or district policies, or if you would like to request technical assistance from the CCRS Center, please email us at

Michael McGarrah is the project manager for the College and Career Readiness and Success Center.

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