CCR’s research into Why, What, and How students should learn, led to the creation of its 4-Dimensional (“4D”) Framework which it detailed in its foundational paper, Redesigning the Curriculum for a 21st Century Education. Since then, CCR has explored both deeper and broader analysis of its framework, its framework’s dimensions (Knowledge, Skills, Character, & Meta-Learning), and implementation of its recommendations through pedagogy, assessments, and policy.

4D Framework

Redesigning the Curriculum for a 21st Century Education (2020)
CCR’s foundational paper, first written in 2015 and last revised in 2020, lays out CCR’s framework for deeply redesigning educational curricula. By focusing on the four dimensions – (modernized) Knowledge, Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning – and their competencies and subcompetencies, education can be more effective and relevant.

Theory of Change & Research Process (2020)
CCR began its work with a focus on goals and standards but saw that the change our education systems need will require reevaluating all of the interrelated processes. This Theory of Change and CCR’s evidence- and research-informed process of synthesis, analysis, and organization, are described and expanded upon in this paper.

Embedding Competencies within Disciplines: Deliberately, Explicitly, & Systematically (2021)
Explicitly teaching the competencies, especially if comprehensive coverage is the goal, can be overwhelming. This paper blends top-down academic research with bottom-up recommendations from teachers to match each competency to the academic disciplines best suited for their integration, preventing teacher overload and allowing for more effective learning experiences, while still ensuring all competencies are embedded in each student’s education.


Drivers: Why Should Students Learn, Given AI? Cross-Dimensional Drivers of Motivation: Identity, Agency, and Purpose (2024)
The acceleration of artificial intelligence, and the ways in which it disrupts life and work, now brings the question of “why should students learn?” to the forefront. Drivers of motivation (identity, agency, and purpose), are CCR’s answer to this question.

Also: 4D Competencies Framework and Drivers

Knowledge Dimension

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

Modern Mathematics
Includes CCR’s recommendations to OECD for PISA Maths, core concepts in mathematics, math standards and curriculum, and several other mathematics research and opinion papers.

Computer Science (CS) Standards & Benchmarks for Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12
Computer science is crucial for the modern world, not only because computers are ubiquitous, but because its core concepts and key competencies are readily transferable. CCR developed a comprehensive set of standards to help schools ensure that it is systematically taught throughout K-12.

Engineering Standards & Benchmarks for Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12
CCR developed a comprehensive set of standards for the following branches of engineering so that K-12 schools can offer students a well-rounded education that includes the “E” in STEM.

  • Civil: These standards are designed to produce students who can plan the development of land for human occupation, including provisioning for roads, water, sewage, stormwater drainage, the weight of planned structures, and environmental protections.
  • Design: These standards are designed to produce students who are comfortable taking devices apart, putting them together, figuring out how they work, and then designing their own technological objects from scratch.
  • Electrical: These standards are designed to produce students who can fix electrical problems in their own homes, operate electrical equipment safely, and design circuits to control robots and devices.
  • Graphic: These standards are designed to produce students who are able to interpret — without any prior discipline-specific knowledge or training — the non-text information (charts, graphs, diagrams, maps etc.) presented in textbooks, engineering drawings, public policy reports, economic data, scientific research articles, and more.
  • Manufacturing: These standards are designed to produce students who can manufacture objects by a wide variety of fabrication techniques, look at an object and know how it was made, operate safely in an industrial environment, operate computer-aided design and manufacturing systems, construct a small flexible manufacturing system, and optimize entire manufacturing facilities for cost, throughput, and quality through the application of Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing principles.
  • Mechanical: These standards are designed to produce students who understand how machines work, including how to manage the heat they generate and the friction that causes wear, and to enable students to predict when simple machines or objects will fail mechanically under load.

Engineering Core Concepts
CCR has identified and defined nine engineering Core Concepts.


World Literature for the 21st Century (2022)
Considers why, what, and how world literature should be taught, including core concepts and how to prioritize content and embed competencies.
Also: CCR’s curated database of World Literature Texts referenced in the paper.

Foreign Languages for a Modern World of Automated Translation: Recommendations for K-12 (2022)
Why, how, when, and what students should learn today, about foreign languages.

Social Studies

World History: Future-Facing History for a Modern World (2022)
Examines the purpose and utility of studying history and how modernized content, core concepts, and relevant competencies can be integrated into a history education relevant for modern times.
Also: CCR’s curated database of World History events and artifacts referenced in the paper.

Competency Dimensions – Skills, Character, & Meta-Learning

Infusing knowledge instruction with the competency dimensions – Skills, Character, & Meta-Learning – is the core principle of a 4D Education.

The 4D Competencies Framework breaks these three dimensions into 10 competencies: Skills (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication), Character (curiosity, courage, resilience, and ethics), and Meta-Learning (metacognition and metaemotion). These dimensions and competencies are CCR’s answer to the question, “What should students learn in the age of AI?”

CCR’s book, Education for the Age of AI, provides a deep and broad analysis of AI’s impact on education, including an entire chapter on competency education.

The At-a-Glance series synthesizes best practices and strategies for teaching each of the competencies.

The Evolutionary Origins of Competencies (2024)
The evolution of competencies in humans, such as collaboration, curiosity, and creativity can be traced back to similar traits found in other animals, indicating that these abilities are not unique to humans but rather an advanced form of shared evolutionary traits. Understanding this commonality encourages greater respect for animal intelligence, and empathy – challenging the notion of human exceptionalism and highlighting the importance of ethical treatment and conservation efforts.



The Power of Proofs – (much) Beyond RCTs (2022)
This paper builds on Theory of Change & Research Process, arguing that the conventional approach of translating and disseminating ever more rigorous research evidence towards policy and practice is failing the rapidly expanding knowledge needs of educational policy and reform. A reconsideration of what counts as scientific proof and relevant evidence is needed to expand the provision and usage of actionable knowledge to education policymakers and practitioners.

From Intent to Evidence: A Pathway to 4D Proof (2022)
Most school and district mission statements reference competencies, social-emotional learning, or similar, but rarely cover how to implement them or how to know if they’ve been successful. This article outlines CCR’s systematic approach to creating a pathway to turn mission statements from goals into demonstrable realities.

The Passion Project – Project-Based Learning (PBL) (2022), provides principles, curriculum, and resources designed to cultivate curious, engaged, and passionate learners through a 4-part project progression – investigations, explorations, adventures, and quests – that grows learners’ interests into deeper passions.

Multimodal Learning through Media: What the Research Says (2008)
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the effectiveness of multimodal learning. In the interest of the most effective teaching and learning, this paper provides a grounding in facts that can benefit the entire education arena, PreK–12 through higher education, corporate training and development, and lifelong learning.


An Introduction to CARE: The Competency Assessment, Reporting, and Evidence System (2022)
After research and analysis, the Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) determined that a comprehensive and integrated system for determining if a learner is genuinely improving at a competency is essential for its 4-Dimensional Framework to achieve the transformative global impact CCR is striving for. CARE – the Competency Assessment, Reporting, and Evidence System – was born out of that need. That research, and the development process for the CARE System, are outlined in this paper.

Evolving Assessments for a 21st Century Education (2016)
To transform systems for learner and worker success, it is essential to achieve strong supporting alignments between a 21st century system of assessments and all other aspects of education, including learning goals and standards, curriculum, and teaching practices. This paper offers a detailed analysis of existing assessment instruments and summary overviews of the state of educational and workplace assessment for the framework’s Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning dimensions Additionally, it offers an initial set of findings and recommendations for next steps.

Workforce Assessments for the 21st Century: What Do We Actually Measure? (2016)
Because of the difference in motivations and legal constraints, employer testing has proceeded on a different track than scholastic assessment. The purpose of this paper is to explain what kinds of assessments are prevalent in the workplace and why so that the disconnect between the bars that education has set for its graduating students, and those employers are setting for their incoming employees, can be made clear.


Competencies for the 21st Century: Jurisdictional Progress (2020)
CCR, in collaboration with the Brookings Institution, examined whether the high-level aspirations to develop student competencies stated in 22 jurisdictions’ education policies are reflected in their pedagogy or assessments. The finding was, unfortunately, that *none* did.
Also: Competencies for the 21st Century Interactive Site

Assessing Countries’ Competencies: The 4D Index Ranking of Skills, Character and Meta-learning (2021)
A follow-up to the disappointing findings of “Competencies for the 21st Century,” above, this paper is intended to advance the imperative for multidimensional assessments of countries’ competencies. By using proxies to the competencies, the research shows that the social culture of countries has a significant impact on their competencies.

Study on Employability Skills in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and Career-Related Programme Curricula (2019)
On behalf of IB, CCR undertook research to examine how the main global trends will transform today’s workforce and the skills workers will have to acquire to adapt. This paper reports on those findings, the curriculum mapping and gap analysis it conducted to identify which skills are covered in IB’s Diploma and Career-Related Programmes, and an overview of effective employability skills teaching and learning models.

Overcoming System Inertia in Education Reform (2017)
One of the main obstacles in changing the goals, standards, and curricula of education is historical inertia. This paper examines the motivational and cognitive mechanisms that contribute to the inertia of education systems and provides some insight into overcoming that inertia to successfully implement modern education goals.