There is a reason why the United States lags behind other nations in college readiness, knowledge gap fulfillment and graduation rates. Current K-12 curricula are failing students.

The education system that forms the backbone of our schools is more than 125 years old. The method devised then consists of a lecture and rote learning, then repeating the process.

Michigan Nightlight’s essay series "VOICES: Overcoming Challenges in Learning" has put a much-needed spotlight on the K-12 curriculum and these issues.

What may have worked well in 1892 is no longer helping our students. In an era of Google, social media and continuous innovation, this should be a defunct system. Students need different skills and a different way to learn and absorb knowledge.

Instead of rote memory and test output, children today need to learn new skills on a perpetual basis.

To be successful professionals, they need to communicate well with others. They need to develop critical thinking skills, and be creative and confident. With simple recall and repeat, these necessary skills are unlikely to be inculcated.

Some change is on the way. The pace is slower than we expect, but at this point any progress is welcome.

The Indiana University School of Education is now partnering with several K-12 schools to boost student achievement. Researchers and teachers share knowledge with higher education experts. The aim is to create successful practices for blended learning.

Chicago Public Schools and the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute have formed a similar partnership. They focus on using data and metrics to determine the best academic progress for students.

The program offers schools a tool to check the "on track" metrics of their students. The initiative helps a student graduate on time, become college-ready and equips him or her with skills needed for the digital future.

Additionally, Rice University and the Houston Independent School District have formed a successful partnership to create a longitudinal database.

They use data analysis and evidence-based programs to build better applications for both students and teachers. The support program has been very successful in helping students in low socio-economic tiers.

In New York, a University of Rochester researcher is working with the East Irondequoit Central School District to offer digitally-rich teaching. The main focus is to evaluate outcomes of a one-on-one initiative. Emphasis is also on improving instruction methods beyond the curriculum.

Also in the Empire State, Wagner College has established the Port Richmond Partnership Leadership Academy and is working with local schools in Staten Island. The program offers students an opportunity to serve the community and a glimpse into college academics.

All of these partnerships use a blend of technology, research and mentoring to improve college prep. They also collaborate on training for useful career paths and develop the curricula to suit the present day needs of the students.

The economy is in constant flux, and the job market is not predictable. Learning based on outdated curricula is no longer the only way to prepare our kids for the future.