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Barbara Ryan Thompson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Speaks in Favor of Common Core at Public Meetings in Florida

Author: Helios Education Foundation

Recently, Helios' Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer spoke publicly about the importance of Florida's Common Core Standards in a public meeting at Hillsborough Community College. 

The event was one of three public forums in which organizations and individuals could speak their minds about the Standards. More than 4,000 people lodged written opinions in preparation for the public meetings.

The meetings were called in response to controversy around the implementation of the higher, more rigorous standards. As a foundation focused on increasing rigor and supporting higher standards in the classroom, Helios Education Foundation decided to participate in the public meetings and discuss the importance of ensuring that students are prepared to succeed in the 21st century global-economy.

"Currently, students across the nation and within our state trail their national and international peers in reading, math and science," said Barbara Ryan Thompson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "Helios Education Foundation strives to improve educational systems from prekindergarten through postsecondary and we believe the state-led Common Core Standards address critical literacy, comprehension and mathematical reasoning skills necessary for our students to succeed in college and career. "

The new standards were developed in 2010 through a voluntary effort by professional educators and education experts from across the United States including Arizona and Florida. The initiative was led by the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The goal is to improve not only what students learn, but how they learn by teaching critical thinking, problem-solving and effective communication skills. Together, with highly trained, well-supported teachers, the Standards will better prepare students for success in college and career.

For example, research has proven that Algebra is a gateway course for many students. Many of the skills necessary to succeed in Algebra and other advanced math courses are laid in earlier grades. Students' performance on NAEP, TIMMS, PISA and individual state tests reinforce that too often critical foundational skills are not being mastered under the current standards. Moreover, students are not able to demonstrate application of those mathematical concepts and critical thinking skills outside of role memorization practices.

However, that changes with the Common Core State Standards. For example, the standards clearly identify that fifth grade students are not only able to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators, including mixed numbers, but also be able to solve word problems involving the addition and subtraction of such fractions. The increased rigor in these standards introduced through fractions provides the critical foundation for future academic success in reasoning and in exploring linear relationships in Algebra.

Grasping higher-order math and science concepts improve students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

This is just one of many examples of how Common Core better prepares students with the skills they need to succeed in postsecondary education and in the workforce.

"If the bar isn't raised now through the full implementation of Common Core, then we are perpetuating a workforce pipeline that is undereducated, underskilled and underprepared to compete nationally and internationally," said Thompson.

Florida is a nationally recognized leader in education. The state must hold firm to its commitment to implement the Common Core State Standards. Higher standards and aligned rigorous assessments raise the bar and set Florida on a continued path to prosperity.

Category: Education Issues

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