As public school systems across the state begin to adopt the national Common Core State Standards, business leaders such as A. Roger Guillemette, CEO of West Warwick’s Guill Tool & Engineering Inc., will be watching closely for how those standards will help close Rhode Island’s skills gap.
And, in a more general sense, they will want to know what they offer to better train students for the business world.
At an educational forum held the morning of Oct. 7 at the Fidelity campus in Smithfield, state and education officials, as well as members of the business community, gathered to talk about the common-core standards. They were among the approximately 90 people who attended the event sponsored by the Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council, a business-funded, nonprofit, public-policy research group.
The common-core standards are one part of Rhode Island’s ongoing campaign to reform public education at the elementary and secondary levels, a campaign fueled in part by the $75 million “Race to the Top” competitive federal funds that state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist helped bring to the state last year.
Gist in a later telephone interview stressed to Providence Business News that the common-core standards were developed with the input of several prestigious national business groups, such as the National Governors Association, the Business Roundtable and the Council of Chief State School Officers, as well as higher education representatives.
As a direct example of how the common-core standards are already improving fundamental education, Gist pointed to the remarks of Bob O’Brien, superintendent of schools in Smithfield, at the Oct. 7 forum.
O’Brien explained to the gathering how his teachers are now working to prepare reading materials for kindergarteners that will include informational, nonfictional text, as well as the usual fiction.