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Press Release

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner’s Teacher Task Force Discusses Race to the Top Efforts

~ Group focuses on utilizing data and standards to improve teacher quality and struggling schools ~

Tallahassee – The Commissioner’s Teacher Task Force met for the third time Monday to hear about Florida’s Race to the Top (RTTT) efforts and provide input on how best to accomplish the goals of this ground-breaking education reform project. Announced in January, the Task Force is comprised of 18 of the state’s most dedicated teachers who are working with the Department of Education (DOE) to identify the characteristics of effective teachers and work with Department staff to elevate teaching as a profession across the state.

“I am very pleased with the conversations that took place Monday in Tallahassee and the valuable input we are receiving from our task force members,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “It is clear that they have a vested interest in improving our education system in meaningful ways and I am thankful of the dedication and expertise they bring to the table as we continue these important discussions.”

Today’s meeting primarily focused on the development of new strategies in teacher preparation, professional development, and assessment as related to the implementation of Florida’s RTTT grant. After receiving presentations on key RTTT initiatives, Task Force members were encouraged to provide ideas that can help guide state and local activities to implement the state’s Race to the Top initiatives. Educator preparation and training designed to take place before, during, and after individuals are accepted into educator certification programs was also a popular topic.

“We are going to focus on Race to the Top and the impact we can have on DOE policies,” added Task Force member Nicole Marsala, a Coral Springs Middle School American History teacher. “We want to make sure local and state leaders hear from us and from other teachers throughout the state. The Department of Education always listens and takes our concerns into consideration.”

“The future of the country is at stake,” said Teacher Task Force member Dr. Adewale Alonge, who teaches Agricultural Science at Homestead Elementary School. “Our global leadership in technology, industry, and innovation hangs in the balance. The outcome will be determined by whether we have our students ready to compete.”

Florida’s Race to the Top application is grounded in better preparing students for the changing 21st century economy. With this in mind, through Race to the Top, Florida will strive to double the percent of incoming high school freshman who graduate high school and complete one year of college, cut the current achievement gap between white and minority students in half by 2015, and out-perform the current highest performing states on standardized testing.

The Commissioner’s Teacher Task Force was created by the Department of Education, in partnership with the Florida Education Foundation, to serve as an advisory group to the Commissioner. This group of educators, representing teachers statewide, works to identify opportunities for collaboration among Department staff and educators throughout the state on key education issues.

For more information about the Task Force and a list of its members, please visit: http://www.fldoe.org/commissioner/ttf.asp.