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Perspective on Standards Based Education | Letters
I feel that some additional perspective on Standards Based Education (SBE) would benefit your readers whose children attend Federal Way Public Schools.
The FWPS parents and staff should keep in mind that the standards represent the skills and knowledge that the students are supposed to master by June; it’s November.
Furthermore, students earn A’s by mastering 90 percent of the Power Standards, which means they’ve mastered at least 90 percent of the Learning Targets.
If teachers are accepting 69 percent as the benchmark for passing a Learning Target, they should look at that as a means of raising the rigor and expectations for their courses.
For some Learning Targets in my classes, I accept an 80 percent as the passing benchmark, but for others, I require 100 percent mastery to certify that a student has mastered the target.
The central administration of FWPS has told the teachers that our professional judgment still matters a great deal in determining whether a student has mastered a Learning Target, so statements that SBE is a one-size-fits-all system are an exaggeration. Consistency is not uniformity, and the FWPS administration continues to place a very high degree of trust in the professionalism of its teachers.
I understand the frustration that this is causing my students. I had a good conversation with one of my most ambitious freshmen today, and she is very shaken because she has placed all of her goals upon her grades. I told her, as I tell anyone who will listen, the focus must be on the learning.
If students, families and teachers worry about the learning, the grades will follow. If we worry about the grades, the learning may or may not follow.
I accept that this issue will become more contentious before it improves, but I piloted SBE last year, and my students did well under it. However, many of them did not start to thrive until late in the year when the knowledge and skills involved in the course started to cohere.
I trust that my students will do the same again this year.
Brook Brayman, high school English and history teacher, The Technology Access Foundation Academy