Letters to the Editor

Common Core vs. Power Standards: Education revolution?

Why is Federal Way Public Schools administration building its own system?

Common Core State Standards are coming.

The move toward Common Core State Standards (CCSS) presents some very exciting challenges and opportunities. These standards are intended to transition education from the current 110-year-old system into one that matches pace with 21st century technological development. These changes in education will have a profound and positive effect on the future of this nation if properly implemented.

CCSS will change the manner in which teachers teach and students learn. CCSS will create the opportunity to transform Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) into an actual world-class school system.

The Common Core State Standards will become the Washington State Standards in 2014.

The transition to Common Core Standards is a major change in education, and will require active discussion and participation throughout all stakeholders in the school system and in the community.

In creating the vision and actions that will drive toward the creation of a world-class education system, we can overcome the mediocrity that presently shackles our students and teachers.

The Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) has already established a four-phase implementation timeline for the Common Core Standards, which begins with creating greater awareness and understanding of the tasks that lie ahead. Under the OSPI timeline, the assessments phase of implementation won’t be piloted until 2013, with the intent of launching those assessment standards in 2014.

FWPS is jumping the gun with ineffective implementation.

The introduction of Power Standards into FWPS this year has caused much confusion, consternation and chaos.

The transition to standardized education is being poorly implemented within FWPS leading to numerous issues with grading, limited teacher buy-in and a lack of clear communication to the parents and students.

In contrast the Common Core Standards are fewer, clearer, and at a higher standard than what is now being implemented within this school district. The Common Core Standards are based upon international benchmarks and high level, data-driven research. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on continued development of these learning and assessment standards.

The question we should be collectively asking ourselves is this: “If Common Core will become law in 2014, then why are we not transitioning into those standards? Why are we heading down a path that creates so much suffering, as opposed to taking the path advocated by many of the leading education experts in the nation?” Given the challenges we have faced with Power Standards implementation, are we doomed to repeat the turmoil with the mandated state changes?

The suffering of students and teachers that we’re presently witnessing is the result of the proper standards not being correctly implemented. The frustration expressed by parents, teachers and students at successive school board meetings shows that we need new modes for engagement.

The way forward: We need a thoughtful transition process with the active participation of all stakeholders. We need to define a clear vision for our education system to ensure that the transition protects students and engages teachers and parents. Parents need to have a coherent voice to bring a co-equal perspective to the future of FWPS.

The Federal Way Parents Organization is being formed to provide a powerful voice, an opportunity to share experience and to develop positive, creative input. Together  we can bring FWPS to new heights of performance through effective partnership among all stakeholders.

Kurt Peppard, Federal Way (Peppard is the founder of Federal Way Parents Organization. Contact him at fwparentsorg@gmail.com. “Together we can create the vision and the means of establishing a world-class school system.”)


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