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Washington State Learning Standards

Common Core State Standards

Standards aren’t new, especially in Federal Way Public Schools.

The State of Washington adopted new standards for math and English language arts (reading, writing, speaking and listening). The standards are shared by 46 states and are often referred to as Common Core State Standards or CCSS. Washington state also has its own standards for other subjects such as science and social studies.

Like the standards the district implemented as part of standards-based education, the new standards are a set of learning expectations that progress logically from kindergarten through 12th grade. They create clear expectations for what students should know and be able to do in key areas: reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics.

Standards are the goals and expectations for students’ learning at each grade level. Meeting the standard in one grade or course level prepares the student for what they will learn in the next grade or course, such as Algebra I to Algebra II.

A couple of other things to know:

  • Teachers in our district began using the new English language arts and math standards during the 2013-2014 school year.
  • The standards are the same for K-12 students at each grade level in all the participating states. This helps students who relocate frequently, including children of military families, keep up with their counterparts.

Smarter Balanced Assessments were given for the first time as the official state assessment in the Spring of 2015.  Read more about these assessments here.

The new standards set a higher bar

These standards are challenging but achievable. They will help our students remain competitive with those from other countries.

The English language arts standards require students to spend more time analyzing nonfiction, but understanding short stories, novels and drama is still important. They also expect students to make clear, well-supported arguments. In math, students spend more time understanding how numbers represent quantities (known as “number sense”). They also will develop and defend multiple solutions to problems that reflect real life.

Teachers Still Decide How and What to Teach

The standards are not a curriculum and they don’t tell teachers how to teach, or even what to teach. Teachers create lesson plans and decide how they teach what students need to know. Teachers across the nation helped draft the standards, and Federal Way teachers have received on-going training and resources to make instructional shifts needed to align to the new expectations for our students

And real-life skills mean more options.

Learning problem-solving and critical thinking skills that apply to real life, instead of random facts, helps make students more employable whether they choose to go to college or not.

How can parents and guardians help?

  • If you haven’t already, become familiar with Federal Way’s standards-based education system.
  • Get familiar with  what your student will need to do to be successful at each grade level using the Parents Guide to Success
  • Find the priority standards being focused on at each grade level on the FWPS Priority Standards Website.
  • The new standards make several important changes to current standards. These changes are called shifts. This chart shows what these shifts change, what you might see in your child’s backpack and what you can do to help your child. If your child’s assignments do not reflect the shifts, then talk to your child’s teacher.
  • Make use of on-line practice resources to help your child master the skills encompassed by Common Core.
  • Finally, help your child or children understand why they need to do their homework. Not only will they do better in school now, but they will also establish study habits necessary to succeed throughout their school years and into college or other post-secondary education.