Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) is a leader in continual innovation among public schools in the state and nation. Case in point: The district is currently implementing a full standards-based education system, to ensure clear learning targets in every class across the district, common ways to assess student progress and effective communications with students and parents/guardians.
As part of the district’s Standards Based Learning initiative, work is being done to align curriculum, from Kindergarten through 12th grade, with the state standards. A 2004 OSPI report on school districts that have achieved exceptional academic improvement notes that those districts have aligned curriculum with state standards, assessment and policies.
At the same time, the district is focusing attention on professional development and coaching for our instructional staff. This work is based on broad and authoritative research that indicates quality instruction is the single most significant factor that affects student achievement. (McKinsey & Company, 2007) Our goal is to provide quality instruction every day, every moment, for every child.
The district is also rethinking many common practices in the schools. For example, students who show that they are capable of being successful in advanced academic programs will automatically be enrolled in those classes. The district also uses its automated call-out system to alert parents when their student’s grades slip below a ‘C’. The Seattle Times made note of this program as "a smart example" for getting more students enrolled in AP classes. The Baseline Report for the Road Map Project, a growing coalition of organizations, parents and civic leaders who want to dramatically accelerate student achievement in the South King county area, also called attention to the Academic Acceleration policy. (See related information in right hand column.
In the past decade, others have taken note of FWPS’ work. This past year, all four comprehensive high schools made the Washington Post High School Challenge List.
FWPS was included in a list of the ten highest-performing districts in the state, based on WASL scores and other factors, by the Washington School Research Center at Seattle Pacific University in 2004.
Less than two years later, in June 2006, Standard and Poor’s announced that three of the district’s high schools -- Federal Way, Thomas Jefferson and Todd Beamer High Schools -- were among 51 schools in the state recognized for narrowing the achievement gap. In fact, not only was Federal Way the only district in the state to have more than one high school on the Standard and Poor’s list, two of them – Federal Way High School and Thomas Jefferson High School – achieved the greatest reductions in the achievement gap of all the South Sound schools.
These achievements are not by pure chance. Since 1996, FWPS have been implementing bold new programs (275K PDF) and policies to help all students achieve their academic best. We’ve raised the bar and applied targeted attention in key areas.
The district has 21 elementary schools, two K-8th grade schools, seven middle schools and five high schools. In addition, the district has several programs geared to providing students with alternative learning experiences. FWPS partners with the Technology Access Foundation to offer the TAF Academy on the campus of Totem Middle School. TAF Academy provides a Science, Technology, Math and Science focused curriculum for students in grades 6-12. For well over a decade, the district has provided Internet-based instruction to students across the state through the Internet Academy. The Federal Way Public Academy provides an intensive academic program for students in grades 6-10 and boasts some of the highest WASL scores in the state. Our small high school, Truman, offers an innovative, real-world experience-based program.Our community is stronger, healthier, and more vibrant because businesses and residents support our schools. By building better schools, we’re building a stronger community for today and tomorrow.