What Drives Our Work
Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) has established a track record of courageous innovation to ensure that each student graduates with the skills and academic knowledge to succeed as a responsible, contributing member of a global society.
In the past three years, the district has made strides toward creating a college-going culture in our secondary schools. We automatically enroll students who pass the state’s standardized tests in advanced academic programs. The Seattle Times made note of this program as a smart example for getting more students enrolled in AP classes. District administrators and students have testified about the program at the state and federal level.
We also pay for all students to take the PSAT, SAT and advanced program tests at district expense. In fact, we offer a yearly College Preparation Day that involves free College Board testing and activities for all students from 8th through 12th grades. This is held on a regular school day so that students who lack transportation or work on the weekends can participate in the important college placement testing.
Not coincidentally, for the past three years, all of the district’s comprehensive high schools have been on the Washington Post High School Challenge List, formerly Newsweek’s Best High Schools in America list. In 2014, for the second year in a row, all four of Federal Way’s comprehensive high schools were in Washington’s top 20 list.
Students need a broad, strong academic foundation. To qualify for the best-paying jobs our economy offers, they will need to be competent in math and science as well as writing and reading.
We’ve implemented a fully standards-based education system to ensure clear standards in every class across the district, common ways to assess student progress and effective communications with students and parents/guardians. This work has also prepared our students and staff for the transition to Common Core State Standards and testing in the next few years.
In 2013, the district implemented a Global Education Initiative focused on developing globally-competent students by nurturing higher-level thinking, multicultural problem solving and international communication skills. These are the skills that students will need to thrive in the diverse and complex global economy of the 21st century.
As a result of our commitment to this work, the district has been invited to participate in a ground-breaking partnership that will team up 1,000 schools from 10 countries to help transform their educational systems. The partnership is spearheaded by education leader Dr. Michael Fullan, and is being coordinated by social innovation leader Collaborative Impact.
It includes the participation of Microsoft, Intel and Promethean.
Road Map Project/Race to the Top
The students and staff of Federal Way Public Schools are already seeing benefits of the Road Map Project, a partnership formed with six other King County school districts to pool resources in order to raise student achievement across the region.
In the fall of 2012, school districts participating in the Road Map Project received word that they had won a $40 million federal Race to the Top grant for a comprehensive plan to raise student achievement. The grant has been allotted to nine projects, two of which were designed based on programs already in place in Federal Way Public Schools: ensuring that all qualified students are enrolled in academically challenging classes (project 7); and providing students in 8th grade through 12th grade with the suite of college preparation assessments, including the PSAT and SAT(project 8).
The Road Map Project’s Race to the Top theme, “start strong, STEM strong, stay strong” refers to the philosophy that a comprehensive approach is required to significantly improve our students’ educational outcomes. Of the nine projects, four require that school districts submit a detailed plan for the intended use of dollars for each project in each of three rounds. The proposals are scored against a rigorous set of criteria and money is awarded based on how well districts meet the criteria.
Federal Way has submitted these detailed grant applications in all four of the projects this year, the first round. We have received notification of awards in three of those categories, with the fourth pending. Read more about the grants awarded so far.
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, Engineering and Math-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 standardized test 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.