A Note From the Superintendent
Dear Federal Way School parents and families,
Every day of the school year, it is a privilege and a joy to support your child with the academic and social emotional supports to be successful. As superintendent I am regularly visiting 4–5 schools each week, walking through classrooms, and experiencing the learning environment we provide to our approximately 23,000 student scholars. This year the board of directors is joining me on a monthly basis to visit schools. In classrooms and at school sites throughout the district, I have observed staff who are whole- heartedly dedicated and sincerely care for each of our scholars.
Last year, we embarked on a journey with the input of over 2,500 stakeholders—parents, students, teachers, school and district administrators, city and community leaders, and more—to develop a comprehensive plan with five goals and measures to track our progress. We are putting this plan into action in multiple ways, and are committed to the success of your child. I want to share with you some of the highlights of the work of our Strategic Plan and what that means for your child’s experience in Federal Way Public Schools.
One of our commitments, and something we are measuring in Goal (2) The Whole Child: Thriving, Confident, Responsible Individuals of our Strategic Plan is student-led conferences. On November 9 and November 10, student-led conferences were held district-wide with a participation goal of 100%. We believe these conferences are important for our scholars to demonstrate ownership and progress in their learning, and also allow for building effective partnerships with our parents and families.
Another important highlight is, for the first time in recent years, our 4-year graduation rate has reached 80 percent. Our graduation rate increased for the fifth straight year with the 2016 graduation rate of 80.1 percent, almost 10 points higher than 2012, and over 2 points higher than 2015. The consecutive five- year graduation rate increase speaks to Strategic Plan Goal (5): Persistence to Graduation. We are building on efforts to help all FWPS’ students persist to graduation—school counselors at every school site, FAFSA/WASFA application assistance, College Bound Scholarship, High School and Beyond Plan, college and career exploration opportunities like the Life After High School Fair and our first annual STEM Exploration Night (that will be held in February 2017). And new this year as part of Goal (5) of our Strategic Plan is the career plan letter that will require our scholars to outline, in writing, their plan for life beyond high school.
Another aspect of our scholars’ persistence to graduation is attending school. In our Strategic Plan under Goal (2), you will see we are measuring the “percent of scholars participating in at least 95% of classroom instructional time.” Research shows the importance of our student scholars attending school every day. Absences can add up quickly and have different impacts on students reaching educational milestones. We know that by the time a student enters high school, good attendance can predict graduation rates better than 8th-grade test scores.
The district is also implementing practices that address the social emotional needs of students and that focus on efforts to utilize consequences that promote positive behavior in school. The system of restorative practices are more rigorous than merely allowing a scholar to be suspended, go home, and return to school without having to “right the wrong” that was commit- ted. Instead, students are held accountable to resolve a conflict, restore and repair relationships, and right a harm that has been done to another or a school community. Practices such as these require thoughtful and reflective efforts on behalf of students and staff— they help our students learn additional problem solving and cooperative skills to be successful inside and outside the classroom, and in the workforce of the future. In instances involving serious safety concerns, school teams can utilize suspensions when it is appropriate.
Last, I hope that you take advantage of the family survey (http://www.research.net/r/FW-Parent) that is open through November 22. Your input is essential in helping us to lead towards continuous improvement as a district. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspective, and for the opportunity to reach and teach your child every day in Federal Way Public Schools. Building on the good work that is occurring in our schools and ensuring continuous support requires not only school staff, but the hard work and continuous efforts of our families and community. Sitting Bull said it best, “Let’s put our minds together and see what life we can create for our children.”
Tammy Campbell, Ed.D.