State of Education Address 2018-19
Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. This theme set the stage for the State of Education address given by Dr. Tammy Campbell, Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) superintendent, at the Nov. 7, 2018 luncheon hosted by the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce.
Campbell spoke to a room filled with approximately 200 public officials, community members, business leaders and FWPS scholars and administrators. She shared how FWPS receives much less funding than other districts and is doing more for scholars with fewer resources. Campbell highlighted successes, areas of growth, and laid out plans for continuous improvement including engaging the community for their support.
Campbell emphasized many of the district’s recent celebrations. Some key highlights include:
- The graduation rate has steadily increased, reaching an all-time high of 86.2 percent for the class of 2018.
- For six consecutive years, TAF Academy was recognized as a School of Distinction for its commitment to improving student outcomes. In its first year as TAF@Saghalie, the school was recognized for a seventh consecutive year, receiving this distinction more than any other school in the Puget Sound Region.
- For the third year in a row, the FWPS board has received the Board of Distinction award for demonstrating effective use of governance practices that lead to high levels of student and district achievement.
- Thanks to voter approval of the 2017 bond, eight schools are being modernized and rebuilt, and Memorial Stadium will be improved.
While there is much to celebrate, FWPS’ output and effort have not been matched by state input in funding. Inequity still exists with FWPS scholars receiving $76.7 million less in state funding than surrounding districts over the last 10 years.
“We are relentless in our focus towards continuous improvement, but we can’t do this work alone,” said Campbell. “It is an incredible responsibility we have, but it is a shared responsibility with every citizen, and I enlist everyone to do extraordinary things for our scholars.”
Campbell also provided an update on progress towards the district strategic plan goals, and how research proven strategies and data drive continuous improvement.
For Goal One: The early years building the foundation, a measure of progress is the percent of scholars meeting or exceeding grade level standards in English and math by the end of third grade, which is up four percent from 2017.
For Goal Two: Whole child, thriving, confident, responsible individuals, a measure of this progress is the percent of scholars and families who participate in Scholar-Led Conferences. Since the fall of 2016, over 20,000 families have attended these conferences, with 94 percent attending in spring 2018. Another measure of progress is how safe scholars feel in schools. The data illustrates that FWPS schools are safe places, which is supported by the fact that 93 percent of all scholars have had no major discipline issues.
For Goal Three: Active learners, engaged, empowered, critical thinkers, a measure of progress includes the percent of scholars that are engaged and challenged. Since 2017, over 5,000 scholars, families and community members attended STEM Exploration Night, and 454 scholars are enrolled in Middle School Robotics, a 55 percent increase in the 2018–19 school year. Also, this year Scholar Art in the City is a new initiative that displays the artistic talents of FWPS scholars and features student art in 36 local businesses and organizations.
For Goal Four: Content area competence, mastery of all subjects, a measure of progress is the percent of scholars meeting grade level standard in core subjects. Since 2017, there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of FWPS schools with higher poverty that are outperforming their peers in the state math assessment, and a 25 percent increase in these schools outperforming in English. For the past three years, similar to the surrounding districts and the state average, FWPS English scores and math scores are either declining or flat line on the state assessments. For two decades, the district didn’t have standard curriculum, and an immediate step Campbell took as superintendent was to build and begin implementing a guaranteed and viable curriculum to provide consistency across all school sites.
For Goal Five: Persistence to graduation, high school graduation through successful transitions, a measure of progress is the percent of ninth grade scholars on track for graduation that continues to improve, with 87 percent for the 2017–18 school year. FWPS is excelling in another measure of progress, which shows for two consecutive years, the district is outperforming the state average with 63 percent of scholars who have enrolled in a two or four-year college program and persisted two or more years.
Schools can’t do it alone, and Campbell ended by calling on the community to engage with FWPS. “We need difference makers, not doubters,” said Campbell. “Ordinary actions have an extraordinary trajectory, and I ask our community to be wholly committed to supporting our scholars and schools.”