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Federal Way TAF Academy one of four schools recognized in state
The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Academy was designated a Washington State Innovative School, the State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced March 20.
TAF joins 22 previously designated Washington Innovative Schools, and three other new additions: Osborn Elementary in Cascade School District, Pioneer Elementary in Auburn School District and Three Rivers HomeLink, Richland School District.
Co-managed by the Technology Access Foundation and Federal Way Public Schools, TAF is the only public/private partner school in Washington state.
Washington’s Innovative Schools program celebrates the state’s most inventive and exciting school models and encourages bold, creative and innovative education, OSPI’s webpage notes.
“This acknowledgement of our work is one more validation for how much impact public/private partnerships can have in public education,” TAF Executive Director Trish Dziko added. “Federal Way Public Schools stepped out on the leading edge when this partnership was formed in 2007 and together we’ve created an environment where students can flourish and bridge the gap between their aspirations and accomplishments.”
A statewide selection committee of education leaders and experts review applications and recommend schools for the designation. Recipients are selected based on the level of creativity and experimentation, incorporation of best practices and research, increase in student achievement and/or closing achievement gaps, collaboration with parents and the community and high staff morale and engagement.
“This recognition is a direct result of the dynamic relationship that our students, parents, and teachers have with each other,” said Paul Tytler, principal. “The unique partnership between FWPS and TAF has created the conditions necessary for students to thrive and achieve the outstanding results as indicated in the designation of being a Washington State Innovative School.”
“We’re excited but not surprised that TAF Academy has been selected as one of the most innovative schools in the state,” Superintendent Rob Neu said. “Our partnership with Technology Access Foundation has introduced new and promising instructional practices to the district.”
TAF Academy is a sixth-12th grade Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math public school with an interdisciplinary project-based learning approach. The school opened in 2008 and has steadily increased its enrollment from the first year when it offered grades 6, 7 and 9 only.
Integrated Project-Based Learning is core to TAF Academy’s STEM curriculum, and hinges on the ability of teachers to identify student needs and interests, and facilitate learning. This teaching method expects more from students than simply consuming and regurgitating content. Instead, it challenges them to understand the relationship between subject areas and to apply that knowledge.