Two Federal Way schools earn School of Distinction award

Woodmont students in grades 6-8 conducted science investigations at Highline Community College
Woodmont students in grades 6-8 conducted science investigations at Highline Community College's Marine Science and Technology Center at Redondo last spring.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Federal Way Public Schools' Technology Access Foundation Academy (TAF) and Woodmont Elementary each received a 2012 School of Distinction award by the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CCE).

Woodmont operates as a K-8 school and was recognized for its work in improving student achievement scores in grades 6-8. TAF was also recognized for increasing student achievement at the middle school grade levels.

"The School of Distinction Award is well-deserved by both TAF Academy and Woodmont," FWPS Superintendent Rob Neu said. "Our schools are taking innovative approaches to improve student achievement, and their hard work is paying off."

According to FWPS, to qualify for consideration, schools must meet at least the state average at each grade level in reading and math assessments. Schools that hit that metric are then evaluated by looking at the last five years of reading and math scores, and how much improvement has occurred within those five years.

Woodmont principal Donna Bogle says the recognition is proof that effective strategies are employed in the classrooms.

"Our teachers use a variety of strategies to equip our students to work with issues that relate to their world and their interests," Bogle said. "Our school is small enough that the teachers have the opportunity to work closely with individual students and can motivate them to achieve and believe in themselves. Woodmont students are also actively engaged in setting their own goals."

TAF founder and CEO Trish Millines Dziko also credited effective teaching methods for the increase in student achievement. At TAF, according to the district, "teaching math and reading includes project-based learning, supplemental tutoring during the school day, and individualized attention."

"It's important our students have a strong base in these areas so they can excel in science, technology, engineering and math related fields, which is where our focus is," Dziko said. "Our teachers and students have a lot to be proud of, so we're very pleased TAF Academy is included on this list."

97 schools were given the award, and represent the top 5 percent of schools in the state at increasing student achievement in recent years, said Greg Lobdell, CEE President.

"These schools are from all regions of the state, all sizes of towns, and with 2 percent to 95 percent poverty and enrollment of English Language Learners as high as 49 percent, these schools demonstrate that significant improve is occurring across our diverse public schools," he added.

A ceremony to honor winners will be held Jan. 24 at the Puget Sound Educational School District in Renton.


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