Changes ripple through school district's curricula

The start of the new school year brings the start of several new programs in Federal Way schools.

Schools at each level are seeing changes, with a large emphasis on new programs in middle schools.

“We see a real opportunity in middle school. We know that this is the greatest opportunity for growth and development in middle school,” said Diane Turner, Federal Way School District spokeswoman.

In each middle school, a new math curriculum called Algebraic Thinking will be offered in an effort to make eighth-graders more successful in algebra and ready for higher-level algebra courses in high school.

“They’re integrating those algebraic concepts that make a smooth transition so that the students can be successful in algebra,” Turner said. “For kids who traditionally struggle, it’s to help them bridge that gap.”

The Cambridge Checkpoint Preparatory Academy is offered this year at Sacajawea and Lakota middle schools for students interested in the high school Cambridge Program, a competitive program for advanced students similar to International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses.

The College Board SpringBoard Curriculum will also be added to all middle schools for pre-Advanced Placement students.

At Woodmont Elementary School, the school will begin work toward becoming a kindergarten through eighth-grade school. Sixth-graders will be added this year, seventh-graders next year and eighth-graders the year after that.

Teachers at Valhalla Elementary School will implement the First Move program this year with a grant from America’s Foundation for Chess. The program will use chess as a learning tool for second- and third-grade students. The chess curriculum fulfills the requirements for the No Child Left Behind Act and state standards.

At Adelaide Elementary School, the Watch DOGS program will begin this year. The program aims to get more dads involved by asking them to sign up for one day to help in classrooms and supervise the playground.

The program experienced its first year in Federal Way at Sherwood Forest Elementary last year, where principal Barbara Bergman said the program was a success.

At Todd Beamer High School, the Northwest College Preparatory Academy will implement a new peer tutor program this year.

At Decatur High School, the automotive program was recently certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation. Students will be able to obtain Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification and be employable by industry standards upon graduation.

The new programs this year are part of annual evaluations and program changes in Federal Way schools, Turner said.

“We have to constantly evaluate and see where our kids need support and where our kids are doing well,” she said.

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

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