Federal Way Public Schools seeks participants for Grading Advisory Committee

Federal Way Public Schools - Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools
Federal Way Public Schools
— image credit: Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools

One of the outcomes over the most recent uproar concerning Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) grading system is the formation of a “District Grading Advisory Committee.”

The district began advertising this committee on Monday, with Assistant Superintendent of Teaching for Learning Marie Verhaar giving a brief report to the FWPS board of directors during the board’s Tuesday meeting. Verhaar says the applications were already rolling in the one day between posting the notice for the committee and her presentation.

“The openings have been advertised widely, and we have 37 applications already,” she said.

Verhaar touched on some of the goals of this committee, saying the “purpose of the committee is to share research and to provide input and to continuously improve the effective grading practices for all students in Federal Way.”

The information and research the committee gathers will be communicated to Superintendent Rob Neu, who will forward that information to the board as policy recommendations.

The committee is slated to be made up of eight high school students, 16 parents, eight teachers, up to two community members and six district/school administrators. Committee members are expected to serve two (school) years continuously, and are expected, to the best of their ability, to attend every committee meeting.

Meetings will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at the Educational Service Center (ESC). The meeting schedule for the remainder of this school year is: Feb. 20, March 20, April 17 and May 15.

Verhaar said there are a variety of options to apply for anyone interested in joining this committee.

“Interested community members can complete an application online. On the website, there’s also a PDF so you can click on the PDF and get a hard copy and print it out,” she said. “Every school office also has hard copies available in Spanish, Korean, Russian and English. We also have copies at the front office at the ESC … All completed applications will be considered. We welcome, encourage, families, community members, whose first language may not be English. We will make sure there are translators/interpreters on staff at each of the meetings.”

The online application, and more information about the committee, can be found at The application deadline closes at 5 p.m. on Jan. 27. Applications will be reviewed by Neu and staff, and those chosen will be notified by Jan. 31.

Board president Danny Peterson asked if there would be a place at the table for board members on the committee, with Verhaar saying they would gladly welcome any board member to participate in the meetings.

Verhaar added that district administrators are making sure that the student voices will be an important and valuable contribution to the committee’s work.

“Student voices are very important to us and to this process,” she said, “and so (Vince) Blauser has worked with each high school principal to come up with a unified process for the high schools. They’ve already advertised it and will have interested kids come together so they can talk about it and fill out the application … We’ve asked that they look for students who really have a voice, who really want to be heard and have some great information to share.”

Board vice president Geoffery McAnalloy said he was happy to see a quick response from the district on this issue.

“I just want to thank you for the expeditious process in doing this,” he said. “The community is asking for transparency and a way to communicate, and I really appreciate the efforts.”


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