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Federal Way schools fine-tune improvement plan

They spent a year figuring out the plan. Now the Federal Way School District is putting that plan into action after failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress again this past year.

The district was required by law last year to create a plan for improving the district's test scores, the first step of what is called "improvement." However, the district did not reach the threshold mark again in 2009, and is now considered to be in the second step of "improvement."

The district began implementing some of the changes this year, but the school board is still fine-tuning the plan, which was officially approved in May. The district and board are now clearing up some wording to eliminate any overlap.

Adelaide Principal Jason Smith was charged with putting together the plan for the district. The district will refine and adjust the plan next year if AYP isn't met again, but will not scrap the plan, he said.

"We want this to be a living document," Superintendent Tom Murphy said. "I want it written in pencil. I want it to change."

Many of the changes are dictated at a federal level. Districts in improvement must reserve at least 10 percent of their annual Title 1 allocation to provide focused, professional development for teachers and administers for areas that didn't meet their target. However, the Federal Way district already practiced this, spokeswoman Deb Stenberg said. The only impact it made was on the source of the funding, using specifically Title 1 funds.

Many of the changes were worked into the teachers' contracts that were approved over the summer, including consequences that could occur if a teacher refuses to take additional training through workshops arranged by their principal.

The workshop options are also more readily available for teachers.

Other plans include updating the Web site to include links on how the school district is working on improving each area.

"Waiting is the life of the kids," school board president Tony Moore said. "I've seen firsthand teachers who don't have a passion for teaching, and I have had it up to here. I like the plan, but at the end of the day, you have to care about the kids."

Learn more

For more information on the plan, visit www.fwps.org/info/overview/performance/improvementplan.html

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