To date, 140 parents have graduated from the “In It Together” Family Partnership Academy, a two-way learning program in which bilingual parents teach other parents how to navigate the complexities of the school in their native language. Courtesy photo

To date, 140 parents have graduated from the “In It Together” Family Partnership Academy, a two-way learning program in which bilingual parents teach other parents how to navigate the complexities of the school in their native language. Courtesy photo

Federal Way Public Schools district deemed most diverse in Washington state

FWPS ranked 5th in the nation for diversity.

Walk through the halls of any school in the Federal Way Public Schools district, and you’ll hear a symphony of languages among a multicultural array of students.

In September, the FWPS district was awarded the most diverse school district in Washington state and ranked fifth most diverse in the nation, according to niche.com.

Niche.com is a ranking and review website for schools, companies and neighborhoods around the nation. The website’s 2019 Most Diverse School Districts in Washington list explored the districts using ethnic diversity statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, along with student and parent reviews of cultural, economic and ethnic diversity to determine the rankings.

“One of the most important career skills that we know people need in the workforce is an ability to see various perspectives, and having a diverse community puts our students in a position where they can hear multiple perspectives on historical issues, on how to think creatively,” said Dr. Tammy Campbell, FWPS superintendent. “Because we have scholars who come from so many different places in the world and cultural points of view, we believe this is one of the best learning environments we can have our young people in.”

Of the 294 school districts in Washington state, FWPS encompasses 37 schools serving more than 23,000 students.

As of September of the 2018-2019 school year, the following percentages of gender, race and ethnicity were provided by Whitney Chiang, director of multimedia communications for the FWPS district.

District wide, the FWPS student population consists of 30 percent Hispanic, 27 percent white, 15 percent black, 13 percent of students who identify as two or more ethnicities, 12 percent Asian and 6 percent of students identify as another race not listed.

The FWPS district serves a 51 percent male population and a 49 percent female population.

“We value every single scholar in this district, and it’s our job to ensure they are successful. It is important they develop skills, character and a passion for what they know, are able to do, and who they want to become,” said Chiang on behalf of the district. “The world is becoming more diverse, and our scholars directly benefit through their experiences of learning from and alongside others who bring a variety of backgrounds and experiences.”

In an article ranking the top 100 elementary schools in the Puget Sound region based on academics and diversity by the Puget Sound Business Journal, three FWPS schools made the list: Sunnycrest Elementary School ranked No. 9, Lake Grove Elementary placed No. 65, and Valhalla Elementary also made the list at No. 73.

“Of the students at the 541 schools considered in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, just over half of the 268,795 students were nonwhite, and 39 percent qualified for the free and reduced lunch program,” continued the article posted on Oct. 1.

More than 120 languages are spoken in Federal Way schools and the district also translates the district website into the top 11 languages to promote inclusivity and access for all people, district officials said.

The district’s Strategic Plan, which outlines the key goals for each scholar, and the Learning Partnership Guides are also available in the top eight languages of the district including Korean, Russian, Arabic, Somali and Vietnamese among others.

In August, 88 FWPS graduates received the Seal of Biliteracy from the district. This achievement recognizes high school graduates who have demonstrated high levels of proficiency — by reading, writing, and speaking — in one or more languages, as well as demonstrating high levels of proficiency in English.

Interpretation services are available at major events and on a day-to-day basis to accommodate as many families as possible, Chiang said.

The FWPS district also has the “In It Together” Family Partnership Academy, a program where bilingual parents teach other parents how to navigate the complexities of school in their native language.

To date, 140 parents have graduated from the program, according to Chiang. This year, 12 parents are being trained as facilitators and will begin leading 125 parents alongside district and school partners.

In addition, staff have received racial equity training and a careful selection process is conducted to select curriculum that enables all students to see themselves in the materials, Chiang said.

Federal Way Public Schools values the diversity and theme of equality within the district, Chiang said, and the district believes race, socioeconomics, language, cultural background, and other exceptionalities are not predictors of student achievement.

More in News

State patrol seeks witnesses in hit and run collision that injured Federal Way woman

Semi-truck caused the collision but failed to stop, according to Washington State Patrol.

Federal Way Farmers Market bustles | Photos

Even gray clouds couldn’t put a damper on the farmers market crowd.

Federal Way Mirror Scholar of the Month for June: Julia Stefanyuk

From planning assemblies to organizing library books, Lakeland fifth-grader always ready to offer a helping hand.

Grieving mothers unite at healing circle

“Federal Way is too small for our kids to be losing their lives,” said Alexis Broussard, whose teen son was shot and killed in 2018.

A high tide at Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Grays Harbor County, Washington. Sound Publishing file photo
On the West Coast, Washington is most prone to sea level rise damage

Report by the Center for Climate Integrity shows multibillion-dollar cost of battling back the sea.

Photo Provided by Naomi Parkman Sansome Facebook Page
Buckle up for another smoky summer

Wildfires in Washington will likely roar back this year and into the future.

The city of Federal Way recognized June as Pride Month for the first time in the city’s history at the June 18 council meeting. Photo courtesy of the City of Federal Way.
City recognizes first-ever Pride Month in Federal Way

Proclamation declares June as Pride month; mayor declines to display pride flag at City Hall to avoid creation of ‘political forums.’

Federal Way celebrates Flag Day

Community learns meaning of flag and what it represents to those who have sacrificed.

New police substation opens in Twin Lakes

Local substations improve officer response time and police visibility, says Chief Andy Hwang.

Most Read