In a “state of education” presentation Wednesday at the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Superintendent Tammy Campbell said Federal Way Public Schools has made a good start in implementing a five-goal strategic plan to increase the district’s graduation rates as well as student performance in reading and math.
She also acknowledged more work has yet to be done.
“This is the year that we are refining our schools and going deeper,” Campbell said.
In providing an overview of its students, Campbell said the district’s demographics are quite broad. Of the district’s 23,322 students attending 38 schools, 19.8 percent are English language learners, 13.9 percent are in special education classes, 60.8 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch and 118 total languages are spoken.
In tracking progress and identifying areas that need improvement, Campbell said the district uses a variety of tools with assessments playing a large part.
“What gets measured gets done,” Campbell said.
She said the biggest areas where improvement is needed are the number of third- and eighth-graders meeting or exceeding grade-level standards in English language arts and mathematics.
Based on Smarter Balanced Assessment results for English language arts, only 38 percent of third-graders and 49 percent of eighth-graders were on target in 2016-17, whereas 53 percent of third-graders and 59 percent of eighth-graders were on target in the state overall.
In math, 44 percent of district third-graders and 30 percent of eighth-graders were meeting or exceeding standards. In the state, 58 percent of third-graders and 48 percent of eighth-graders were meeting or exceeding, in comparison.
On the other hand, Campbell said the district has already made some gains in English language arts with the adoption of a single, districtwide curriculum and reading assessment program along with a plan in place for math. She is hopeful those numbers will increase by next year.
Campbell also noted some areas of success in the district, including a steady increase of graduation rates. In 2013-14, only 76 percent of seniors graduated on time.
That increased to 78 percent in 2014-15 and 80 percent in 2015-16. The district saw its highest jump in that category last year, however, with 83 percent of students graduating on time.
The number of students going to college is another area to celebrate, Campbell said, adding all of the high schools are outperforming the state, based on the class of 2015 numbers. Whereas the state average is 60 percent, the district average is 62 percent. Todd Beamer has the most graduates going to college at 70 percent.