Federal Way School District

Federal Way School District

The district provides unique learning opportunities. As part of Global Partnerships, for example, students use technology to collaborate, think critically and solve real-world problems with other students across the world.

State: Washington Number of Students: 23,011
School Type: Public School District   Free and Reduced Lunch: 59.3%
Grade Level: PK-12 English Language Learners: 17.7% 

School Context

Funding: Federal Way School District received $40 million from the federal Race to the Top grant in 2012 to be divided among a consortium of districts (The Road Map District Consortium) in the south Seattle area to improve education in high-need schools and communities; $432,000 was awarded to Federal Way to help close the achievement gap between some of their sub-groups (e.g. ELLs), $199,672 was awarded for programs aimed at increasing graduation rates as well as Advanced Placement support, and $190,000 was awarded to support early childhood initiatives. The district also received $21.2 million from a local tax (“Tech Levy”) in 2010 to continue to improve the district’s technology. The tax was approved for six years through 2016. The first two years the district will collect $1.8 million annually. The next four years the district will collect $4.4 million annually. The funds will be used to upgrade the districts technological infrastructure, refresh older hardware and pilot new devices and software.

Community: The district is focused on providing timely, relevant information to families and involving them as collaborative partners in district decisions and events.

Instructional Alignment: The district is focused on developing and implementing standards-based curriculum and aligned assessments.

Professional Learning: The district is focused on providing ongoing, differentiated professional development for teachers through instructional coaches and developing and recruiting high-quality school leaders.

State of Technology

Global Partnership: In 2013 Federal Way was chosen to be a part of A Global Partnership: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning. Global Partnerships is an initiative led by Dr. Michael Fullan & Maria Langworthy in partnership with Microsoft, Promethean, Intel, The Gates Foundation and more. Students in over 1000 schools across the world will use technology to collaborate, think critically and solve real world problems.

Tech Schools: Federal Way has a K-12 virtual school, Internet Academy, and a 6th-12th grade STEM-based school, Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Academy. TAF Academy was founded in 2008 in partnership with the nonprofit Technology Access Foundation. Students use technology to work on projects related to science, engineering and math. The school is located on Totem Middle School’s campus.

Digital Presentations: From 2010 to 2013 the district was focused on purchasing document cameras and projectors and training teachers across the district to use them effectively. The IT team used a series of online (e.g. webinar) and in-person trainings to support the district’s instructional staff. 

Wire-less: Federal Way continues to work on improving its technical infrastructure and refreshing its older hardware at a rate of 20% annually. Currently the district has about a 4:1 ratio of computers to students, which is an improvement from their 8:1 ratio in 2010. However, the district is interested in improving this ratio even more and possibly piloting some portable devices such as laptops and tablets. The pilots would likely be individual classrooms or whole grade levels followed by a staggered roll-out.

8th Graders: The district is monitoring the technology skills of their 8th grade students. These students are expected to be able to use productivity tools (e.g. Microsoft Office Suite) and strategically search for information on the Internet. Federal Way’s student technology standards are aligned to the NETS*S.

College Prep: When it comes to preparing their students for college, Federal Way is taking action. The district automatically enrolls students who pass the state’s standardized test in advanced courses, including Advanced Placement classes. Additionally, it pays for students to take the PSAT and SAT, which can cost as much as $51 per exam. This gives all students access to college preparation opportunities, regardless of their resources at home. The result of this approach: In 2013, all four of the district’s high schools were in Washington’s top 20 list.


Going 1:1: The district is moving closer to a 1:1 model and will continue to prepare their schools with infrastructure and devices over the next couple of years.

*Content from 2014

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