Promising Results: Washington’s Road to College

Earlier this week, the Road Map Project, a Seattle-area partnership of school districts, local government, colleges and nonprofit organizations, released the latest results from their efforts to double the number of students in the region that are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020. While there is still hard work ahead, the Road Map Project has led remarkable progress for Washington students since they began in 2010.

With support from a $40 million Race to the Top – District grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2012, schools and their partners in the Road Map Project region are working to boost student achievement from early childhood through college. Together, they have some made impressive gains for their youngest children:

  • This year, all incoming students across the seven participating school districts are enrolled in full-day kindergarten
  • 43 percent of low-income children in South Seattle (which comprises a portion of the Road Map Project region) were enrolled in formal early learning opportunities in the 2013–14 school year, in large part due to a city-led program

In addition, elementary school students have made large gains since the project started. And the Road Map Project partners are building a pathway to provide their students the tools they need to obtain meaningful educational or career opportunities after high school:

  • Nearly two-thirds of high school graduates took rigorous, college-level courses in 2014, a 6 percentage point increase over 2013—and American Indian and African American students made the biggest gains, with a 10 and 12 percentage point gain over 2013, respectively
  • 8 percent of 9th graders had suspension(s) or expulsion(s), down from a peak of 19 percent in the 2010–11 school year, and like other districts across the country, Road Map Project districts are revising their disciplinary policies and practices to address racial disproportionality
  • While the region’s overall submission rates for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, decreased slightly from the previous year, the Tukwila School District’s submission rate in 2013–14 was 84 percent— a 13 percentage point increase over last year, and a model the rest of the region can learn from

These are encouraging results that speak to the dedication of local educators, parents, service providers and community leaders who work diligently every day to expand opportunities for the region’s students. By setting common goals and being transparent about their results along the way—including what’s working and where additional attention is needed—the Road Map Project team is building the shared commitment, resource alignment and accountability that it takes to get great results for their students. Check out the Road Map Project’s 2014 Results Report to learn more about their efforts to make college a reality for all.

Nadya Chinoy Dabby is the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education.

1 Comment

  1. Nice piece on the Race to the Top efforts in Washington. Can we have your permission to reprint?

    Michael Wilson
    Washington State School Directors’ Association

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