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Regional education report shows progress but major challenges remain

SOUTH SEATTLE/SOUTH KING COUNTY – The Road Map Project 2014 Results Report shows significant progress being made on important education milestones in the South Seattle and South King County region, but more work must be done to help all students succeed. The Results Report is the Road Map Project’s annual report card and shows data on 29 Indicators of Student Success, which are important measures related to student achievement – such as proficiency in 3rd grade reading – from cradle through college. Data in the report are often disaggregated by district, student race/ethnicity or income level to illustrate our region’s challenges and progress.

The Road Map Project is a region-wide collective impact effort aiming to dramatically improve education results in South King County and South Seattle, the county’s areas of greatest need. The Road Map Project’s goal is to double the number of students who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020, and to close opportunity gaps. Seven school districts – Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle (south-end only) and Tukwila – are among the hundreds of partners working together toward the Road Map Project’s 2020 goal. The 2014 Results Report includes a special focus on whether our region is on track to reach the goal.

“As our region confronts the challenges of increasing income inequality and the rapid suburbanization of poverty, the Road Map Project is emerging as a promising approach to truly improving student achievement,” said Tony Mestres, president and CEO of The Seattle Foundation, which funds and helped launch the Road Map Project. “The 2014 Results Report takes an honest look at education results – the good and the bad – and shares the important work underway to make large-scale, systemic changes.”

Report Highlights

Great progress has been made since the Road Map Project began in 2010:

  • 100 percent of the school districts in South Seattle and South King County are providing full-day kindergarten to all students, three years ahead of the schedule set by the legislature.
  • More than 2,300 students have earned 7,271 high school credits by demonstrating proficiency in their home language through the World Language Credit Program.
  • 25,000 low-income students in our region have signed up for the Washington State College Bound scholarship, a game-changing opportunity that helps remove the financial barrier of going to college.
  • The percentage of high school students taking rigorous courses (International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, etc.) continues to increase, with particularly impressive gains for Black students.
  • The region’s rate of out-of-school suspension and expulsions in the 9th grade has been nearly cut in half since 2009-10.

While the report documents progress, it also highlights challenges, especially related to racial/ethnic opportunity gaps:

  • 3rd grade reading outcomes remain relatively constant at 69 percent of children meeting the state standard. The children not reading proficiently in 3rd grade are disproportionately from low-income families.
  • In 7th grade math, there is a 33 percentage point opportunity gap between the highest and lowest performing student race/ethnic groups. Gaps of this magnitude will effectively shut students out of great opportunities in our STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-intensive economy.
  • The region’s high school graduation rate remains stagnant at 73 percent. Opportunity gaps by race and ethnicity persist, with Hispanic and Pacific Islander students having the lowest on-time graduation rates at 57 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
  • Only 62 percent of the region’s high school graduates are enrolling in college (two- and four-year institutions) within a year of high school graduation.

“The Road Map Project is helping shine light on the needs of the growing number of immigrant and refugee students in our region. We’ve made good headway, but there’s so much more to do. By working together, we can deliver the progress our students need and deserve,” said Hamdi Abdulle, executive director of the Somali Youth & Family Club.

The report also contains new demographic information for the region, which is strongly “majority minority” with 69 percent students of color and 19 percent English language learner students. Poverty continues to rise in our communities, especially in the suburbs. Brookings Institution research shows that low-income populations grew 100 percent in the greater Seattle metropolitan region (Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue) suburbs between 2000 and 2013, compared to 37 percent in cities. Three out of five of our students – nearly 72,000 – are from low-income families. Also, the percent of students identified as homeless has also increased to 2.8 percent – or 3,420 students.

To read the 2014 Results Report, please visit the Road Map Project’s website, http://www.roadmapproject.org/.

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About the Road Map Project: The Road Map Project is a community-wide effort aimed at dramatically improving student achievement from cradle to college and career in South King County and South Seattle. The project builds off the belief that collective effort is necessary to make large-scale change and has created a common goal and shared vision in order to facilitate coordinated action, both inside and outside schools. The Road Map Project is supported by the Community Center for Education Results. For more information, please visit www.roadmapproject.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/roadmapproject and Twitter at @RoadMapProject