Students don’t just drop out of school suddenly. Most often, disconnecting from school is a slow process, and there are warning signs along the way. Great work has been happening across the region to strengthen systems that provide real-time, actionable “early warning” data to school staff, parents and other partners. Early results from this system-building work are promising.
For example, the results for the Road Map Project’s Early Warning Indicator #2 (one or more suspension(s) or expulsion(s) in the 9th grade) are exciting: The region is only one percentage point away from hitting the 2020 target. However, there is also glaring disproportionality in this indicator: Black/African American students are nearly twice as likely to have one or more suspensions or expulsions in the 9th grade. It is also important to note that this indicator does not capture the prevalence of in-school suspensions or other alternative disciplinary practices.
Many districts are currently overhauling their disciplinary policies and practices to address racial disproportionality. This is one of the top advocacy priorities to be addressed in 2015 in the Road Map Project region.
SOURCES: OSPI student-level data, districts for 2009-10 through 2011-12; OSPI student-level data for 2012-13 through 2013-14
Washington State’s early learning quality rating and improvement system, called Early Achievers, is helping to build a system of high-quality early learning opportunities for all children. As of Dec. 1, 2014, 50%, or 477 of the 950 licensed child care providers in the Road Map Project region, were participating in Early Achievers. When child care providers sign up to participate in Early Achievers, they can receive coaching and other resources, which can help improve the quality of their care. Participating providers are supported in completing a rating process conducted by a team from the University of Washington.
In 2014, 58 participating organizations in the Road Map Project region were rated, and 30 received a Quality Level of Excellence, according to the Washington State Department of Early Learning (as of Dec. 1, 2014). In 2015, many more providers will participate in coaching and other professional development opportunities, as well as completing the rating process.
The ability to read by the end of 3rd grade is a critical student milestone. According to the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an alarming 74% of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade falter in later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. These students who are not reading proficiently are disproportionately low-income children and children of color.
Since 2010, 3rd grade reading scores have gone up and down, but overall have not trended up. Only one subgroup, non-low-income students, is meeting the 2014 target. At the regional level, there have not been any significant gains for low-income children.
Improving access to rigorous course-taking has been a priority of the Road Map Project since its inception. Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge course content is aligned to college standards, and these programs help prepare students for the rigor of postsecondary education. This is an area of great gains across ethnicities. Opportunity gaps continue to close between underrepresented students of color and White and Asian students. The percentage of graduating seniors taking AP, IB or Cambridge courses rose 5 percentage points from 59% to 64% in the last year. Black students saw the largest gains with a 9 percentage point increase.
Strong career and technical education (CTE) programs that are based on industry, academic and career- and college-ready standards are an important curricular offering at Road Map Project region high schools. A CTE program of study is a three-course career prep sequence that often leads to a career credential pathway or a certificate program. By combining technical and academic skills, CTE programs can provide valuable hands-on experience to students.
The region’s top 20 CTE program pathways (and number of 2013 high school graduates who completed the programs) are:
Visual Arts, 404
Professional Support Services, 200
Therapeutic Services, 150
Restaurant and Food/Beverage Services, 116
Marketing Management, 115
Science and Mathematics, 108
Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance, 98
Family & Community Services, 89
Programming and Software Development, 68
Engineering and Technology, 62
Information Support and Services, 61
Maintenance, Installation and Repair, 56
General Management, 50
Support Services, 45
Journalism and Broadcasting, 38
Audio and Video Technology and Film, 34
Health Informatics, 33
SOURCE: OSPI student-level database (pulled November 2013)
NOTE: Includes completion of approved CTE programs in the senior year only. Seattle and Tukwila are not included.
Building an education system that allows all students to earn a degree or career credential with labor market value is the foundational goal of the Road Map Project. We know our region’s economy increasingly demands it, and 97% of parents in the Road Map Project region feel it is important for their child to go to college. Yet postsecondary completion rates have remained relatively flat, as the graph below shows. We must be steadfast in our commitment to changing the trajectory for students in our region, and make bold and innovative changes to improve our current systems.
SOURCE: National Student Clearinghouse and The BERC Group
NOTE: “College” includes 2- and 4-year postsecondary institutions. Enrollment and persistence data are presented in years since high school graduation.
Our region’s absence data is consistency eye-opening for many people. According to the 2013 Results Report, 14 percent of K-12 students are missing 20 or more days of school. In high school, nearly a quarter of 12th graders have 20+ absences. (To view a graph of absences by grade level, please see page 27 of the 2013 Results Report.) Examining absence by race/ethnicity shows the rate of absenteeism is not evenly distributed among student groups. Like other warning signs, such as course failure or suspension/expulsion, schools and communities need to continue to examine data and take steps to support students.
SOURCE: Districts and OSPI studnet-level database
Diversity is one of the Road Map Project region’s greatest assets. Nearly 20,000 students — 16 percent of all students in the region — are English language learners (ELL). This graph shows where our ELL students attend school. Of the seven school districts in the Road Map Project region, the Tukwila School District has the highest percent of ELL students — more than double the percent of five other districts and the regional average.
There is a Road Map Project work group dedicated to dramatically improving outcomes for ELL students throughout the region. You can read more about the ELL Work Group here.
SOURCE: OSPI Report Card, 2012-13
The Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) is a statewide kindergarten readiness assessment that helps teachers better understand the needs of incoming kindergarten students and their families and builds connections to early learning providers.
The same whole-child observational assessment tool, Teaching Strategies Gold, that is used in many early learning programs is also used with WaKIDS. The items assessed within the same domains are adjusted to be age-appropriate for entering kindergarten students. (In WaKIDS, there is only one physical domain, which encompasses both gross and fine physical skills.) The fact that the same tool is used in early learning programs provides a unique opportunity to build strong connections between early learning providers, kindergarten teachers and school principals. Schools participating in WaKIDS have access to helpful data and, as training continues, teachers and principals will be able to use the data to personalize instruction for kids. Most elementary schools with state-funded full-day kindergarten participated in WaKIDS in the 2012–13 school year, and full participation is expected in the 2014–15 school year.
In the 2012–13 school year, only 37% of students met age-level expectations for all six domains, and only 34% of our low-income students exhibited characteristics of entering kindergarten students in all domains. However, most of our schools that serve the most low-income students did participate. Therefore, we do know from these data that we must do more to ensure all students are prepared to be successful in kindergarten. In future reports, we will have this important information on a broader set of students in our region.
Research shows that rigorous classes better prepare students for college coursework, and students taking rigorous courses tend to earn higher grades once in college. Advanced classes can also better challenge and engage students. There are a variety of advanced curriculum options offered at schools in the Road Map Project region, including Advanced Placement (AP), the International Baccalaureate Program (IB), the Cambridge Program and University of Washington College in the High School.
In order to increase rigorous course-taking, school districts in the Road Map Project region have been evaluating recruitment and placement policies, training more teachers to teach advanced courses, increasing the number and types of advanced courses offered, and building out supports to ensure students succeed. These efforts are paying off. Rigorous course-taking has increased dramatically across the Road Map Project region over the past year. Students in Seattle Public Schools take challenging courses at the highest rates in the Road Map Project region: 71% of graduates took an AP, IB or Cambridge course during high school.
Districts are also beginning to close gaps so that enrollment in advanced courses is reflective of their overall student bodies. Significant gains were made across the board! While Asian students still take AP, IB and Cambridge courses at higher rates than other subgroups, during the 2012–13 school year, far more students of color took rigorous courses compared to the previous year.
High School Graduates Who Have Taken One or More AP, IB or Cambridge Course(s)
SOURCE: OSPI student-level database
The discrepancy in achievement among different groups of students—known as the opportunity gap—is the predominant issue of our time. Most children (nearly 80,000) in the Road Map Project region are Non-White, and most of them are poor. The racial and ethnic disparities in student achievement can be seen in Road Map Project results reports. The gaps our students experience start early. In 3rd grade, the students who are not successfully reading are disproportionally children of color, as illustrated by this graph.
Homelessness among students in the Road Map Project region continues to rise. In the 2012-13 school year, 3,156 students were identified as homeless. Some student subgroups are being hit harder than others by homelessness. Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native students are homeless at a rate six times that of Asian and White students.
Homelessness Among Road Map Region Students
SOURCE: OSPI student-level database
Earlier this summer, the Brookings Institution released a report about the “Hidden STEM Economy” in America. (Click here to see the report’s web page.) The analysis found that 26 million U.S. jobs—20 percent of all jobs—require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field, as of 2011. STEM jobs have doubled as a share of all jobs since the Industrial Revolution, from less than 10 percent in 1850 to 20 percent in 2010, according to the reserach.
The report also examined the STEM economy in metropolitan areas, including Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue. Here is that profile (click to enlarge):
(of 5,165 eligible students in the Road Map Project region, as of July 8)
This is the current number of eligible students in the Road Map Project region who have signed up for the College Bound Scholarship. The scholarship program promises tuition (at public tuition rates) and a small book allowance for income-eligible students who sign up in the 7th or 8th grade, work hard in school, stay out of legal trouble and successfully enroll in a participating higher-education institution when they graduate. This is an amazing opportunity and a game-changer for the region!
The Road Map Project is tracking the region’s sign-up progress, as well as individual districts’ rates. Please visit our College Bound Scholarship page to see more data.
The Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) is a statewide kindergarten readiness whole-child assessment that aims to help teachers better understand the needs and strengths of incoming kindergarten students, and to make the transition to kindergarten smooth for the students and families.
The graph below shows the percentage of students demonstrating the expected characteristics of entering kindergarteners across six domains: social emotional, physical, literacy, cognitive, language and math. We also looked at the percent of kindergarteners who met all six of these domains. Teachers use Teaching Strategies Gold, an observational assessment tool, to determine whether students are meeting age-level expectations for the domains.
In the 2011-12 school year, 52 elementary schools in the Road Map Project region participated in WaKIDS. All schools with state-funded, full-day kindergarten are participating in the 2012-13 school year. Full participation is expected in the 2014-15 school year. Schools participating in WaKIDS gain access to data and, as training continues, teachers and principals will be able to use data to drive personalized improvement for kids.
While the region’s 3rd grade reading scores have gone down since 2009-10, the Road Map Project’s baseline year, 6th grade reading scores continue to show good improvement. Here’s a look at trend data for the percent of students meeting the state standard for 6th grade reading, in addition to asnapshot of district performance.
Source: OSPI Report Card
English Language Learning (ELL) students enter school at various ages and grades, but the student distribution is far from even. Most of the region’s ELL students enter the state’s formal Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program as they start kindergarten. They are assessed annually for their English language proficiency and most exit the program in four to five years. Students who enter the school system in the later grades tend to have more challenges. The following graph shows the percent of all students in a particular grade who are ELL students.
Access to adequate financial aid is important for students to attend and be successful in college. Research has found that completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, a necessary step for students to request state and federal money for college, significantly increases students’ likelihood of enrolling in a four-year college. With this in mind, the region ramped up the FAFSA completion campaign in 2012. The result was 28 free College Goal Sunday and FAFSA completion events in the Road Map Project region, compared to only 15 events in 2011. The region’s focus on College Bound Scholarship students is paying off in terms of FAFSA completion, as well. These students filed their FAFSAs at much higher rates than students overall. Efforts are currently under way across the region to make sure the 2013 FAFSA completion campaign is even more successful than last year. Volunteers are needed to help make this happen! Please head to United Way of King County’s website to get involved.
SOURCES: OSPI student-level database and U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid Office
SOURCES: OSPI student-level database and WSAC NOTE (all data): Data available for on-time high school graduates
In recent years, the region has experienced a rise in poverty and schools are seeing an increase in the number of low-income students. In the 2011-12 school year, 70,000 students in the region were classified as low income by qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. Let’s take a closer look at trend data on low-income students.
(SOURCE: OSPI Report Card)