SEATTLE – Today, the Road Map Project released its Baseline Report showing the troubling state of education in South King County and South Seattle. The report urges action from all sectors of the community to achieve dramatic improvements in education. The report cites numerous examples of great work, but the overall results are poor–especially for children of color. Too few young children are receiving quality early learning and 34 percent of our students are not reading well by third grade. Only 24 percent of the region’s high school graduates are getting a college degree or career credential–this despite the fact that by 2018, according to a study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, 67 percent of the jobs will require it.

“The data we show in the Road Map Baseline Report at each stage of education–from cradle to college and career–is a sobering reminder of the urgent need to dramatically improve student achievement in South King County and South Seattle,” said Mary Jean Ryan, Executive Director of the Community Center for Education Results (CCER), which staffs the Road Map Project. The Road Map Project is a collective impact initiative aimed at getting dramatic improvement in student achievement from cradle to college and career in South King County and South Seattle.

“The Road Map Project stands out because, while there have been many calls for educational improvements over the years, none have involved a collective commitment to united action by school districts, educators, elected officials, non-profits, community members and funders,” said Dr. Edward Lee Vargas, Superintendent of Kent School District. “Success at this scale is possible if, and only if, we all work together to place students and their future at the center of our decisions.”
The Road Map Region includes the Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, South Seattle and Tukwila school districts. The Road Map Region is home to:

—70 percent of King County’s low-income students
—69 percent of King County’s English Language Learner (ELL) students
—58 percent of King County’s students of color

“Our people are our strategic advantage,” said Michael Greenwood, Senior Manager for Boeing Commercial Aircraft Manufacturing & Quality. “Boeing is growing and will require thousands of knowledgeable and skilled workers in the years to come. To attract and retain tomorrow’s most talented and diverse workforce, we need to start today.”

While the Road Map Project is working hard on building stronger education systems, the short-term focus is on the following things that can help students now:

3rd Grade Reading: The Road Map Region–from city halls to classrooms to doctor’s offices and libraries–is competing nationally in an effort to boost 3rd grade reading levels.

English Language Learners: Road Map members are working in Olympia for better policies to support English Language Learners.

College Bound Scholarship: For the first time ever the Road Map region’s school districts, mayors and community partners have begun working collaboratively to increase the number of eligible students signed up for the College Bound Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition at Washington’s public colleges and universities for low-income students. The first year of collaboration, a record 93% of eligible students signed up in the Road Map region.

Completion of Financial Aid Forms: Filling out the complex Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is intimidating. However, if a student does fill out a FAFSA, there is a 90% chance they will enroll in college within 12 months. We’re working to ensure students in the Road Map Region fill out the FAFSA, which must be completed and submitted in January.

Coordinating and Aligning Efforts: Dozens of organizations are now aligning their work to help reach the goal. Funders and youth service providers are using the Road Map indicators to measure progress. Seattle’s recently passed Families and Education Levy is a great example of a large scale aligned public funding source.

Track Progress: The Road Map Project will publish annual Results Reports to track progress toward its goal. These Reports will spotlight examples of significant system success.

The Baseline Report also highlights bright spots in the region, including Federal Way’s Academic Acceleration Initiative that automatically enrolls all students who test at grade level in at least one accelerated course. In its first year, enrollment of 11th and 12th graders in accelerated courses increased from 35 percent to 61 percent and enrollment for Hispanic students doubled. In Auburn, the school district’s focus on early literacy resulted in significant third grade reading score gains, increasing from 68 percent to 84 percent proficient over in the 2010/11 school year. The examples in Federal Way and Auburn are proof that great progress is possible.

The Road Map Project will publish annual Results Reports to track progress toward its targets and Road Map 2020 Goal. These Reports will spotlight examples of significant system success so that work can be expanded. Community members and organizations are encouraged to review the data in the Baseline Report, get involved in one of the action campaigns and join the Education Results Network.

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