SEATTLE – The Community Center for Education Results and its partners launched today a unique and ambitious 10-year regional project aimed at driving major improvements in education results in South Seattle and South King County. A broad coalition of community groups, school districts, educators, elected officials and more have come together to make improving education the region’s top priority.

The project, the Road Map for Education Results, is a call to action for the urgent and growing need to improve the region’s education system. For more than 55,000 low-income students growing up in Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, SeaTac, South Seattle, Tukwila and unincorporated King County, education results are shockingly poor.

“Demographics should not determine the destiny of the children in this region,” said Mary Jean Ryan, Executive Director of the Community Center for Education Results, the non-profit organization charged with staffing the project. “The greater Seattle region has one of the best educated workforces in the nation. We import highly educated talent from around the globe yet struggle to provide a solid education for the children in our own backyard. The children who grow up here deserve as good of an education as the people who show up here. We are committed to nothing less than closing the unacceptable achievement gaps and making improvements everywhere along a student’s path from cradle to college and career.”

This region of King County is home to 70 percent of the county’s low-income students, 58 percent of the county’s students of color and 69 percent of the county’s English Language Learner students.

Currently, more than 50 percent of Washington’s children are not ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten. Nearly 43 percent of low-income students in the Road Map region do not meet the standard on third-grade reading and 67 percent do not meet the standard for seventh-grade math. Only 27 percent of all students in the Road Map region complete a college degree or career credential and that drops to only about 10 percent for Black, Hispanic and Native American students.

The goal of the Road Map is to close the achievement gaps and double the number of students in South Seattle and South King County who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020. It is projected that by 2018, more than 67 percent of jobs in Washington will require a college degree or career credential.

“We urgently need to improve education results in South King County, and that will only be possible with a strong strategic framework,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The Road Map for Education Results establishes the groundwork to make this vision a reality in our county’s schools. I applaud this ambitious, collaborative effort that will put us on track to deliver quality education to all of our students.”

At a time when the economy is struggling, and budget woes and partisan bickering fill the news the Road Map project brings together a broad coalition to focus on education results that will help boost the region’s economy and fight poverty.
Hundreds of community leaders, elected officials and national and local education advocates are participating in the Road Map for Education Results project launch. The project is supported by an unprecedented array of people and organizations across the region. The King County Executive, area school district superintendents, mayors, community college presidents, and numerous non-profits from South Seattle and South King County who have come together to realize the power of collective impact and have already begun to align efforts and activities with the Road Map. Click here to view a current list of key endorsements.

No single organization, however innovative or powerful, can accomplish our region’s education needs alone. Hence the need and support for the Road Map project. The Road Map project participants have begun to identify programs and innovations that are already making a positive difference and will build on those successes by strengthening and broadening them. The project adds value by building strong public awareness of the urgent need to improve education results and by creating a strong strategic framework for improved collective impact.

The power of collective impact is a critical part of the solution. Performance indicators have been collectively identified to create a focused set of goals for each step in a child’s education pathway that will be measured in the same way. A full list of Road Map indicators and related footnotes are here on the website.

“The Road Map Project is a great way for systems and institutions to connect with community in a relational way that gives ‘life’ to the data that can drive our education system to change while putting parents, families and communities in the drivers’ seat,” said Sili Mana’o-Savusa, Family Center Coordinator for Southwest Youth & Family Services and Highline School District Board Member.

The focus will now turn to organizing for action carried out by players, both inside and outside education, at the regional and neighborhood levels. Results will be measured and reported using a common set of metrics. Click here to view examples of the Road Map project already underway and new commitments.

Project sponsors include: The Seattle FoundationThe Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationThe League of Education VotersSeattle Community Colleges DistrictCity of Seattle, Puget Sound Educational Services District, The Technology Access Foundation, OneAmerica and University of Washington.

Other communities throughout the country similarly are coming together to realize the power of collective impact, including STRIVE out of Cincinnati.

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