A little more than a year ago, six South King County school districts along with Seattle Public Schools won a four-year, $40 million federal grant, part of what’s known as the Race to the Top program.
Since then, they’ve been working together to carry out what they proposed, which includes building stronger ties between pre-kindergarten programs and the early elementary grades, improving instruction in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, and encouraging more students to enroll in college or career programs after high school.
One other benefit of the whole effort is that Seattle and the six other districts — Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, and Tukwila — are working together much more than ever before, with an eye toward helping and learning from each other.
One small example: The districts recently decided to coordinate kindergarten registration this school year. Rather than having seven different kindergarten sign-up times, they will decide on a single start date.
That date hasn’t yet been set, but it will be in January.
The districts hope that a joint time will make it easier for parents to know when registration will be. They also say the effort is the first of many ways they will collaborate in early education and other areas.
For more information about how the districts are using the grant money, visit the Race to the Top website. About $6.5 million has been spent to date.
Some of what’s happened: Districts have increased the amount of college counseling available to students in 17 high-need middle and high schools, provided 75 high-school counselors with more training on how to advise students on college and career opportunities, and offered PSAT and SAT college entrance exam for free during the school day.