The average graduation rate in seven south King County districts was 77 percent in 2015, according to a report by the Road Map Project.

Share story

In 2015, the graduation rates for seven school districts in South Seattle and South King County reached or surpassed 70 percent for the first time, but significant gaps between racial groups still persist, and students’ academic performance overall was mixed.

The seven districts are part of the Road Map Project, a regional effort to double the number of students who either go to college or earn a career credential. Every year, the project reports on a number of academic measures including graduation, college readiness and school discipline.

The 2015 report, released Wednesday, showed that the overall on-time graduation rate in the Road Map region was 77 percent last year, an increase from 73 percent in 2013 and 75 percent in 2014. The region’s five-year graduation rate rose to 81 percent in 2014, from 76 percent in 2010.

Along with higher graduation rates, other improvements in 2015 included an increase in students taking college-ready courses and a decline in out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.

However, the gap among racial groups continues.There  was a 12 percentage-point gap in graduation rates, for example, between white and Asian students, and their black classmates.

And achievement in math and reading still lags the state average. In the Road Map region, 46 percent of third-grade students met the standard for third-grade reading, compared with 52 percent across the state. In seventh-grade math, 45 percent met the standard, compared to the state passage rate of 48 percent.

In south King County, excluding South Seattle, only 18 percent of low-income students were enrolled in formal early learning programs. In Seattle, the rate was 42 percent. While some early-learning programs in the Road Map region specifically reserve space for children from low-income families, the report said there aren’t enough programs to keep up with demand.

“We need a stronger focus on the expansion of quality early learning,” the report said.

The report also looks at what’s happened with students in the class of 2009 who were freshmen in 2006. Of that group, 28 percent earned a post-secondary credential by age 24. When broken down by ethnic group, Asian students had the highest rate, at 35 percent, while 11 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives earned a credential.

The Road Map Project region includes 124,806 students in South Seattle, Tukwila, Renton, Highline, Federal Way, Kent and Auburn. Of that group, 70 percent are students of color, 59 percent are low-income and 20 percent are English-language learners.