Tukwila’s road map for ‘cradle to career’ | Race to the Top

The Tukwila School District is putting to work about $322,000 in Race to the Top grants from the Road Map Project to help Tukwila’s students succeed in their education from “cradle to career.”

One grant, for $121,380, will help prepare Tukwila’s youngest students for kindergarten academically and socially, one of the keys in ensuring their success all the way through high school.

The second grant, for $200,000, will help strengthen the courses and programs offered at Showalter Middle School and Foster High to better prepare students for college and careers after graduation.

The three-year grants are part of $40 million in federal funds received by the Road Map Project, a consortium of seven school districts with a primary mission to raise student achievement.

Besides Tukwila, the school districts are Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, Highline, Renton and the southern part of the Seattle School District.

The grants offer the school district opportunities “in new frontiers,” especially for preschool through third grade, said Gwen Estes-Zuehlke, the school district’s director of special services.

“Research has told us that the investment we make upfront far outweighs anything we can do in those later years,” said Estes-Zuehlke of the importance of early childhood learning.

The second grant is geared to the other end of the education spectrum, middle school, high school and beyond.

For Showalter students, that means developing a vision of themselves as students and college-goers by listening to guest speakers and other special programming with the Community Schools Collaboration, according to JoAnne Fabian, the school district’s director of assessments.

The idea is to show students the opportunities available to them if they obtain more education, said Fabian.

“They can start to build a picture of a future version of themselves that has that in it,” said Fabian.

Once at Foster, the grant will help ensure they have the rigorous classes that will prepare them for college. And, new initiatives will help them earn the necessary credits that for whatever reason they missed during their four years at Foster.

Tukwila and the other school districts in the Road Map consortium are required to apply each year for the federal grant. The grants come with benchmarks, including doubling the number of eighth graders taking algebra.

The idea behind reapplying is to determine what worked and jettison what didn’t work, said Fabian.

The grants are an opportunity to take risks, to try something different, said Estes-Zuehlke.

“It’s an opportunity for new beginnings, “ she said.

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