College graduation rates: FW students outpace state average

The school district recently examined college graduation rates for Federal Way students and compared them to other districts in the state.

According to the data compiled on, 33.60 percent of Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) students who entered college in 2004 graduated from a 2- or 4-year college.

For those students who entered college in 2005, that rate was 34.50 percent. In 2006, the rate was 31.10 percent. In 2007, it was 35.40 percent, and in 2008, it was 26.10 percent.

In comparison, the state average for students who entered college in 2008 for all Washington students was 23.80 percent. For Tacoma students, the average was 19.5 percent, and for Auburn students, it was 19.1 percent.

Dave Davis, Director of Assessment for FWPS, gave a brief presentation on graduation rates from 2- and 4-year colleges of Federal Way students at the June 11 school board meeting.

"I was tasked to revisit that conversation and prove a little more context to what that was," Davis said. "I believe in the validity and reliability of the data. What I wanted to do, again, is provide some context."

When broken out into the 4-year college only category, FWPS also outpaced the state average and its neighbors. For the last reporting period, 14.8 percent of FWPS students who entered college in 2008 graduated in 2012. While that number seems low, it's still higher than the state average of 13.2 percent, along with the 11.3 percent of Tacoma students, the 9.9 percent of Auburn students, and the 10.2 percent of Highline students.

Davis said there may be deeper reasons as to why the 2008 group dropped significantly.

"I believe this is part of the Great Recession. Between 2008-2012, we're well aware of what happened economically, but tuition also significantly increased in that time," he said. "It's my own personal hypothesis, but it just makes sense to me."

The numbers for 2-year colleges were a bit worse across the board, although FWPS did have better success in almost all of the reporting years shared by Davis.

"Again, on a regular basis, we outperform not only the state of Washington in aggregate, but also our neighboring districts," he concluded.


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