Washington has had a long history of mostly grassroots international education initiatives. It's no surprise: the state has the sixth largest economy from international trade. Parents are savvy to the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in the global innovation age. Read on.

Afterschool/Extended Learning

School's Out Washington, a statewide intermediary, has as its core mission to serve afterschool and youth development programs across the state by providing resources, training, grants and information on best practices models and innovative ideas. SOWA’s mission is to build community systems to support quality afterschool and youth development programs (AYD) serving Washington’s 5–18 year olds through training advocacy and leadership. Specific activities in support of global learning and global awareness include:

  • Providing integrated information on global learning and global awareness in each of the quarterly Washington Afterschool Network (WAN) Partnership group meetings and encouraging Core Competency development to include global learning.  
  • Publishing newsletter articles on global learning topics for statewide audiences.
  • Providing AYD providers with new resources and tools to implement global learning work in day to day programs and disseminating resources to Washington Region Afterschool Project (WRAP) representatives and their organizations.
  • Attendance by SOWA staff, trainers, and WRAP partners at “All Over the World” curriculum training and encouraging its use all over the state.
  • Highlighting global literacy curriculum at annual Statewide Trainer/Educator Conference networking sessions and at annual Community Learning Center retreats.
  • Partnering with Global Washington and others in the state to align efforts on global learning.

World Languages

Since 2008 when the state legislature funded a position for world languages program supervisor at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Washington has organized world languages summits: PK-20 Pathways to Language Learning (November 2008), the World Languages and Bilingual Education Teacher Certification Summit (October 2008), and the first Dual Immersion Summit (October 2012). Washington is also leading the way on awarding Competency-Based Credits in World Languages to students who can demonstrate language proficiency. Since spring 2011, thousands of students in the state have already completed testing and earned credits in over 50 languages. In November 2012, OSPI was awarded a two-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the Road Map World Language Credit Program in the Road Map districts in South King County to help over 1,600 students earn credits. In March 2014, the Governor signed legislation to establish the State Seal of Biliteracy. Also in 2014, the Washington Association for Bilingual Education launched a new Special Interest Group and website, Dual Language Washington.

Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

A large number of globally oriented non-profits, educational institutions, and schools have partnered with OSPI since 2003 as part of the >Washington State Coalition for International Education to expand opportunities for professional development of teachers to think and partner globally. Many of the state colleges and universities do have a global and/or multicultural emphasis to their programs, but it’s not clear that new teacher prep programs are specifically oriented to preparing teachers to develop global competence in their students.

There is strong teacher leadership in the state offering workshops for other educators through their associations, such as the Washington Association for Language Teaching (WAFLT) and Washington State Council for the Social Studies (WSCSS), as well as the World Affairs Council Global Classroom and the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies Title VI Centers. In addition, the Seattle School District has expanded its international schools to ten and developed a cadre of International Schools Teacher Leaders who lead professional development for hundreds of teachers within their schools and beyond, including the Global Leadership Summer Institute in partnership with Global Visionaries.

Workforce Development

The non-profit membership organization Global Washington launched the Global Education Initiative in March of 2011 and found that although the state of Washington is one of the most globally connected in the U.S., the state currently lacks a comprehensive commitment to global education. Washington State’s diverse economic sectors—from aerospace to technology to agriculture—have one thing in common: they are all tied heavily to international trade. Washington’s economy is one of the most globally connected in the country and 40% of all jobs in the state are related to international trade. Washington’s economy ranks 2nd in the country in the “New Economy” (knowledge-based, global, entrepreneurial, and innovation-based). But there is a significant gap between the state’s economic pillars and its educational foundation. The Global Education Initiative has developed a set of recommendations for addressing this shortcoming in workforce development in Washington State. As of 2014, there is still not a comprehensive statewide approach to workforce development. One promising development is that the Washington Legislature approved the State Seal of Biliteracy last session.

Common Core

The OSPI World Languages Office and WAFLT have sponsored a series of presentations and workshops for world language teachers and administrators on how World Languages Support Common Core State Standards. The OSPI Social Studies Office is revising the OSPI-Developed Assessments (designed for classroom administration) to highlight those assessments most closely linked to International Perspectives and to show more closely how all the assessments correspond to the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Literacy in History/Social Studies. See Social Studies Assessments. In general, CCSS are now a focus in the state, and the Seattle International Schools have identified a team of teachers to provide professional development to their colleagues on the connections between CCSS and global competence.


Confucius Institute of the State of Washington

Facing the Future

Foundation for International Understanding Through Students

Global Visionaries

Global Washington

International Education Coalition

Mapping & Enhancing Language Learning | county maps | brief on community colleges

OneWorld Now!

Seattle BioMed

University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies

World Affairs Council Global Classroom

Case Studies

Global Competence: Teaching Young Learners to Take Action for Worldwide Impact

Global Education Initiative

International Education Summit Reports and Resources

How Seattle Created Schools for the Future

Video about World Water Week


Paris Granville
Michele Anciaux Aoki
International Education Administrator, Seattle Public Schools

Global Competence Resources

Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partnered to define global competence and the skills and abilities that students need to demonstrate to be globally competent.

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