Seattle Public Schools


International Education

International Education at Seattle Schools

Our vision is to prepare students, in partnership with families and community, for global citizenship in an increasingly interdependent world.

Seattle’s International Schools value multilingualism, cultivate creative and critical thinking skills, and emphasize a global perspective that will help students contribute to and succeed in an increasingly interconnected world.

International Schools help students engage in intellectually rigorous schoolwork and prepare them International Schools engage students in culturally relevant and intellectually rigorous schoolwork that prepares them for college, a career, and active participation in the local and global communities.

Students examine complex and interconnected global issues and learn how to recognize and respect different perspectives. Our International Schools teach and nurture core dispositions such as developing empathy and promoting equity.

Students in International Schools develop cross-cultural communication and collaboration skills and learn how to take collective action for sustainable development. Teachers and staff in our International Schools strive to develop a globally competent and culturally responsive professional practice.

For news updates, subscribe to our newsletter Global Talk

International Education - Seattle Public Schools graphic.  in the center is a globe labeled Global Citizens. The next circle shows components of International Education (SPS Board Policy No. 2177: Cultural/Global Compentency, Global Perspective, World Languages. Outer circle shows 21st Century Skills (SPS Strategic Plan): Communication and Collaboration Skills, Creative and Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration Skills. The remainder of the outer circle shows Global Competence Matrix, (CCSSO/Asia Society) Investigate the World Recognize Perspectives, Communicate Ideas Take Action.

Preparing Global Citizens

  • RCW 28A.150.210: Basic Education – Goals of School Districts
    “A basic education is an evolving program of instruction that is intended to provide students with the opportunity to become responsible and respectful global citizens , to contribute to their economic well-being and that of their families and communities, to explore and understand different perspectives, and to enjoy productive and satisfying lives.”
    (emphasis added)

Components of International Education

Global Competence Matrix

Current Initiatives

  • Youth Lead Washington Global Issues Network (WAGIN) Conference since 2015 (2021 Website)
2019 WAGIN Conference, Chief Sealth International High School, Seattle WA
  • Heritage Language Grant focusing on Somali and Spanish language opportunities and resources
  • Open Educational Resources Grant focusing on middle school dual language curriculum development and resources
  • World Language Credit Program and  Seal of Biliteracy and One America’s  Speak Your Language Campaign

International Education Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do current families need to do about transitions from elementary to middle or high school?

A: If you reside in the neighborhood attendance area of the middle or high school in the International/Dual Language pathway, your child will be assigned to that school by default (so you do not need to submit a form).

To check your student’s current assignment, use our Assignment Lookup Tool.

If you do NOT reside in the school’s attendance area (use our Assignment Lookup Tool to check), then you do need to submit the School Choice form available on the Open Enrollment and School Choice. Indicate the International/Dual Language pathway middle school or high school and your child will be guaranteed placement in that pathway school.

Here are the pathways for 2020-2021:

  • John Stanford and McDonald International > Hamilton Intl MS > Lincoln HS
  • Beacon Hill Intl and Dearborn Park Intl > Mercer Intl MS > Rainier Beach HS
  • Concord Intl > Denny Intl MS > Chief Sealth Intl HS

Q: How do I know if my child qualifies for the middle or high school Intl/DLI pathway?

A: If your child is in the Spanish, Japanese, or Mandarin Chinese Dual Language Immersion program at John Stanford, McDonald, Beacon Hill, Dearborn Park or Concord International School, then they qualify for the Intl/DL middle school pathway. If they are in the middle school Dual Language continuation classes at Hamilton, Mercer, or Denny Intl MS (Spanish/Japanese/Chinese Language Arts 3B), then they qualify for the Intl/DL high school pathway.

(Note that there may be students who joined the Dual Language Immersion pathway during middle school but did not attend one of the elementary International Schools; they still qualify for the high school pathway.)

More questions about our International Schools or Dual Language Education? Feel free to contact Dr. Thad Williams, International Education Administrator, or 206 252-0191. Questions about assignments or school choice? Please contact our Admissions office at 206-252-0760.

Q: What are the International Schools Dual Language Pathways?

A: The concept of a pathway is that a student entering a Dual Language (DL) program within an International School in elementary school would be able to continue in that Dual Language program into middle school, and that middle school DL students would be able to continue on a pathway into high school.

A good example is the International Schools DL pathway in the Southwest region: Concord International School continues to Denny International Middle School, which continues to Chief Sealth International High School.

In the Northwest region, the two elementary International Schools, John Stanford International School and McDonald International School, feed into Hamilton International Middle School, and the Hamilton DL students pathway is to Lincoln High School.

In order to access the DL pathway:

  • Rising 5th graders at John Stanford and McDonald International Schools who live outside of the Hamilton Attendance Area will need to fill out a choice form to continue in the International Schools DL Pathway at Hamilton. Assignment is guaranteed for these students, but they must fill out the form.
  • 8th graders in Hamilton DL who live outside of the Lincoln Attendance Area will need to fill out a choice form to continue in the International Schools DL Pathway at Lincoln High School.

In the Southeast region, two elementary International Schools, Beacon Hill International School and Dearborn Park International School feed into Mercer International Middle School. The high school Dual Language pathway continues to Rainier Beach High School.

Mandarin and Spanish Dual Language students from Mercer who attend other high schools, such as Franklin, Garfield, or Cleveland, may have the opportunity to take higher level world language classes at those high schools, but no content classes are currently taught in Spanish or Mandarin.

Q: What about students who join the Dual Language program in middle school?

A: If a student has demonstrated language proficiency at a level expected for placement in Dual Language classes in middle school, then that student may also be placed at the designated International High School pathway for that region. If a student wants to enroll in an International High School in a different region, the family can apply during Open Enrollment.

Q: What are the policies regarding admission to elementary International Schools?

A: For information about admission to any school in Seattle Public Schools, please check the Enrollment Services web page. Here are a few specific links that might be helpful to you:

  • Schools page with information about Option Schools, such as John Stanford International School and McDonald International School. As Option Schools, they have 20% set-aside for native/heritage speakers of Spanish or Japanese to join their programs. The Superintendent’s Procedures for Student Assignment 3130 SP explains the process.
  • All of the other elementary International Schools are Neighborhood schools. Families outside the neighborhood boundary can still apply to them during Open Enrollment, but space may be limited.

While admission to one of the elementary International Schools at Kindergarten is quite competitive, especially for families living outside the neighborhood (for Beacon Hill, Dearborn Park, or Concord), or outside the GeoZone for Option Schools (McDonald and John Stanford), it is quite possible that there could be open spots in 1st – 5th grades, and especially from 3rd – 5th grades because those grades have higher class sizes and need to attract fluent speakers of the immersion language to join the program during those grades.

Q: Can students from other countries enroll in Seattle Public Schools?

A: Visit the district Enrollment webpage: Enrollment Services: International Students. It is the practice of the Seattle School District to admit as a student any person, regardless of national origin or citizenship, upon documentation that the student or parent/guardian resides within the boundaries of the Seattle School District. The Seattle School District will not provide legal advice to families on immigration related issues.

Please see the I-20 document and F1 brochure for the process and requirements to apply for F-1 visa status, and registration information for International Students to attend a Seattle Public High School.

For more information, contact 206-252-0760. For students seeking to attend school as exchange students on the J-1 visa, see the district policy and procedure regarding International Student Exchange for more information.

International Schools

Southwest Region

Southeast Region

Northwest Region