Founded in 1966, Washington International School is a private, non-profit, PreSchool-12 school profoundly committed to its mission: to provide a demanding international education that will challenge students to become responsible and effective world citizens. Serving its full community of over 900 students on two campuses, the school is multinational, multicultural, and multilingual.
The school’s challenging international program draws on classroom-based research on pedagogical practices and curriculum design from renowned organizations such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Project Zero, based in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. From Pre-School through Grade 5 students follow the inquiry-based IB Primary Years Program; in Grades 6-10 they continue with a multidisciplinary and inquiry-based approach designed to enhance understanding and develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the prestigious IB Diploma Program (DP). All students in Grades 11 and 12 are enrolled in the DP, which prepares them to take exams to receive the International Baccalaureate Diploma in addition to a WIS diploma. IB Diploma results are well above the worldwide pass rate, and WIS graduates attend highly selective colleges and universities in both the United States (about two-thirds in a typical year) and abroad.
Commitment to the intensive study of a second language is a core principle, with Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes taught entirely in French or Spanish. All instruction in Grades 1-5 is “dual language” in English and either French or Spanish. Chinese is an option beginning in Grade 6. Typically, one half to three-quarters of WIS graduates earn the Bilingual IB Diploma, demonstrating fluency in two languages.
The entire school community – alumni, parents, students, teachers, administrators and staff – are ardent advocates for international education. WIS has played a prominent role in setting a standard for a global perspective that many schools now emulate.
The school culture is highly egalitarian, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and understanding differing points of view. There is no typical WIS family: some households consist only of U.S. passport holders, others are all non-U.S. passport holders and many are a mix of nationalities. In addition to this global diversity, WIS also strives to achieve economic diversity: 14% of the students receive financial assistance.