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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

February 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington study: College grads make 20 percent more than high-school grads

It’s widely accepted that earning a bachelor’s degree will boost a person’s earnings potential over a lifetime. But how quickly does it pay off?

A new Washington study shows that in the first two years after graduation, students who earned a bachelor’s degree made about 20 percent more than those with only a high-school diploma.

Perhaps not surprisingly, women fared worse than men in the study. Two years after graduation, a woman with a bachelor’s degree only made about as much as a man with a high-school diploma.

The report comes from the state Education Research and Data Center, which keeps data on academic performance from pre-kindergarten through graduate school.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: bachelor's degree, college, high school diploma

February 24, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Round-up: Children’s obesity rates drop in South King County

UW subsidized women’s athletics with annual grant: The University of Washington’s athletics department is one of about two dozen nationwide that pay for themselves, thanks in part to a state law that directs a small percentage of student tuition to “gender-equity” sports scholarships. Now, some critics who believe the 25-year-old law is outdated are calling for the scholarships to end.

South King County schools see decline in obesity rates: A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a 17-percent decline in obesity rates among eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in seven south King County school districts that participated in a federally funded program. During the two-year initiative, school districts and community organizations shared about $13 million in federal stimulus funds.

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February 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Stuck on a math problem? WSU’s math center offers instant help

A white-coated math lab tutor helps students at WSU. Photo by Shelly Hanks.

A white-coated math lab tutor helps students at WSU. Photo by Shelly Hanks.

Even college students stumble over math. More than a year ago, Washington State University decided to make it easier for students to get immediate help whenever they got hung up on a problem. The program, WSU says, is helping students advance quickly through the required college math track.

The Mathematics Learning Center offers free tutoring for students enrolled in undergraduate math courses and is open 56 hours a week. Tutors dressed in white lab coats roam the room, looking for raised hands. The tutors are either math majors in their last years of college or graduate students working as teaching assistants.

Tutors at the math center are adept at helping in all levels of math. About 10 to 15 percent of WSU students require a developmental math class because their skills aren’t yet up to college level-math.

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Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: higher ed, math, Washington State University

February 21, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Clock’s ticking toward deadline, as school funding falls behind

wa tax resources

For years, Washington has failed to provide an adequate education to all students. That, by now, is a widely accepted truth, made official by the state Supreme Court when it handed down the McCleary decision in 2012, mandating more money for schools.

A lot more. The 7-2 decision said that by 2018-’19, Washington would need to put $4.5 billion more toward education each biennium. (Just to be on track, we’ll need an additional $2.3 billion in 2015-’17 alone.)

This would mean more money to hire teachers and counselors, to build science and computer labs — basic stuff for the 21st-century science-tech-and-math skills we say we want in our graduates.

Yet here we are, moving quickly toward the deadline, and a finance expert at the Washington State Budget & Policy Center finds that we don’t have a prayer of making the target — at least, not under the current sales-tax-only system.

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February 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Honors program coming to Pierce College in the fall

A community college honors program that aims to make the two-year degree a more reliable springboard to a selective university will be offered at a Western Washington college starting this fall.

Pierce College, one of the 34 public community and technical colleges in the state, will debut the American Honors Transfer Network this fall, becoming the fifth community college in the country to offer the program. It is also offered at Community Colleges of Spokane, which was one of the first schools to pilot the program.

The program describes itself as “the first national pathway program of its kind.”

It starts with a rigorous two-year program of study at a community college. Students who graduate then have a good chance of being admitted to public and private universities that are part of the American Honors transfer network.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: American Honors, community college, military

February 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Round-up: Real Hope Act passes Legislature, teacher-evaluation bill dies in Senate

Real Hope Act heads to governor’s desk for signature: Legislation that would expand college financial aid eligibility to students who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children is headed to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for approval after passage by the House and Senate. The bill, which originated in the Senate but closely resembles the House’s Dream Act legislation, includes a $5 million appropriation.

Teacher-evaluation bill dies in state Senate: An unusual alliance of the Senate’s majority Republicans and minority Democrats voted  Tuesday to defeat a bill that would have required state test scores to be used in teacher and principal evaluations. Federal education officials had said earlier that the state is at risk of losing its No Child Left Behind waiver for not considering test scores in evaluations.

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February 19, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Grades predict college success more than test scores, study says

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

When it comes to success in college, a  new study again raises questions about whether college-entrance exams such as the SAT predict how well students will do.

The study’s authors examined the records of 123,000 students at 33 colleges that don’t require students to submit test scores when they apply for admission.  They compared the 70 percent of students who chose to submit their scores to the 30 percent who did not, and found no significant differences in the college grade-point averages or graduation rates between the two groups.

Students’ high-school grades were much better predictors of performance, the study’s authors said.

The report was welcome news for those who support test-optional policies, including Washington State University in Pullman, which says it was one of the largest test-optional public universities in the study.

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Comments | Topics: college admissions, college-entrance exams, higher ed

February 18, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Round-up: Bill would let students go to college now and pay later

Bill would let students go to college now and pay later (AP): Lawmakers in Olympia are considering legislation that would enable students to attend college for free and, in exchange, pay a small percentage of their future income for up to 25 years. The House bill calls for the program to begin at up to five high schools serving a high percentage of low-income students.

Portland teachers reach deal to avoid strike (The Oregonian): Teachers and union leaders in Portland have reached an agreement to avoid a strike that would have been the district’s first ever walk out. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

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February 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Into the deep end: Schools reporter morphs into mom

I’ve covered public education, off and on, for decades. But schools look very different when your own skin’s in the game. This was my thinking as I sat with 60 other parents planning to enroll our kids in yet-to-be-opened Fairmount Elementary come September.

Plenty gets said about the Seattle school district — that it’s segregated, unequal and lets too many children languish — so I’d prepared myself to leave the meeting suitably frustrated. But listening to Fairmount’s new principal, Julie Breidenbach, I was heartened.

Literacy will be her mantra. Music, her holy grail. And science-tech-math? Not so much.

“I look at this as my little public charter school,” Breidenbach said, demonstrating her acknowledged penchant for operating without much of a political filter. “We’ll be inclusive of all children, but we get to do some things differently.”

Difference Number One: A strong push-back against the technology flavor-du-jour.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Fairmount Elementary, Seattle Public Schools, Skin in the game

February 14, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Round-up: Technology threatens snow days, how disadvantaged students affect peers

Technology threatens snow days for older students (The New York Times): The concept of a snow day spent completely detached from school may soon be a thing of the past, as more students receive district-issued laptops. About a third of school districts in the U.S. currently provide students with laptops or similar devices.

School bond still falling short in Lake Washington School District: Updated vote tallies show the Lake Washington School District’s bond measure is still 3 percentage points shy of the 60 percent majority needed to pass. Meanwhile, measures in the Northshore, Edmonds and Mukilteo school districts continue to be narrowly passing.

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