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Education Lab Blog

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

July 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Round-up: Seattle students talk about school stereotypes, Texas college moves into old J.C. Penney

Rainier Beach, University Prep students discuss stereotypes (KUOW): Two students from south Seattle’s public Rainier Beach High School and north Seattle’s private University Prep took to KUOW’s RadioActive youth program to talk about stereotypes and interview their peers about what it’s like to attend each school. For more on what Rainier Beach is doing to defy stereotypes of the school, check out this guest opinion column by teacher Colin Pierce.

Austin Community College settles into former J.C. Penney store (KUT): A community college in Texas has found an unlikely building for its next campus: a former J.C. Penney department store. Students say they like that the revamped building offers ample room for informal study groups.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

July 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Teacher quality and test scores: Recent studies raise questions

As we reported earlier this week, the standoff continues between our state and the feds over the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

The U.S. Department of Education continues to insist that test scores should play some role in teacher evaluations. Washington lawmakers have refused to require school districts to do so and, as a result, lost the state’s waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

This week, the feds refused Washington’s request to get back a piece of that waiver — the part that would have saved schools from having to send letters home saying they have failed — as most other schools in the nation have failed — to ensure that all students were proficient in reading and math this year.

So what about the substance of the argument? Are test scores a valid indicator of a teacher’s effectiveness?


Comments | More in News | Topics: teacher evaluation, teacher quality, test scores

July 24, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Guest: Teachers need more than one formula for student success

Andrew E. Kelly

Andrew E. Kelly

The battle around “what works” in education continues to rage nationally and in our great state. What is the best way to ensure that each of our kids, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and personal background are able to successfully meet our educational standards and move through elementary, middle and high school to graduate prepared for college and a career?

One argument centers on whether schools should use direct instruction, a teacher-centered approach that commonly uses call-and-response, or a more free-flowing structure where students talk out their thinking and make sense of what they already know to build the scaffolding for their future.

Yet, as I work to support our state’s lowest-performing schools through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, I see more similarities than differences when it comes to what goes on in the classroom. Across the state, schools are succeeding with kids using both explicit instruction and constructivist learning. The bottom line: Great teaching is great teaching

Lakeridge Elementary School within the Renton School District is one school in our state experiencing phenomenal results. After receiving a federal school improvement grant three years ago, Lakeridge has taken on a new approach that emphasizes not just teaching content but, just as importantly, teaching kids how to think.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: Andy Kelly, direct instruction, Lakeridge

July 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Round-up: Tacoma district eyes downtown building, Sequim grapples with transgender policies

Tacoma district considers buying downtown building for school (The News Tribune): Seattle isn’t the only local school district contemplating major real estate acquisitions. The Tacoma School Board plans to vote Friday on whether to pay $7.6 million for a downtown building and parking garage that would allow for an expansion of the popular Tacoma School of the Arts.

Judge rules against public disclosure of LA teacher performance (Los Angeles Times): Three California appellate judges have ruled the public does not have a right to know the names of teachers in relation to their job performance ratings. The decision overturns an earlier ruling ordering disclosure.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

July 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Uncool in middle school? That might be a good thing

Remember the cool kids in middle school? The ones classmates admired and longed to befriend? The ones whose rejections sent many of us into a funk?

If you’re still not over it, take heart. Turns out, as adults, the popular kids tend to slip to the other end of the social spectrum.

In a study published in Child Development, researchers from the University of Virginia found that by the time they reach their early 20s, many popular seventh-and eighth-graders are often viewed as socially inept.

The researchers tracked 184 students from 13 to 23. As young teens, they were all in the popular crowd, judged by interviews with peers and the students themselves.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Child Development, middle school, popularity

July 23, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Round-up: Sharp jump in teen use of growth hormone, UW and WWU named great places to work

Survey finds sharp jump in teen use of growth hormone (AP): The percentage of U.S. high school students who report using synthetic HGH at least once has more than doubled to 11 percent in the latest survey released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The substance is commonly sought after by young people who want to improve their athletic performance or enhance their looks.

UW, WWU make national list of top colleges to work forThe University of Washington and Western Washington University were included on the most recent “Great Colleges to Work For” list published by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The list was based on a survey of 43,000 college employees.


Comments | More in News | Topics: education lab

July 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

5-minute recap: Video chat on what’s working in math education

Last Thursday, the Education Lab team hosted a Google+ Hangout about elementary math education and the successful strategies used at Lakeridge Elementary in the Renton School District. The discussion stemmed from our July 15 story about how the school’s use of cognitively guided instruction and ongoing teacher training has led to a turnaround in student math scores.

Miss the live video chat? The five-minute recap below shows some of the highlights. What you’ll see:


Comments | More in Math and science, Video, Your voices | Topics: Google Hangout, instruction, Lakeridge

July 23, 2014 at 5:00 AM

How are the kids? Improving in some areas, suffering in others

Housing starts and employment reports give us one picture of the state of our economy, and our nation.

But what about the state of our children and the indicators of their well-being — the percent without health insurance, for example, or the percent of families without even one securely employed adult?

For 25 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has tracked such numbers, which it argues are just as important to the nation’s future as our minute-by-minute watch of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

“Far more attention should be paid to child well-being indicators because everyone else’s future is wrapped up in theirs,” said Lori Pfingst, of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, one of the groups that works with the foundation to collect data in Washington state.

So how are the nation’s 74 million kids doing?


Comments | More in News | Topics: Annie E. Casey Foundation, child well-being, Kids Count

July 22, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Round-up: WWU reports more grads finding jobs, men credited with saving school from wildfire

WWU reports more grads finding jobs (Skagit Valley Herald): A survey compiled by Western Washington University finds 82 percent of graduates who earned degrees in 2012-13 found employment within six months, up from a low of 68.7 percent during the recession. The average starting salary for respondents was down about 4 percent from last year, however.

Men credited with saving Pateros school from wildfire (NBC News): Augustine Morales and a friend used a hose system on their truck to fight back flames approaching the Pateros K-12 school. The building has been used as a relief center after the massive blaze destroyed more than 150 of the town’s homes.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

July 22, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Even the feds screw up FAFSA: Online glitch affects thousands

About 200,000 would-be college students, most of them low-income, may have received incorrect financial aid offers because of a recently-discovered glitch on the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, better known as the FAFSA.

The problem came to light earlier this month after colleges and universities began noticing lots of applicants with questionable salaries entered in the box marked “Income Earned from Work”. That is, salaries that looked puzzlingly high for students seeking financial aid.

Turns out that thousands of students — apparently trying to respond to the FAFSA with utmost accuracy — entered summer-job or after-school incomes down to the penny. But the form was supposed to accept only whole-dollar amounts.

The result? Incomes of $5,000.19 showed up as $500,019 — an enormous difference, and one that would almost certainly affect eligibility for financial aid.


Comments | More in News | Topics: FAFSA, financial aid, higher ed

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