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Education Lab Blog

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

October 31, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Round-up: UW calls for adding med-school spots, SAT scores delayed amid cheating allegations

UW releases study calling for med-school expansion: The debate over which institution should train doctors in Eastern Washington continues, with the University of Washington releasing a new study from a consultant that concludes the cheapest and fastest way to increase the number med-school spots in the state is by expanding the UW’s existing program in Spokane. Washington State University wants to build its own medical school there and dissolved a previous partnership with UW earlier this month.

SAT cheating inquiry delays scores for thousands in Asia (The New York Times): The Educational Testing Service, the organization that administers the SAT overseas, is investigating cheating allegations and withholding scores from thousands of students in South Korea and China. In previous years, reports have surface of people in East Asia acquiring and distributing test questions in advance.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

October 31, 2014 at 5:00 AM

NYU research: Don’t punish students for their temperaments

It’s easy to overlook and underestimate shy children, and they can suffer academically because they aren’t the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

But you can’t just force them out of their shells anymore than you can turn an antsy kid who easily flips out into someone who handles stress calmly and quietly.

Sometimes parents and teachers believe a shy kid (or a typically jumpy kid prone to disruption) can just be forced to change. But core personality traits ­— a complex amalgam of genetics and early experience — can’t just be transformed on command to fit the requirements of school.

“To discipline or punish a child for their temperament is really cruel because that’s not going to change,” said Sandee McClowry, a professor of counseling psychology at New York University.

So rather than trying to change a child’s temperament to fit the school, McClowry is looking for ways that schools can work with different types of kids, easing them into more productive behaviors.

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Comments | Topics: school discipline, Science of learning, Teacher-student relationships

October 30, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Round-up: Feds put new restrictions on for-profit schools, MPHS teacher issues statement

Feds announce ‘gainful employment’ rule for for-profit schools (AP): The Obama administration announced new regulations today for for-profit colleges and universities that benefit from federal student-aid programs. Under the new rules, schools must show that the annual loan payment of a typical graduate is less than 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings.

Bloomberg aims to improve college access (NPR): Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced his charitable group is investing at least $10 million over the next two years to help more low-income students access and complete college. His plan focuses on building a network of advisers who can work with high-achieving students through the college application and financial-aid process.

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October 30, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Video: Watch a replay of LiveWire early learning panel

Did you miss The Seattle Times’ first LiveWire event? On Oct. 15, a panel of scientists and public officials gathered at Microsoft for a panel discussion about early learning and the brain research behind it.

TVW will air a full replay of the event at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 31, and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1. TVW airs on Comcast channel 23 throughout western Washington.

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Comments | More in News, Video | Topics: early learning, I-LABS, livewire

October 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Pre-K and K-12 leaders gather to talk consistency, collaboration

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Teachers, school chiefs and other education administrators from across the U.S. are gathered in Seattle this week to brainstorm ideas for better linking early childhood learning with the K-12 education system.

The disconnect, some education advocates say, stems from a common view that learning that happens before kindergarten is separate from a child’s “formal” education. Another problem is the lack of time to thoughtfully plan for pre-K opportunities, they say.

Kristie Kauerz, a research professor in the University of Washington College of Education and director of UW’s National P-3 Center, said schools can have a big influence on kids’ learning trajectories and achievement gaps if they can reach them before kindergarten.

“Why don’t we start doing something when kids are really little to address those achievement gaps, rather than waiting until third grade when that window of opportunity has really passed?” Kauerz said in an interview.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, University of Washington

October 29, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Round-up: Reclaiming school space part of healing, Truth Needle takes on pre-K mailers

Reclaiming school space part of healing process: After the shooting last spring at Seattle Pacific University, the school remodeled Otto Miller Hall, installing new carpet and furniture. Discussions about what to do with the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School are just beginning.

State Supreme Court will determine future of charter schools (AP): Justices heard arguments Tuesday on the state’s charter-schools law, prompted by a lawsuit from a coalition of teachers, parents and community groups. The case centers around the question of whether charter schools meet the constitutional definition of “common schools.”

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October 29, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Does class size matter? Research reveals surprises

Mark Burbank's astronomy class at Mountlake Terrace High School (shown here Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014) has close to 40 kids enrolled, which is an example of the kind of overcrowded classroom that I-1351 on the November ballot would address, but at a cost of billions. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times.

Mark Burbank’s astronomy class at Mountlake Terrace High School has close to 40 kids enrolled, which is an example of the kind of overcrowded classroom that I-1351 on the November ballot would address, but at a cost of billions. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times.

Few education reforms make as much sense on a gut level as giving teachers fewer students to teach.

The idea is popular with parents and politicians alike — at least 40 states have carried out some kind of class-size reduction in the past 15 years — and the Legislature in Washington has pledged to reduce average class sizes in kindergarten through third grade to 17 students by the fall of 2017.

Initiative 1351 on the Nov. 4 ballot would go even further, lowering average class sizes to 25 for grades four through 12 in Washington’s schools (with smaller sizes for schools where the majority of students come from low-income families).

According to the latest federal data based on teacher surveys, the average class size is 24 in the state’s elementary schools and 30 in secondary schools.

But despite more than four decades of research in the U.S. and abroad, the effects of this simple idea about how to raise student achievement have been hard to isolate and measure, leading to academic squabbles over its value.

Read full story here.

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October 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington colleges take aim at preventing sexual assaults

About 425 staffers from more than 50 Washington community, private and public four-year colleges will gather at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus Thursday to discuss how to prevent college sexual assaults.

In the past year, there’s been a heightened concern nationally about sexual assaults on campus, as officials raise concerns about both the emotional and academic impact these attacks can have on students. States and individual colleges have passed new laws and policies aimed at curbing sexual assaults. But there’s disagreement about the best approach.

The conference was organized by the Council of Presidents, made up of Washington’s six four-year public college presidents. It came from a presidents’ discussion in May about how the schools can more directly address and curb sexual assaults, said Paul Francis, who is the council’s executive director. The presidents wanted all colleges in Washington — public and private, two-year and four-year — to get together to share what works.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, sexual assaults

October 28, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Round-up: Tacoma student charged with tweeting threats, SPS will reassign Garfield teacher

Tacoma student charged with tweeting threats: A 16-year-old student at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma has been charged with felony harassment after allegedly threatening on social media to “shoot up”his school. The teen told police he intended the announcement as a joke.

Seattle schools stick to plan to reassign Garfield teacherDespite protests by students and staff, Seattle Public Schools says it will still reassign one teacher from Garfield High School, which is overstaffed. PTA leaders at Garfield say they disagree with the decision but do not plan a fundraising effort to keep the teacher.

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October 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Former Seattle board member offers controversial school fixes

Relatively rare are the moments when education reformers and die-hard public school staff find any common ground.

But Donald Nielsen, a former Seattle school board member who counts Jeb Bush among his acquaintances, shares an important observation about the problem in our public schools with teachers union firebrand Jesse Hagopian.

Donald P. Nielsen. Courtesy photo.

Donald P. Nielsen. Courtesy photo.

In a word (or three): the cookie-cutter approach.

Both men have new books out, and in many ways they could not be further apart. Nielsen, a wealthy corporate honcho who writes of casual phone chats with former U.S. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander, says the fundamental structure of public education is the problem.

Hagopian targets standardized testing.

Yet each offers a passionate call to stop treating students as widgets on a factory assembly line.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Donald P. Nielsen, education reform

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