Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.
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December 6, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Wither the college guidance counselor, that beleaguered tracker of student transcripts, entrusted to match hundreds of high school kids each year with a higher education?
Their caseloads are, on average, nearly double the recommended rate of 250 students per counselor. (In Washington, it’s 510-to-1.)
And much of the time, they’re tasked with a host of other duties – everything from clerical work to fundraising and crisis control. A report by education professor Patricia McDonough at UCLA found that they offer average high school student about 38 minutes of college advising per year.
Not surprisingly, a wave of websites and apps has flooded the void, purporting to aid students in their search. But weeding through the options can be an exhausting time waste for students and their parents.
December 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Located next to a garbage dump in Mexico, a school with spotty internet access and intermittent electricity somehow produced the highest-scoring math student in the country two years ago. She was 12.
Meanwhile, a world away in Great Barrington, Mass., a dyslexic high school junior taught himself to play piano in just a few months.
Utterly different in their student populations, these two schools nevertheless share a belief in student-led education, a philosophy that’s gaining traction worldwide and, for some kids, making a huge difference.
November 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Everyone knows kids who show up in class only so they can go to basketball or football practice later. A proposed charter school hopes to build its entire program on exactly that kind of athletic motivation.
Will Niccolls, founder of the Sports in Schools nonprofit, which raises money for sports programs and for kids who want to play but can’t afford the fees, has asked state officials to authorize a Sports in Schools Charter School for the fall of 2015.
A longtime soccer referee and former staffer in the Bush White House, Niccolls was profiled in 2012, just as Sports in Schools was getting off the ground. Since then, he says the operation has expanded dramatically, raising about $500,000 in total – all of it to support local athletic programs and Niccolls’ belief that sports provide an important way to reach some students who don’t do well in traditional programs.
November 22, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The more you talk with teachers, the more you understand that, for better or worse, a huge part of their job involves managing childhood trauma.
In most classrooms, there are students with divorced parents; some who’ve been insulted or hit at home; others with moms or dads who abuse drugs or alcohol, and too many who don’t have enough to eat.
Each of these miseries is listed – along with five other common traumas – on the nationally-recognized scorecard for Adverse Childhood Experiences, and researchers have discovered that they have significant effects in the classroom.
Put simply: Kids experiencing chronic trauma can’t learn.
November 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Despite recently announced incremental gains by state students on national tests, 1 million kids will fail to graduate from high school on time this year.
The urgency of this fact — and what to do about it — were the subject of a talk given by Leonard Pitts, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, to educational policymakers at a GradNation Summit in Bellevue earlier this week.
Pitts said he understood paralysis in the face of enormous need — such as the fact that only 42 percent of America’s fourth graders are proficient in math, and only 35 percent read at grade level.
“Incredibly, these numbers, as disheartening as they are, actually represent incremental progress,” Pitts told the audience of educators and policymakers.
November 12, 2013 at 3:04 PM
Need low-cost technology training but don’t know where to go? Try your local library — it’s free.
The program — which includes hundreds of training sessions in everything from basic digital literacy to Microsoft Office to advanced IT — is already available in public high schools. Since 2011, 16,000 students here have become technology-certified.
Similar trainings will now be available to adult library users.
November 7, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Add another voice — a rather loud one — to the growing chorus insisting that quality preschool makes a measurable difference in a host of later-in-life outcomes, particularly academic performance.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its annual Kids Count report, a snapshot of the status of young Americans across the country, this year placing a special emphasis on the importance of early-childhood experiences.
Depending on how one views the report, it’s either a dire assessment — only 19 percent of third graders growing up in low-income families had age-appropriate skills — or welcome ammunition needed to make the case for funding early education.
November 1, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Amid the furor over public school reform and education standards in this country, there is one area on which nearly everyone appears to agree: Teachers should be valued as professionals and trained that way, too.
Several well-informed sources say would-be teachers should be screened into highly-selective schools (a la medical students), and serve residencies similar to those of young doctors — sort of an in-service training model.
Seattle, it turns out, is way ahead of the curve. The district is in its first year of exactly such a program — the Seattle Teacher Residency — with 25 teachers-in-training employed at 5 elementary schools, where 25 senior educators act as their mentors.
Most unusual of all: The program has full buy-in from the teachers union, according to president Jonathan Knapp.
October 31, 2013 at 6:00 AM
It’s that time of year, the season when high school seniors add college essay writing to their general homework load.
Educational consultant Dave Marcus spoke on Boston public radio recently, offering some do’s and don’ts for harried applicants, and their parents:
- When choosing a topic for your essay, avoid the D’s: Divorce, disease, death, disabilities. “Often, the simpler moments are far more interesting,” Marcus says.
- Get right into your subject. (No throat-clearing or engine-revving.)
- Be as specific as possible with your examples.
- Stay humble. “A lot of kids feel they have to boast,” Marcus finds, as if they have to impress the admissions officer. “It’s not that way,” he says. “It’s wrong.”
About the authors
Katherine Long has been a reporter for The Seattle Times since 1990, focusing for the past three years on higher ed, with stories that have ranged from the complexities of prepaid tuition programs to nontraditional ways to earn a degree.
Claudia Rowe joined The Seattle Times’ reporting staff in 2013. She has written about education for The New York Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, among other publications.
Mike Siegel has been a news photographer at the Seattle Times since 1987. His photography was used in a series titled "Methadone and the Politics of Pain," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for investigative reporting.
Janet Horne Henderson is The Times’ education editor. She has directed award-winning stories and projects examining race, immigration, religion and health, in addition to education
Caitlin Moran is community engagement editor for Education Lab. Her role is to help foster constructive dialogue online and in person
Read extended bios.
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