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Education Lab Blog

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

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Claudia Rowe.

September 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Pre-K researcher offers answer to ‘Show me the money’

When debating bang-for-the-buck in early childhood education, most people focus on academic results. That is, improving the ability of kids to absorb what their teachers want them to learn. But the real prize is life outcomes, and on this, convincing evidence is harder to find.

As reported in the Times, a handful of preschool programs  in Michigan, North Carolina and Illinois — have tracked children through adulthood and found encouraging long-term benefits, particularly around decreased criminal involvement when students grow up. But those studies are decades old.

In 2011, however, researcher William Gormley published a paper projecting the future earnings of 4-year-olds in Tulsa, Okla., preschools and forecast that each would make an extra $27,179 to $30,148 over the course of their working lives. (Defined here as the time between age 22 and 66.)

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early education, pre-K

September 23, 2014 at 5:00 AM

State’s top educator aims to energize teacher recruitment

Lyon Terry reacts to being named Washington state's Teacher of the Year. Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times.

Lyon Terry reacts to being named Washington state’s Teacher of the Year. Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times.

A familiar storyline for teachers is that the newest are brimming with idealism, the more seasoned struggling not to burn out. But after nine years on the job at Lawton Elementary School in Seattle, Lyon Terry’s combination of energy and experience were notable enough that last spring a parent nominated him to be Washington state’s Teacher of the Year.

Monday, while sitting on stage with eight other finalists at EMP Museum, he learned that he had won.

“I was not expecting this,” said the visibly moved fourth-grade teacher, his voice breaking, as he accepted the award.

A statewide selection committee of parents and educators cited Terry’s classroom balance between intellectual conversation and hands-on experimentation “with just a bit of guitar thrown into the mix” — nodding to the teacher’s penchant for sometimes bursting out in song.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Lyon Terry, Seattle Public Schools, teacher of the year

September 22, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Race and education: Henry Louis Gates to headline UPS conference

Henry Louis Gates. Courtesy: University of Puget Sound

Henry Louis Gates. Courtesy University of Puget Sound

Among many hot-button issues in higher education, few reach the stratospheric temperatures of affirmative action, though one of the country’s most celebrated educators comfortably counts himself a beneficiary of quota politics.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Harvard history professor, author and, most recently, television producer  will speak about his own journey from curious 9-year-old to public intellectual at the Race and Pedagogy Conference held Sept. 25-27 at the University of Puget Sound. Gates joins a high-profile lineup that includes political activist Angela Davis and environmentalist Winona LaDuke.

United under the theme, “What Now is the Work of Education and Justice?” the conference aims to engage educators  from kindergarten through college  around this question.

Race, however, is rarely an easy topic to tackle.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Henry Louis Gates, race, University of Puget Sound

September 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Americans back teacher ‘bar’ exam, divided on school change

The question of how best to train, and evaluate, teachers has become a proverbial third rail in the politics of education.

Should their pay be linked to students’ academic performance? Their own advanced-level studies? Or to time on the job?

Answers to these questions have tended to electrify school-watchers of every political stripe. But Wednesday, Gallup released a new poll that shows a surprising degree of unanimity: 81 percent of respondents — Democrats, Republicans, Independents and public school parents  say they favor a national certification exam for teachers, similar to that required for doctors and lawyers.

(Such a standard  the National Board Certification — already exists, though it is voluntary and only 3 percent of teachers actually take it, Gallup reports.)

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Gallop poll

September 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

‘Compassion’ sounds soft but demands action, new website says

It’s easy enough to say you value compassion in schools, but quite another thing to actively practice it.

Monday marks the launch of a new social-networking website created by Seattle educators to boost this important but oft-overlooked trait by providing parents, teachers and administrators with tools for building more compassion into their schools.

“People’s emotional states really affect the way their lives turn out, and their personalities are being shaped in school,” said longtime fifth-grade teacher Peter Hubbard, who works at Lawton Elementary in Seattle. “So we need to be deliberate about how we’re developing children. Social isolation is definitely an issue. The kids who are stronger psychologically survive and go into war mode  they’re just toughing it out. But it’s still a pretty alienating experience.”

Enter the Compassionate Schools Network, a website where users can interact with one another around specific topics (similar to Facebook). The site also features a resource-sharing center focused on five areas: community service, mindfulness, re-imagining education, environmental stewardship and social-and-emotional growth.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Compassionate Schools, Scarlett Lewis

September 11, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Kids with poor attendance score lower on national tests

Students who don’t show up in class are likely to do worse in school than their peers. That stands to reason, but now there’s hard data to back this common-sense assertion.

Last week, researchers from Attendance Works in Maryland released a study correlating national test results with student absenteeism in each state. Their findings? Washington has slightly worse attendance rates than the national average, and the more days students miss, the lower their scores in reading and math.

National results.  A score of 208 in fourth-grade reading is considered "basic." At 238, students are rated "proficient." In math, the basic rate is 214, and proficient is 249. Courtesy: Attendance Works

National results. A score of 208 in fourth-grade reading is considered “basic.” At 238, students are rated “proficient.” In math, the basic rate is 214, and proficient is 249. Graph courtesy Attendance Works.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: attendance, Attendance Works, NAEP

September 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM

In-school parent volunteers will aim far beyond bake sales

Logan Square parent mentor Mayra Guzman helps second-grade student Jeremiah Castro with reading at Avondale Elementary School in Chicago. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

Logan Square parent mentor Mayra Guzman helps second-grade student Jeremiah Castro with reading at Avondale Elementary School in Chicago. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

Two Seattle schools will get a boost this fall from a corps of parents inspired by a long-running Chicago program that has improved student outcomes  particularly around motivation.

In 2013, Education Lab spotlighted a parent mentor program in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago that has, in its 20-year history, recruited, trained and vaulted nearly 2,000 low-income parent volunteers into Chicago classrooms.

Many say the program has been life-changing  both for them and their children. Some have gone on to become certified teachers.

A Seattle group called Community & Parents for Public Schools, which has long admired the Logan Square effort, recently won two grants totaling $65,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates and Satterberg Foundations. The money will cover training and stipends of $500-$600 for an initial group of 20 volunteers, said Stephanie Alter Jones, executive director of the group, who hopes to stretch the money over two years.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Logan Square, parent engagement

September 5, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Fantasy football in the classroom can reap real-life gains in math

Excited children show their Seahawks spirit during an assembly last January at Kimball Elementary School. Photo by John Lok / The Seattle Times.

Excited children show their Seahawks spirit during an assembly last January at Kimball Elementary School in Seattle. Photo by John Lok / The Seattle Times.

Finding students a bit sluggish on this, just the third day of school in many Seattle-area districts? Could it be that they were up late, watching the Seahawks season-opener against Green Bay? Football may leave you cold, but consider the volcano of statistics, the numerical slicing and dicing used to predict outcomes. All of it is built on math.

Fantasy football? Even more so.

For the uninitiated, the game works like this: You pick an assortment of real-life players for various positions on your imaginary team  quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, for example  then rack up points based on the players’ actual performance on game day.

Yes, it’s pretend-play for grownups. But teachers find that fantasy football can energize students who are otherwise less-than-motivated by traditional math. Even the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has suggestions for incorporating football into lesson plans (baseball and basketball, too).

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Comments | More in News | Topics: fantasy football, math, Seahawks

September 4, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Skin in the Game, IV: Opening Day, for school and mom

Credit: West Seattle Blog. A capacity crowd of parents gathered for the opening of Fairmount Park Elementary School

Photo courtesy West Seattle Blog. A capacity crowd of parents gathered for the opening of Fairmount Park Elementary School

Everyone expects crying on the first day of kindergarten  from the parents, mainly. But I saw not a single tear during opening day at Fairmount Park Elementary on Wednesday. Despite the dirge of bad-news stories about American education, the feeling inside this bright, airy, refurbished and reopened West Seattle school was, overwhelmingly, hope.

The place is so shiny-new that an American flag hanging in the library still had its fresh-from-the-box creases. The math workbooks were yet to arrive.

But a new school does not mean newbie staff. Seattle Public Schools made the savvy decision to install veteran principal Julie Breidenbach at the helm  evidence of the increasing recognition around the role of school leaders in student success — and she, in turn, led a trail of former colleagues to Fairmount Park.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Fairmount Park Elementary, Julie Breidenbach, Skin in the game

August 27, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Today’s story: Seattle’s Garfield High wants hazing to be history

A group of Garfield High upperclassmen cracks up Monday after performing during their training at the school. Garfield is hosting the Link Crew leadership training course before the start of school next week. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times.

A group of Garfield High upperclassmen cracks up Monday after performing during their training at the school. Garfield is hosting the Link Crew leadership training course before the start of school next week. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times.

As an eager, if nervous, ninth-grader, Anya Meleshuk allowed several older girls to blindfold her one afternoon, put her in a car and drive her to a park where she was told to “propose” to a stranger. Later, dressed in fairy wings, she downed a dozen flavors of ice cream while her friends watched, and went home afterward feeling as if she had been accepted, initiated into Garfield High School, where such “froshing” has a storied history.

Many alumni cherish similar memories and were outraged last fall when Principal Ted Howard, long an opponent of this tradition, showed up unannounced at a Homecoming Weekend event to quell what would become Garfield’s moment of hazing infamy.

Go here for the full story.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Garfield, hazing, Seattle Public Schools

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