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

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October 17, 2014 at 5:00 AM

UW viral video: Toddler leaves toy alone to avoid an adult’s anger

Move over marshmallow test, there’s a new video showing the struggles of a toddler to control his impulses and it comes right out of the University of Washington.

The new UW video — which has tallied more than 750,000 hits since it was posted 10 days ago  re-enacts an experiment in a study from the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences that is published in the current issue of the journal, Cognitive Development.

The researchers wanted to find out if 15-month-old children could resist the natural urge to copy an adult playing with a toy by figuring out that doing so would make someone else mad at them.

Turns out they can.


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

October 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Kids need a second chance to make a first impression

Kids’ reputations often precede them as they move from grade to grade, with teachers giving each other a heads up about who’s a troublemaker and who’s likely to ace every assignment.

But Brooke Perry, a sixth-grade teacher in the Kent School District, says she’s learned to keep an open mind about her students, regardless of what she’s heard about them, according to a recent post she wrote reflecting on her first month of the new school year for the Puget Sound Educational Service District.

Full disclosure: kids change. Here’s another hard hitting fact: not all student-teacher relationships are created equal. Because of these two things, I’m come to understand that I cannot rely solely on word of mouth, and that it is absolutely paramount to allow time to build your own unique relationship with your new students, before passing judgment.

Word of mouth is not the only way that teachers can form misleading snap judgments about students.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Teacher-student relationships

October 14, 2014 at 2:57 PM

State invalidates test scores at Seattle elementary school

Editor’s note: Read an updated version of this story here.

The state is throwing out some of the spring test scores for a Seattle elementary school after finding heavy erasure marks on the test booklets. The invalidated scores are for the reading and math exams taken by students in grades 3, 4 and 5.

Seattle Public Schools asked for the review of Beacon Hill International School’s test scores in August after results showed that passage rates in math and reading were dramatically higher than the year before.

No school or district employees have been placed on administrative leave as a result of the investigation’s findings, school district spokeswoman Stacy Howard said.

“Our independent investigator is continuing to investigate,” Howard said. “Unfortunately, we still don’t know who’s responsible.”

It’s the first time the state has  done a schoolwide review of test scores since testing began in 1997.


Comments | More in News | Topics: test scores

October 8, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Parents succeed: Gatewood Elementary gets to keep its staff

Update at 4:05 p.m.: A district spokeswoman says parents have not raised the full $90,000, which was based on the average cost of hiring a full time teacher, including salary and benefits. Details to come. Original post: Parents at Gatewood Elementary School in West Seattle who scrambled to raise $90,000 in less than a week to…


Comments | More in News | Topics: Seattle Public Schools

September 30, 2014 at 11:58 AM

League of Education Voters opposes class-size ballot measure

The League of Education Voters, a non-profit advocacy organization that has backed previous efforts to reduce class sizes, announced Tuesday that it opposes  I-1351the statewide class-size reduction initiative on the November ballot.

The Washington Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, spearheaded a signature gathering drive for the initiative last spring, turning in nearly 350,000 signatures to put I-351 on the ballot. So far, the Class Size Counts campaign website lists endorsements from the Bellevue and Walla Walla school boards, the Tacoma Council PTA and several unions, along with about three-dozen individuals.

But not LEV, which explained its position on the organization’s blog:


Comments | More in News | Topics: Class Size Counts, League of Education Voters

September 30, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Later high-school start times: How 70 districts have done it

Mounting scientific evidence shows that chronic sleep loss compromises teenagers’ learning, health and safety, prompting the American Academy of Pediatrics last month to recommend that middle and high schools start class no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Yet changing bell times has proven so logistically and politically complicated that only about 70 school districts around the country have figured out a way to do it.

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Donna Grethen / Op Art

In July, Seattle’s school board waded into those waters, directing the district’s staff to begin a 15-month study to change school starting times. The district is now accepting applications to participate in a year-long task force on that will include district staff, parents, students and community experts. The deadline to apply is Oct. 6.

To appreciate the magnitude of the work involved, Seattle and other interested school districts should check out what’s been going on in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, the 11th-largest school district in the country.

Fairfax has been trying to change bell times for more than a decade. The latest push was launched in April, 2012, when the Fairfax board set a goal of having no high school begin before 8 a.m. The board may finally be approaching the finish line with a plan up for a vote on Oct. 23.

To develop its plan, Fairfax hired Children’s National Medical Center’s Division of Sleep Medicine, which published a report in April that examined how the 70 school districts that changed bell times got it done.


Comments | More in News | Topics: school start times, Seattle Public Schools, Teen sleep

September 26, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Leading researchers to speak on neuroscience, learning disabilities

Most experts in brain science and education warn that the distance between the laboratory and the classroom is too vast for scientists to tell teachers how to do their jobs.

But that doesn’t mean neuroscience has nothing to contribute to education.

For example, neuroscientists and educators are working together to better understand biologically-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

They hope to find ways to diagnose those problems sooner and adjust teaching to eliminate or at least soften their impact.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Dyslexia, learning disabilities, neuroscience

September 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Number of homeless schoolchildren rising

The number of homeless children  in Washington’s public schools rose 12 percent between the school years ending in 2012 and 2013.

The total climbed to 30,609 students, exceeding the total enrollment of Tacoma’s school system, the state’s second largest district.

National data released this week by the U.S. Department of Education show an 8 percent increase for the same period, reaching a total of about 1.2 million children without a regular place to sleep at night.

Washington state education officials can’t say why Washington increased more than the nation (34 states and the District of Columbia report yearly figures) as a whole, but many factors contribute to homelessness, including changes in the availability of affordable housing, job opportunities and local social services.


Comments | More in News | Topics: homelessness, McKinney-Vento

September 16, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Google flash-funds ‘Ukuleles Unite!,’ other teacher projects

Amanda Burke (left), a kindergarten teacher at Highland Park Elementary in Seattle, was one of several local teachers surprised by Google on Monday. Photo courtesy Google.

Amanda Burke (left), a kindergarten teacher at Highland Park Elementary in Seattle, was one of several local teachers surprised by Google on Monday. Photo courtesy Google.

Music teacher Yvonne Berz got her wish Monday: a classroom set of ukuleles for her students at Springbrook Elementary School in the Kent School District.

It was one of 388 projects that Google fully funded or topped off on Monday in a “flash funding” campaign for teachers in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

For Berz, Google added to 16 other donors who contributed to her proposal, titled Ukuleles Unite!” though the nonprofit crowd-sourcing website,, where teachers can seek funding for specific learning projects.

Google’s $338,000 donation helped teachers buy supplies ranging from books, laptops and Legos to yoga mats, acoustic guitars and a digital microscope.

A kindergarten teacher at Highland Park Elementary School in Seattle, for example, asked for four HP Chromebook laptop computers and a Microsoft Surface tablet. A teacher at Lowell Elementary School in Everett asked for mapmaking supplies.

Google has sponsored other DonorsChoose “flash funding” campaigns in recent months in San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin, Kansas City and Los Angeles.


Comments | More in News | Topics:, Google

September 10, 2014 at 5:00 AM

National Merit Scholarship semifinalists named

Lakeside School in Seattle once again topped the list of area semifinalists named Wednesday in the National Merit Scholarship program, with 33 students. Bellevue’s Interlake High School has 29 semifinalists, and Garfield High School in Seattle has 11.

They are among some 16,000 high-school students across the country eligible to compete for about 7,600 merit scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring.

This is the 60th annual competition. The semifinalists, who represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, received the highest scores in their states on the PSAT.  The number of semifinalists in each state is proportional to the state’s share of the national total of graduating seniors.

Local semifinalists and their schools after the jump:


Comments | More in News | Topics: National Merit Scholarship Program

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