Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.
December 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM
Change school culture to embrace parents
Joel Domingo writes about why many schools struggle to actively involve high numbers of parents in their kids’ schooling.See comments
Why it's hard to get involved as an African American parent
Even though I'm involved in education it's hard to talk to teachers about how to support my son, writes Emijah Smith.See comments
December 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM
Something magical happens when a child reads out loud, to an adult or around his or her peers. There’s a sparkle, a pride, a joy. Many parents haven’t experienced this, and we all absolutely need to.
This is the thought that kept me up late one night in May last year. I was thinking about some of the children in my first-grader’s class, the emerging readers whom I worked with weekly.
Could I impact their reading this summer, even though I don’t have a connection with their parents? Many work full time and can’t go to school functions. How can I share this experience with them? I had seen their kids grow so much this year. Many now read with confidence, and I was rewarded with lovely, toothy (and toothless) grins. Yet summer was coming, and their days may not include such joyful reading and proud smiles. Could I change that?
Thus the Summer Reading Club was born. (more…)
November 26, 2013 at 3:09 PM
The simulated study on the effect strong teachers can have on students, released last week by the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, makes an excellent point about the value of excellent educators. Certainly we all agree that great teachers make great schools.
What the simulation does not do is stack up against the volumes of research showing conclusively that smaller class sizes have a dramatic impact on student performance. Research on class size has been conducted in states across the country, and from California to Wisconsin the results are the same — smaller classes mean higher student achievement.
November 20, 2013 at 5:25 PM
Nationwide, 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year. In Seattle, this amounts to missing at least 18 days — or about a month’s worth of school.
All too often, no one notices or even cares if these kids don’t show up.
Our research at Johns Hopkins University shows that chronic absence is a strong predictor of who will eventually drop out of school. And the problem starts early. One study estimated that one in 10 of the nation’s kindergarten and first-grade students were chronically absent.
These early absences can leave children lagging in basic reading and math skills and can establish an entrenched pattern of chronic absenteeism as students move into middle and high school. Chronically absent students also are more likely to wind up in the juvenile justice system.
The good news is that mayors, school districts and communities have a relatively low-cost way to raise academic achievement, increase graduation rates, reduce juvenile justice costs and build better pathways out of poverty: that is, to work together to get their students to attend school every day.
November 19, 2013 at 1:30 PM
Students can’t learn if they aren’t in school. Yet, in Seattle, one in four black middle-school students is suspended each year. In March, racial disparities in student suspension and expulsion rates prompted the U.S. Department of Education to launch a civil rights investigation into Seattle Public Schools.
The League of Education Voters recently traveled with community and education leaders to Baltimore to learn about best practices in discipline. Since 2008, Baltimore City Public Schools decreased suspensions from one in five students per year to one in eight; a similar drop occurred in expulsions.
Baltimore school administrators and education advocates were clear: the decrease was due to the importance of culture and policy; relationships and practice.
November 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The principal of the school was blunt: “This new technical school is very expensive but much cheaper than a prison.”
Seattle educators traveled to Singapore in October for the third meeting of the Global Cities Education Network. The Asia Society brought us together to study and share our common challenges in public education.
Singapore, like other developed Asian nations, scores at or near the top in international tests. The country is multicultural, has a large proportion of poor immigrants and operates a bilingual school system. Its success is nothing short of stunning and provides lessons for our interminable debates over education reform.
Observers sometimes compare the nation of Singapore to a corporation that serves its citizen shareholders with harsh laws and great social services. The coordination between the economy and the education system is proactive and comprehensive. Youth unemployment is virtually zero, as the graduates of universities, polytechnic colleges, and technical institutes hit the labor market with the content knowledge and skill sets matching the evolving local economy. This success occurs because nearly equal attention goes to the bottom third of students on standardized tests as the top third headed for universities. (more…)
October 27, 2013 at 4:00 AM
Joplin Plan shows promise for grouping students
Reading classes that separate students by ability, not grade level, allow for tailored instruction without stigmatizing students, writes Robert Slavin of the Center for Research and Reform in Education.See comments (3)
Let's challenge all students instead of tracking by ability
Rationing our most demanding curricula is not the way to shrink our country's achievement gap, argues National Education Policy Center Director Kevin Welner.See comments (10)
Is blended learning the solution?
Drawing on her daughter's own experiences with tracking in Seattle Public Schools, Alison Krupnick of ParentMap writes about how a combination of in-person and online instruction could enable students to rotate more fluidly through different groups.See comments (0)
October 24, 2013 at 11:17 AM
The Seattle Times welcomes submissions of guest commentaries for the Education Lab Blog.
To be seriously considered, a submission should make a strong solution-oriented argument about education and be between 300 and 500 words in length. We give highest priority to local writers writing about local topics.
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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