Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.
December 4, 2013 at 11:30 AM
School counselors face big hurdles in getting students to college (The Hechinger Report): High-school counselors can be critical in getting students to college. But with the average public-school counselor carrying a caseload of 471 students, many are facing an uphill battle.
New SAT delayed to 2016 (The Chronicle of Higher Education): A new version of the SAT Reasoning Test will debut in the spring of 2016, not 2015 as originally planned. The College Board has not revealed details about changes to the exam.
December 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Amid the national debate over how best to improve our nation’s public schools, data from scientific studies often are used (and misused) to bolster one argument or discredit another – about the effectiveness of charter schools, say, or the value of standardized testing.
But how is an educator, policymaker or parent supposed to sort out credible evidence from the hype?
The science journal Nature recently published a list of 20 concepts that non-scientists should understand about scientific research.
Many of the concepts make good sense for evaluating education research, including this biggie that bears repeating often.
Correlation does not imply causation: ”It is tempting to assume that one pattern causes another,” according to the Nature article. “However, the correlation might be coincidental, or it might be a result of both patterns being caused by a third factor — a ‘confounding’ or ‘lurking’ variable.”
December 3, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Teens from Asian countries dominate in global assessments (AP): Fifteen-year-olds from several Asian countries outperformed their American peers in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. U.S. students failed to crack the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to scores released today. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the results “a picture of educational stagnation.”
Some schools back away from zero-tolerance discipline policies (The New York Times): Amid increased evidence that zero-tolerance policies lead to higher dropout rates and low academic performance, urban districts from Baltimore to Denver are rethinking discipline policies and opting to let misbehaving students stay in class.
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.
December 2, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Inslee encourages UW, WSU to ask lawmakers for more funding: In a Friday meeting with regents from the University of Washington and Washington State University, Gov. Jay Inslee vowed to help the two colleges secure more state funding for higher ed. His solution? Closing tax loopholes.
Readers offer thoughts on parent-teacher relationships: Seattle Times editorial columnist Lynne K. Varner followed up her Thursday column, titled “Are you driving your kid’s teachers and principals crazy?”, with a round-up of reader feedback. The consensus: Parents should have a say in their children’s education, but teachers deserve more respect than they often receive.
December 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Leadership in rural school districts is very personal, and often a force for progress or stagnation.
That’s among the early observations of Paul Hill, founder and former director of the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education, who is leading a consortium that’s studying innovations in rural communities.
In his preliminary work, Hill said he’s found that some rural schools have made imaginative use of money and technology. And many rural districts are eager to guide their high-school students into dual enrollment programs, for college credit or to acquire vocational skills.
He’s also found that leadership can be an especially powerful force in a rural school district.
November 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM
For many years, some of the lowest college completion rates in the country have been at community colleges, where more than half the students who start never finish their degree.
What can colleges do to improve the numbers?
There’s a renewed focus on trying to answer that question at Bellevue College, the state’s largest community college and the third-largest higher-education institution in the state.
It’s focusing on closing the gap for students who usually fare poorest — including low-income students and underrepresented minorities, said Ata Karim, vice president of student services for the college.
Of those Bellevue students who say they’re seeking an associates degree, 83 percent return to school after the first quarter, Karim said. But only 76 percent of students who enrolled in the fall return for the spring quarter. And fewer still — about 64 percent — are still in school after a year has passed.
November 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM
This year’s state superintendent of the year is Edward Lee Vargas, honored in part for his efforts to infuse Kent schools with technology.
In announcing the honor, the Washington Association of School Administrators pointed to a number of awards the Kent School District has won since Vargas arrived in 2009, including its selection by Microsoft as an international model for how to use technology in the classroom.
The district also was selected to be part of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, a coalition of 40 school districts and 24 states committed to using technology effectively.
November 27, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Choosing the wrong college major can be a costly mistake (Reuters): A new report from ACT Inc., the Iowa-based testing company, found just one-third of students who take the ACT plan to major in a field that aligns with their interests. Opting to study engineering might not be such a lucrative choice for students who end up switching majors and taking longer to graduate — or leaving school without earning any degree at all.
Urban districts strive for more diversity in AP classes (The New York Times): School districts stretching from Cincinnati to Boston have launched initiatives to get more black and Latino high school students enrolled in AP classes, often seen as a head start for the college bound. In Washington state, lawmakers passed legislation this spring that asked districts to enroll any student in advanced courses if he or she scores above a certain threshold on standardized tests.
November 27, 2013 at 6:00 AM
What would happen if teachers with a track record of raising test scores transferred into low-performing schools, enticed by a $20,000 bonus?
In middle school, not much, according to a new study by Mathematica Policy Research. In elementary schools, however, the study found the transferring teachers raised test scores more than a control group.
The study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, was conducted in 10 school districts in seven different states. The districts offered the bonuses to teachers who ranked in the top 20 percent in their districts in raising student test scores, and 81 teachers participated. To get the bonus, they had to agree to stay at the low-scoring school for at least two years.
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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