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Education Lab Blog

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

Category: News
July 28, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Round-up: Assessing the need for a WSU med school, class-size initiative makes ballot

Assessing the need for a WSU med school: Some local and regional higher education experts are questioning whether there is enough demand to warrant a second medical school in Washington state. WSU wants to open a school in Spokane, but some say the shortage of hospital residency spots is a more pressing issue.

Class-size initiative will appear on November ballot (AP): A state initiative that would require smaller class sizes at all levels will appear on the general-election ballot this fall. A similar measure was passed in 2000, but the Legislature has suspended it several times because of budget concerns.

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July 28, 2014 at 9:03 AM

More for your money: UW-Bothell ranked best in the state

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

A new national ranking of college quality scrambles the usual rating of Washington state’s colleges and universities, making the University of Washington-Bothell the top-rated school in the state.

The ranking, by Money magazine, aims to tell students and parents which schools give the best value for the money, and looked at metrics such as the quality of the education, affordability and outcomes, which were based in part on how much graduates were making five years after they left school.

The UW-Bothell ranked above the main campus because it “dramatically outperforms its peers on graduation rates and alumni financial success indicators,” the magazine writes. Although UW-Bothell isn’t particularly selective, more than two-thirds of freshmen go on to graduate, and earn salaries averaging about $52,000 within five years of graduating.

In the survey, UW-Bothell came in 37th in the nation overall, earning an A- for value. The main UW campus in Seattle ranked 47th in the nation, getting a B+ for quality. The Seattle campus appeared to rank slightly lower than the UW-Bothell because the average annual salary within five years was slightly lower ($49,300) and the school is more selective.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, rankings, UW

July 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Free textbooks: New website helps profs find best e-books and videos

The OPEN Washington website

The OPEN Washington website

Building on several years of work with free textbook development, the state’s community college board has created a website that highlights the best available free- and low-cost textbooks and other educational resources from around the country.

The website is called OPEN Washington, and its aim is to help professors and college instructors find free or low-cost online textbooks, videos, curricula and other resources from a wide variety of sources.

It was created by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

Along with everything else in higher education, textbooks have zoomed in price in recent years; some studies suggest that the average college student spends as much as $800 to $1,000 per academic year buying textbooks. And students are often stuck with books that they can’t sell back to the bookstore because versions change from year to year.

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July 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Round-up: Seattle students talk about school stereotypes, Texas college moves into old J.C. Penney

Rainier Beach, University Prep students discuss stereotypes (KUOW): Two students from south Seattle’s public Rainier Beach High School and north Seattle’s private University Prep took to KUOW’s RadioActive youth program to talk about stereotypes and interview their peers about what it’s like to attend each school. For more on what Rainier Beach is doing to defy stereotypes of the school, check out this guest opinion column by teacher Colin Pierce.

Austin Community College settles into former J.C. Penney store (KUT): A community college in Texas has found an unlikely building for its next campus: a former J.C. Penney department store. Students say they like that the revamped building offers ample room for informal study groups.

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July 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Teacher quality and test scores: Recent studies raise questions

As we reported earlier this week, the standoff continues between our state and the feds over the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

The U.S. Department of Education continues to insist that test scores should play some role in teacher evaluations. Washington lawmakers have refused to require school districts to do so and, as a result, lost the state’s waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

This week, the feds refused Washington’s request to get back a piece of that waiver — the part that would have saved schools from having to send letters home saying they have failed — as most other schools in the nation have failed — to ensure that all students were proficient in reading and math this year.

So what about the substance of the argument? Are test scores a valid indicator of a teacher’s effectiveness?

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Comments | More in News | Topics: teacher evaluation, teacher quality, test scores

July 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Round-up: Tacoma district eyes downtown building, Sequim grapples with transgender policies

Tacoma district considers buying downtown building for school (The News Tribune): Seattle isn’t the only local school district contemplating major real estate acquisitions. The Tacoma School Board plans to vote Friday on whether to pay $7.6 million for a downtown building and parking garage that would allow for an expansion of the popular Tacoma School of the Arts.

Judge rules against public disclosure of LA teacher performance (Los Angeles Times): Three California appellate judges have ruled the public does not have a right to know the names of teachers in relation to their job performance ratings. The decision overturns an earlier ruling ordering disclosure.

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July 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Uncool in middle school? That might be a good thing

Remember the cool kids in middle school? The ones classmates admired and longed to befriend? The ones whose rejections sent many of us into a funk?

If you’re still not over it, take heart. Turns out, as adults, the popular kids tend to slip to the other end of the social spectrum.

In a study published in Child Development, researchers from the University of Virginia found that by the time they reach their early 20s, many popular seventh-and eighth-graders are often viewed as socially inept.

The researchers tracked 184 students from 13 to 23. As young teens, they were all in the popular crowd, judged by interviews with peers and the students themselves.

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July 23, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Round-up: Sharp jump in teen use of growth hormone, UW and WWU named great places to work

Survey finds sharp jump in teen use of growth hormone (AP): The percentage of U.S. high school students who report using synthetic HGH at least once has more than doubled to 11 percent in the latest survey released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The substance is commonly sought after by young people who want to improve their athletic performance or enhance their looks.

UW, WWU make national list of top colleges to work forThe University of Washington and Western Washington University were included on the most recent “Great Colleges to Work For” list published by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The list was based on a survey of 43,000 college employees.

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July 23, 2014 at 5:00 AM

How are the kids? Improving in some areas, suffering in others

Housing starts and employment reports give us one picture of the state of our economy, and our nation.

But what about the state of our children and the indicators of their well-being — the percent without health insurance, for example, or the percent of families without even one securely employed adult?

For 25 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has tracked such numbers, which it argues are just as important to the nation’s future as our minute-by-minute watch of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

“Far more attention should be paid to child well-being indicators because everyone else’s future is wrapped up in theirs,” said Lori Pfingst, of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, one of the groups that works with the foundation to collect data in Washington state.

So how are the nation’s 74 million kids doing?

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Annie E. Casey Foundation, child well-being, Kids Count

July 22, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Round-up: WWU reports more grads finding jobs, men credited with saving school from wildfire

WWU reports more grads finding jobs (Skagit Valley Herald): A survey compiled by Western Washington University finds 82 percent of graduates who earned degrees in 2012-13 found employment within six months, up from a low of 68.7 percent during the recession. The average starting salary for respondents was down about 4 percent from last year, however.

Men credited with saving Pateros school from wildfire (NBC News): Augustine Morales and a friend used a hose system on their truck to fight back flames approaching the Pateros K-12 school. The building has been used as a relief center after the massive blaze destroyed more than 150 of the town’s homes.

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