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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
August 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

How to improve schools? Some students say: Lower class size

Over six days in the past few weeks, 13 high school students, about to enter 12th grade, tackled a tough question: Is education equitable in Seattle, and if it’s not, why?

The students are all part of the prestigious Rainier Scholars program, selected in part because most hope to be the first in their families to attend college. From the time they’re in middle school, the program offers participants a big dose of academic enrichment, along with leadership training and social-emotional support.

Rainier Scholars Cohort VII

Students in Cohort VII in the Rainier Scholars program, who spent a half-dozen days this summer researching educational equity in Seattle. Photos courtesy of Rainier Scholars.

When it came time to present their findings,  the students clicked through Power Points full of statistics — everything from data showing that Ballard High’s PTA often raises more in one year than Franklin High does in 10, to maps showing how far students from low-income neighborhoods have to travel if they want to attend many of the city’s best-performing schools.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: class size, Rainier Scholars

August 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Round-up: Beacon Hill school under review for test scores, Oklahoma loses NCLB waiver

Beacon Hill school under review after sharp jump in test scores: State officials are investigating the Seattle elementary school after its most recent test scores included sharp increases in math and reading. Overall, the statewide scores that were released Wednesday showed no significant changes from the previous year.

Oklahoma becomes second state to lose No Child Left Behind waiver (Politico): Federal education officials confirmed Thursday that Oklahoma will become the second state to lose its No Child Left Behind waiver, two months after Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill repealing the state’s adoption of Common Core. State officials had begun to draft new standards to replace Common Core but failed to complete their work prior to submitting the request for a waiver extension.

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August 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington loses more college students than it gains

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

When he was president of  the State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNYIT), Bjong “Wolf” Yeigh was well aware of New York’s brain-drain problem: The state’s bountiful numbers of college students didn’t stick around after graduation.

Now that he’s chancellor of the University of Washington Bothell, Yeigh finds he’s in a state with education issues that are, in some respects, the opposite.

New York, which is home to hundreds of small liberal arts colleges, attracts more college students than it loses to other states. In fall 2012, for example, federal data shows that about 33,000 of New York’s first-time college students (primarily freshmen)  left the state to go to college elsewhere. But about 39,000 students from other states moved to New York to go to college, more than making up for the loss.

Yeigh was analyzing the data this year and was surprised to learn that Washington experiences the opposite effect. In fact, it’s one of only 11 states with a net loss of first-time college students.

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Comments | Topics: College-going, higher ed, UW-Bothell

August 27, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Round-up: Louisiana Gov. Jindal sues over Common Core, local schools install cameras on buses

Louisiana Gov. Jindal files lawsuit over Common Core (AP): Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, saying the federal government’s implementation of Common Core violates the state sovereignty clause in the U.S. Constitution. Critics have dismissed Jindal’s efforts as mere political pandering.

Local schools install cameras on buses to catch traffic violators (AP): The Bethel School District in South Pierce County and the Highline School District in South King County are launching pilot programs that use cameras to catch drivers breaking traffic laws. The cameras, manufactured and maintained by American Traffic Solutions, will take photos and video of motorists who illegally drive around the buses’ red stop-sign paddles.

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August 27, 2014 at 10:56 AM

State test results for 2014: Some ups and downs

Update at 3:30 p.m.:  For a fuller story, see the Associated Press coverage here.

Original post:  Results from this year’s state tests showed ups and downs, in the last year that most students will take them, the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction reported Wednesday.

Next year, the state will switch to a set of exams called Smarter Balanced, which are tied to the new Common Core learning standards. Most states have agreed to use the Common Core, replacing a system in which each state has its own learning goals for each grade and subject.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, OSPI, test scores

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

August 27, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Child care costs in King County among highest in nation

Child care costs in King County are among the highest in the nation, but it’s not because child care providers are making out like bandits, according to a report issued today by Puget Sound Sage, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income families.

One example of how high costs are here: A single mother making $33,500 a year, the median income in King County, makes too much money for a subsidy. But she would have to spend 52 percent of her salary to cover the market rate for one infant at a child care center, according to the report, authored by Nicole Vallestero Keenan, policy director for Puget Sound Sage.

Graphic courtesy Puget Sound Sage

Graphic courtesy Puget Sound Sage

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Child care, early ed, preschool

August 26, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Round-up: Elite colleges struggle to draw poor students, Michigan teachers weigh union opt-out

Selective colleges still struggle to draw low-income students (The New York Times): Federal surveys have found no significant change in the number of low-income students who enrolled in elite colleges between the 1990s and 2012. Critics say colleges’ ongoing focus on rankings and financial concerns has prevented them from following through on rhetoric about wanting to be more economically diverse.

Michigan teachers must decide whether to stay in union (AP): Union reps and pro-business groups are lobbying for the affection of Michigan teachers, who will individually decide this month whether they want to remain in the Michigan Education Association. Michigan’s new right-to-work law gives educators there an opt-out option.

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August 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Best bang for your college buck? UW ranks 6th

A wide range of institutions and publications will be rolling out national — in some cases, international — college and university rankings in the coming weeks. In this space, we’ll take note of some of the most interesting ones.

The national magazine Washington Monthly tries to downplay prestige and play up value in its “Best Bang for the Buck” list, with rankings based on the economic value students receive per dollar. Among national universities, that list puts the University of Washington-Seattle at number 6. Washington State University ranks 45th. 

Among master’s-degree-granting universities, UW-Bothell ranks 5th, and The Evergreen State College ranks 17th. Central Washington University comes in at 29th, and Western Washington University at 32nd.

Among all schools in the country, regardless of the highest degree awarded, UW-Bothell ranks 5th, and UW-Seattle ranks 15th.

The monthly magazine also has a second, broader ranking that looks at more than money.  For that list, it “asks not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students, or just catering to the affluent? Are they improving the quality of their teaching, or ducking accountability for it?”

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Comments | More in News | Topics: University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University

August 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Is your college financially stable?

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Earlier this year, the six Washington campuses of Everest College, a for-profit school,  were put up for sale after the parent company ran into financial and legal hot water.

That raises interesting questions for students: How do you know if your college is financially sound? And should you be worried if it isn’t?

The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit education news site out of New York, recently suggested five steps you can take to make sure the college you’re attending is financially solid. (The issue applies to nonprofit and for-profit schools, since public colleges and universities aren’t going to run into the kinds of financial problems that would force a closure unless the state itself runs out of money.)

It’s worth paying attention to the financial soundness of your school because, as the Hechinger Report notes, students attending a college that abruptly closes must find another place to continue their education, and they may find it difficult to get credit for the classes they took at the closing school. It can also be challenging to transfer student loan paperwork. And a shuttered college will likely be diminished in the eyes of employers.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Corinthian Colleges, for-profit colleges, higher ed

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