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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 22, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Round-up: Blind mom sues Seattle schools, Calif. community colleges could offer 4-year degrees

Blind mom sues Seattle schools over website accessiblity (AP): Noel Nightingale, a mother with three children in Seattle Public Schools, filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging the district of discrimination. Nightingale, who is blind, says the district’s website and math software are not compatible with technology that blind people use to access the Internet.

Calif. community colleges could soon offer four-year degrees (Los Angeles Times): State lawmakers in California are considering a proposal that would allow 15 community college districts to temporarily offer one four-year degree each. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego), says the legislation is in response to mounting costs at the state’s four-year public universities.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

August 22, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Seattle ‘maker party’ promotes Internet literacy, carrots included

Anyone who’s ever wanted to get their feet wet making something for the web instead of just surfing it should join the “maker party” Friday evening at the Seattle Central Library.

The two-day party, which started Thursday, is free and open to anyone 12 and older who would like to tinker with programming languages such as Python, JavaScript and Ruby on Rails, work with volunteer mentors on a web project, or even build a robot.

Scene from a previous Mozilla Makers party. Photo courtesy Mozilla.

Scene from a previous Mozilla Makers party. Photo courtesy Mozilla.

It’s one of several hands-on opportunities in the Seattle area to become a producer of digital culture rather than just a consumer.

“Maker Party Pop-Up Seattle” is part of an annual 60-day cycle of volunteer-run events in hundreds of cities around the world.  They are all organized by Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser, to promote web literacy.

One of the local party hosts is the Seattle branch of Geek Girls Carrots, an international organization that brings together communities of girls and women interested in computer technology and professionals already in the field.


Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: coding, Computer technology, STEM

August 21, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Round-up: Seattle schools to review assault policies, Duncan says states can delay teacher evals

Seattle schools to review policies after alleged sexual assaultInterim Seattle Superintendent Larry Nyland announced Wednesday that senior staff will review how the district handles sexual-assault complaints following allegations that a male Garfield High School student raped a female classmate on an overnight field trip in 2012. The girls’ parents have filed a Title IX complaint, which is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Duncan says states can delay test-based teacher evaluations by a year (The New York Times): States can delay incorporating student test scores into teacher evaluations for a year, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Thursday. “I believe testing issues are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” Duncan wrote on his blog.


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August 21, 2014 at 5:00 AM

It ain’t flashy but it works: Get personal and schools improve

Becka Gross, right, walks with student Taylor Trimming to class earlier this week at Denny Middle School in West Seattle. Gross belongs to a group called City Year, which works in designated middle schools to encourage better attendance and tutor students. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

City year tutor Becka Gross, right, walks with student Taylor Trimming to class at Denny Middle School in West Seattle. City Year is a nonprofit that works in designated middle schools to encourage better attendance and tutor students. The program was featured in an Education Lab story last fall. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

In the search for answers to problems in education, the go-to phrase employed by everyone, on all sides, is this: There are no magic bullets. Well, there might be one, but it’s squishy-sounding, labor-intensive and difficult to measure.

In every full-length Education Lab story we reported over the past year — each demonstrating clear gains in public schools — one constant echoes: the power of relationships.

Schools that are turning the corner point to this over and over, a focus on forging solid, sustained, one-on-one relationships — primarily between teachers and students.


Comments | More in News | Topics: ed reform, relationships

August 20, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Round-up: Cartoon characters defend liberal arts on Twitter

Higher-ed council uses Twitter to defend liberal arts (The Chronicle of Higher Education): The Council of Independent Colleges has created two cartoon characters — Libby and Art — to defend the liberal arts under the handle @smartcolleges. The main purpose of the effort is to respond to negative publicity about the value of liberal-arts degrees, the council said.

Kids’ drawings could signal future thinking skills (KUOW): A study published in the journal Psychological Science has found kids’ self portraits might say a lot about their future thinking skills. Children who added more body parts when asked to draw a picture of a person tended to score better on intelligence tests at age 14.


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August 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

More minorities aim for college, but academic preparation lags

ACT graf

Results from Washington students who took the ACT. In 2014, the total was about 14,000. Credit: ACT

First, the good news: In just four years, the number of Hispanic students taking the ACT college entrance exam in Washington state has nearly doubled, suggesting that significantly more minority youth here aim to pursue higher education. And overall, Washington students scored two points higher than the national average on the country’s most widely administered college-readiness test.

Yet in other areas, the results, released Wednesday, underscored a series of troubling trends:


Comments | More in News | Topics: ACT test, college readiness

August 19, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Round-up: Cost of raising child up to $245K, UW medicine program ranked No. 3 best in world

Cost of raising a child up to $245,340 (AP): It will cost middle-income U.S. parents nearly a quarter-million dollars on average to raise a child born in the year 2013, according to the latest projection from the Agriculture Department. The figure, which accounts for food, housing, childcare and education through age 18, is up 1.8 percent from 2012.

California teens arrested over alleged school-shooting plot (USA Today): Police say two male students, ages 16 and 17, have acknowledged they were planning to shoot three staff members and random students at South Pasadena High School in South Pasadena, Calif. The pair were arrested Monday after police received a tip from someone in the community.


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August 19, 2014 at 5:00 AM

It’s OK to boldly split infinitives, says Harvard psychologist

English teachers take notice.

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker says in a recent article in The Guardian that it’s important to distinguish between legitimate grammar rules that “lubricate comprehension” and musty admonitions based on pet peeves, crackpot theories and superstitions that “impede clear and graceful prose.”

Some of the latter include:

Ending sentences with prepositions

The prohibition against clause-final prepositions is considered a superstition even by the language mavens, and it persists only among know-it-alls who have never opened a dictionary or style manual to check.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Grammar, Psychology

August 18, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Round-up: Two preschool measures headed to ballot, woman gets Bothell diploma 51 years later

Judge rules two Seattle preschool measures will appear on ballot: King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert ruled Friday that Initiative 107, which seeks better wages and training for child-care workers, and the city-sponsored preschool plan that’s backed by a property-tax levy are two alternative measures addressing the same subject. Under state law, the November ballot will direct voters to first decide whether either measure should pass and then, regardless of how they answered the first question, choose between the two options.

Former Bothell student gets diploma 51 years later: After becoming pregnant at age 17, Sandra Lantz was asked to leave Bothell High School four months shy of graduation in 1963. On Saturday, Northshore School District Superintendent Larry Francois bestowed her with a legal high-school diploma during a ceremony organized by a former classmate.


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August 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Local college-completion effort draws White House’s attention

What does Washington state have to teach White House policy leaders about higher education?

Quite a bit, it turns out.

Three Washington community college presidents — Amy Morrison Goings of Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Jean Hernandez of Edmonds Community College and Chris Bailey of Lower Columbia College in Longview — went to Washington, D.C., last week to be part of a White House summit on community colleges.

Here is what Morrison Goings had to say about what happened at the meeting (some comments have been edited for space and clarity):

Q: This was your second visit to the White House this year. What were the meetings about?

A: The first meeting, in January, was the College Opportunity Summit, and at that meeting the president and first lady — as well as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — spoke about how to increase the numbers of low-income students moving into higher education. The focus was best practices and ideas about how to move more low-income students into private, selective institutions. We were one of a few community colleges represented out of about 100 institutions.

The White House staff heard loud and clear the we are not going to solve this nation’s challenges of moving more low-income youth into higher education without the community colleges being front and center. We educate 40 percent of our nation’s low-income youth at 1,200 two-year colleges, so we’ve got to be part of the solution.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Community colleges, remediation

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