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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
October 20, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Round-up: Private tutors return to local districts, quality of words key to language skills

Federally-funded tutoring returns to Pierce County districts (The News-Tribune): Students at dozens of schools in Pierce County will qualify for free private tutoring following the loss of Washington’s No Child Left Behind waiver. The programs are scheduled to being in November, and hundreds of families in Tacoma Public Schools have already signed up, although response has been slower in some suburban districts.

Quality of words key to kids’ language development (The New York Times): The quality of verbal interaction between parents and young children is more important than the quantity of words spoken, according to an academic study presented at the White House last week. UW researcher Patricia K. Kuhl, one of the study’s authors, says she is worried that messages like “close the word gap” could oversimplify what needs to be done to prevent poorer children from lagging behind their more affluent peers.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

October 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Free Seattle college fair features 325 schools

Mark your calendars: The Seattle National College Fair, a free event that brings 325 colleges and universities to Seattle for a weekend, will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 this year at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

The event gives students and their families the chance to gather up reams of brochures and leaflets about the colleges, ask questions of admissions representatives and learn about financial aid offerings. Participants include two- and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, including many from outside the United States.

The event is always highly recommended for high-school juniors, as well as seniors, because it can help younger students get a handle on what the admission process is all about.

The fair runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 31, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Nov. 1.


Comments | More in News | Topics: college, college fair, higher education

October 17, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Round-up: Janitor says 9 had access to test booklets, magazine names ‘America’s worst colleges’

Janitor says 9 people had access to Beacon Hill tests: The saga of suspicious tests at Beacon Hill International School continues, with a janitor reporting that nine people had keys to a closet where the exam booklets were stored. Seattle Public Schools has not commented on issues surrounding access to the tests.

D.C. magazine picks ‘America’s worst colleges’ (NPR): Washington Monthly has taken a different approach to the traditional college rankings list. Taking into account rates for tuition, graduation and student debt, the magazine has assembled several different lists of schools it’s labeled the “worst” in the country.


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October 17, 2014 at 5:00 AM

UW viral video: Toddler leaves toy alone to avoid an adult’s anger

Move over marshmallow test, there’s a new video showing the struggles of a toddler to control his impulses and it comes right out of the University of Washington.

The new UW video — which has tallied more than 750,000 hits since it was posted 10 days ago  re-enacts an experiment in a study from the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences that is published in the current issue of the journal, Cognitive Development.

The researchers wanted to find out if 15-month-old children could resist the natural urge to copy an adult playing with a toy by figuring out that doing so would make someone else mad at them.

Turns out they can.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, social and emotional learning, University of Washington

October 16, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Round-up: Beacon Hill tests stored in janitor’s closet, LA schools chief steps down

Beacon Hill tests were stored in janitor’s closet: A Seattle Times investigation has found student test booklets at Beacon Hill International School were stored for weeks in a janitor’s closet  a common practice that raised flags during a recent internal audit. State officials announced Tuesday they were invalidating the school’s test scores due to heavy erasure marks.

L.A. Superintendent John Deasy resigns (AP): LA schools chief John Deasy stepped down from his post today, amid ongoing controversy over use of technology in the district’s classrooms. He had also clashed with the school board and teacher’s union on several issues.


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October 16, 2014 at 5:00 AM

School chiefs concede: Too much testing crowds out learning

As in politics, education-speak generates incessant reading of the tea leaves. So Wednesday’s statement from state education chiefs calling for more “rationality, coherence and purpose” in student testing sounded, possibly, like an admission that those things are lacking.

In New York, for example, State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said testing “sometimes even crowds out time for student learning.”

That’s about as blunt as state school officials get. Even U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan took up their call: “In some places, tests  and preparation for them  are dominating the calendar and culture of schools,” he said.

Whoa. Are the backers of Common Core State Standards (and the tests that come with them) waving a white flag? Extending an olive branch to teachers and parents who have pushed back with increasing vigor against standardized testing?


Comments | More in News | Topics: Arne Duncan, common core, standardized testing

October 15, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Round-up: Montana considers $37-million pre-K plan, Catholic colleges rethink religious outreach

Montana governor pitches $37-million pre-K program (AP): Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) has proposed a $37 million early education proposal that would give public schools grants to create or expand preschool programs. Several Republican lawmakers in Montana have questioned whether the plan is the best use for the state’s education dollars.

Senator calls on schools to end anti-smoking partnership (The Hill): Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is calling on the National School Boards Association not to partner with the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company on a campaign called “Right Decision Right Now.” The senator has argued the message simply encourages students to delay use of tobacco until they are adults, rather than offering them compelling reasons not to smoke.


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October 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Kids need a second chance to make a first impression

Kids’ reputations often precede them as they move from grade to grade, with teachers giving each other a heads up about who’s a troublemaker and who’s likely to ace every assignment.

But Brooke Perry, a sixth-grade teacher in the Kent School District, says she’s learned to keep an open mind about her students, regardless of what she’s heard about them, according to a recent post she wrote reflecting on her first month of the new school year for the Puget Sound Educational Service District.

Full disclosure: kids change. Here’s another hard hitting fact: not all student-teacher relationships are created equal. Because of these two things, I’m come to understand that I cannot rely solely on word of mouth, and that it is absolutely paramount to allow time to build your own unique relationship with your new students, before passing judgment.

Word of mouth is not the only way that teachers can form misleading snap judgments about students.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Teacher-student relationships

October 14, 2014 at 2:57 PM

State invalidates test scores at Seattle elementary school

Editor’s note: Read an updated version of this story here.

The state is throwing out some of the spring test scores for a Seattle elementary school after finding heavy erasure marks on the test booklets. The invalidated scores are for the reading and math exams taken by students in grades 3, 4 and 5.

Seattle Public Schools asked for the review of Beacon Hill International School’s test scores in August after results showed that passage rates in math and reading were dramatically higher than the year before.

No school or district employees have been placed on administrative leave as a result of the investigation’s findings, school district spokeswoman Stacy Howard said.

“Our independent investigator is continuing to investigate,” Howard said. “Unfortunately, we still don’t know who’s responsible.”

It’s the first time the state has  done a schoolwide review of test scores since testing began in 1997.


Comments | More in News | Topics: test scores

October 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Round-up: Poll shows I-1351 with 42-point lead, UW trustee dinner meetings draw criticism

New poll shows class-size initiative with 42-point lead: I-1351, the statewide initiative that would reduce K-12 class sizes, is favored by 66 percent of respondents in a Elway Poll of 500 registered voters. Education reporter John Higgins wrote about the initiative’s cost and other concerns over the weekend.

UW dinner meetings draw criticism: A lawsuit filed by a small animal-rights group has raised questions about the University of Washington’s practice of hosting trustee dinner meetings at the president’s residence two miles south of campus. Kirkland City Council member Toby Nixon, who serves as president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, says the meetings are “on the hairy edge of compliance” with the state’s Open Public Meetings Act.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

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