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Education Lab Blog

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

Category: News
January 27, 2015 at 1:50 PM

Roundup: D.C. Head Start struggles with attendance; Inslee cap-and-trade bill gets hearing

Inslee cap-and-trade bill will have hearing today: State lawmakers will hold their first hearing today for Gov. Jay Inslee’s massive cap-and-trade bill, which would provide an estimated $947 million in 2017 for K-12 education, transportation, and other expenditures. The bill would set a statewide cap on carbon emissions and require the biggest polluters to buy allowances to offset the carbon they emit.

D.C. Head Start struggles with attendance (The Washington Post): More than a quarter of the students enrolled in Washington, D.C.’s public Head Start program were chronically absent last year, according to two new reports. Other studies have found similar rates of absenteeism at public preschools in Baltimore and New York City.


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January 27, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Key Democratic committee condemns Common Core

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

The governing body of the Washington State Democratic Party voted to condemn the educational benchmarks known as the Common Core at a party meeting in Olympia on Saturday, saying private and corporate interests pushed the reading and math standards without evidence they will improve student learning.

A resolution, adopted by the party’s Central Committee, asks state lawmakers and schools chief Randy Dorn to revoke the standards, which Washington — like most states — adopted in 2011.

David Spring, a leader in the party’s progressive caucus and a precinct committee officer from North Bend, announced the resolution on a website he and two other teachers created to publicize their viewpoints.


Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, David Spring, Olympia Watch

January 26, 2015 at 2:01 PM

Roundup: Suburban districts face surging enrollments; Obama proposal would tax college savings

Suburban districts face surging enrollments: Seattle isn’t the only local school district dealing with overcrowding. Several suburban districts are also growing faster than the state average while struggling to pass bonds to pay for new schools.

Obama administration proposes taxing college savings accounts: A proposal laid out by President Obama in last week’s State of the Union address would end the tax-free status of college savings accounts and prepaid tuition plans. The director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program said the plan would be “devastating” if it’s passed by Congress.


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January 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM

The growth of language/social skills may start with parents’ gaze

Somewhere around 10 months of age, babies begin watching their parents’ eyes, following the direction of their gaze so that they can look at the same things.

It goes like this: Baby looks into mother’s eyes, mother looks at the kitty cat, so baby follows her gaze until they’re both looking at the kitty cat together.

That’s long been considered an essential skill for later social and intellectual development — and it’s one of the things doctors check for when diagnosing autism. But it has been unclear how the ability is linked to everything else unfolding in a young child’s brain.

Now researchers at the University of Washington are beginning to connect the dots between gaze-following at 10 months of age and skills that emerge later such as language and the ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences

January 25, 2015 at 7:28 AM

Sunday story: Discipline approach stresses intervention over suspension

2025538486After a decade in classrooms, cheering on young people and believing in their progress, David Levine’s faith finally wilted. Three of his top students had walked into the front office at Big Picture High School reeking of marijuana at the precise moment that a donor stopped by with a $1,000 grant for new sound equipment.

Years ago, Levine might have recommended suspension for each young woman. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, went his general thinking, right in line with prevailing American beliefs.

But discipline at Big Picture in the Highline School District has changed. In the process, its teachers have, too.

Rule breaking is now treated as harm done to a relationship — in this case, that between Levine and his students — rather than a reason to mete out punishment.

Go here for the full story.


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January 23, 2015 at 2:09 PM

Roundup: French schools will add more civics lessons; bill would offer info on sudden cardiac arrest

Following terrorist attacks, France plans to add more civics lessons (The New York Times): Officials in Paris have announced new measures to promote more secular values in schools following a string of terrorist attacks conducted by Muslim extremists. The plans call for students to receive more lessons in civics and morals and the role of the media in society.

Minority students make up disproportionate share of homeless population (KPLU): One out of every 10 homeless students in Washington is black, even though black students account for just 5 percent of the overall student population. During the last school year, more than 32,000 students across the state were homeless — the highest figure since such record keeping began.


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January 23, 2015 at 5:00 AM

UW reviewing record number of freshman applications

The University of Washington's Seattle campus. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2010.

The University of Washington’s Seattle campus. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2010.

The admissions staff at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus has a lot of work cut out for them this winter. The university received a record 36,528 freshman applications for the 2015 academic year, 16 percent more than last year.

Those applications included 11,278 applications from Washington students, compared with 10,541 last year. (These numbers could change — some students may later be classified as in-state residents if their families move here, or they are found to be claiming Washington residency when they don’t qualify.) About two-thirds of available slots in the freshman class are reserved for state residents.

The university continues to receive an ever-increasing number of applications from outside the state; this year, there was a 19 percent increase in applications from out-of-state students overall, and a whopping 31 percent increase in applications from California. Other states with big increases: Massachusetts (29 percent), Illinois (27 percent), Texas (25 percent), Minnesota (24 percent) and New York (23 percent).


Comments | More in News | Topics: admissions, higher education, University of Washington

January 22, 2015 at 1:49 PM

Roundup: SPS decides to bid on federal reserve building; students leave billions in aid unclaimed

Seattle School Board decides to bid on vacant downtown building: In a change of course, the Seattle School Board voted Wednesday to bid in an auction for the vacant downtown federal reserve building in the hopes of turning it into an elementary school. The board had previously voted against acquiring the site for free, which would have required the district to remodel the school within three years or face fines.

Students leave billions of unclaimed financial aid on the table (Nerd Wallet): Using federal data, financial news website Nerd Wallet estimates high-school graduates nationwide left more than $2.9 billion in federal Pell grants unclaimed in 2013 by not filling out the FAFSA. The analysis assumes the rate of Pell eligibility is the same among students who did complete the application as it is among those who failed to do so.


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January 22, 2015 at 5:00 AM

U.S. schools: Glass half full or draining fast? Actually, both

The Iceberg Effect in U.S. schools. Screen shot from the Superintendents Roundtable report.

The Iceberg Effect in U.S. schools. Screen shot from the Superintendents Roundtable report.

Americans have grown accustomed to the conventional wisdom that says our students, as a whole, don’t rank on the international stage — not as science-savvy, driven or literate as those in other developed countries.

But a coalition of school district superintendents say this belief seriously misinterprets the evidence. Considering the widespread poverty, violence, income inequality and other social stressors that U.S. kids negotiate en route to Graduation Day, the National Superintendents Roundtable says we actually perform amazingly well.

“We are insisting that a single number does not do justice to the complexity of any educational system, and particularly not to the U.S. system,” said James Harvey, executive director of the Roundtable. An Irish national, Harvey emigrated to America as a teenager, and said he likely would have dropped out of school were it not for the “second-chance” U.S. system.

On Tuesday, his Seattle-based group, composed of 100 chief educators from around the country, released “School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect,” a report ranking America against Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, Finland and China on a series of metrics key to school outcomes. They go far beyond the usual test-score horse race.


Comments | More in News | Topics: school outcomes

January 21, 2015 at 3:28 PM

Roundup: How free college tuition works in South Seattle; education and the State of the Union

How free community college works in South Seattle: The privately funded 13th Year Promise Scholarship automatically provides one free year at South Seattle College to students from three Seattle high schools. The program has been a success, with 43 percent of students who participate earning a two-year degree or certificate within six years.

California districts fail to comply with teacher-evaluation law (Los Angeles Times): A review of 26 school districts in California found that the overwhelming majority are failing to comply with a state law that requires student testing data  to factor into teacher evaluations. In some districts, collective bargaining agreements with teachers are presenting road blocks; others say they are in the process of revamping their evaluation systems.


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