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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
February 12, 2015 at 1:24 PM

Roundup: UW names provost as interim president; national high-school grad rates rise again

UW appoints provost Ana Mari Cauce as interim president: Provost Ana Mari Cauce will take over for departing University of Washington president Michael Young on March 2, the UW Board of Regents announced Thursday. Cauce, 59, has worked at the university for nearly three decades.

National high-school grad rates up for third year in a row (The Washington Post): Eighty-one percent of students across the country graduated on time in 2013, according to new federal data released Thursday. The figure is up one percentage point from 2012 and two percentage points from 2011.


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February 12, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Study: Washington teachers rank high in commitment to their work

Washington teachers are more committed to teaching than their peers in the nation’s 15 biggest states, a recent Gallup poll suggests.

About 35 percent of the state’s teachers are actively engaged in their work, by the poll’s estimation, meaning teachers here are excited about and committed to teaching. Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts teachers ranked the lowest in Gallup’s study, finishing with just 22 to 26 percent of teachers at that level.  

Gallup’s results are based on interviews with more than 16,000 teachers between 2011 to 2014, asking each a series of questions about how the workplace affects performance.

The study defined actively engaged teachers as those who know the scope of their jobs and constantly look for new and better ways to meet their goals. Researchers said teachers who are not engaged may be satisfied with their jobs, but aren’t emotionally connected to their workplace and are unlikely to devote extra effort to the classroom. Actively disengaged teachers — the study’s lowest rating — are unhappy and that unhappiness affects their coworkers.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Gallup, Principals, teaching

February 11, 2015 at 8:02 PM

Seattle schools’ general counsel Ron English put on administrative leave

Ron English The Seattle Public Schools general counsel has been placed on administrative leave, the school district confirmed Wednesday.  Ron English has been removed from his “regular work environment for an indefinite period of time,” Superintendent Larry Nyland wrote in a letter addressed to district colleagues. Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Stacy Howard confirmed the leave Wednesday…


Comments | More in News, Seattle Public Schools | Topics: Ron English

February 11, 2015 at 12:28 PM

Roundup: Seattle charter school faces second probe; Highline bond falls short — again

Seattle charter school faces new state investigation: First Place Scholars, Washington’s first charter school, is facing a second probe from the state commission that governs charter schools. This time around, investigators are examining how well the school is sticking to its original educational program and whether teachers are adequately tracking student progress.

Highline construction bond falls short: A $376-million bond measure from Highline Public Schools has once again fallen short of the 60 percent needed for approval, according to early returns counted Tuesday night. An operating levy that required a simple majority was passing, however.


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February 11, 2015 at 5:00 AM

On the agenda: GOP ed event, parent summit, teen sleep panel

School’s out for Presidents Day on Feb. 16, but education events pick up soon afterward, including these three:

  • Feb. 17: A Twitter and Facebook live conversation with ranking Republican members on education issues in the Washington State House of Representatives.
  • Feb. 21: Parent/family engagement summit at Seattle Public Schools with keynote from National PTA president Ortha Thornton.
  • Feb. 23: Seattle Town Hall, “Start School Later, Let Teens Sleep” panel discussion on teen sleep science.

Comments | More in News | Topics: on the agenda, parent engagement, PTA

February 10, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Roundup: State funding lured Young to Texas; SPS about $10 million short in building auction

State spending lured UW president Michael Young to Texas: Along with a bigger salary, outgoing University of Washington president Michael Young will have more state funding at his disposal when he takes over at Texas A&M. The Lone Star State allocates about about 20 percent more money per student in its public colleges than Washington does.

Seattle district not even close to winning downtown building auction: Representatives for Seattle Public Schools say the district dropped out of the auction for the downtown federal reserve building when the bidding climbed above $5.8 million. The vacant building, which the district had hoped to turn into an elementary school, will go to the unidentified party who placed the winning $16-million bid.


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February 10, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Annals of a college parent: Keeping tabs on your kid

Back in December, I wrote about how my husband and I were fretting over the likelihood that our son, a freshman at Western Washington University, was going to end up taking more than four years to graduate. That’s the norm these days at many public universities.

As parents of college students, we’re not privy to any of the progress reports, grades, even class schedules that we used to get when our kids were younger. How do we strike a proper balance that keeps us from becoming helicopter parents, yet doesn’t give our son too much free rein — an approach that can be costly to us if he makes an academic mistake?

Kelly Shea / The Seattle Times

Kelly Shea / The Seattle Times

Recently, I received an excellent set of tips from reader Marlo Del Mundo, a Bellevue parent whose son is in his fourth year at the University of Washington in mechanical engineering. Like us, the Del Mundos are paying for most of their son’s college education. They’ve struck some sensible deals with him.

Since they’re footing the bill, they require their son to give them access to his schedule and grades. They sit down with him every quarter to go over his course path, and they also require him to do the same with an academic adviser.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Annals of a college parent, higher education

February 9, 2015 at 1:27 PM

Roundup: SPS loses building auction; teachers’ biases influence STEM choices, study finds

Seattle district loses bid for downtown building: A winning $16-million bid for the downtown federal reserve building did not come from Seattle Public Schools, district officials confirmed over the weekend. The district had wanted to turn the vacant building into a school; the identity of the winning bidder has not been released.

Study: Teachers key in encouraging girls to pursue STEM (The New York Times): A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds teachers have significant early influence on whether female students go on to pursue careers in math and science. Unconscious biases, the study found, caused teachers in Israel to grade girls more harshly in these subjects, and fewer of these students went on to take advanced courses.


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February 9, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Slow down: Math prof says timed testing can harm skills

Photo by Andrew Laker / AP

Photo by Andrew Laker / AP

Memorizing multiplication tables may be a seminal school experience, among the few that kids today share with their grandparents. But a Stanford University professor says rapid-fire math drills are also the reason so many children fear and despise the subject.

Moreover, the traditional approach to math instruction — memorization, timed testing and the pressure to speedily arrive at answers — may actually damage advanced-level skills by undermining the development of a deeper understanding about the ways numbers work.

“There is a common and damaging misconception in mathematics — the idea that strong math students are fast math students,” says Jo Boaler, who teaches math education at the California university and has authored a new paper, “Fluency Without Fear.”

In fact, many mathematicians are not speedy calculators, Boaler says. Laurent Schwartz, the French mathematician whose work is considered key to the theory of partial differential equations, wrote that as a student he often felt stupid because he was among the slowest math-thinkers in class.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Lakeridge Elementary, math instruction

February 6, 2015 at 1:23 PM

Roundup: Teach for America struggles with recruitment; bill would limit vaccine exemptions

Teach for America struggles with recruitment (The New York Times): Applications for the program have dropped for the second year in a row, amid criticism about its short training period and the political leanings of its donors. The organization says its struggles are due to a rebounding economy that’s made it tougher to draw top candidates away from other, more lucrative job prospects.

Everett seeks funds to expand all-day kindergarten (The Herald): Everett Public Schools plans to introduce all-day kindergarten at four new schools next year, if the state can pay for some of the existing programs that are funded by the district. The state is legally obligated to fund all-day kindergarten by 2017-2018, but some districts, like Everett, have already started chipping in money for their own programs.


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