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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: Question of the Week
June 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Your voices: Is it time to rethink student dress codes?

A group of New Jersey parents and students are pushing for a change to their school dress code, arguing rules about skirt length and tank tops unfairly target female students and promote stereotypes about gender and sexuality.

Echoing the sentiments of the #yesallwomen Twitter campaign, some are using the hashtag #iammorethanadistraction as a rallying point for those who feel that school dress codes are “normalizing the notion that girls’ bodies are a distraction.

“We begin to associate these ideas of girls: bad, need to cover up, (and) boys: animalistic, can’t control themselves,” student Sofia Petros, 16, says in a BBC America video report. The full video is posted here:

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: dress codes, your voices

June 14, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Your voices: What does STEM mean to you?

Armando Bravo

Armando Bravo


STEM for me is an opportunity for success.
What better way to experience the work field or major you would like to be in? Consider taking a STEM class — you won’t regret it.

Armando Bravo, Toppenish High School (Toppenish)

Daniel Doan

Daniel Doan

STEM is unity. It is that awareness of knowing who has what to offer — and everyone has something to offer. Simply put, it’s this idea of coming together as a whole to contribute that final product or that final play or that final grade.

—Daniel Doan, Cleveland High School (Seattle)

christinalindberg4

Christina Lindberg

STEM is the part of my education that is preparing me for the real world. As science expands, so should the material being taught in order to make kids ready for future jobs. It doesn’t help to teach the same curriculum they had 10 years ago because science has expanded since then, and so should the curriculum.

—Christina Lindberg, Inglemoor High School (Kenmore)

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: STEM, Toppenish High School, your voices

May 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Tell us: How did you figure out which career was right for you?

Many students begin college not knowing what sort of career they’d like to pursue after graduation. Many schools, meanwhile, lack the resources to help them figure it out or direct them to the appropriate coursework.

To combat low degree completion rates, Walla Walla Community college, the focus of our front-page Sunday story, has implemented a system that helps students zero in on their interests and stick to a strict academic schedule so they can quickly earn the credentials they need.

Our question this week: How did you figure out which career you wanted to pursue, and how to get the necessary training? Was college a pivotal point for this decision making, or did the process continue after you graduated? If you did not attend college, how did you end up with the job that you have?

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Community colleges, higher ed, Walla Walla

April 27, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Tell us: What’s the best way to help struggling students catch up?

Para-educator Stephanie Hedrick works with a  "walk to reading" group at Gildo Rey Elementary School in Auburn. "Walk to reading" is a program to help students improve their reading skills. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Para-educator Stephanie Hedrick works with a “walk to reading” group at Gildo Rey Elementary School in Auburn. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Teachers and administrators at Gildo Rey Elementary School in Auburn have spent 10 years testing out new instructional methods in the hopes of improving student test scores, even as its poverty rates were rising.

Teachers there use various methods, from breaking into small groups for focused math and reading lessons, to a call-and-answer approach commonly known as direct or explicit instruction.

Eventually, their hard work paid off. Last year, 90 percent of Gildo Rey third graders, 95 percent of fourth-graders and 88 percent of fifth-graders passed the state math test, with the rates in reading not far behind.

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March 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Students: How have guidance counselors helped you?

As more and more young people set their sights on higher education, high-school guidance counselors continue to serve an important role. For many students, they are the only people available to help walk them through college applications, standardized tests, financial-aid forms and personal essays.

In an upcoming story, Education Lab will examine the growing workload of high-school counselors and how certain programs are working to give students more one-on-one attention. In the meantime, we’re reaching out to current high-school students and recent graduates to get their take on the current role of the guidance counselor:

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: counselors, high school, higher ed

March 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM

How do you save money on textbooks?

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

The high cost of college textbooks is nothing new, but technology could be making it easier for students to pursue cheaper alternatives.

On Sunday, reporter Katherine Long wrote about how college students in Seattle and Tacoma are pushing their professors to seek out free or low-cost online versions of textbooks.

Several readers offered their own advice on how to avoid paying full price for textbooks. From online commenter “drthompson”:

“To save students money, I required the previous edition of the text that can often be found on eBay or Amazon for less than $20 rather than the $140 new version. So many basic topics don’t really change, so there’s no reason to line the pockets of the publishers simply because they decide to ‘update’ textbooks every two years!”

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: e-textbooks, higher ed, textbooks

February 28, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Taken AP courses? Share your experience with Education Lab

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Have you ever taken an Advanced Placement class, or a similar high school course for college credit? Education Lab wants to hear from you.

Our next story examines a new way of teaching AP courses that is being developed in partnership with the University of Washington. The new approach uses project-based learning as an alternative to a more traditional version of AP instruction focused on memorization and test preparation.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Advanced Placement, AP, high school

February 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM

What you wish you’d known about college ahead of time

We received several thoughtful responses to our most recent reader question, which asked: “What do you wish you had known about college ahead of time?”

The prompt was tied to our Sunday story about how mentoring programs at Western Washington University and the University of Washington are encouraging students to pursue post-secondary education by exposing them to the idea of college at a young age. Western’s program, called Compass 2 Campus, invites younger students to ask college kids whatever they’d like about campus life; the common questions can be both easy (“Do you live with your teachers?”) and more complicated (“What if you do not have money to go to college?”) to answer.

Here are a few examples of what our readers said they wish they had known about college when they were younger. Some responses have been edited for length and grammar.

I wish I’d been taught how to study. The primary way to get a study skills class in college is when you need remedial help. But how do you remediate what’s never been taught? I learned the hard way, and I eventually got it, but if there had been a class called How to Read in College, I’d have signed up right away.

—Drego Little, Seattle

I wish I had known to do more research about my major and what it would actually do for me job-wise. I don’t use my degree for my job now, and I keep hearing about many people who take out huge school loans and graduate with few job skills. I worked my way through school, which was not fun, but at least I got out of college debt free. With recent tuition hikes, getting out debt free is much harder, and students need to make sure the loans will be worth it.

—Michelle Jones, Everett

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Comments | More in Opinion, Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: college, Compass 2 Campus, higher ed

February 6, 2014 at 2:50 PM

What do you wish you would have known about college ahead of time?

WWU campus (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times 2011)

WWU campus (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times 2011)

For many young people, deciding to go to college isn’t really a decision at all. Whether it’s their parents, teachers or other role models, someone at some point makes it clear that higher education is part of their future.

The idea of college degree isn’t nearly as certain for other kids. In rural areas outside of Bellingham, for example, the percentage of high school graduates who go to college often lags the state and national average.

Our next full-length Education Lab story focuses on a mentoring program at Western Washington University called Compass 2 Campus. The idea behind Compass 2 Campus is simple: Convince kids that college is for them by exposing them to the idea of higher education — starting in fifth grade. Look for the story in print on online this Sunday, Feb. 9.

In the meantime, we’re interested to hear about readers’ own experiences surrounding higher education. Who first exposed you to the idea of college? Did you always see yourself on campus, or was it a struggle to get there? Even if you did not attend, what do you wish you would have known about college when you were younger?

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Compass 2 Campus, higher ed, Western Washington University

January 30, 2014 at 4:18 PM

State Senate introduces REAL Hope Act — what’s your reaction?

Speaking Thursday at a news conference in Olympia, Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) WA Sen. Barbara Bailey says the GOP's REAL Hope Act will "make college a reality" for more students. (Photo by Brian M. Rosenthal / The Seattle Times)

Speaking Thursday at a news conference in Olympia, Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) WA Sen. Barbara Bailey says the GOP’s REAL Hope Act will “make college a reality” for more students. (Photo by Brian M. Rosenthal / The Seattle Times)

State Senate leaders made a surprising shift Thursday afternoon by announcing they had reached agreement on Washington’s version of the “Dream Act.”

Called the “REAL (Real Educational Access, Changing Lives) Hope Act,” Senate Bill 6523 is nearly identical to House Bill 1817, which the Democrat-controlled House voted to approve on the first day of the 2014 session.

The measure would require applicants to have lived in Washington state for at least three years before receiving their high school diploma and to fall under the federal requirements for deferred action.

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Comments | More in Poll, Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Dream Act, financial aid, higher ed

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