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

Topic: Arne Duncan

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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

April 8, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Power of parents: Education department issues new guidelines for family engagement

Parent involvement, family engagement — whatever you want to call it, the link between parents and education is getting a lot of attention these days.

On Tuesday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a new set of guidelines that schools and districts could use to form partnerships with families. Called the Dual Capacity Framework, the plan encourages states and school districts to train staff and parents on how they can work together.

“When parents are involved in the educational process of their children, students are more likely to attend school regularly, to take more rigorous courses, earn higher grades, graduate, and go on to both college and careers,” Duncan said in an introductory video.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Arne Duncan, parent engagement

November 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Reality check: Was high praise warranted for state’s performance on NAEP?

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is trumpeting Washington state’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a set of tests that a sample of students take every few years in selected grades and subjects.

On Wednesday, his office issued a news release with a link to hear U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan praise Washington for its gains this year.

But the picture isn’t quite that simple.

Washington students’ scores did go up and, in a simple ranking, went up more than most other states.  But according to a critique by Tom Loveless, such rankings lose a lot of meaning when the tests’ margin of error are taken into account. For those who want to dive deep into the details, Loveless provides it.

For those who just want the conclusion: Washington did improve, but not as much as Duncan’s message may make it sound.  And when it comes to overall scores, it’s really only safe to say that Washington ranks somewhere in the middle.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Arne Duncan, NAEP, Randy Dorn

October 31, 2013 at 7:30 AM

Arne Duncan: College rating system to spotlight good deals for the money

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Going to college has never been more important — or more expensive — says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The federal Department of Education is working on a college rating system, expected to go live next fall, that will promote college affordability and value.

In a telephone press conference with reporters Wednesday, Duncan discussed elements that will likely be part of the rating system.

He was deliberately short on specifics, emphasizing that the ratings system doesn’t exist yet, and won’t be drafted until after a series of four public forums and other meetings to determine what measures should be included. (Only one of the forums will take place on the West Coast, in California on Nov. 6. More details are available here.)

Duncan called the nation’s higher-education system “the best system in the world, but a very inefficient system (with) a tremendous lack of transparency.”


Comments | More in News | Topics: Arne Duncan, college, higher ed