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Education Lab Blog

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

Topic: question of the week

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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

January 9, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Question of the Week: Would you hire a high school dropout?

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Last week’s blog post about the societal costs of high school dropouts drew a strong response from readers. According to a 2011 study from Columbia University, the average dropout imposes a lifetime cost of about $235,680 in welfare payments, food stamp, criminal justice and medical care.

With more than 30,000 teens and young adults disconnected from school and lacking diplomas in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, the economic costs add up fast.

But the passage of ground-breaking legislation in 2010 made connecting dropouts with a diploma or other certification a renewed priority in Washington state. A popular Kent-based high school completion program called iGrad is the subject of Monday’s front-page story.

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December 17, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Question of the Week: How can your school improve in 2014?

December is a time when many people take stock of the previous year — and form aspirations for the 12 months to come. Amid all the vows to eat healthier and exercise more, we’re asking readers to think about what they’d like to see their school accomplish in 2014. If you could offer the principal of your (or your…

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December 7, 2013 at 4:35 PM

How have you seen parents and schools working together?

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We’re trying out something new with this Question of the Week.

Education Lab has partnered with the Public Insight Network (PIN), a division of American Public Media, in an effort to better engage our readers. PIN’s industry-leading online platform enables journalists to connect directly with potential sources in an effort to produce more meaningful coverage.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week | Topics: parent involvement, question of the week

December 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Your voices: Readers define ‘family engagement’

“Engagement” is a word that gets tossed around frequently in discussions surrounding K-12 education. But what exactly does it mean?

The National PTA recently highlighted the need for a common definition to the term on its website. We decided to pose the same question to Education Lab readers, but with an added challenge: Limit the definitions to no more than one full sentence. A selection of responses follows:

It would start with documented communication between the school and the parent.

—Charles R. Hoff, Kent

Family engagement simply means that families are active participants in their children’s education.

—Kezia Willingham, Seattle

An ongoing and purposeful, two-way, culturally appropriate relationship between schools and families resulting in positive academic, as well as peripheral effects for students.

—Joel Domingo, Seattle

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Comments | More in Opinion, Your voices | Topics: parent engagement, question of the week, your voices

November 25, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Question of the Week: How do you define “family engagement?”

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Illustration by Boo Davis / The Seattle Times

Engagement. It’s a word that frequently pops up in discussions about the role of parents and other community members in K-12 education. But what exactly does it mean?

The National PTA highlighted the need for a common definition to the term on its website today.

Sherri Wilson, the organization’s senior Manager of Family and Community Engagement, noted that engagement can apply to actions outside of volunteering in the classroom: “We now know that the things families do at home with their children have the biggest impact on how well children do in school. It’s great if families can come to school and participate, and I hope that all of them do, but they can still be engaged even if they don’t.”

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November 24, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Your voices: Readers weigh pros and cons of letting kids skip school

We received many thoughtful responses to our Question of the Week regarding attendance and whether it’s OK for kids to occasionally miss school, even if they’re not ill. The question was tied to Thursday’s story about how two Seattle middle schools are emphasizing attendance in an effort to improve student performance.

Many respondents were quick to point out that some absences could be just as enriching as spending the day in school. Richard Stowell of Kenmore writes:

A good student should be allowed to take a break from school if he/she makes up classwork ahead and has school permission. Oftentimes students can learn valuable lessons from travel or other such activities.

Here is a selection of other responses. Some have been edited for length.

I allow my daughter, who is in ninth grade, to have one day per quarter to use at her discretion. It is her mental health day. With the amount of responsibilities she has in school and in out-of-school activities, I want to instill in her the value of taking care of herself and knowing that sometimes you just need a break. She is learning to identify for herself how to balance commitment and recognize her capacity.

—Petaki Cobell, Seattle

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November 20, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Question of the Week: Is it ever OK to let kids skip school?

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Recent research from Johns Hopkins researcher Bob Balfanz has shed new light on the connection between chronic absenteeism and high-school dropout rates.

Among his findings: sixth-graders who miss 20 or more days of class have just a 20-percent chance of graduating on time.

Although chronic absenteeism — defined as missing 18 or more days of class in Seattle — can have dire consequences, the data also show that missing just a week of school can have detrimental effects.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week | Topics: absenteeism, attendance, Bob Balfanz

November 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Question of the Week: How can we better prepare young children for kindergarten?

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The topic of early-childhood education is picking up steam this week, following The Huffington Post’s report that Congressional leaders are preparing a bill to dramatically expand access to preschool for low-income families. The proposal would follow President Obama’s call for universal pre-K in his State of the Union Address earlier this year.

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November 4, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Question of the Week: What’s the best way to measure student achievement?

Education Lab is a blog for teachers, parents, students and community members to talk about how our schools can better serve the region’s students. Each week, we will provide a question to get the conversation going. This week’s prompt asks a basic question about how we evaluate success in education.

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Comments | More in Opinion, Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: question of the week, student performance, test scores

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