Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.
Topic: question of the week
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December 7, 2013 at 4:35 PM
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.
December 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM
“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
November 25, 2013 at 4:16 PM
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.”
November 24, 2013 at 5:00 PM
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
November 20, 2013 at 2:57 PM
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.
November 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM
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.
November 4, 2013 at 3:04 PM
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.
November 1, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Readers were eager to respond to our first Question of the Week, which asked whether tracking is helpful or harmful to students. The question was directly related to our Oct. 27 story about the turnaround at White Center Heights Elementary.
Many respondents shared anecdotes from their or their children’s own experiences in the classroom.
Sheila Noonan of Seattle writes: “My son started first grade with out real reading skills. He started the year in the lowest reading group and by the end of the year he was in the most advanced reading group. The groups met at the same time in the regular classroom—no pulling out of class, no announcing which group was which—just ‘Here join this group today.’ … My son was in the fourth grade before I knew that there were different math groups as well as different reading groups!”
October 24, 2013 at 11:48 AM
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 centers on the topic of ability grouping.
About the authors
Katherine Long has been a reporter for The Seattle Times since 1990, focusing for the past three years on higher ed, with stories that have ranged from the complexities of prepaid tuition programs to nontraditional ways to earn a degree.
Claudia Rowe joined The Seattle Times’ reporting staff in 2013. She has written about education for The New York Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, among other publications.
Mike Siegel has been a news photographer at the Seattle Times since 1987. His photography was used in a series titled "Methadone and the Politics of Pain," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for investigative reporting.
Janet Horne Henderson is The Times’ education editor. She has directed award-winning stories and projects examining race, immigration, religion and health, in addition to education
Caitlin Moran is community engagement editor for Education Lab. Her role is to help foster constructive dialogue online and in person
Read extended bios.
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