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

Topic: University of Washington

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January 24, 2015 at 6:05 PM

Guest: Six common myths about student discipline

Sarah Yatsko

Sarah Yatsko

The rate of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions has doubled since the early 1970s, even as rates for juvenile crime and violence in schools have both sharply declined.

In 2013, Washington state improved the laws that govern suspensions and expulsions. In recent weeks, The Seattle Times has highlighted how some school systems are rethinking discipline policies. These are hopeful signs, but some pervasive and persistent myths prevent our education system from truly facing up to the overuse of what should be a tool of last resort.

Myth 1: It’s rare that a child is suspended or expelled.

Last year, Washington schools levied more than 68,000 suspensions and expulsions, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Rates peaked at the end of middle school, with nearly one out of every 10 eighth graders suspended or expelled. One out of every 65 all-day kindergarteners was also excluded from school for behavior.

Myth 2: Most students are suspended or expelled because they’re dangerous.

Aside from fights — which made up 15 percent of suspensions and expulsions — only 7 percent of all reported suspensions and expulsions in Washington in 2013 and 2014 were for violence, according to OSPI data. More than half of all suspensions and expulsions fall in the discretionary “other behavior” category, which does not include alcohol, bullying, drugs, fighting or violence.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: Center on Reinventing Public Education, discipline, Sarah Yatsko

January 23, 2015 at 5:00 AM

UW reviewing record number of freshman applications

The University of Washington's Seattle campus. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2010.

The University of Washington’s Seattle campus. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2010.

The admissions staff at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus has a lot of work cut out for them this winter. The university received a record 36,528 freshman applications for the 2015 academic year, 16 percent more than last year.

Those applications included 11,278 applications from Washington students, compared with 10,541 last year. (These numbers could change — some students may later be classified as in-state residents if their families move here, or they are found to be claiming Washington residency when they don’t qualify.) About two-thirds of available slots in the freshman class are reserved for state residents.

The university continues to receive an ever-increasing number of applications from outside the state; this year, there was a 19 percent increase in applications from out-of-state students overall, and a whopping 31 percent increase in applications from California. Other states with big increases: Massachusetts (29 percent), Illinois (27 percent), Texas (25 percent), Minnesota (24 percent) and New York (23 percent).


Comments | More in News | Topics: admissions, higher education, University of Washington

January 15, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Russell and Marshawn are stars, but so are Kenneth and John

John Bransford

John Bransford

Kenneth Zeichner

Kenneth Zeichner

Most of us don’t follow education stars as closely as Seahawks standouts, but the Seattle area has national talent in that arena, too.  Seven Washingtonians, for example, were listed in a ranking of this year’s top 200 education researchers — no small feat, given that there are more than 20,000 of them across the country.

At no. 41, University of Washington Professor Kenneth Zeichner was the highest ranked from this state, followed by John Bransford, a UW professor emeritus, who ranked 59th.

The list was created by Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, who set out to measure scholars’ clout in broad, national debates about education, far beyond academia. To calculate the rankings, Hess used eight measures, including how frequently scholars’ books and papers are cited by colleagues, and how many times they are mentioned in general-interest newspapers and the education press. The full methodology can be found here.

Zeichner received  high scores in the academic-work-cited-by-colleagues category, but he’s also written pieces for The Washington Post, including one that challenges the fact that many low-income schools have a significant number of under-prepared teachers.   (He’s also the father of Seattle teacher Noah Zeichner, who has been featured in Education Lab as one of the nominees for a new, $1 million teaching prize.)


Comments | More in News | Topics: Dan Goldhaber, education research, Frederick Hess

January 5, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Report: UW accounting is confusing, lacks consistency

The way that the University of Washington accounts for its costs, and the complexity of its sprawling operations that include a major medical center, have led to a confusing system that makes it difficult for lawmakers and members of the public to understand the university’s financial information, a new report says.

The report was requested by the Washington state Legislature in spring 2014 because lawmakers wanted to better understand where the university spends its money. The 117-page audit was written by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, a California business management consultant.

The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times 2012.

The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times 2012.

The report highlights two key problems: First, in the state’s financial documents, colleges and universities are not reported in a single column, but blended with other agencies, creating a lack of transparency.

Second, the size and scope of the UW’s extensive operations contributes to confusion. The UW’s projected operating budget in 2014 is $6 billion, but only $239 million of that —  roughly 4 percent — comes from state funding. The vast majority of operating revenue comes from tuition, fees, grants, contracts, gifts and operations of its hospitals and other medical clinics.


Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, University of Washington

December 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM

UW, WWU rank as best college values by national magazine

The University of Washington and Western Washington University have once again made it on the list of 100 top public schools that offer the most value for the money. The ranking of colleges and universities is done annually by Kiplinger’s Magazine.

The UW ranks 11th in value for in-state students. WWU ranks 91st. They’re the only two Washington public schools that made the list, ranking in the top 100 best values for both in-state and out-of-state students.

On a separate Kiplinger’s ranking that compared private universities, two Spokane schools make the top 100: Gonzaga University, 36th, and Whitworth University, 45th. And among liberal arts colleges, Whitman College in Walla Walla ranks 29th.


Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, University of Washington, Western Washington University

December 16, 2014 at 4:13 PM

UW panel: Triple the UW medical school program in Spokane

A University of Washington panel headed by former Gov. Dan Evans believes the best way to quickly increase the number of doctors working in rural Washington is for the UW to expand its medical school program in Spokane.

The panel also recommends creating more residencies in rural areas, particularly Eastern Washington.

It did not weigh in on what’s become a sore point between UW and Washington State University:  whether it’s also necessary for WSU to build its own, separate medical school in Spokane to alleviate the physician shortage. The panel’s report notes that it was not given the task of determining “if a separately accredited medical school is necessary or should be pursued by WSU.”

The UW and WSU, which used to work together to provide medical training at WSU’s Spokane campus, split earlier this year over how best to increase the number of doctors in Washington’s rural areas. There is a shortage of primary care doctors in those areas today, a problem that’s expected to get worse as baby boom-era doctors retire.


Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, University of Washington, Washington State University

December 1, 2014 at 7:35 AM

UW academic redshirt program draws more women, minorities into engineering

Devin Pegues, left, and Casiano Atienza work on a math problem during a recent class at the UW. This math workshop uses whiteboards and group problem-solving to bring engineering-level math to first-year students. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Devin Pegues, left, and Casiano Atienza work on a math problem during a recent class at the UW. This math workshop uses whiteboards and group problem-solving to bring engineering-level math to first-year students. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

When she got the letter in summer 2013, Courtney Seto thought it sounded too good to be true.

A free program that offered automatic acceptance into the University of Washington’s engineering school? Did everyone get this letter?

Seto had already been accepted to the UW as an incoming freshman, but she expected to apply to the College of Engineering at the end of her sophomore year, competing against a thousand other UW students, of which only about 55 percent get in.


Comments | More in News | Topics: diversity, STEM, University of Washington

November 30, 2014 at 9:01 PM

Rewind: Watch a replay of video chat on diversity in STEM education

On Tuesday, the Education Lab team hosted a Google+ Hangout about diversity in STEM and what some universities are doing to help more people of color and first-generation students earn degrees in fields like computer science and engineering.

The video chat was tied to a Monday story by Katherine Long about programs at the University of Washington and Washington State University that give disadvantaged engineering students a fifth year to complete academic prep work to put them on equal footing with those students from more privileged backgrounds.


Comments | More in Your voices | Topics: higher education, STEM, University of Washington

November 21, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Videos: College students share struggles, triumphs at Education Lab event

On Nov. 15, five local college students appeared before an audience at the University of Washington to share their journeys of achieving college access despite significant challenges and set-backs. “Storytellers: How I Got into College” was hosted as part of the UW Dream Project’s Admissions Workshop Weekend, an annual event that brings dozens of high-school students from throughout King County to UW for assistance completing their college applications.

Go here for a written recap and photos from the evening’s program. Videos of each storyteller are posted below.

Jenée Myers Twitchell, director of the Dream Project, kicked off the event by sharing the story of her own upbringing in Yakima. “My story is filled with addicts,” she said. “Pretty much everybody in my family had gone through or needed to go through rehab.”

Her own struggles inspired her to begin working with local youth and start the Dream Project.

“I didn’t want it be about luck. I didn’t want getting to college to be about, ‘I just hope I meet the right person,'” she said.


Comments | More in News, Video, Your voices | Topics: Dream Project, storytellers, University of Washington

November 16, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Student storytellers emphasize persistence, importance of mentors and role models

Update: Videos from the event are available here.

Marcellina DesChamps first set foot in a classroom when she was 27 years old.

Growing up, her father owned a small business. The kids helped out when times got tough and by the time she turned 14, she worked 40 hours a week. Now 32, DesChamps studies political science and law, societies and justice at the University of Washington, where her classmates — and some of her tutors — are a decade younger than her. Along the way, she has learned how to actively read, how to study, to take notes, to use the library and how to ask for help.

“I’m learning how to learn,” said DesChamps, who earned her GED and studied at North Seattle College before arriving at UW.

On Saturday, DesChamps was one of five local college students who shared their stories before a crowd of high school and college students at “How I Got Into College,” a storytelling event presented by Education Lab and the University of Washington Dream Project.

Most of the speakers, several of whom are first-generation students, emphasized persistence and finding good mentors and role models on the path to college. They said despite higher education’s costs, paying for college is the best debt you can have.

Teena Thach, a senior at Western Washington University, tells her story on stage at the University of Washington on Saturday.

Teena Thach, a senior at Western Washington University, tells her story on stage at the University of Washington on Saturday. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.


Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, storytellers, University of Washington

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