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Education Lab Blog

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

October 31, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Are new teachers getting smarter? UW study finds increase in SAT scores, GPA

SAT scores and other measures of academic success could be on the rise for teachers just entering the workforce, according to a new study from University of Washington, Bothell, researchers Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch.

The finding appears in the most recent issue of Harvard University’s Education Next Journal under the headline “Gains in teacher quality.” Goldhaber and Walch assert that long-standing concern about U.S. teachers’ academic proficiency may be overstated, pointing to a 5-percentile point gain on new teachers’ SAT scores between 1993-94 and 2008-09.


Comments | More in News | Topics: SAT scores, teacher evaluation, teacher training

October 31, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Morning round-up: Helping foster kids transition to college; another reason to limit Halloween treats


Photo courtesy McCormick/MCT

Photo courtesy McCormick/MCT

Study: When it comes to Halloween candy, less is more (NPR): A Dartmouth study shows kids are happier if they receive one good treat instead of one good treat followed by a less-desirable one. More reason to limit the classroom supply?

A better way to fund PTSAs?: Seattle Times editorial columnist Jonathan Martin argues that PTSA fundraising helps fuel schools’ financial inequity. Would adding a few district-wide fundraising events into the mix help shrink the gap?

School buses provide stability for homeless students (KPLU): The number of homeless students in Washington state has grown from 18,670 in 2007-08 to 27,390 during the last school year. KPLU looks at how a federal mandate requiring school districts to transport homeless students to their school of origin helps provide some stability.


Comments | Topics: morning roundup

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

October 31, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Tips for writing a winning college essay

Photo by Thomas James Hurst / The Seattle Times It’s that time of year, the season when high school seniors add college essay writing to their general homework load. Educational consultant Dave Marcus spoke on Boston public radio recently, offering some do’s and don’ts for harried applicants, and their parents: When choosing a…


Comments | More in News | Topics: college applications, college essay, higher ed

October 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Project Win-Win helps students gain college degrees retroactively

Marty Brown, executive director, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

Marty Brown, executive director, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Using data-mining techniques and a close read of college transcripts, a national research organization has helped more than 4,500 students receive associate’s degrees retroactively — students who had enough credits to earn an associate’s degree, but never got one.

Washington did not participate in the project, which started in 2009. But state education leaders “are aware of the project and think it has some lessons for us,” said Marty Brown, the executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, by email.

The study highlights red tape and institutional policies that often stand in the way of a student earning a diploma, said Clifford Adelman, a senior researcher for the Institute for Higher Education Policy.


Comments | Topics: Community colleges, higher ed, Institute for Higher Education Policy

October 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Watch: Replay of live chat with White Center Principal Anne Reece

[do action=”custom_iframe” url=”″ width=”620″ height=”400″ frameborder=”0″ style=”border: 1px solid #000″][/do] Anne Reece, principal of White Center Heights Elementary in the Highline School District, has overseen a striking and rapid increase in test scores at the high-poverty school. Her approach to group-based learning was the subject of an Oct. 27 feature story by reporter Claudia Rowe. Reece and…


Comments | Topics: Anne Reece, Highline School District, live chat

October 29, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Morning round-up: Community colleges experiment with math instruction, big changes in Memphis


Photo from Seattle Times archives

Community colleges aim to make math less intimidating (The Atlantic): From statistics to quantitative reasoning, community colleges around the country are trying out new ways to help students make a quick transition out of remedial math.

Trial begins in Seattle Public Schools financial scandal: Former SPS official Silas Potter Jr. testified against his alleged co-conspirator David A. Johnson in King County Superior Court on Monday. Johnson is charged with 42 counts of theft in the financial scandal that cost former superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson her job in 2011.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

October 29, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Your voices: Readers weigh in on White Center Heights story

Sunday’s front-page story about the turnaround at one south-end elementary school is continuing to resonate with readers. Here is a sampling of some of the responses we’ve received in the comments section and on social media:

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Comments | More in Opinion, Your voices | Topics: reader response, tracking, White Center Heights

October 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM

New app, report point to career options for recent grads

Screenshot of the JA Build Your Future iPhone app Junior Achievement, the nonprofit that educates students about workforce readiness, has teamed up with the global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to offer a free phone app that helps students learn about career options. The app, JA Build Your Future, gives information about more than 100 different careers, and…


Comments | Topics: careers, higher education, technology

October 28, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Editorial calls for better understanding on Common Core

Paul Tong / Op Art

Paul Tong / Op Art

It’s time for the public to do its homework on Common Core.

That’s the argument made by The Times’ editorial board in Sunday’s paper. Citing a Gallup poll that found two in three Americans had never heard of the new national standards, the editorial argues that a lack of understanding is contributing to unfair scrutiny surrounding the program, which is expected to be implemented locally next fall.

The board writes:

Parents need a firm understanding about what Common Core is and what it is not. Otherwise critics will distort it.

Political conservatives are already making mischief by casting Common Core as a federal intrusion upon local control of schools. Nice try, but the Obama Administration did not play a role in creating Common Core, which grew out of a bipartisan effort by state governors and education leaders to raise academic standards nationwide.


Comments | More in Opinion | Topics: common core, standards

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