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Education Lab Blog

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

February 28, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Coming Sunday: Local educators give A.P. instruction a makeover

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”3268797387001″/]

Advanced Placement, or A.P., is quickly becoming the accepted standard for college-level coursework in U.S. high schools. The popularity of the College Board program has exploded in the past decade, with more than 2 million students taking one or more A.P. exams last year.


Comments | More in News, Video | Topics: Advanced Placement, AP, Sammamish High School

February 28, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Taken AP courses? Share your experience with Education Lab

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Have you ever taken an Advanced Placement class, or a similar high school course for college credit? Education Lab wants to hear from you.

Our next story examines a new way of teaching AP courses that is being developed in partnership with the University of Washington. The new approach uses project-based learning as an alternative to a more traditional version of AP instruction focused on memorization and test preparation.


Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Advanced Placement, AP, high school

February 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Round-up: Homeless student population on the rise in Washington

More students are homeless in Washington state: Officials say more than 30,000 students were counted as homeless during the 2012-2013 school year, an increase of about 3,000 from the previous year. This is the sixth consecutive year the number of homeless students has risen in our state.

Classroom tech use could pose challenge to ban on junk-food ads (CNBC): Federal authorities announced new standards earlier this week that will eventually ban junk-food ads from schools. But the rules don’t seem to apply to online advertisements, which are often distributed to kids more subtly.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

February 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Lessons from the cell block inspire Cleveland students

When schools talk about “mentoring,” they typically refer to well-meaning adults who seek to provide wayward youth with direction or motivation — shining examples of attainable success.

Willard Jimerson is not that kind of mentor. Now 33, he spent the last 20 years in state prison for killing a 14-year-old girl in 1994, when he was only 13, and he has been free only weeks. Yet he does embody an unexpected version of ambition attained.

Photo by Claudia Rowe / The Seattle Times.

Willard Jimerson talks to students at Cleveland High School. Photo by Claudia Rowe / The Seattle Times.

On Thursday, Jimerson spoke to a crowd of students at Cleveland High School about the power of mentoring, the value of a relationship forged on nothing but hope, with no strings attached.

“Jobs are going to want to use you, other people may have an agenda for you,” he said. “But with mentors, there is no ulterior motive except to see another person succeed.”

This was Jimerson’s second visit to talk with the school’s Youth Ambassadors, a group of teenage counselors working to redirect their peers at risk of dropping out. But he had been thinking about this moment for more than a decade.

He imagined it as a 16-year-old sitting in solitary confinement at the Washington State Penitentiary. He thought about ways that his story might be of use. He often told visitors that he now needed to live for two people — himself and Jamie Lynn Wilson, the girl he killed.


Comments | More in News

February 27, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Round-up: City council prepares for debate on expanded Pre-K, Real Hope Act signed into law

Seattle City Council prepares for preschool debate: Seattle City Council members will soon take up the debate on Council President Tim Burgess’ plan to make high-quality preschool free for Seattle families earning up to twice the federal poverty level. Many questions remain, including what the cost would be and how the money would be distributed.

Inslee signs immigrant financial aid bill into law (AP): Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Senate’s Real Hope Act was into law Wednesday, marking a significant victory for immigrant advocates in Washington state. The bill expands access to college financial aid for students who were illegally brought to the United States as children.


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February 27, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Skin in the game, Lesson One: Mom, do your homework

Claudia Rowe

Claudia Rowe

Parents meeting after-hours in a school cafeteria may not sound like the newsiest event. But I was there, as a reporter and a mom, because my child will be entering Fairmount Park Elementary when it opens this fall, and I wanted to hear what those of us new-to-the-school-system need to know. I’ve covered education for a long time, but the terrain looks very different when your own kid is involved.

Lesson No. 1: March 7 is the deadline for filing the paperwork to enroll your child in any Seattle public school. This applies to kindergarten students, children new to the district or kids applying to switch out of their assigned buildings.

Even in our wired city, that comes down to paperwork. Lots of it. Paper from your child’s doctor certifying immunizations. Paper from utility companies or courts confirming your address. Paper verifying your child’s birth date.

One wonders why a school district handling 50,000 kids would want to do things this way, but so be it. I will be gathering documents.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early ed, kindergarten, registration

February 26, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Round-up: Inslee continues push on teacher evaluations, obesity rates drop among young children

Inslee plans bill to include test scores in teacher evaluations: The fight over whether student test scores ought to be used in teacher evaluations is far from over.  Gov. Jay Inslee and state schools chief Randy Dorn are reportedly working on a compromise bill that would let the state keep its No Child Left Behind waiver.

Feds sue for-profit college chain ITT Educational Services (AP): The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has accused Indiana-based ITT Educational Services of pushing students into expensive private students loans while knowing they were likely to default. The lawsuit seeks restitution for victims, an injunction against ITT and a civil fine.


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February 26, 2014 at 5:00 AM

To raise math scores, hire a good English teacher

Schools that want to boost long-term student achievement in math might want to pay more attention to the quality of their English teachers.

A new study out of Stanford University, which looked at the performance of 700,000 students in New York City, found that students who had studied under strong language arts teachers scored higher in math at the end of seven years than could have been expected.

Good math teachers, the researchers said, had only small effects on students’ English scores.


Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: math, Stanford

February 25, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Guest: Endless testing fails to measure true strengths of special-needs students

Jim Strickland

Jim Strickland

Imagine that we live in a society where running a mile is a highly valued skill. Young people are trained from an early age to increase their distance, speed and stamina until they are finally tested to see if they have achieved a given standard. Those who are successful receive a diploma that serves as a rite of passage and opens doors to future opportunities. Those who fail can keep trying or move on with life as best they can.

Now imagine someone has a disability that makes it hard for them to run or even walk. We still value being able to run a mile, so we make special accommodations, such as letting them use a crutch or extending the time allowed. And if they can’t do that, perhaps we have a caregiver push them around the track in a wheelchair. Remember, the important thing is for them to make it around the track four times.

Well, you can see this could get pretty silly after awhile. We could have students in comas being pushed around the track on gurneys, meeting the run-a-mile standard, and getting their diplomas. But would this really mean anything for these young people? Would their diploma be a legitimate rite of passage or a useful indication of their skills?


Comments | More in Guest opinion | Topics: guest opinion, special education, standardized tests

February 25, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Round-up: State Senate unveils schools funding plan, Tacoma could get new UW law campus

Senate Dems propose putting $100 million in tax breaks toward education (AP): A new proposal from Democrats in the state Senate would end $100 million in tax breaks and apply the money toward class-size reductions, all-day kindergarten and pay raises for educators. The plan is the latest in a series of proposals intended to meet the state Supreme Court’s mandate for more education funding.

Foes of CA transgender student law fail to force vote (AP): Opponents of a state law that gives California transgender students certain rights in school fell short of gathering enough signatures to put the matter on the ballot this fall. The legislation, which went into effect Jan. 1, gives K-12 students the right to use school bathrooms and participate in sex-segregated activities that correspond with their expressed genders.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

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