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Education Lab Blog

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

June 30, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Attend a for-profit college or university? Tell us about it

For-profit colleges and universities can an attractive option to students who want to pursue technical training in a specific field and are looking for the convenience of an online program or a campus that’s located close to home.

But for-profits, which include familiar brands such as the University of Phoenix and ITT Technical Institute, have also faced intense scrutiny over the high cost of tuition and the rate at which graduates default on their student loans.


Comments | More in News, Your voices | Topics: Corinthian Colleges, for profit, higher ed

June 30, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Round-up: WSU and UW spar over future med school, LA district shifts gears on technology

WSU, UW spar over future of region’s med schools: The University of Washington and Washington State University are competing for scarce higher-education funding in a push to train more primary-care physicians in Eastern Washington. WSU would like to open a new medical school in Spokane, while UW says expanding its existing program there would require less accrediting work and administrative overhead.

Program combats ‘undermatching’ for low-income college students (The Hechinger Report): College Match, a program that began in eight Chicago schools, seeks to direct more qualified low-income students into top-tier colleges and universities. Research from Harvard and Stanford has found the “vast majority” of low-income students who score high on the SAT or ACT do not apply to highly selective universities, even though they are highly qualified and, in many cases, would receive generous financial aid packages.


Comments | Topics: round-up

June 30, 2014 at 5:00 AM

New course can help vault students into college-level math

Photo by Eric Jacobs for The Seattle Times 2006

Photo by Eric Jacobs for The Seattle Times

One of the most vexing problems for community colleges is the number of first-year students whose math scores don’t measure up.

About half of all students who graduate from Washington high schools and immediately enter community college require remedial math  usually called “developmental math”  before they can begin fulfilling their college-level math requirements.

This fall, though, 11 school districts are piloting a new math class for high-school seniors who have struggled with the subject. Under an agreement with the state’s public colleges, students who get at least a B in the class, called “Bridge to College Mathematics,” will be admitted into college-level math, said Bill Moore, who is overseeing the project for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

The course is being developed in cooperation with the SBCTC, the state’s four-year public colleges and with high-school math teachers, Moore said. Several Seattle public high schools are part of the pilot.


Comments | More in News | Topics: common core, math

June 27, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Round-up: Md. educators pledge to collaborate on evaluations, NYC chief touts ‘balanced literacy’

Maryland educators pledge collaboration on evaluations (The Washington Post): After spending four years developing its teacher and principal evaluation program, Maryland state officials and teachers unions signed a written agreement pledging to collaborate on the process. The state will begin factoring student test scores into teacher evaluations in 2016.

New NYC chancellor wants more ‘balanced literacy’ (The New York Times): New York City schools chief Carmen Fariña is pushing for more “balanced literacy,” an approach where students lead discussions about reading and choose many of their own books. Fariña says the strategies are especially helpful for students who are learning English.


Comments | Topics: round-up

June 27, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Your voices: Dealing with dress codes

Last week, we posted a video report from BBC America featuring a group of New Jersey students and parents who are pushing for a change to their school dress code, saying the traditional rules unfairly target female students and promote stereotypes about gender and sexuality. 

Most of the readers who responded to our question “Is it time to rethink student dress codes?” felt differently. Here is a sampling of their responses (some have been edited for length or clarity):

Dress codes seem fine, but the rules should be the same regardless of gender, e.g. shirts shall have sleeves of at least 1 inch, bottoms may only be X inches above the knee (would cover shorts, skirts and dresses). No profanity, no racial or gender slurs — that sort of thing.

Kudos to these young ladies for their efforts.

 —Terri Latendresse, Renton

Schools that have adopted uniforms avoid a whole list of distractions — the least of which is sexuality. When all students wear simple slacks and tops (easily laundered and non-specific as to gender), students are free from the constant reminder of who has the money to wear expensive clothing and who doesn’t.

—Barbara Kroon, Vancouver


Comments | More in Your voices | Topics: dress codes, your voices

June 27, 2014 at 5:00 AM

If teachers ran the schools, what would be different?

When kids misbehave at the Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy in Denver, they don’t get sent to the principal’s office because there is no principal.

At this public school, every decision — from the length of the day to the color of chairs — rests with the teachers.

As such, the academy — along with 60 other teacher-led schools around the country — provides an interesting window on what educators would do if they had full control to design a program themselves.

To wit: Classes at the K-5 academy in Denver are capped at 25 students each; parents volunteer daily; and lesson plans can change on a dime.

“I have yet to meet a teacher who has not dreamed about what it would be like to open their own school,” writes Kim Ursetta, a kindergarten teacher there. Where teaching has become a rote practice in many places, she says, at the Academy educators choose their own textbooks, oversee student conduct and answer for the school culture.


Comments | More in News

June 26, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Round-up: Teacher protest targets the Gates Foundation, deadline nears for downtown school

Teachers plan protest march to Gates Foundation: About 300 protesters critical of the Gates Foundation’s influence in U.S. education policy plans to hold a rally in downtown Seattle today before marching to the nonprofit’s headquarters. The demonstration is being organized by the Washington state contingent of a Facebook group called Badass Teachers Association.

Deadline approaches for downtown school proposal: Seattle Public Schools has until July 3 to file an application with the U.S. Department of Education to transform a former branch of the Federal Reserve Bank into a downtown school. The six-story building, located on Second Avenue between Spring and Madison streets, was constructed in 1950 and has been vacant since 2008.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

June 26, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Don’t call them dropouts: a report on the nation’s nongraduates

"Not all dropouts give up. Lots of us think every day, 'Man, I do want to go to school, ' especially in this economy," says says Selena Jiles, a student in a Kent-based dropout re-engagement program called iGrad. Jiles spends some of her time caring for her cousins including, Gladys Duncan, 5. IGrad was the focus of a January Education Lab story.

“Not all dropouts give up. Lots of us think every day, ‘Man, I do want to go to school,’ especially in this economy,” says Selena Jiles, a student in a Kent-based dropout re-engagement program called iGrad. Jiles spends some of her time caring for her cousins, including Gladys Duncan, 5. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

This is the time of year for celebrating graduates, loudly and happily. Yet we shouldn’t forget the students who left school without a diploma weeks or years before their classmates crossed the stage.

There are a lot of them — 19,000 in Washington’s class of 2013, or about 24 percent of the nearly 80,000 who started high school as freshmen four years before.

Nationally, the number of students who don’t graduate on time stands at about 800,000, according to a new, national report from America’s Promise Alliance, a national coalition of nonprofits, businesses, communities, educators and policymakers.

The Alliance titled its report “Don’t Call Them Dropouts” because many of the 200 young people it interviewed asked it to stop using that term.

They may not have graduated, the interviewees said, but they haven’t given up. Many are enrolled in high-school completion programs or have returned to school.



June 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Round-up: Report calls for principals to be more like CEOs, Seattle interns lured with perks

Report calls for principals to be treated more like CEOs (The Atlantic): A new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has concluded U.S. principals are underpaid and lack authority in key hiring decisions. The researchers suggest districts should stop regarding principals as “glorified teachers” and instead seek “executives with expertise in instruction, operations and finance.”

Idaho charter students may have to repeat grade after accreditation issues (KUOW): Students who attended the Odyssey Charter School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, last year may have to repeat a grade after an outside accreditation body found several problems at the school. Unlike Idaho, Washington does not require public schools to have independent accreditation.


Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

June 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Eight teachers, eight struggles with measuring student growth

Take eight certified teachers, all with a prestigious advanced teaching credential, and ask them to tell stories about how they measure student growth in their classrooms  a requirement of the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

These are some of our most accomplished instructors  teachers who care a lot about how much their students learn. Yet most admit that, at first, they tried to game the system or find an easy, if meaningless, way to show growth.

As Lindsey Stevens, a high school teacher in Sumner, put it:

Teachers were literally joking (I hope) about grading everything ridiculously hard the first time, and then just being easier on the kids the next time. They would say, write your goal in a way you can’t go wrong, then no matter what happens you look like a rock star.


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Comments | More in News | Topics: Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, student growth, teacher evaluation

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