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Education Lab Blog

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

January 30, 2015 at 2:45 PM

New bids extend auction for former fed bank downtown

Update | 10 p.m. Sunday And the bidding still continues.  At 9:41 p.m. on Sunday, a new bid came in for $12.5 million.  That reset the clock under federal auction rules, under which bidding continues until the highest bid goes unchallenged for 24 hours.  The government can choose to decrease that time frame, but hasn’t done so…


Comments | More in Seattle Public Schools | Topics: Downtown school, Seattle Public Schools

January 30, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Roundup: Per-pupil spending down across the U.S.; Snohomish Co. schools use panic-button app

Per-pupil spending down across the U.S. (The Washington Post): For the second consecutive year, per-pupil spending declined across the U.S. in 2012 to an average of $10,667 per student. Per-pupil spending rose steadily between 1996 and 2008.

Snohomish County schools use ‘panic button’ smart-phone app: Using funds from an OSPI grant, two schools in Everett have begun testing out a smart-phone app that enables individuals to notify police of a school emergency by hitting a single button. A larger rollout of the system is expected to begin next week throughout Snohomish County.


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January 30, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Lawmakers want guidelines for social, emotional skills

We often expect students to check their emotions at the classroom door, so they can knuckle-down on an algebra problem with cold reason like Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

But a growing body of research shows that thinking and feeling are two sides of the same coin — inseparable ingredients for memory and learning — which means students must learn to integrate social and emotional skills with academic skills to get the most out of school.

Lawmakers in Olympia are considering companion bills (HB-1760 and SB-5688) that would add social and emotional skills to the list of things students should learn in school to reduce bullying, dropouts and disciplinary problems.

Such skills include making responsible decisions, controlling impulses, handling stress, persevering against adversity, forming healthy relationships, empathizing with others and respecting social differences.


Comments | More in News | Topics: 2015 legislative session, social and emotional learning

January 29, 2015 at 3:39 PM

Video: 3 questions with Big Picture student Monae Trevino

Big Picture High School student Monae Trevino cries as she leads a group discussion about drug use, part of an alternative way of dealing with rule breaking. Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times.

Big Picture High School student Monae Trevino cries as she leads a group discussion about drug use, part of an alternative way of dealing with rule breaking. Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times.

Monae Trevino, a senior at Big Picture High School in Burien, took center stage in our Sunday story about restorative justice. Seattle Times reporter Claudia Rowe and photographer Ellen M. Banner were at Big Picture when Trevino and two other students participated in a highly emotional discussion as part of the restorative justice process after they got in trouble for coming to class after smoking marijuana.

Trevino, 18, visited The Seattle Times offices earlier this week to go into more detail with Rowe about what she has learned from restorative justice and why that approach got through to her in a way that more traditional discipline methods had not.


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January 29, 2015 at 1:37 PM

Roundup: State grad rates rise but fall short of goal; Arkansas votes to take over Little Rock schools

State grad rates increase but fall short of Inslee goal (The News Tribune): Washington’s high-school graduation rate went up slightly in 2014, rising to 77.2 percent from 76 percent in 2013. But the increase falls short of Gov. Jay Inslee’s goal to boost graduation rates by 2 percent each year.

UW, WSU arguing over funds for new medical school (AP): Officials with the University of Washington are protesting against Washington State University’s proposal to use $5.9 million to start a medical school in Spokane. UW says the money was budgeted for an existing partnership that trains medical students in Eastern Washington.


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January 29, 2015 at 5:00 AM

More substitute work for retired teachers? Some lawmakers say yes

Substitute teacher Carrie Richardson, who has more than 50 years experience teaching, subs in for a third-grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School in Seattle last November. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2014.

Substitute teacher Carrie Richardson, who has more than 50 years experience teaching, subs in for a third-grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School in Seattle last November. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2014.

A bill introduced in the state House on Tuesday would temporarily allow some retired teachers more flexibility in how much they can work without losing their retirement benefits.

House Bill 1737 is a response to the substitute teacher shortage in Washington state, which has left schools and districts scrambling to fill substitute requests and combining classes when subs can’t be found. Lawmakers behind the bill say the shortage is partly caused by a state pension plan that keeps some retired teachers — a group that school districts traditionally rely on for subs — from substitute teaching.

Under the bill, teachers who retired early under a certain retirement plan would be allowed to substitute teach up to 216 hours — or about 27 days — before losing their retirement benefits, at least for a few years.

The bill, if passed, is designed to give school districts enough time to adjust to the substitute shortage. If it passes, its provisions would sunset in 2019, and the teachers would go back to losing their pensions any month they worked even a day for a public employer.


Comments | More in News | Topics: substitute shortage, substitute teaching, teachers

January 28, 2015 at 5:41 PM

Downtown school update: Federal Reserve bid deadline extended

The deadline for bidding on a vacant bank building that Seattle Public Schools hopes to turn into a downtown school has been extended.

The auction for the former Federal Reserve building was originally slated to be finished Wednesday, but under federal auction rules the bidding continues until the highest bid goes unchallenged for 24 hours. The Fed can also choose to decrease that time frame.

As of early Wednesday evening, six bidders were vying for the property and the high bid was $7.6 million. The online auction started Dec. 5, but the auction’s website shows the first bid was cast on Jan. 24th.  Earlier this month, the General Services Administration, which is running the auction, lowered the starting bid from $5 million to $1 million.


Comments | Topics: Downtown school, Federal Reserve, Seattle Public Schools

January 28, 2015 at 1:15 PM

Roundup: Obama drops tax plan for college savings; percentage of students studying STEM stagnates

Obama drops plan to end college-savings plans (The New York Times): Amid backlash from parents and lawmakers, President Obama has reversed course on his earlier proposal to end the tax-exempt status of popular college-savings accounts known as 529s. The director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) plan, a 529 program, had said earlier that Obama’s plan would be “devastating.”

Senate backs away from teacher evaluation requirement (The Washington Post): In a Tuesday hearing on No Child Left Behind, senators from both parties indicated they would not push for student test scores to factor into teacher evaluations, saying that step should be left up to the states. Sen. Patty Murray said she supports the use of teacher evaluations but is wary of student assessments being weighed too heavily in that process.


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January 28, 2015 at 5:00 AM

End-of-course biology exam may go, but tougher standards loom

Corrected version

As Washington schools begin integrating rigorous Common Core standards into their classrooms, the state Board of Education has made several decisions about new tests tied to those standards, and what will happen to existing state exams.

First: They want to abolish the current end-of-course exam in biology, generally taken by 10th graders.

The thinking here is that focusing on biology undermines broader coursework in science-technology-engineering-and-math (the so-called STEM courses). The board voted unanimously on this decision, but it requires approval from the state Legislature — which is pretty busy with other things, like school funding. Sorry, Class of 2015, most likely you’ll still have to pass that test to graduate.

Looking ahead: Passing scores on the much-feared Smarter Balanced Assessment — the new tests based on Common Core standards — have been set.

But those exams, which will be given statewide for the first time this spring, won’t affect graduation — not this year.  The board will determine graduation cut-off scores in August, and those will affect the Class of 2019, this fall’s incoming ninth graders. Initially, the graduation bar will be lower than the passing score, giving teachers and students time to ramp up.


Comments | More in News | Topics: biology end-of-course, common core, State Board of Education

January 27, 2015 at 1:50 PM

Roundup: D.C. Head Start struggles with attendance; Inslee cap-and-trade bill gets hearing

Inslee cap-and-trade bill will have hearing today: State lawmakers will hold their first hearing today for Gov. Jay Inslee’s massive cap-and-trade bill, which would provide an estimated $947 million in 2017 for K-12 education, transportation, and other expenditures. The bill would set a statewide cap on carbon emissions and require the biggest polluters to buy allowances to offset the carbon they emit.

D.C. Head Start struggles with attendance (The Washington Post): More than a quarter of the students enrolled in Washington, D.C.’s public Head Start program were chronically absent last year, according to two new reports. Other studies have found similar rates of absenteeism at public preschools in Baltimore and New York City.


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