2015 National Seminar
Pensions are causing serious budget issues across the country, including Illinois. But issues around pensions go beyond the rising costs, and the session will explore those questions, too. How can reporters generate lively stories on this important (but potentially dull) subject?
- Diane Rado, Chicago Tribune (Speaker/Moderator)
- Chad Aldeman, Bellwether Education Partners
- Ralph Martire, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability
Over at EWA Radio, we explored the debate over how so-called noncognitive factors like “grit” influence student achievement, and how schools are rethinking approaches to classroom instruction as a result. (You can find the full episode here.) I thought this was a good opportunity to revisit a recent guest post by Daveen Rae Kurutz of the Beaver County Times, looking at our “deep dive” session into these issues at EWA’s recent National Seminar:
Laptops chimed as students played a game designed to teach them the basics of geometry inside a fourth grade classroom at the Cesar E. Chavez Multicultural Academic Center on the south side of Chicago. Large paper mobiles of various geometric shapes hung from the ceiling and a list of classroom jobs for each student was posted on the wall.
Funding for charter schools is a complex and divisive issue. Do charters get an equitable share of public dollars? How do school facilities fit into the equation, as well as private sources of support for the charter sector? What are recent evolutions in policy concerning charter finance and facilities, and what’s on the horizon?
Schools often say they suspend misbehaving students to restore order and keep others safe. But a recent study questions the link between suspensions and school safety. This session flips the script, as a researcher moderates a panel of reporters who have explored alternatives to the usual diet of suspensions and expulsions.
Amid worries of a “skills gap” for U.S. youths and young adults, some experts call for rethinking and ramping up career and technical education. Panelists explore the skills and achievement of American young people in an international context, and highlight ways to improve CTE with an eye toward promising practices in other countries.
Research suggests that many students who could succeed in college never get the chance to enroll. But studies also show this circumstance can be overcome by getting students more information about options in colleges, scholarships and financial aid. Gain insights from experts on what approaches help these students succeed.
The Great Recession saw most states drastically cut their spending on public colleges, leading most of those colleges to increase their tuition. As the national economy continues to recover, how has state funding for postsecondary education fared and what does it mean for students and their families?
- Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post (Moderator)
- Daniel Hurley, American Association of State Colleges and Universities
- Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania
- Ray Scheppach, University of Virginia
At one flagship public university, the number of undergraduate students from China jumped from 37 in 2000 to 2,898 this year. As public universities recruited more international students, what impact has the increased diversity had on students’ academic and social lives?
- Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed (Speaker)
- Peggy Blumenthal, Institute of International Education
- Gil Latz, Association of International Education Administrators
- Nicole Tami, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
How many questions does the crucial federal financial aid form really need? Proposals to simplify have ranged from trimming the form’s dozens of questions to replacing the form with just few queries on a postcard. This session illuminates how key questions can affect how much aid a student receives.
Higher education faces a major challenge: How to educate more students better as resources and funding at most colleges mostly stay flat. This discussion will examine whether new technology and new approaches such as competency-based education or MOOCs can make college more affordable and effective.
- Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed (Moderator)
- Goldie Blumenstyk, The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Kevin Carey, New America
- Ryan Craig, University Ventures
There’s no doubt about it: Student loans can be a big financial burden to recent college graduates.
But if borrowers are provided with more information on repayment plans and other tools to help manage debt, chances are they’ll be less likely to default on their loans, according to a panel conversation on student loans at the Education Writers Association’s 2015 national conference in Chicago.
How does student-centered learning change the pupil-teacher working relationship? And what do we know about the longterm benefits of the educational approach? We’ll hear from a student who has graduated from a school that was an early adopter of student-centered learning, as well as a student and teachers currently using it in their classrooms.
Unlike in the movie “Field of Dreams,” just building after-school and summer programs offers no mystical guarantee that students “will come.”
Access is a huge issue – not just transportation to the programs, although that is a challenge. The types of programs offered, if students perceive them as having value, and whether students and their parents even know what’s available in their communities are things to consider.
Tuition caps, budget cuts and wayward priorities when it comes to funding higher education — oh, my.
It’s time for states to decide the value of higher education. Or rather, it’s time for state leaders to decide if they value higher education enough to fund it properly.
Allen Turner recently recalled the day his grade school teacher said it was time to learn about the U.S. Constitution, beginning with its famous preamble. But Turner, now a video game designer and professor at Chicago’s DePaul University, already knew it. So did all his classmates.
The sweeping new school choice law in Nevada — or more precisely, educational choice law — has attracted significant national media coverage and analysis. Nevada public school families can apply to spend more than $5,000 in state aid per child on private school tuition or other educational expenses each year, including tutoring, online courses, textbooks, and even home-schooling.
When Carolyn Alessio assigned her students to prepare to act out a trial to probe the themes of “Frankenstein,” she was surprised at what she found at the top of a few of their supporting documents — perfectly formatted docket numbers.
A lot has changed about applying to college, but one thing that has endured for generations is the dreaded FAFSA.
The challenges facing higher education today are widely known, but no one really knows the future as technology reshapes how college courses are delivered, how effectively they teach, and who takes them at what cost.
Five years ago, Nicholas Senn High School on the Near North Side of Chicago was one some educators felt lucky to avoid. While student discipline might have been an issue elsewhere, “you would say, at least it’s not Senn,” Principal Susan Lofton said.
It was quietly proud grandfather and Vietnam War Veteran James Dent who grabbed reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones’ attention in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
For St. Louis reporter Tim Lloyd, it was an African-American middle-school teacher unnerved when a white driver pulled up beside him at a stoplight and pointed his fingers at him in a shooting gun motion.
In a second-grade classroom outside of Palo Alto, Calif., students were sharing their answers to a math quiz. A young boy named Michael held up his answer, and, as was customary, his classmates showed their verdict on the answer – thumbs up or thumbs down.
Usually, the best way to learn about a test is to just take it yourself.
Or at least that was the thinking at the recent Education Writers Association National Seminar session, “Testing, Testing: Trying Out New Assessments.” Journalists were greeted by a thick packet of test questions created for the two national assessment consortia that put together exams aligned to the Common Core State Standards — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
A new analysis of a decade of state test score data by WBEZ and the Daily Herald underlines the immense role poverty plays in how well a school performs.
Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty—2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade. And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty— where nearly every child in the school is low-income — has ballooned.
Negative reactions to the Common Core State Standards capture the headlines, but many teachers in the trenches of education reform say the standards are here so they have to implement them one way or another.
It’s the way that school administrators and politicians interpret the Common Core standards that some teachers feel is creating a sense of apprehension for their colleagues, students and parents.
Focusing on student learning, and structuring the school to fit students’ varied learning paces, is proving to be a game changer, said panelists at EWA’s recent National Seminar in Chicago, moderated by journalist Katrina Schwartz of Mindshift at KQED Public Radio.
The Noble Network of Charter Schools is arguably Chicago’s most famous charter chain. Despite having schools only in one city and operating exclusively at the high school level, charter advocates now consider Noble to be in the same tier as KIPP and Achievement First — national brands in the no-excuses charter arena.
As school districts across the country work to address racial inequities in discipline, some campuses are trying alternative approaches to keeping students out of trouble and in the classroom.
Among the approaches gaining in popularity: positive behavior support programs, which reward students for good behavior, and restorative justice programs, in which students are brought into the process of identifying solutions, rather than simply punished.
With engaged parents, bright futures are possible. That’s the philosophy of a child care center on Chicago’s South Side that is pairing research-based child development techniques with a strong family partnership.
The Educare Center grew from a program that had been based at the notorious Robert Taylor Homes. Educare opened their own facility in 2000 as the public housing high-rises across the street were being dismantled.
News stories on school district budgets often stick to whether spending is up or down, whether employees received raises or not. So Dallas Morning News reporter Tawnell Hobbs helped attendees at the Education Writers Association National Seminar delve deeper into school spending and unlock the juiciest stories during a session in Chicago on April 20.
Reporters are sometimes afraid of numbers. But when it comes to pensions, this can be a problem. It means that they often write an incomplete story, giving voices to politicians who decry the size of teacher pensions. Or they’ll ignore pension stories entirely.
So it’s no surprise that the public often comes to erroneous conclusions—that teacher greed is the problem.
Five years after the Common Core standards were completed, how have educational publishers responded? Where are schools turning for instructional materials? And what’s the best way to gauge whether a textbook is truly aligned with the new math and English/language arts standards. These were among the questions tackled by a panel of experts at the recent Education Writers Association seminar in Chicago.
If you’re a student at an American college or university, chances are you’ll be living and learning in the midst of a more diverse student body than students who attended school a decade ago.
Recent years have seen an influx of international students to American colleges and universities. While the trend certainly isn’t new, it’s becoming more prevalent, according to a panel of experts at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar.
Come budget time, school superintendents are first to say that teacher salaries take the biggest chunk of a district’s spending.
But even a glance at the pie charts and line items shows that public education is a big business, too — curriculum and technology, PowerSchool and iPads, and charter management fees, real estate transactions and school renovations can cost taxpayers millions for a single district.
Where exactly is that money going?
An opt-out movement gained momentum this spring, with tens of thousands of students sitting out of new standardized tests in states including New York, Maine and New Mexico.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, a panel of testing experts gathered at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago to discuss the very predicament.
A data analysis by Education Week showed a decline in applicants to education schools in key states and Ed Week’s Stephen Sawchuk walks participants through it. ACT’s Steve Kappler unveils a disturbing new report on a dropoff in high school graduates aspiring to teach. Other speakers review the implications of their findings and sources.
Urban education leaders crammed a marathon of Chicago’s public education woes and wonders into a 45-minute session (more akin to a 5K race) at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago.
Sara Ray Stoelinga, the director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute, joined colleague Timothy Knowles for a breakfast panel titled “10 Lessons to Take Home From Chicago” at the EWA event.
This academic year marks a critical juncture for the Common Core, as most states started testing students on the standards for the first time. The beginning has had some rough moments, with thousands of students opting out of the tests, especially in New York and New Jersey, and technology glitches in some states disrupting the assessments.
Why would young people today want to become teachers? Or perhaps more importantly, why wouldn’t they?
We all recognize teaching as an opportunity to change lives and remember the teachers who made a difference for us. But weigh that intrinsic satisfaction against low wages, little public respect and an ever-growing workload, and the minuses often win out. And now that a rebounding economy offers more professional options, our country faces a serious challenge to educating the next generation.
News of foundations and philanthropists partnering with school districts seems more and more common as states have struggled to provide adequate funding for K-12 education, while district leadership seek new avenues to give students an edge.
In the conversations surrounding low-income students’ access to college, there’s one statistic that Harold Levy finds most worrisome: Among those students who are in the top quartile academically and also among the lowest quartile financially, 22 percent never take the ACT or SAT.
That means many very smart, very poor kids aren’t even getting close to college.
Preschool advocates have had a tough time convincing lawmakers that spending money in the earliest years of a child’s education has a long-term payoff.
Just ask Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner.
At this year’s Education Writers Association conference in Chicago, Rauner said her husband, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, understands the value of early childhood education.
Joe Nelson wasn’t the only principal along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August 2005 to face rebuilding a school in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But he did it with exceptional leadership, focusing on setting up reward systems for students and teachers and creating an environment where they could flourish despite the devastation around them.
Teachers from Chicago, New York, and Arizona offer their views on how Common Core State Standards and assessments are playing out in the classroom and how their schools and districts have – and haven’t – changed practice.
If teachers and principals want students on center stage in their classrooms, they’ll first have to do a lot of work backstage. However, as a panel of teachers and students told attendees at EWA’s recent National Seminar in Chicago, the return on investment can be substantial.
When Revere High School, outside Boston, began moving to a more student-centered approach, the educators didn’t expect an overnight miracle.
Children are the future, but they’re also the source of billions of data points, and the battle over that information has just begun. Startups are angling for a piece of the multibillion-dollar education market those kids represent, while government agencies are touting data collection to improve instruction. But who’s keeping student data safe?
- Benjamin Herold, Education Week
When Superintendent Bolgen Vargas wanted to extend the school day in the Rochester City School District, a low-income, low-performing district in New York, he waded through research and reached out for guidance. “We wanted to do this, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t another flavor of the month,” Vargas said at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar.
Four recipients of EWA’s National Awards for Education Writing reminded attendees of the 68th National Seminar that perseverance pays off and the best investigations often begin by chance.
The United States should look to countries like Switzerland and Singapore – both seen as having strong, successful vocational education systems – if it wants to address the widening skills gap among young people.
That was the consensus of two of the three panelists during a discussion on rethinking career and technical education during the Education Writers Association’s 68th national seminar in Chicago.
Reporters should pay attention not just to the amount of money charter schools receive but how they are spending it, reporter and moderator Sarah Carr said as she kicked off a session on charter school finance at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago.
That’s how many students the White House believes will be able to attend a community college under the president’s proposed America’s College Promise program. During the session at EWA’s National Seminar held last month in Chicago, U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said nine million students see college as unaffordable.
When Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press began investigating for a series on charter schools, she and her colleagues gathered in a conference room at the Michigan Department of Education and started flipping through blue binders on every charter school in the state. The reporters pored over contracts and leases, filed Freedom of Information Act requests, visited schools, interviewed teachers, and had a data expert analyze student test scores.
The body is cold, the obituary written. All that’s left for the federal No Child Left Behind Law is to pull the plug — and, crucially, for the U.S. Congress to agree on what comes next.
That was the consensus among four experts who spoke on a panel, “RIP NCLB?: A New Role for Uncle Sam,” at the Education Writers Association’s annual conference in Chicago on April 21.
Inside Higher Ed Co-founder and Editor Scott Jaschik offers his insights on the most influential stories journalists should be following in the upcoming academic year, including funding for community colleges, upheaval in the admissions process, free speech, and laws that permit students to carry guns on campuses.
At a speech in December, Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, took the United States to task for the way it funds schools.
“Public education spending is often lower for students in lower-income households than for students in higher-income households,” she told the audience at the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality, in Boston.
Need a state or national statistic? There’s likely a federal data set for that. From fairly intuitive and interactive widgets to dense spreadsheets — and hundreds of data summaries in between — the U.S. Department of Education’s various research programs are a gold mine for reporters on the hunt for facts and figures.
Most students don’t study using methods backed by scientific research, panelists at the Education Writers Association’s deep dive on the science of learning told reporters in Chicago at the association’s 68th National Seminar.
“Why do people find learning so hard?” asked Henry Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who participated in the April event.
Two used buses retrofitted into state-of-the-art preschool classrooms drive around several of Colorado’s most rural and isolated communities to bring high-quality preschool right to families’ doorsteps.
Saturday nights in the newsroom we keep an ear tuned to the scanner. After dark it becomes this portal to all nightmares, a listening post to a relationship war zone.
At first, calls of beatings, knifings and guns drawn ramp up the adrenalin. But eventually, the drone of the dispatchers and pure repetition dull the impact. About 40 percent of all cases at the District Attorney’s office in my county relate to domestic violence.
Back in December, reporter Lauren Foreman of the Bakersfield Californian sent an email titled “Banned from classrooms” to a group of education journalists.
“One of my district’s assistant supes told me today reporters aren’t allowed to observe classroom instruction, and parents aren’t even allowed to freely do that,” she wrote. Foreman wanted to know what policies were in other districts and how she ought to respond.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks with attendees at the kickoff of EWA’s 68th National Seminar in Chicago on April 20, 2015.
The last decade’s increasing reliance on data-driven education tools has policy leaders scrambling to safeguard personal information as Americans increasingly become concerned about their children’s digital footprints.
Chief among the challenges lawmakers face is juggling the extraordinary growth of an industry and the personal safety of students.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan fields reporters’ questions culled by Motoko Rich of the New York Times at EWA’s National Seminar in Chicago, April 21, 2015.
At EWA’s 2015 National Seminar, Vassar College President Catharine Bond Hill discussed the costs of higher education and Vassar’s efforts to make college more affordable and equitable.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan subjected himself to what might have been the ultimate edu-press conference in Chicago Tuesday, allowing hundreds of reporters to grill him on testing, No Child Left Behind, college ratings (and yes, White Suburban moms) at the Education Writers Association’s 68th National Seminar.
An ongoing “opt-out” campaign has stirred debate over whether students are over-tested., and what kind of tests are to blame. How much time – and money – do schools spend on testing? A panel of experts explored the issue during “Too Many Tests?”
Here are the highlights of the discussion moderated by Emily Hanford of American RadioWorks. The panel included Matt Chingos of the Brookings Institution, Scott Marion of the National Center on Assessment, and Bob Schaeffer of FairTest.
Speakers, including U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-IN, offer reporters the lay of the land and discuss how rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act may affect their school districts and states. Some speakers say NCLB is already dead, but they’re still not certain what will take its place, other than policies handed down through the U.S. Department of Education’s waivers from NCLB provisions.
In a wide-ranging speech on educational opportunity, teacher quality, school funding and accountability delivered at the kickoff of the Education Writers Association’s 68th National Seminar, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner shared with reporters his vision for the future of education in the Prairie State.
Hannah-Jones of ProPublica Receives the 2014 Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting
Highest Honor in Education Journalism
APRIL 20, 2015 (CHICAGO)—A ProPublica package of stories about the lingering effects of segregation in American schools by Nikole Hannah-Jones has been awarded the top prize in the Education Writers Association’s 2014 National Awards for Education Reporting.
Before the National Seminar officially kicks off, EWA has organized special sessions and workshops for journalist attendees. More information and a link to register are below.
Space is limited and advance registration is required.
Presentations and handouts are linked to the presenter’s name. Unless noted, all links are PDFs.
Monday, April 20
The Core Story of Education with the FrameWorks Institute (For Community Members)
8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
March 26, 2015 (WASHINGTON, DC)—The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 National Awards for Education Reporting, honoring exceptional journalism from print, radio and online media outlets across the country.
The 33 honored entries hail from a diverse array of media outlets that range from three-person newsrooms to outlets with hundreds of reporters. More than 240 entrants submitted roughly 360 entries in 18 categories.
The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce that its 2015 National Seminar, the organization’s flagship annual conference, will take place April 20-22, 2015, at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Chicago, IL. This year, we will focus on “Costs and Benefits: Covering the Economics of Education.”
Applicants should be full-time education reporters with less than two years experience on the beat.
The New to the Beat orientation will take place Monday, April 20 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. prior to the opening session of National Seminar.
Additionally, participants will be assigned to veteran journalist mentors who will provide coaching and support over a six-month period. Reporters will be expected to produce at least one story reflecting knowledge and skills acquired as a result of participating in the program.
The Education Writers Association and American Educational Research Association are joining forces to offer a fellowship program for journalists interested in broadening their understanding of education data. Reporters and editors chosen for the fellowships will attend an intensive joint data workshop, as well as data-oriented sessions at EWA’s 68th National Seminar hosted by The University of Chicago and AERA’s 2015 Annual Meeting in the Windy City.
EWA Announces Theme and Date of 2015 Conference
Chicago Event to Explore Costs and Benefits of Education
The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce that its 68th National Seminar will be held April 20-22, 2015, in the heart of Chicago. Hosted by the Urban Education Institute of the University of Chicago, EWA’s flagship annual conference will focus on “Costs and Benefits: Covering the Economics of Education.”