69th Education Writers Association National Seminar

Overview

69th EWA National Seminar
May 1–3, 2016 • Boston

The 69th National Seminar, to be held May 1–3, will explore issues related to “The Quest for Quality and Equity” in education and its coverage, as well as other salient topics in the field. More on the conference theme.

Three days of dynamic programming and networking opportunities await the estimated 600 journalists and education experts who will gather this spring in historic downtown Boston for EWA's annual National Seminar.

The conference, the largest gathering of education journalists in the nation, will be jointly hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and its School of Education.

The 69th National Seminar, to be held May 1–3, will explore issues related to “The Quest for Quality and Equity” in education and its coverage, as well as other salient topics in the field. More on the conference theme.

Three days of dynamic programming and networking opportunities await the estimated 600 journalists and education experts who will gather this spring in historic downtown Boston for EWA’s annual National Seminar.

The conference, the largest gathering of education journalists in the nation, will be jointly hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and its School of Education.

Latest News

As Other Districts Grapple With Segregation, This One Makes Integration Work

The Morris School District was created in 1971, after a state court decision led to the merger of two Northern New Jersey communities — the mostly white suburbs of Morris Township, and the racially mixed urban hub of Morristown — into one school district for the purpose of maintaining racial and economic balance. Paul Tractenberg says the district has a “remarkable can-do attitude” that has allowed officials to continuously “rejigger what they are doing to accommodate the demands of the moment.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Using Social Media Tools to Share Stories

Journalists and other communicators must reach out to their audiences to share information, stories and messages, but that begs the question: Which social media tools are most effective, beyond Facebook and Twitter?

Several communications experts tackled this issue during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar earlier this year.

The panelists said it’s critical to start by being clear about the target audience, or audiences, as well as the message they want to share. Those factors influence which platforms are most effective.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Student Voices Matter

Claire Faulkner will be a junior this fall at the Journalism and Media Academy Magnet School (JMA) in Hartford, Connecticut. She was selected to represent her program as a student journalist at this year's EWA National Seminar in Boston. (Photo courtesy of Claire Faulkner)

Here’s why I attended this year’s Education Writers Association National Seminar: As a high school student, I wanted to gain a new perspective on public schools and what is being done to improve them. And as an aspiring journalist, I was hoping to learn more about news coverage of education and why it is so important.

I attended many sessions over the course of the three-day event, but the session that stood out to me and that I continue to think about months later is Students At Center Stage. 

Key Coverage

The Question of Tech Equity

The red-brick building of Ashburn Community Elementary School sits on a quiet street of bungalows, two blocks from the commuter rail line that cuts through the city’s Far Southwest Side.

The principal, Jewel Diaz, is a veteran who’s led Ashburn since 2003, the year after it opened. Nearly all of her students are low-income children of color, and a survey the school conducted last year showed that dozens of them don’t have internet access at home. To make up for this, Diaz has tried to compensate at school.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Seven Higher Ed Stories Journalists Should Be Covering This Year

Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jaschik started his annual listing of higher education stories ripe for coverage this upcoming year by asking journalists to do better when choosing which news developments to cover.

In May, just before Jaschik’s presentation at the Education Writers Association’s conference in Boston, President Obama’s daughter Malia had recently committed to attending Harvard University and taking a “gap year.”

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Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students

Low-income and minority students are less likely to have experienced, high-quality teachers, research shows. What steps can school districts and educators put in place to improve these statistics? Panelists share some strategies.

  • James Cole, U.S. Department of Education
  • Sonja Santelises, Education Trust
  • Dyan Smiley, American Federation of Teachers
  • Jeffrey Solochek, Tampa Bay Times (moderator)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Wanted: High-Quality Principal Training

(From left to right) Moderator Emma Brown of The Washington Post moderates a panel on principal leadership with experts Vincent Cho, Erika Hunt, Glenn Pethelfar at Boston University in May 2016. (Lilli Boxer for EWA)

Given the key role that strong leadership plays in providing effective schools, experts, superintendents and universities say principal training deserves a “needs improvement” on its report card.

The nation’s numerous principal-preparation programs are hit or miss, according to Vincent Cho, assistant professor of educational leadership at Boston College.

“There are thousands and thousands of leadership programs operating right now,” and they aren’t all equal, Cho said.

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Hunger on Campus
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Hunger on Campus

Even as college enrollment among low-income students has risen, so too have college costs, leaving many students without the means to buy their next meals. From food pantries to food stamps, this session explores what colleges are doing to help the growing number of students facing “food insecurity.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Boston Charter Aims to Innovate, Extend Reach

English teacher Caroline Bartlett began her work with Match Public Charter School as a tutor, and was hired out of the organization's training corps. (Photo credit: Match Public Charter School)

In early May at Match Public Charter School in Boston, 18 freshmen are preparing to discuss themes from “Lord of the Flies.” Their English teacher is Ashley Davis, a 26-year-old native of Cincinnati who’s in her second year of teaching, but acts like a veteran.

Davis will soon have her students explaining the biblical allusions in the 1954 novel and debating whether mankind is naturally good or evil.

Key Coverage

The Question of Tech Equity

The red-brick building of Ashburn Community Elementary School sits on a quiet street of bungalows, two blocks from the commuter rail line that cuts through the city’s Far Southwest Side.

The principal, Jewel Diaz, is a veteran who’s led Ashburn since 2003, the year after it opened. Nearly all of her students are low-income children of color, and a survey the school conducted last year showed that dozens of them don’t have internet access at home. To make up for this, Diaz has tried to compensate at school.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Math: A Glimpse in the Classroom

The fourth grade students sit on a carpet, wriggling, shaking their hands, looking in all directions as a teacher uses the most basic of tools — a red sharpie and a big white pad — to deliver her lesson.

The day’s agenda: teaching the Common Core standard of finding “whole number quotients.” She writes an equation on the board, and the answer works out to be 100. But she’s not done.

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Getting in Deep: Immersing Yourself in a Difficult Education Story
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Getting in Deep: Immersing Yourself in a Difficult Education Story

Award-winning Boston Globe journalist Meghan Irons shares lessons from her reporting on two complex stories about students and race: one on equity and campus climate at Boston Latin, the nation’s oldest public school; and another that looked closely at school desegregation 40 years after the tumultuous debut of court-ordered busing in Boston.

  • Meghan Irons, The Boston Globe
  • Denise Amos, The Florida Times-Union (moderator)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Ethics of Interviewing Students

Reporter Neal Morton of the Las Vegas Review-Journal interviews students during a visit to Revere (Mass.) High School in May 2016. (Emily Richmond/EWA)

Reporters face increasingly complex ethical and legal questions when it comes to interviewing and reporting on children in the digital age.

A sensitive story that once would have rolled off the presses and been recycled the next day, or lived on the air for less than a minute, now remains online with no expiration in sight.

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By the Book: Dale Russakoff, The Prize
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

By the Book: Dale Russakoff, The Prize

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his $100 million pledge to transform the downtrodden schools of Newark, New Jersey, then-mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie were beside him, vowing to help make Newark “a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation.” Dale Russakoff’s book tells the story of what happened next.

  • Dale Russakoff, author
  • Leslie Brody, The Wall Street Journal (moderator)
Report

No More Free Lunch for Education Policymakers and Researchers
Brookings Institution

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), like No Child Left Behind before it, requires states to report information on the academic achievement of students in each of their schools, both overall and for various subgroups of students. A subgroup of particular interest to policymakers and researchers is economically disadvantaged students, who, on average, score much lower on standardized tests than their higher-income peers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educating Immigrant Students: A Story in Every Community

Experts discuss the education of immigrant students during a recent panel at an Education Writers Association seminar in Boston.

I spent an academic year as an embedded reporter inside a Memphis high school that enrolled hundreds of children of Mexican immigrants. Many of the young people I met that year had lived most of their lives in the United States, and in some cases were born here. Most spoke fluent English.

As I followed these English-speaking students around the school, I paid much less attention to another group of young people: kids who had recently arrived from other countries and spoke little English.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering Education With Cultural Sensitivity

(Bigstock)

Most education journalists probably remember last year’s viral video depicting members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing a racist chant.

“I thought it was a really isolated, terrible incident,” recalled Kimberly Hefling, then an education reporter for The Associated Press. But her colleague, Jesse Holland, didn’t see it as a major news event at all.

Key Coverage

Scholar: After Fisher, Schools Should Reassess Diversity Policies

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the use of race in college admissions, colleges and universities should assess their policies in a way that takes a more nuanced look at diversity, a higher education scholar said Tuesday.

Liliana M. Garces, assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, said the court’s majority opinion in the case — known as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — “reflects a robust understanding of diversity.”

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Interviewing DREAMers
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Interviewing DREAMers

Undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children are often known as “DREAMers,” for the failed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. In the face of instability, many DREAMers have turned to advocacy. DREAMers share their immigration stories and discuss the media’s approach to reporting on the undocumented.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

School Security: Inside or Out?

A public safety officer participates in a safety demonstration with schoolchildren in Charleston, South Carolina. (Flickr/South Charleston)

The grim subject of violent attacks in schools seems unlikely to go away. While the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School appeared to be a watershed moment in the national conversation about how to keep schools and students safe, school shootings have continued and little has changed in how the issue is covered in the news media.

Most stories about school security center tend to focus on extreme events or threats.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A Family Affair: Engaging Parents of Color

Parents attend "Back to School Night" at Barrett Elementary in Arlington, Va. Many districts are targeting  families of color to boost their involvement school activities and their children's learning. (Flickr/K.W. Barrett)

Students of color represent more than half of the United States’ public school population, but their parents are the most underrepresented group of stakeholders in local and national conversations about whether policies and reforms are working for their students.

A panel of experts who engage parents of color on local and national levels shared these and other observations with education reporters in Boston at the Education Writers Association annual national conference. And their message was clear: No longer can these voices be ignored.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Building Better Student Assessments

(Flickr/Federico Feroldi)

Some student assessments don’t look much like standardized tests at all, even when they’re being used for school accountability.

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Finding — and Telling — Great Stories
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Finding — and Telling — Great Stories

Strong voices can mean the difference between good stories and great ones. Journalists gain practical insights to sharpen their skills in this narrative writing workshop session led by Louise Kiernan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor at the Chicago Tribune, and now associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

  • Louise Kiernan, Northwestern University
  • Cornelia Grumman, Robert R. McCormick Foundation (moderator)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Expert Reporter’s Tips: Covering Students with Special Needs

David DesRoches covers education and related topics for Connecticut's WNPR. (Source: WNPR)

When David DesRoches learned in 2013 that a small, wealthy Connecticut town was failing to educate its special-needs children properly, he began some textbook investigative journalism work: filing public records requests, cultivating dozens of sources, and trekking to meeting after meeting. What resulted was one of the most in-depth reporting projects ever on the rights of students with disabilities and the failures of their school districts to respect them.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can Schools Bridge the Digital Divide?

Students work in a computer lab at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public school in the District of Columbia. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

As education becomes increasingly digital, it creates a world of opportunities for students, who can now visit world-famous museums or collaborate with other students without ever leaving the classroom.

But it also creates potential barriers for families lacking access to adequate devices or high-speed internet and can lead to a growing opportunity gap.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Higher Education and the 2016 Presidential Election

Flickr/Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The first total solar eclipse to sweep across the entire continental United States in 38 years will occur on August 21, 2017. Don’t expect reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) anytime before then.

The HEA expired at the end of 2013 and it’s likely nothing will happen with it in an election year or soon thereafter, agreed a panel of journalists discussing key higher education issues and the 2016 presidential election, at the Education Writers Association National Seminar in Boston in May.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘Student-Centered’ Approach Transforms High School

EWA journalist members talk with students in a Mandarin Chinese language class at Revere High School near Boston, Mass. in May, 2016. (Emily Richmond/EWA)

For Nancy Barile, who teaches English at Revere High School, turning around a reluctant reader meant turning on her own TV.

The student wouldn’t read or do homework, Barile said, but he was “obsessed” with The Walking Dead and urged his teacher to watch the program. So Bartile, who has taught at Revere for 21 years, made a deal: She would watch the TV show if he would read.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Is the AP Program Helping Disadvantaged Students?

Woodstock High School psychology teacher John Headley leads an Advanced Placement class discussion on classical and operant conditions. Woodstock District 200 in Crystal Lake, Illinois has been working with the nonprofit Equal Opportunity Schools to be proactive about allowing more students to access AP courses. (H. Rick Bamman / Shaw Media)

Participation in the Advanced Placement program has more than doubled over the past decade, with nearly 2.5 million students taking one or more AP exams in 2015. But with that growth has come questions about the push to ramp up the AP presence, especially initiatives that target low-income and minority students.

How well do AP courses prepare students for the rigors of college? And are students who may lack adequate preparation benefiting from the coursework?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Putting Students in Charge of Their Own Learning

Students from El Centro de Estudiantes learn from their mentors at Philadelphia's Wooden Boat Factory. Providing more personalized learning experiences has been found to improve students' motivation and academic outcomes. (Photo credit: Big Picture Learning)

Imagine you’re a student: You walk into school and check an electronic board for your name and where you go for the day. At the assigned station, you and a small group of fellow students work with a teacher on algebra, which builds on the lesson you mastered the day before. Then, you take a short quiz that helps to create your class schedule for the next day.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

When Arts and Academics Share Center Stage

Students participate in a dance class at Boston Arts Academy, the only public arts high school in the city. (Natalie Gross/ EWA)

In the shadow of Boston’s Fenway Park, young playwrights do a read-through of a student script. Down the hall, dancers are flicking their toes in soulful precision.

On a tour of the Boston Arts Academy during the Education Writers Association’s national conference in May, visiting journalists listened in as students in a photo class talk about composition and critique one another’s work.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

School Segregation: What Does It Mean Today?

From left: Farah Stockman, Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner talk with reporters at EWA's National Seminar in Boston on May 3, 2016. (Lily Boxer for EWA)

After an unarmed Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones watched events unfold from afar. But she was struck when the 18-year-old’s mother, standing at the edge of the crime scene where her son’s dead body lay, asked if the authorities knew how hard it is to get a black boy to graduate from high school.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Coverage of Campus Racism Sparks Debate About Media’s Editorial Process

Students from the University of Missouri, Princeton University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago speak on a panel at EWA's 69th National Seminar in May. They were joined by moderator Collin Binkley, right, of the Associated Press. Source: Natalie Gross/ EWA

Divisive dialogue erupted last year after students from the University of Missouri formed a wall to prevent reporters from entering a public space — an area that the students who were protesting racism on campus wanted to designate as a “safe space.” But for Mizzou student journalist Caroline Bauman, the incident revealed a disconnect between reporters and the communities they cover.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

What the Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action Could Mean for College Admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Fisher v. University of Texas case challenging the state university system's admissions policies. (Flickr/David)

The issue of race and diversity in college admissions once again is front and center, as the U.S. Supreme Court will rule soon on the high-profile affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas.

Panelists during a discussion at the Education Writers Association’s national conference in May offered mixed predictions about how the court will rule on whether the use of race in admissions is constitutional and how far the effects of the ruling could reach.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Investigative Reporting: Tracking Teacher Misconduct

Flickr/Donna Sullivan Thomson

National record-keeping on teacher misconduct is inconsistent and incomplete, allowing those accused of malpractice to move into teaching jobs in other school districts that are unaware of the charges. Even some convictions may slip through the cracks.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Understanding Poverty’s Impact on Students

Flickr/Marie In Shaw

There’s a perfect storm of poor conditions fueling America’s troubling achievement gap.

Six of the country’s top thinkers on equity in education recently laid out some of the reasons why poor students of color struggle academically. And it’s not just because of what happens inside of classrooms.

“The gaps (when students enter school) account for the majority of the gaps later on,” said Jane Waldfogel, a professor at Columbia University who participated in an Education Writers Association discussion this month on equity, poverty, and education.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students

Teacher Lisa Jones leads a lesson at Watkins Elementary School in Washington D.C. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

How do you get the best teachers in front of the students who need them the most? It’s an issue getting increased attention, but a tough problem to solve.

An Obama administration official said he’s encouraged by state plans developed to “ensure equitable access to excellent educators,” as required in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Students at Center Stage
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Students at Center Stage

Many conversations about school improvement skip an essential element: student voices. This session stars students who are learning to advocate for themselves — both inside and outside the classroom. What’s firing them up, particularly in “student-centered learning” environments? What do they want reporters to know about the real world of schools?

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Keeping Up With the Zuckerbergs
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Keeping Up With the Zuckerbergs

In the 10 years since Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey posted his first tweet — “just setting up my twttr” — a lot has changed in social media. Which platforms — next-generation and old school — should you be using for audience engagement, and how? This session examines a range of platforms and takes a deep dive on a few highly effective tools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Meeting Parents’ School-Data Needs

It's essential for parents to be competent at managing their own children's educational data, and for school districts to be transparent about what information is stored and shared, experts say. (Flickr/Knight Foundation)

Parents need more than a report card to know how their children are doing in school. And as they evaluate their local educational options, many parents struggle to find key information, whether it’s course offerings, school-safety statistics, or the quality of teachers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

More Than Scores: Assessing Teacher Evaluations

Ary Amerikaner from the U.S. Department of Education shadows teacher Mike Mangiaracina at Brent Elementary School in Washington. District of Columbia Public Schools' overhaul of its teacher evaluation system has attracted national scrutiny. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

The not-so-old teacher evaluation model was based on a “30-minute drive-by,” according to education policy expert Thomas Toch of Georgetown University.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Wellness, Creativity, and Exemplary Teaching: The Codman Academy Formula

Physics teacher Maggie Mahmood works with sophomore students at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, Mass. (Liana Heitin for EWA)

At Codman Academy Charter Public School, the walls in the lower school hallways aren’t covered in the bright reds, yellows, and oranges visitors might expect in an elementary setting. Instead, they’re subdued neutrals, mostly creams and browns. Rather than large chart paper displays and murals, there are natural wood panels, internal and external windows, and glass panels decorated with branches and leaves.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Mining Social Media for Reporting

Wikimedia Images/MoD/MOD

If you’re like a lot of reporters in my newsroom, your social media skills amount to scanning Twitter and Facebook.

To say that we have fallen behind is an understatement. The good news is that you don’t need programming skills to be good at mining social media.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Do Massachusetts Public Schools Lead the Nation?

Massachusetts, a strong performer on both national and international educational rankings, is home to Boston Latin, the nation's oldest public school. (Wikimedia Commons/Daderot)

When it comes to the story of Massachusetts’ public schools, the takeaway, according to the state’s former education secretary, Paul Reville, is that “doing well isn’t good enough.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Charter School Sector’s Growing Pains

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students during a college application rally at the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Charter schools have expanded significantly in recent years, including in the nation's capital. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Roughly 25 years after the first charter school opened in Minnesota, the debate over these publicly funded but independently operated campuses remains polarized.

Juan Cofield, the president of the NAACP’s New England Area Conference opposes a looming public referendum in Massachusetts to lift that state’s cap on the number of charter schools.

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EWA Executive Director Presents Findings From First-Of-Its-Kind Survey
State Of The Education Beat 2016

EWA Executive Director Presents Findings From First-Of-Its-Kind Survey

Education journalists have the critically important task of informing the public about education at the local, state, and national levels. But little is known about this sector of the news media. What does this workforce look like? Do education journalists believe their work matters? Are they satisfied in their jobs? What challenges does the field face to better informing public dialogue on education?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond ‘Free Lunch’: Mining School Data on Poverty

Reporters can find a wealth of story ideas on schools and poverty that are deeper than just statistics on how many students sign up for free and reduced-price meals. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)

For education journalists, writing about poverty poses many challenges. But one of the most overlooked is that it’s often difficult to know much about the socioeconomic background of students in a given school. Reporters often rely on two things: anecdotal evidence and the percentage of students who receive a free or reduced-price lunch.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Higher Ed: Hunger on Campus

Flickr/Salvation Army USA West (CC BY 2.0)

The stereotypes of the financially struggling college students are well-known. They live on ramen, share an apartment or house with several roommates, and work part-time for money to buy beer. They get summer jobs to cover college tuition and expenses. And they come from middle- and upper-class families, so if they do struggle sometimes to pay the bills, that scarcity is hip and cool.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘Paper Tigers’ Documentary Offers Solutions to Teaching Traumatized Kids

From left, James Redford, director of Paper Tigers, Amanda Moreno of the Erikson Institute, Michelle Porche of Boston University, and Michael Chandler of the Washington Post discuss the impact of trauma on children's ability to learn. (Lilli Boxer for EWA)

The film “Paper Tigers” opens with what looks like phone camera footage of a fight. There’s a splatter of blood, shouting, a chair flying across a classroom.

The voiceover is a patchwork of voices saying things like: “This place is absolute chaos.” And: “All the kids were forced to be here.” And: “That’s where the bad kids went.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Taking Stock of Student Testing

Panelists at EWA's National Seminar in Boston on May 2. From left: Michael Casserly, Linda Hanson, Mitchell Chester, and Andrew Ho. (Shirley Goh for EWA)

As states and districts debate which standardized tests are best for students, they are evaluating many factors, including curriculum alignment, the amount of time the assessments take, and how soon the results come in.

During an Education Writers Association conference in Boston this month, analysts and education leaders explored how students, teachers, and school systems are adjusting to changes in testing, and probed the challenges in making sense of this complex topic.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A New 2016 “Common Core,” With Social-and-Emotional Muscle

By BMRR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the age of nine, Amalio Nieves saw his father die from gun violence in Chicago. And as a child, Nieves himself was robbed at gunpoint. Now he’s always thinking about his young niece Jordan and the year 2100 – when Jordan will be the parent of a child that leads America into a new, unknown century.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

When States Take Over Schools

Students at Roose Elementary School in Detroit in March 2016. (Flickr/A Healthier Michigan). The Motor City is just one example of where a state has intervened to assume oversight of a struggling public education system.

Most reporters dread seeing the next school board meeting on the calendar. But as more states take over failing schools, removing them from local control, some journalists are finding open and easily accessible meetings harder to come by, and recognizing the value of what they’ve lost.

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Stories to Watch in 2016-17

(Pixabay/Benjamin Nelan)

Equity. Testing and curriculum. Restorative justice.

Look for those themes in education coverage over the coming year, suggested a panel of journalists at EWA’s 69th annual National Seminar earlier this month. Guided by moderator David Hoff of the social marketing firm Hager Sharp, the panelists were asked to share their thoughts on the education stories to watch in the 2016-17 academic year.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Free For All? The Debate Over Universal Pre-K

The efficacy and quality of universal pre-school programs is a hot topic of debate for the nation's education policymakers and researchers. (Flickr/Seattle Parks)

When it comes making prekindergarten available to all children, the question for policymakers is not whether it’s a good idea or not. The issue is whether it’s possible to make high-quality pre-K universal, and what makes pre-K effective in the first place.

That was the main message from experts who spoke earlier this month at the Education Writers Association’s national seminar in Boston.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

State-by-State Rankings of College Affordability

Atomic Taco/Flickr (Highline Community College)

An affordable college education. Politicians and bus stop ads promise it, students and parents dream of it. But can anyone define it?

Authors of one data-rich report tried their best to bring this vague yet crucial concept into focus by answering a simple question: What percent of your income would you need to pay to go to college in each state?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Experts Say Teachers Are Being Taught Bad Science

Source: Nora Newcombe's presentation at EWA's National Seminar in Boston

Here’s a quick quiz. Rate the following statements on a scale from one to five, with one meaning you totally disagree and five meaning you wholeheartedly agree:

  • Beginners and experts essentially think in the same way.

  • Most people are either left-brained or right-brained.

  • Students learn more when information is tailored to their unique learning styles.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Psychology, Mentoring and Dollars: Innovations in Graduating More Students from College

Flickr/Cat Branchman (CC BY 2.0)

College students enter their institutions excited about learning and eager to succeed. Yet many don’t.

Hurdles like the cost of attendance certainly exist, but researchers are also now starting to examine the effects psychological barriers such as social group dynamics, self-confidence and feelings of isolation have on college students’ success.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Missing Class: Using Data to Track Chronic Absenteeism

Fickr/dcJohn (CC BY 2.0)

For every savant who’s skilled enough to ditch class and still ace the course, many more who miss school fall way behind, increasing their odds of dropping out or performing poorly.

The implications are major: If a school has a high number of students repeatedly absent, there’s a good chance other troubles are afoot. Feeling uninspired in the classroom, poor family outreach, or struggles at students’ homes are just some of the root causes of absenteeism, experts say.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Deeper Learning: ‘Skills That Everyone Needs’

Students dissect a chicken wing to learn about muscle structure in science class. This is the kind of hands-on activity researchers believe contribute to "deeper learning".  (Flickr/Jose Kevo)

In some classrooms, students are learning deeply. These students not only master the subject, but they are able to articulate why they are learning about something and apply what they’ve learned to real-life situations. Advocates of “deeper learning” say the approach has become even more important in a changing economy that demands critical thinking.

Agenda

69th EWA National Seminar: Speakers
Experts, reporters, and scholars presenting

A

Dakarai Aarons

Dakarai I. Aarons is the director of communications and external affairs for the Data Quality Campaign. Previously, he served as education and policy manager for CommunicationWorks, where he managed key messaging, outreach and interactive projects focused on urban education, school leadership, school improvement and policy change in K-12 education, and also on projects involving student access and success in postsecondary education.

Agenda

69th EWA National Seminar: Agenda
May 1 – 3, 2016 • Boston

Sunday, May 1

Breakfast

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.

New to the Beat

8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

New to the Beat is EWA’s orientation and mentoring program for journalists with less than two years’ experience on the beat. This workshop session, led by seasoned newsroom experts, covers beat basics including accessing open records; using education research in everyday reporting; building sources; and tips for interviewing teachers and students.

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This Is What Happens When Charter Schools Think Big

Match Beyond has a bodacious goal: To invent a college program that wipes out undergraduate debt and cures poverty.

Not the rarefied college designed for that by-the-bootstraps, defy-the-odds high school senior trotted out for interviews and inspirational speeches when visitors come to high-poverty schools looking for their scholarship success stories.

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With ‘Blame and Shame’ Accountability Behind Us, What Will Take Its Place?

One of the most important and welcomed provisions of the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) is the removal of so-called adequate yearly progress – the federal mandate that came to symbolize everything that was wrong with the way No Child Left Behind defined and measured accountability. AYP imposed rigid and narrow measures for school improvement, improperly labeling many schools as low-performing and imposing punishment when they were unable to meet the unrealistic expectations for proficiency.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Rethinking Accountability in the ESSA Era

Lauren Camera (far left) of US News & World Report moderates the ESSA panel discussion in Boston on May 2, 2016. (Jeffrey Solochek for EWA)

When President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in December, he shifted significant power over educational accountability back to states and school districts.

They still face federal requirements on testing, identifying and assisting the lowest performing schools, and related matters. Money remains the carrot.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

K-12 Education Seen as Side Issue in White House Race

Source: Flickr/ via Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

K-12 education hasn’t been a top theme this presidential campaign cycle, but reporters could be more aggressive in mining information from the candidates on the topic, analysts said at a national forum this week.

Historically, education hasn’t played prominently on the campaign trail, said Martin West, an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The 2016 presidential election is no exception – although this race for the White House has also proven wildly unpredictable.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Progressives in Massachusetts Shortchange Poor Kids, Governor Says

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at EWA's National Seminar in Boston. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for EWA)

Massachusetts has long been the poster child for education.

For years now it’s ranked at the top in the country for math and reading achievement, boasted impressive graduation rates and made a significant financial investments over the last few decades to get there.

It’s no slouch when it comes to higher education either. Massachusetts harbors some of the best colleges and universities in the world, and it’s joining a growing number of states looking to make college more affordable.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Obama Official: To Lower Cost of College, States Must Spend More

U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell spoke at EWA's 69th annual National Seminar in Boston. Source: U.S. Department of Education

“The most expensive degree is the one you don’t get.” That’s Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell quoting former U.S. Ed Secretary Arne Duncan at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar on Monday. Mitchell’s talk focused on how to prevent such a costly slip.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Secretary John King Talks Integration, Diversity at EWA National Seminar

Greg Toppo of USA Today, left, facilitates a keynote by U.S. Secretary of Education John King at EWA's 69th National Seminar Monday, May 2. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for EWA)

Racial diversity and the socioeconomic integration of schools can be powerful tools to help improve educational opportunities for students, but much depends on whether states and local communities prioritize them, Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. stressed in remarks here on Monday.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Angela Duckworth: Raising Test Scores Is Not a Sign of Grit

In the dozen years that Angela Duckworth has researched the concept of grit, she’s found new ways to test its validity, identified examples of it in popular culture, and worked to bust myths about its application in schools. But she hasn’t developed a just-add-water curriculum package that interested schools can use to develop the character trait in their students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Behind the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Failure Factories Series

Kindergartner Tyree Parker sits at the front doors of Maximo Elementary as he waits for school to open. (Tampa Bay Times/Dirk Shadd)

Cara Fitzpatrick was in labor when her husband – and colleague at the Tampa Bay Times – asked her “So what can you tell me about segregation in Pinellas County?”

The paper had just decided to do a large-scale investigation into the district’s schools that were serving predominately low-income, black students. Two years later, Fitzpatrick’s son is walking and talking and she and the rest of the team have earned a Pulitzer Prize for their series Failure Factories.  

Information

Apply for a Scholarship
Journalist Only Application

On April 19, requests for scholarships closed for this year’s National Seminar.

EWA provides limited scholarships for working journalists to attend the National Seminar. Do not register or book your travel and hotel until you’ve received an award letter by email from EWA. Your application must be reviewed by EWA first. Learn more about the scholarship process.

Announcement

EWA Announces Date and Venue of 2016 National Seminar
Flagship Conference Coming to New England’s Largest City

(Bigstock)

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.