From Ideas to Action: Making It Happen in Newsrooms and Schools
EWA's 67th National Seminar

Sunday May 18

12:00 pm

Networking box lunch
Wyatt Atrium

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Workshops 1                    

A. Beyond the Budget Blueprint: How to Report on School Finance
Wyatt 223 

Think of budgets as blueprints. They may be the outline of how a district plans to spend its money, but the realities can differ greatly. A veteran data journalist walks you through how to dig deeper into your school district’s finances to find important stories.

•  Tawnell Hobbs, The Dallas Morning News

B. Community Members Workshop: Making Sure Your Voice Is Heard
Wyatt 201 

This session explores how to engage effectively with the media and ensure your position is covered fairly in news stories, editorials, TV news segments. This session will also look at how social media can be mobilized to get across your point of view effectively.           

•  Felice Nudelman, Antioch University
•  Scott Widmeyer, Widmeyer Communications –A Finn Partners Company

C. Getting the Scoop From Social Media           
Wyatt 050-1

Social media can serve as excellent reporting tools, especially on deadline. School closings because of a snowstorm? Waiting for the outcome of a controversial school board vote? Connect with your readers and community members.           

•  Kristen Graham, The Philadelphia Inquirer
•  Toni Konz, The Courier-Journal

D. Google Workshop Part 1: Beyond the Basics of the Search Engine        
Wyatt Rotunda

Google trainer Nick Whitaker provides a walk-through of how to use Google search engines and other tools in sophisticated ways to research stories.     

•  Nick Whitaker, Google

E.  NCES Presents: Exploring College Navigator and IPEDS
Wyatt Lab 132      

The U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator and IPEDS Data Center website let reporters easily find and download data about financial aid, net price, student demographics, graduation and retention for schools in geographic areas of their choice. Led by a researcher from the National Center for Education Statistics, this session will help reporters take these powerful data tools for a test drive.

•  Susan Aud, National Center for Education Statistics

F.  Promises, Promises: Covering Citywide College Scholarship Programs      
Wyatt 050-3

Philanthropy-funded programs that offer college scholarships for city residents have emerged as an appealing strategy for raising communities’ educational sights. But the landscape is varied, and the success of such endeavors remains uncertain. Journalists who have covered the Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan, Say Yes to Education in Syracuse, N.Y., and the Pittsburgh Promise in Pennsylvania share insights into how those initiatives are playing out.          

•  Eleanor Chute, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
•  Julie Mack, MLive / Kalamazoo Gazette
•  Gene Maeroff, Author

G. Using NAEP Explorer (K-12)
Wyatt Lab 130

Think the National Assessment of Educational Progress just shows how many students are up to snuff in major subjects? Think again. Through a tool called NAEP Data Explorer, reporters can develop story ideas by perusing the data tool’s more than 1,400 education-related variables and their links to student scores. The NAEP Data Explorer is especially useful for national reporters and those whose districts participate in the Trial Urban District Assessment. Reporters will learn the tool’s many functions and generate charts.

•  James Elias, Hager Sharp

2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Workshops 2                   

A. Community Members Workshop: Reporters Roundtable: Insights from Journalists
Wyatt 201

Do reporters prefer emails or phone calls? How do you build relationships with reporters and editors? What topics are journalists most interested in? What makes a press release or pitch stand out from the pack? Come hear answers to these and other questions from veteran education journalists, who share with community members how best to work with journalists.

Moderator: Dakarai I. Aarons, Data Quality Campaign
•  Nirvi Shah, Politico
•  Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News
•  Allie Bidwell, U.S. News & World Report

B. Google Workshop Part 2: Data, Maps, and Other Cool Tools
Wyatt Rotunda

In this workshop, Google trainer Nick Whitaker shows reporters how to use Google Fusion, various maps programs, and other data tools.

•  Nick Whitaker, Google

C. How I Did the Story: Lessons from Award-Winning Reporters
Wyatt 223

Hear from your colleagues on how they put together their prize-winning packages. Among the topics: How campus violence affects one Chicago high school; charter schools in New Orleans; and covering the state education beat in Hawaii.
Moderator: Emily Richmond, Education Writers Association

•  Linda Lutton, WBEZ
•  John Merrow, Learning Matters
•  Alia Wong, Honolulu Civil Beat
•  Vanessa de la Torre and Matthew Kauffman, Hartford Courant

D. It Takes a Village: Engaging the Community on the Beat  
Wyatt 122

Many reporters now connect directly with readers through social media and events. Reporters are also looking for new ways to get the public to care about and engage with news coverage. In this discussion, we explore how to define engagement, the anatomy of a successful engagement project, and what the day-to-day work of engagement looks like.
Moderator: Jake Batsell, The Texas Tribune

•  Anika Anand, Chalkbeat
•  Caitlin Moran, The Seattle Times
•  Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis, Digital First Media / The Morning Sun

E. Kids Data You’ll Love (K-12)
Wyatt Lab 130

How many U.S. children live in households where a parent is unemployed? What’s the rate of school expulsions in your state? How many students in your area were not born in the United States? The answers to those questions, and hundreds more, can be easily found and exported from the Kids Count Data Center. Become familiar with the data tool’s features and get tips on interpreting findings drawn from its data.  

•  Rose Naccarato, The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

F.  NCES Presents: Using Federal Data in Higher Ed Reporting (Quickstats and Powerstats)       
Wyatt Lab 132

Quickstats and Powerstats are data analysis and visualization tools that can help reporters probe the links between social and economic factors and students’ postsecondary outcomes. Information can be easily exported or turned into tables; more powerful features like regression analysis can give your reporting a scholarly polish. Journalists can also use the tools to see how their schools stack up against national trends. Attendees will receive training and time for experimentation.     

•  Susan Aud, National Center for Education Statistics

G. Reporter’s Guide to Research: How to Read and Write About Studies
Wyatt 050-3

Do you know how to define a standard deviation? Do you feel frustrated when you see claims and counterclaims about the research on a particular education issue? A reporter-turned-researcher provides guidance on how to make sense of education research and cover it effectively.         

•  Holly Yettick, University of Colorado-Denver

H. The All-Access Pass: How to Get Your Hands on Public Information
Wyatt 050-1

What do you need to know about securing public information from state and district officials? And what are the most effective techniques for building trust with school officials to gain access to classrooms? This session will help you ferret out the facts and tell richer stories.           

•  Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian
•  Daniel Connolly, The Commercial Appeal

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Workshops 3

A. Accessing Student Data: What Reporters Need to Know
Wyatt 223

Student data can be a gold mine on the education beat. But with some districts and states tightening their hold on information amid a public debate over privacy, reporters need to be ready to make full use of the access to school data that is already protected under existing law. This session will prepare you for potential pushback and discuss ways of responsibly addressing the concerns of parents and privacy advocates.

Moderator: Brian McVicar, MLive / The Grand Rapids Press
•  Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center
•  Aimee Guidera, Data Quality Campaign

B. Community Members Workshop: Communicating Complexity: Accelerating Understanding of Tricky Educational Issues
Wyatt 201

As communications professionals, you strive to simplify, streamline, and minimize. And yet education is a complex enterprise, and many of the most innovative or controversial concepts, strategies, and issues do not readily lend themselves to sound bites. This session explores strategies for accelerating understanding of nuanced education issues and offers insights from emerging research on public perceptions of education.        

•  Stephen Abbott, Great Schools Partnership

C. Google Workshop Part 3: Effective Use of Google Plus and Hangout
Wyatt Rotunda

Google trainer Nick Whitaker reviews how to use Google social media and mobile applications to take your reporting and communication to the next level.         

•  Nick Whitaker, Google

D. How I Did the Story: Covering Teacher Evaluations
Wyatt 050-3

Changing teacher evaluation systems are opening new avenues for coverage and posing fresh challenges for journalists. How can reporters draw meaning from the data while avoiding the landmines? How can they explore the personal stories behind the numbers? Reporters who took different approaches to this complex topic share tips and takeaways.

•  Lisa Gartner, Tampa Bay Times
•  Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer
•  Mackenzie Ryan, Florida Today

E.  NCES Presents: Using Federal Data in K-12 Reporting
Wyatt Lab 132

The Elementary and Secondary Information System is a one-stop shop for school, district, and state-level education data. It’s particularly useful if your state education website is tough to use. ELSi’s user-friendly interface helps reporters access key information on demographics, school funding resources and teacher ratios. There’s also a chart generator and data exporter. The session will include time for experimentation and questions.

•  Susan Aud, National Center for Education Statistics

F. NCLB Waivers: What Reporters Need to Know
Wyatt 050-1
The U.S. Department of Education’s program to waive No Child Left Behind Act requirements can be a confusing morass of new vocabulary terms and tough-to-track accountability standards. Our team of experts and journalists walks you through how to read and understand the waiver reports, and how to glean story ideas from them.

Moderator: Alyson Klein, Education Week
•  Anne Hyslop, New America Foundation
•  Michele McNeil, College Board

G. Tuition Tracker Workshop: How Much Does College Really Cost?
Wyatt 130

With college affordability among the hottest topics on the higher education beat, the Tuition Tracker project collated heaps of information into an interactive online tool that shows how much students of various income levels actually pay to attend some 3,000 colleges and universities. This session will teach you how to use Tuition Tracker, discuss the data used to build it, and explore the stories behind the numbers.

Moderator: Kenneth Terrell, Education Writers Association
•  Holly Hacker, The Dallas Morning News
•  Jon Marcus, The Hechinger Report

4:30 pm

Welcome Reception
Wyatt Center
Hosted by Vanderbilt University and Sponsored by the College Board

•  David Coleman, College Board 
•  Beth Fortune, Vanderbilt University

6:30 pm

Awards Banquet
Student Life Center Ballroom

To honor the 2013 National Awards for Education Reporting

•  Tony Pals, American Educational Research Association 
•  Camilla Benbow, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University       

7:30 pm

Keynote Speaker

•  Nicholas Lemann, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and The New Yorker


Monday May 19

7:30 am

Student Life Center Ballroom             

Special Session

Common Core: Realities of the Rollout

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Politics, Power, and Public Debate

Emcee: Greg Toppo, USA Today
•  Michael Cohen, Achieve
•  Tom Loveless, The Brookings Institution
•  Terry Holliday, Commissioner of Education, State of Kentucky
•  Jamie Woodson, Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
•  Patrick McGuinn, Drew University

9:15 am – 10:35 am

Impact on the Classroom

Emcee: Elizabeth Green, Chalkbeat
•  Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association
•  Amber Northern, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
•  William Schmidt, Michigan State University
•  Jonathan Supovitz, University of Pennsylvania
•  Sandra Alberti, Student Achievement Partners
•  Jose Vilson, New York City middle school math teacher
•  Jemelleh Coes, 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year and special education and language arts reading teacher

10:50 am – 12:00 pm

Angles on Assessment

Emcee: Motoko Rich, The New York Times
•  Frederick Hess, American Enterprise Institute
•  Jacqueline King, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
•  Laura Slover, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
•  Carol Burris, South Side High School (New York)
•  Tommy Bice, State Superintendent of Education, State of Alabama
•  Kristen DiCerbo, GlassLab/Pearson

Higher Education Plenaries        

8:00 am – 9:10 am

Gallup-Purdue Index on College Graduate Satisfaction
Student Life Center Board of Trustees

How does earning a college degree really affect a person’s life? That’s the question the Gallup-Purdue Index seeks to answer. Unveiled this month, the index measures the degree to which college graduates have “great jobs”—successful and engaging careers—and “great lives” more generally. The index was compiled from more than 30,000 interviews with college graduates across the nation.

Moderator: Mary Beth Marklein, USA Today
•  Brandon Busteed, Gallup
•  Will Doyle, Vanderbilt University

9:25 am – 10:35 am

Asian-Americans and Affirmative Action in College Admissions
Student Life Center Board of Trustees

Earlier this year, several Asian-American organizations successfully challenged legislation that would have lifted California’s ban on the use of race in postsecondary admissions decisions. Their efforts  signaled that some Asian-Americans are parting ways with other minority groups on affirmative action. With major cases winding through the federal courts, we’ll examine Asian-American perspectives on the use and consequences of race in admissions.

Moderator: Katy Murphy, Bay Area News Group
•  Haibo Huang, 80-20 National Asian American Political Action Committee
•  OiYan Poon, Loyola University Chicago School of Education
•  Robert Teranishi, UCLA Asian American Studies Center
•  Ron Unz, The Higher Wages Alliance

10:50 am – 12:00 pm

Performance-Based Funding: Do the Numbers Add Up?
Student Life Center Board of Trustees

President Obama’s proposal to tie college funding to student outcomes is not an entirely new idea: Tennessee did it in 1979. In recent years, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania have joined the Volunteer State in the practice of  “performance funding.” Do these policies lead more students to graduate, or do they encourage colleges to exclude those students who seem less likely to earn degrees?

Moderator: Megan Boehnke, Knoxville News Sentinel
•  Kevin Dougherty, Community College Research Center
•  Tiffany Jones, Southern Education Foundation
•  Martha Snyder, HCM Consulting

Alternative K-12 Track to Common Core

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Rural Reporting: Another Country?
Sarratt Rand 189

Covering rural schools raises unique challenges, such as juggling multiple school districts over large distances while covering other beats. In addition, rural schools face circumstances that don’t crop up in urban and suburban schools, as The Rural School and Community Trust illustrates in its newest biennial report on the state of rural education.

Moderator: Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, Education Week
•  Daniel Showalter, Ohio University
•  Samantha Hernandez, Door County Advocate
•  Alan Richard, Communications Strategy Group

9:15 am – 10:15 am

Brainstorming Stories on Standards and Curriculum
Sarratt Rand Lounge

Even if you’re from a state not using Common Core, your state’s standards, curriculum and textbooks still matter a lot. Take some time to brainstorm with your colleagues on ways you can better cover the these topics and explore how Common Core may still affect the schools in your state. Bring your own story ideas and questions to share as well as your laptop or tablet.

•  Catherine Grimes, Daily Press Media Group
•  Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News

10:30 am – 11:30 am

Brainstorming Stories on Assessment
Sarratt Rand Lounge

Testing issues loom large almost everywhere, including in states that have not gotten on the Common Core bandwagon. Explore ways to better cover the your state’s assessments and the impact they have on students, educators, schools and communities. Bring your own story ideas and questions to share as well as your laptop or tablet.

•  Catherine Grimes, Daily Press Media Group
•  Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News

12:15 pm

Lunch and Keynote
Student Life Center Ballroom

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
introduced by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed    

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Concurrent Sessions             

A. Drawing the Line: Comparing NAEP and International Benchmarks
Sarratt Rand 308

While headlines often focus on where the U.S. stands against the rest of the world in international comparisons, this panel will discuss big-picture conclusions from almost two decades of international data and will show how these results can be linked to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Moderator: Jill Barshay, The Hechinger Report
•  Jack Buckley, College Board
•  Peggy Carr, National Center for Education Statistics
•  Tom Loveless, The Brookings Institution

B. Early Childhood 101
Sarratt Rand 189

While early childhood education is in the news more than ever, many reporters are unfamiliar with the nation’s complex and fragmented early learning landscape. We bring together a researcher, a policy expert, and a leading advocate to explain the various early childhood education programs as well as the most pressing policy issues. The session helps journalists understand how national funding, access and quality issues come into play in states and local communities.

Moderator: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today
•  Sara Mead, Bellwether Education Partners
•  Dale Farran, Vanderbilt University
•  Kris Perry, First Five Years Fund

C. Race to the Top: Where Does Tennessee Stand?
Sarratt Rand 325/327

Tennessee was one of the first two states to win federal Race to the Top grants. We look at the lessons the state has learned from the initiative, and what research is showing so far about its impact. Hear perspectives from policymakers, researchers, and reporters.

Moderator: Lauren Smith Camera, Spencer Education Journalism Fellow
•  Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Department of Education
•  Matthew G. Springer, Vanderbilt University

D. Student Mental Health: Beyond Crisis and Trauma
Student Life Center Meeting Rooms 1 & 2

Student mental health is an often overlooked ingredient in the school safety equation. What role do schools play in identifying – and providing assistance to – students who have experienced trauma or are in need of ongoing care? How can reporters better prepare to cover these critical issues, and not just in times of crisis?

Moderator: Nirvi Shah, Politico
•  Bill Bond, National Association for Secondary School Principals
•  Olga Price, George Washington University
•  Bruce Shapiro, The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma
•  Laura Tillman, Freelance Journalist

E.   Teachers Take Charge
Sarratt Rand 216/220

What would happen if teachers were put in charge of their schools as well as their classrooms? New efforts to harness teacher power are cropping up across the country. In some places, teachers are actually running schools. In others, they’re mounting grassroots efforts to change public policy.

Moderator: Beth Hawkins, MinnPost
•  Xian Barrett, VIVA Teachers
•  Barnett Berry, Center for Teaching Quality
•  Carrie Bakken, Avalon School

F.   The New Coach on Campus: Student Success and Support in Higher Ed
Student Life Center Board of Trustees

For many students, the biggest challenges on the path to a degree aren’t the homework assignments but rather the real-world issues that can get in the way of their studies. To help students navigate such challenges, more colleges and universities are turning to companies that specialize in offering different kinds of student support services. A look at how these partnerships work.   

Moderator: Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed
•  Angela Boatman, Vanderbilt University
•  Dave Jarrat, InsideTrack
•  Mark David Milliron, Civitas Learning

3:15 pm – 4:15 pm

Concurrent sessions             

A. Achieving a New State: A Look at State Turnaround Districts
Sarratt Rand 216/220

More places are experimenting with state-run initiatives to address chronically low-performing public schools. Converting such schools to charters is among the strategies these state-led districts employ. We showcase leading examples of the trend, including the Achievement School District in Tennessee. Observers also comment on the Louisiana Recovery School District and the Michigan Education Achievement Authority. How well are their strategies working?

Moderator: John Merrow, Learning Matters
•  Chris Barbic, Achievement School District of Tennessee
•  Andre Perry, Davenport University
•  Dan Varner, Excellent Schools Detroit

B. Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in the South and the Nation
Sarratt Rand 189

The majority of public school students in nearly all Southern states qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. So do the children in several Western states. In Mississippi, the proportion of eligible students is 71 percent. Speakers discuss the implications of those grim statistics and ways to break the cycle of poverty, particularly in communities of color.  

Moderator: Liz Willen, The Hechinger Report
 •  Kent McGuire, Southern Education Foundation 
 •  Ron Walker, Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color

C. Do Hashtags Help? Race and Social Media on Campus
Student Life Center Board of Trustees

From UCLA students’ “Black Bruins” video to the Crimson students’ “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign, social media outlets are becoming forums for students to address the racial tensions they experience on campus. Of course, these outlets also are used to circulate the very same photos fraternity “ghetto parties” and Halloween costumes that are cited as evidence of lack of campus sensitivity to issues of race. Do Twitter, Instagram and other outlets help or hinder campus conversations on race?

Moderator: Kenneth Terrell, Education Writers Association
•  Robert Greenfield and Shayla Scales, Black Student Union, University of Michigan

D. Judging Principals: Inside the Evaluation Debate
Sarratt Rand 308

Much attention has been focused on transforming teacher evaluations. But what about principals? How should principals’ performance be measured? We’ll examine such topics as the debate over whether tying leaders’ evaluations to student test scores leads to stronger results for students or mostly ramps up the pressure to cheat.

Moderator: Steve Drummond, NPR
•  Ellen Goldring, Vanderbilt University
•  Joseph Murphy, Vanderbilt University
•  Denise Watts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Project LIFT Schools

E. Rethinking Rookies: How to Cover New Teachers
Student Life Center Meeting Rooms 1 & 2

How are shifting demographics in the teaching profession influencing district policies and classroom instruction? If teaching is no longer a lifelong career goal for many newcomers to the workforce, what are the implications for student learning?

Moderator: Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week
•  Susan Headden, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
•  Richard Ingersoll, University of Pennsylvania
•  Chad Aldeman, Bellwether Education Partners

F. Solving the High School Dropout Problem
Sarratt Rand 325/327

Sophisticated studies have pinpointed ninth grade as a pivotal year for student success or failure. Drawing on such findings, scholars have developed “early warning” systems to help schools get struggling students back on track to a diploma. These efforts are redefining the dropout problem and triggering sweeping changes in how schools are identifying students at risk for not graduating.

Moderator: Cathy Grimes, Daily Press Media Group
•  Elaine Allensworth, University of Chicago
•  Shayne Evans, University of Chicago Charter School
•  John Gomperts, America’s Promise Alliance
•  Daniel Velasco, Diplomas Now

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Concurrent sessions             

A. American Promise: A Documentary
Sarratt Cinema

The directors of the documentary “American Promise” spent 13 years capturing the experiences of their son and his best friend after they were accepted into one of the country’s most exclusive private schools. Both families, black and middle-class, had high hopes that their children could reach the pinnacle of the American meritocracy. But challenges arose, and the film illustrates the troubling – and often subtle – obstacles facing African-American boys in school.

Michèle Stephenson, Rada Film Group
– interviewed by: Kirk Carapezza, WGBH

B. Student Data Privacy: Politics and Practicalities
Student Life Center Meeting Rooms 1 & 2

Student data – how it is collected, used, and disseminated – has become a front-burner issue for educators and policymakers at all levels. What should reporters be considering as they tackle this crucial issue? We’ll look at examples of coverage of debates over student privacy, efforts to change student-privacy laws, research into contracts with cloud-service providers, and ways that vendors and schools are using data  to make learning more “personalized” and efficient.       

Moderator: Benjamin Herold, Education Week
•  Khaliah Barnes, Electronic Privacy Information Center
•  Greg Mortimer, Denver Public Schools
•  Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart

C. Top 10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year
Student Life Center Board of Trust

Inside Higher Ed Co-founder and Editor Scott Jaschik shares his insights on the key issues journalists should be following over the next year.

•  Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed

5:30 pm

Cocktail Hour
Student Life Center Ballroom

6:30 pm

Dinner and Keynote
Student Life Center Ballroom

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
– interviewed by: Lyndsey Layton, The Washington Post

Tuesday, May 20

7:30 am

Student Life Center Ballroom 

8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Deep Dives on Timely Topics                      

A. Deep Dive on Competency-Based Education and Student-Centered Learning
Sarratt Rand 216/220

At both the K-12 and higher education levels, more schools are pioneering approaches that flip the traditional model of schooling on its head: Instead of requiring that students spend set amounts of “seat time” to advance—and accepting that individual students’ mastery of the material may vary dramatically—these experiments aim to make learning the constant and time the variable. But it takes more than good intentions to remake the business of schooling. This deep dive will explore competency-based education as an alternative to the traditional Carnegie Unit credit hour in higher education and the related growth of the student-centered learning model in K-12 education, particularly in New England. How can reporters evaluate whether the programs in their own communities are high quality? What are the key questions reporters need to ask about these trends? Session attendees may register in advance for related site visits to either Nashville Big Picture High School or Lipscomb University’s College of Professional Studies.

Moderator: Nancy Walser, Harvard Education Letter
•  Laureen Avery, University of California, Los Angeles
•  Nicholas Donohue, Nellie Mae Education Foundation
•  Elena Silva, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
•  Rebecca Wolfe, Students at the Center  

Site visits to Lipscomb University and Nashville Big Picture High School

B. Deep Dive on Noncognitive Factors in Learning
Sarratt Rand 325/327

From marshmallows to grit, noncognitive factors and their role in understanding how students learn and succeed has garnered considerable attention in recent years. But to many reporters charged with explaining these concepts to their readers, the term “noncognitive” is an abstraction in search of concrete examples. This deep dive will first parse the various strands of thought within the noncognitive space, then explore a specific corner of this research field – growth mindset – that is being implemented in hundreds of schools across the country. Questions to explore: What is grit, and how does it differ from self-control? Why are some forms of praise, like “you’re so smart,” actually less helpful than other kinds of encouragement? And how do teachers measure something that is hard to quantify – noncognitive factors – in a way that helps students and teachers succeed?

Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post
John Fensterwald, EdSource Today
Sarah Sparks, Education Week

•  Eduardo Briceño, Mindset Works
•  Camille Farrington, University of Chicago
•  Dave Paunesku, Stanford PERTS Lab
•  David Yeager, The University of Texas, Austin

C. Deep Dive on the Portfolio District Model
Student Life Center Meeting Rooms 1 & 2

The portfolio district strategy is spreading as an alternative to the traditional relationship between schools and their school districts. Thirty-seven U.S. cities have so far adopted this emerging model of school accountability and support, but few people outside of education circles understand much about it. To effectively cover the portfolio strategy, reporters need to grasp how the many moving parts of the approach are supposed to fit together. Some portfolio elements are easily evident and have already been widely covered in the media, while others are less recognized. This deep dive will probe how the model is playing out and help reporters see where their cities stand on the portfolio spectrum. Reporters will also share experiences and discuss story ideas related to this multi-faceted approach.

• Jaclyn Zubrzycki, Chalkbeat Tennessee
•  Maura Walz, Chalkbeat Colorado

•  Katrina Bulkley, Montclair State University
•  Antonio Burt, Ford Road Elementary School (Tennessee)
•  Christine Campbell, Center on Reinventing Public Education
•  Kate Grossman, Chicago Sun-Times
•  Brad Leon, Shelby County Schools (Tennessee)
•  Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer
•  Linda Perlstein, Freelance
•  Maura Walz, Chalkbeat Colorado
•  Kevin Woods, Shelby County Schools (Tennessee)

D. Deep Dive on Special Education and Inclusion
Sarratt Rand 308

Over the past 20 years, advocates have argued that students receiving special education services should be part of regular classrooms as much as possible. But studies has yielded mixed results as to the effectiveness of this inclusive approach to educating students with disabilities. Vanderbilt University researchers will explore questions about inclusion as they affect various populations of students receiving special education, such as those with visual impairments, autism, severe intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities and emotional issues. This deep dive includes a site visit to the Susan Gray School, a full-inclusion preschool run by Vanderbilt.

Moderator: Joy Resmovits, The Huffington Post
• Erik Carter, Vanderbilt University
• Alexendra Da Fonte, Vanderbilt University
• Douglas Fuchs,Vanderbilt University
• Deborah Hatton, Vanderbilt University
Chris Lemons, Vanderbilt University
• Joseph Wehby, Vanderbilt University 

Site visit to the Susan Gray School, Vanderbilt’s full-inclusion preschool 

8:30 am – 12:00 pm

Visits to Local Schools                   

Cameron College Prep Academy
Student Life Center Foyer

In 2011, the Metropolitan Nashville School District joined with LEAD School District, a local charter management organization, to transform Cameron Middle School into a college prep academy. It was the first cooperative venture between a charter management organization and the school district to work together to turn around a failing school. The academy is being phased in over three years. Currently it serves fifth- through seventh-graders, and next year the charter school will take over the entire building. The student population is balanced, with a student body that is 40 percent Hispanic, 33 percent black, and 25 percent white. Reporters will tour the school, speak to students, faculty, and leaders from LEAD Public Schools.          

Fisk University-Vanderbilt University Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program
Student Life Center Foyer

The Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program partners these two Nashville universities in an effort to increase the number of African-Americans who earn doctoral degrees in physics and other STEM disciplines. Participants will visit the campus of Fisk University, a historically black college and university, to meet with administrators of the Bridge Program, watch students present their work and tour the campus.         

Napier Enhanced Option Elementary School
Student Life Center Foyer

Once in the bottom 5 percent of schools in Tennessee, Napier Elementary School is looking at a number of innovative methods to drive achievement. One of those is a very basic building block: time. Principal Ronald Powe believes school is the best place for his students to be. The more they are in school, the more they will learn. Working with the TIME Collaborative through the National Center on Time and Learning, he is looking for ways to expand learning time to all of his students. The site visit includes a meeting with leaders of the National Center on Time and Learning, a school tour and a Q&A panel with students and faculty. 

Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School
Student Life Center Foyer

At Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High, students run their own record label and full television production studio. They can spend high school focused on songwriting, marketing or audio engineering. In the fall of 2011 Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School began a transformation effort centered on the industry for which Nashville is most famous—the music industry. The academies team with industry partners such as Warner Music, Film House, and the International Bluegrass Music Association to provide students the technical, creative and management skills needed to develop a successful artist, using collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. The site visit includes a tour of the school and studios, as well as a Q&A panel with students and faculty.    

Nashville Big Picture High School (Option 1 site visit for Deep Dive on
Competency-Based Education and Student-Centered Learning)

Student Life Center Foyer  /  10:00 am

The Big Picture Learning design is built on three foundational principles: first, that learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student; second, that a student’s curriculum must be relevant to people and places that exist in the real world; and finally, that a student’s abilities must be authentically measured by the quality of her or his work. The Nashville campus, part of the public school district, is one of 70 Big Picture schools nationwide. We tour the school, meet with teachers, and hear from students about their learning through internships/interests (LTIs).

Lipscomb University (Option 2 site visit for Deep Dive on
Competency Based Education and Student-Centered Learning)

Student Life Center Foyer  /  10:00 am

Lipscomb University’s CORE Competency Assessment and Development program gives students the opportunity to “show what they know” to receive college credit for the knowledge, skills and abilities they already possess. We observe an assessment center where six students engage in a series of behavioral simulations and are assessed by three trained and certified assessors – then we learn more about the development of this unique program and the data behind the measurement process. The host is Dean Charla Long, who created CORE and is a leader in the field of competency-based education. Learn more about the national landscape of higher education innovation and how to shape the conversation on competency-based education through your coverage and reporting. 

8:30 am – 9:30 am

Community Members Workshop: Leveraging Your Website and Video to Tell Research Stories
Student Life Center Board of Trust

Members of Vanderbilt University’s News and Communications team discuss how their online platforms for telling multimedia stories about research and provide information about their Emmy-award winning video operations.

•  Elizabeth Latt and Melanie Moran, Vanderbilt University

9:45 am – 10:45 am

Community Members Workshop: Using Social Media Effectively
Student Life Center Board of Trust

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media provide endless ways to reach audiences, but how do you make sure your message doesn’t get lost in the noise? A pair of digitally savvy communicators share how their organizations use social media to build engagement for their ideas.

Moderator: Dakarai I. Aarons, Data Quality Campaign
•  Michelle Gininger, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
•  Blair Mann, The Education Trust

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Community Members Workshop: How to Tell a Compelling Story: Award Winners’ Tips
Student Life Center Board of Trustees

Join winners of the National Awards for Education Reporting in the Education Organizations and Experts category as they share insights and tips on captivating storytelling.

Moderator:Mary-Ellen Deily, Education Week
•  Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue
•  Lisa Guernsey, New America Foundation
•  Robert Pondiscio, Education Next           

12:00 pm

Lunch and Keynote
Student Life Center Ballroom

Moderator: Steve Drummond, NPR
•  Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

2:00 pm – 4:45 pm

Afternoon Deep Dive on a Timely Topic: Keeping the Lights on to Keep Kids Learning
Student Life Center Foyer and Nashville Public Library

Research has long suggested that added time for learning and playing outside of school can have positive effects on student achievement. More recently, a push has gotten underway to make better use of instructional time during the school day. While advocates of expanded in-school and out-of-school learning both harbor good intentions, they don’t always agree on which approach helps students the most. Part one will feature two experts on in-school and out-of-school learning, plus a director of a citywide after-school program with major buy-in from the city and schools. Part two will put a spotlight on a program taking shape in 24 cities that turns public libraries into interactive learning zones during and after school. 

Part 1:
Moderator: Carole Feldman, The Associated Press
•  Michelle Renée, Annenberg Institute for School Reform
•  Heather Weiss, Harvard Graduate School of Education
•  Jim Williamson, Nashville After Zone Alliance

Part 2:
•  Elyse Adler, Nashville Public Library

 Site visit to Nashville Public Library Learning Lab    

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions             

A. Cultivating Talent: Gifted Children and STEM
Sarratt Rand 308

That there’s an achievement gap in the United States is well known, but what about the excellence gap? While much attention has been paid to improving the academic performance of low-income and minority students, researchers have been exploring how to spot students with exceptional talent at an early age. Learn about the large racial and socioeconomic gaps in access to gifted programs and find out what steps are being taken to lift more students of lesser means into the upper echelons of academic performance. The panel’s focus will be on gifted STEM students and gifted education more broadly.

Moderator: Leslie Brody, The Wall Street Journal
•  Angela Eeds, Vanderbilt University
•  David Lubinski, Vanderbilt University
•  Jonathan Plucker, University of Connecticut

B. Minority Report: Telling Stories That Matter About Students of Color
Student Life Center Meeting Room 1 & 2

Journalists discuss how to cover race and ethnicity in education. And it comes down to this: Build powerful narratives around the story’s subjects. Show, don’t tell. The panel will offer advice on how to construct stories that give audiences complex and nuanced perspectives.     

Moderator: Daarel Burnette, Chalkbeat Tennessee
•  Sarah Carr, The Hechinger Report
•  Nikole Hannah-Jones, ProPublica
•  Alia Wong,  Honolulu Civil Beat

C. Screen Time: Early Ed and Technology         
Sarratt Rand 325/327

Parents and educators often fear that the use of video and digital media is bad for their children’s development. But the research doesn’t necessarily show that. What’s more important, some experts say, is whether such use is passive or expects children to interact. Georgene Troseth of Vanderbilt University and Lisa Guernsey, author of “Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child,” address whether screen time and other forms of digital technology are harmful for young children.

Moderator: Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post
•  Lisa Guernsey, New America Foundation
•  Georgene Troseth, Vanderbilt University

D. The Authorizer Effect
Sarratt Rand 216/220

Whether it’s a curriculum that makes religion the fourth “R,” a principal who steers lucrative contracts to family members, or test scores that remain stuck in the cellar, charter schools often make the news for all the wrong reasons. Analysts have long seen a connection between problem charters and the process for deciding who gets a charter to operate in the first place. But how much difference does the quality of charter authorizing actually make? Have efforts to strengthen charter authorizing been effective, and if so, where? What are the politics of determining what institutions and agencies can become authorizers? Has higher-quality authorizing been shown to weed out bad actors, and does it translate into better outcomes for students?

Moderator: Mila Koumpilova, St. Paul Pioneer Press
•  Brian Gill, Mathematica Policy Research
•  Alex Medler, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
•  Will Pinkston, Metropolitan Nashville School Board

E.   The State of the College Ratings Proposal
Student Life Center Board of Trust

This spring, the U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce the criteria it will use to rate colleges and universities. These ratings, intended to give students and families more information on which colleges offer the best value, could be a critical turning point for U.S. postsecondary education, particularly if a college’s rating is ultimately tied to its students’ eligibility for federal financial aid, as President Obama originally proposed. A look at the potential consequences from the perspectives of the government and the higher education community.

Moderator: Kelly Field, The Chronicle of Higher Education
•  Daniel Madzelan, American Council on Education
•  Jamie Studley, U.S. Department of Education

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm
Concurrent sessions             

A. Building a Movement from the Ground Up
Sarratt Rand 325/327

To improve education at the grassroots level, more organizations are recognizing the value of mobilizing parents and other members of the community. Efforts that fail to secure community buy-in typically face a harder road to success, experts contend. Speakers will offer research and individual perspectives on how community organizing and activism can make a difference in education.

Moderator: Linda Shaw, The Seattle Times
•  Bob Brown, American Federation of Teachers
•  Rayne Martin, Stand for Children Louisiana
•  Warren Simmons, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

B. How I Did the Story: Lessons from Award-Winning Reporters (Higher Ed)          
Student Life Center Board of Trust

From capturing the stories of adults in remedial education to tracking down the facts on deadline, this year’s EWA award winners offer their tips on how to write and report on key issues on the postsecondary beat.

Moderator: Kenneth Terrell, Education Writers Association
•  Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
•  Denise-Marie Ordway, Orlando Sentinel
•  Eric Hoover and Sara Lipka, The Chronicle of Higher Education

C. How I Did the Story: Lessons from Award-Winning Reporters (K-12)
Student Life Center Meeting Room 1 & 2

Hear from your colleagues on how they put together their prize-winning packages. Among the topics: Charter school contracts draw scrutiny in Chicago; investigating a troubled scholarship fund in Connecticut; and mixed results for Advanced Placement students in Maryland.

Moderator: Emily Richmond, Education Writers Association
•  Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun
•  Dan Mihalopoulos, Chicago Sun-Times
•  Benjamin Herold, Education Week

D. Kids Got the Beat: Arts and Music Education
Sarratt Rand 308

Cash-strapped districts may have balanced recession-era budgets by decimating arts programs, but as local and state revenue rebound, policymakers are weighing whether increased spending on arts instruction is worth the price. Are publicly funded music, dance and fine arts classes a luxury or an integral part of a child’s education? Does participating in the arts change the brain in ways that boost cognition? Learn what the research says on arts education, and how much money, sweat and cajoling it took to launch a citywide music program for Music City kids.

Moderator: Mary Plummer, KPCC radio
•  Sandra Ruppert, Arts Education Partnership
•  Laurie Schell, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

E. Selfies and Social Spaces: Covering Cyberbullying
Sarratt Rand 216/220

How should journalists cover reports of cyberbullying? How does research define bullying and cyberbullying? How do you determine whether reports are accurate? Is there anything schools should be doing to monitor students’ social media activities? And how do you determine the difference between “drama” and real harrassment?

Moderator: Amanda Paulson, The Christian Science Monitor
•  Robert Faris, University of California Davis
•  Kelly McBride, The Poynter Institute
•  Barbara-Jane Paris, Canyon Vista Middle School (Texas)