Curriculum & Instruction
Education journalists from across the U.S. gathered this week in San Diego, on the campus of High Tech High, to explore efforts to rethink the American high school. Along the way, they heard from fellow reporters, as well as educators, analysts and students.
Deborah Meier, probably the leading American writer-educator of her generation, and Emily Gasoi, an experienced teacher working to improve schools nationwide, have written one of the best books ever on the growth of what is called progressive education.
Could Silicon Valley Reinvent Public Schooling?
Student-centered, personalized learning is focus for charter school network
At Summit Public Schools, a network of charters primarily in California’s Silicon Valley, students are in charge of their own learning. Customized digital “playlists” map out — and track — their daily instruction, guided by teachers who serve more as coaches than lecturers.
‘Raising Kings’: A Portrait of an Urban High School for Young Men of Color
Education Week-NPR series features social-emotional learning and restorative justice at new D.C. campus
Can schools ever fully fill the gaps in students’ life experiences that often keep them from succeeding in school? Two reporters, Education Week’s Kavitha Cardoza and Cory Turner of NPR, spent hundreds of hours at Ron Brown College Prep, a new boys-only public high school in Washington, D.C. that primarily serves students of color.
In Buffalo, a Rust Belt city still grappling with high poverty and an under-educated population, the results of the Say Yes program have exceeded expectations. Since its launch in 2012, the city’s high school graduation rate has climbed 15 points, to 64 percent, according to New York State education department figures, the highest rate the city has achieved in more than a decade.
EWA Invites Applications for Next Round of Reporting Fellowships
Awards of up to $8,000 will support enterprising news coverage
The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its next class of EWA Reporting Fellows. The fellowships provide financial awards to journalists to undertake ambitious reporting and writing projects. This will be the fourth class of EWA Reporting Fellows.
Decades of restrictions on bilingual education in public schools across the country — and particularly in California — led to a dramatic reduction of bilingual teachers. Now that California voters have permitted bilingual education through Proposition 58, which passed in November 2016, the state faces a shortage of talent.
Dual Language Programs are so Popular that LAUSD Plans to Double the Number of Schools Offering them by Next Year
Demand for LA Unified’s dual language programs is so high that the district plans to expand from 16 schools offering the programs to as many as 35 schools next year.
Meanwhile, the nation’s second-largest school district — where students speak 94 languages — is closing in on meeting its goals for improving test scores for English learners and getting more of them to graduation.
Annie Martin, Leslie Postal and Beth Kassab at the Orlando Sentinel blow the lid off of Florida’s state scholarships to private schools in a multi-part investigative series.
Natalie Bruzda at the Las Vegas Review-Journal recognizes the top-notch reporting of the UNLV student newspaper in the wake of the recent shooting.
As state and school district officials urge high-school students to sign up for more college classes before they even make it to prom, some institutions of higher education are questioning whether such courses really count as college-level work.
Lauren McGaughy of The Dallas Morning News follows the controversy of a cancelled conservative speaker at a Houston HBCU that led to a war of words and accusations of infringement on free speech.
Jason Gonzales examines the results of The Tennessean’s two-year investigation of the challenges for teaching literacy in Nashville schools, which reveal stark differences in reading levels fueled by poverty and environmental factors.
A new radio documentary by APM Reports concludes that American schools are failing to use proven methods for helping dyslexic students learn to read — techniques that could also benefit their classmates. Emily Hanford, a correspondent and senior producer for APM Reports, discusses why school districts are often resistant to identifying students as dyslexic, and how long-standing debates over how best to teach reading have kept some schools from adopting best practices.
In its latest installment of The Daily 360, a web video series, the Times visited three different types of third-grade math classrooms where students are taught using different teaching methods – a traditional public school, a Montessori classroom, and a classroom using the Waldorf method.
The Collier County NAACP filed a complaint with Collier County Public Schools on Saturday over the School Board’s decision to hold class on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to make up for academic days lost to Hurricane Irma.
The decision was made at the Sept. 26 School Board meeting, which was held at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administration Center.
The complaint was also emailed to all five School Board members.
The second-graders at a charter school in the nation’s capital recently discovered a problem: a lack of “green spaces” in certain parts of the city.
The students at Two Rivers Public Charter School conducted research. But they didn’t stop there. They also wrote letters to the city council to share their concerns about inequitable access to green spaces across Washington, D.C.
The letters described the situation, explained why having such spaces in urban environments is important, and offered solutions, including the idea of helping to plant gardens near campus.
Jennifer Chambers of the Detroit News reports on Ivanka Trump’s visit to Detroit to help advance a $500 public-private partnership to promote STEM and computer science in the nation’s schools.
Education Week’s Evie Blad examines the First Amendment rights of students in light of recent protests at national sporting events, and gives advice to educators on how to turn such events into a teachable moment.
The Sacramento Bee’s Diana Lambert reports on a school board’s decision to keep policies that allow the teaching of potentially controversial topics, after the reading of a kindergarten book about a transgender child caused months of uproar from parents divided along ideological lines.
Edsource’s Mikhail Zinshteyn reports on possible changes to remedial education requirements in California, with potentially huge effects for the state’s community colleges.
College students’ views on the First Amendment are important for another reason as well: Students act as de facto arbiters of free expression on campus. The Supreme Court justices are not standing by at the entrances to public university lecture halls ready to step in if First Amendment rights are curtailed. If a significant percentage of students believe that views they find offensive should be silenced, those views will in fact be silenced.
Aliyya Swaby writes in The Texas Tribune on how Hurricane Harvey has reignited anxieties in an annexed school district.
Edsource’s Carolyn Jones reports on how California leaders are pledging millions of dollars to support “dreamers” with financial aid and legal services.
Amanda McElfresh of the USA Today network gives the low-down on the Louisiana Supreme Court case that could affect the future of several of the state’s charter schools.
The Advocate’s Charles Lussier reports that Hurricane Harvey seems to be sending few if any schoolchildren back to neighboring Louisiana after Katrina once sent so many to Texas.
Writing for the Atlantic, Linda K. Wertheimer examines the curriculum being used to explore a topic many teachers would prefer to avoid: the recent surge of white nationalism.
EducationDive’s Linda Jacobson looks at ways administrators are aiming for balance between addressing racial disparities while still supporting teachers in reducing suspensions.
Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Lexington Herald Leader reports on the Eastern Kentucky school districts struggling to keep the doors open after taking hits of $1 million or more in a year from a combination of economic and demographic factors.
Anna Burlson spoke with students at Weber State University for the Standard-Examiner as they prepare for another school year with optimism and hope.
When a total solar eclipse passes over the United States on Monday, the best viewing will be in a handful of states stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. But some school districts are planning to keep students indoors, citing concerns over the potential health risks of viewing the historic event for themselves.
Furr High School is gearing up to launch a new kind of ninth grade. It’s part of how Furr, which used to have a reputation for drop-outs and gang violence, is trying to transform high school, with the help of a $10 million grant. At one recent workshop, half a dozen ninth grade instructors brainstormed for the new ninth grade, thinking about how to give students more ownership in the curriculum and testing.
Teddy Fischer and Jane Gormley of Mercer Island High School in Washington State discuss how they landed a lengthy Q&A with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has given few interviews since joining President Trump’s cabinet. Fischer, a rising junior, and Gormley, the immediate past editor of the school’s student newspaper, worked with their journalism class and faculty advisor to prepare for the 45-minute conversation on Memorial Day.
Kevin Richert reports for Idaho Ed News that barely 12 percent of Idaho’s class of 2016 graduated high school with AP college credits in hand — lagging well below the national average.
Jennifer Palmer writes for Oklahoma Watch about how some districts are now raising a long-held cap on the number of students in pre-K classrooms, a move that could dilute the state’s most admired and arguably successful educational initiative.
How do reporters know good teaching when they see it? How do they tactfully write about bad teaching? And how do they tease out what came before the moment they set foot in a particular classroom?
Pamela Grossman, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and Elizabeth Green, co-founder of Chalkbeat, helped a roomful of journalists at the Education Writers Association’s 70th Annual National Seminar in Washington, D.C., see classroom teaching in a whole different light.
There’s an essential skill not being taught enough in classrooms today, say a growing number of American educators. That skill is thinking.
“Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students to memorize,” writes Karin Hess, president of Educational Research in Action in Underhill, Vt., and an expert on assessment, in an email to the Monitor.
School’s out, but there’s no shortage of compelling summer stories to pursue on the education beat.
How might President Trump’s proposed budget cuts for education impact summer learning programs? How is your state incorporating summer learning into its revamped accountability plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)? What’s the latest on summer Pell Grants?
Mikey Peterson didn’t care about class for most of his time in school. And he felt that his teachers, for the most part, did nothing to help.
Many education journalists are savvy enough to use social media as a way to attract readers to their stories. But if that is all they are doing with social media, they are not harnessing its full potential.
“Especially in our beat, it can be a really valuable — if potentially risky and dangerous tool — both for connecting with hard-to-reach sources and for generating story angles and ideas,” said Sarah Carr, who runs The Teacher Project, a fellowship program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Two-dozen high school students are gathered around a large work table as manufacturing teacher Dan Cassidy holds out boxes of metal bars and gears. The students choose among the parts to build model bicycles. “What else are we going to use today? Let me hear some vocab here,” he says. When a student shouts out “chains,” he nudges them until they recall another term for it: “linkage.”
Looking to liven up your coverage of classroom technology and how it’s playing out in your local schools? Join Nichole Dobo of The Hechinger Report and EWA public editor Emily Richmond for an “express” 30-minute webinar on digital learning and classroom technology. You’ll come away with ideas for quick-hit daily stories, data-driven takeouts and enterprise reporting. Plus, get the inside scoop on how to make the most of EWA’s newest Topics Page on Digital Learning & Technology.
At Summit Public Schools campuses, you won’t see PowerPoint lectures on “Antigone” in English class or witness lofty explanations of the Pythagorean theorem in geometry. Instead, you’ll hear a discussion about the morals and ethics in the ancient Greek tragedy tied to students’ own teenage identity formation and observe discussions on how real-life problem-solving skills can be applied to math.
Latino students in kindergarten trail their white peers in math by approximately three months’ worth of learning, a new study by Child Trends Hispanic Institute has found.
Researchers drew a nationally representative sample of students from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-2011 who were followed through the end of their fifth-grade year. Sixty-two percent of the 2,199 Latino students studied had at least one foreign-born parent, and 45 percent spoke only Spanish or predominantly Spanish at home. Nearly half lived in poverty.
The New York City Department of Education is investing $1.6 million to expand access to Advanced Placement courses for the city’s black and Latino students, the New York Daily News reported last week.
Benjamin Herold of Education Week discusses why media literacy is in the spotlight in the wake of the presidential election, and the troubling findings of a new Stanford University study that showed the vast majority of students from middle school through college can’t identify “fake news.” Why are so many digital natives flunking when it comes to evaluating the reliability of material they encounter online? How are policymakers, researchers, and educators proposing that schools address this deficit in critical-thinking skills?
The ability to speak more than one language can enhance brain function, academic performance and business acumen, linguistic experts said at a U.S. House of Representatives briefing Tuesday, making the case for a greater emphasis on multilingual education in American schools.
Katrina Schwartz of KQED Public Radio in San Francisco joins the 100th episode of EWA Radio to discuss the growing interest in student-centered learning and personalized instruction. What are promising examples of these approaches in action? Can personalization and efficiency co-exist? How is data — big and small — informing teachers and shaping individual student learning? And what are some big stories to watch for in the coming months?
Should schools measure skills like cooperation, communication, self-confidence and the ability to organize? Efforts to gauge these so-called “soft skills” are gaining traction in the classroom, especially with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new federal law calls on states and school districts to incorporate at least one measure beyond test scores and graduation rates in their accountability systems.
After months of controversy surrounding a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook that critics called racist and inaccurate, the Texas State Board of Education voted this week to reject its adoption.
The board rejected the textbook on Wednesday 14-0, with one board member absent. A final vote will take place today, but even if the board votes “no” again, the text could still show up in Texas public school classrooms — just not on the board-approved list of instructional materials.
Advocates of bilingual education got a big win in California Tuesday, when an overwhelming majority of the electorate voted to end the state’s longstanding English-only approach to educating English-language learners.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Fearing higher-than-usual potential for unruly voters, school districts across the country have canceled classes at campuses used as Election Day polling stations. But some civics advocates say the decisions result in the loss of a powerful “teachable moment.”
Craig Brock teaches high school science in Amarillo, Texas, where his freshman biology students are currently learning about the parts of a cell. But since many of them are refugee children who have only recently arrived in the U.S. and speak little or no English, Brock often has to get creative.
Usually that means creating PowerPoint presentations full of pictures and “just kind of pulling from here and there,” he said — the Internet, a third grade textbook or a preschool homeschool curriculum from Sam’s Club, for example.
The fate of the U.S. presidency isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance on Election Day 2016.
Come Nov. 8, dual-language education could either get strengthened or further suppressed in the state with the highest percentage of English-language learners, as voters in California face a decision about overturning the state’s longstanding ban on a bilingual approach to educating these students.
The University of Arizona professor whose research found that Mexican-American studies leads to improved test scores and high school graduation rates may be barred from testifying in a pending lawsuit against the state for its ban on ethnic studies.
In Louisiana, a high school focused around the theme of coastal restoration will be built on a barge — yes, a barge. Two Los Angeles educators have dreamed up plans for a high school designed to serve foster and homeless children. And the Somerville, Mass., district is planning a year-round high school that “feels more like a research and design studio,” reports the Boston Globe.
In 2007, while writing about military recruiting at high schools, I met a fresh-faced JROTC cadet who planned to enlist after graduation. His older brother was already serving in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The student, who was a seventh grader when the hijacked airplanes struck, eventually joined the Army and followed his brother to war.
The precocious teen who’s too cool for school – earning high marks despite skipping class – is a pop-culture standard, the idealized version of an effortless youth for whom success comes easy.
Too bad it’s largely a work of fiction that belies a much harsher reality: Missing just two days a month of school for any reason exposes kids to a cascade of academic setbacks, from lower reading and math scores in the third grade to higher risks of dropping out of high school, research suggests.
More than six decades since the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision declared that segregated schools are “inherently unequal,” Latino students from low-income backgrounds are becoming increasingly isolated in public schools across the country.
The most-segregated schools Latinos attend often have fewer resources, including less access to Advanced Placement courses and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs, compared with schools with high populations of affluent and white students.
The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.
See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.
Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.
Margarita is a four-year-old girl living in East Harlem. She speaks Spanish at home with her Mexican-born parents, is obedient, well-behaved and plays well with kids her age, younger and older.
After learning of their gold-medal victory in the world’s most prestigious high school mathematics competition — held recently in Hong Kong — six American teenagers engaged in a celebratory ritual familiar to many of their peers back home: They went to McDonald’s. But the victors weren’t quite ready to leave the math behind.
Graduates in white and purple robes exited the auditorium, their newly turned tassels bouncing as they sang and danced to a recording of the popular Latin salsa tune, “Vivir Mi Vida.”
They had just graduated from the Margarita Muñiz Academy in Boston — many with more than a high school diploma. Forty-six of the 51 new alumni of the dual-language school had also earned a Seal of Biliteracy, an official recognition of their academic proficiency in both English and Spanish.
For education reporters, coming up with fresh ideas for back-to-school stories is an annual ritual. And if you’re balancing the K-12 and higher education beats, it can be an even bigger challenge.
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.
Looking Under the Hood of Competency-Based Education
American Institutes for Research, Nellie Mae Education Foundation
Competency-based education (CBE), an instructional approach that emphasizes what students learn and master rather than how much time they spend in school, is gaining popularity nationwide. CBE environments provide students with personalized learning, autonomy, flexibility, and responsibility for their own learning, which is theorized to improved learning behaviors.
The press releases from Chicago Public Schools seemed almost too good to be true: the city’s graduation rate was rising more quickly than even its staunchest supporters might have predicted.
But what happened after reporters Becky Vevea and Sarah Karp uncovered discrepancies in those numbers, and raised serious questions about the city’s dropout prevention polices and practices. Vevea (WBEZ) and Karp (formerly of Catalyst Chicago and now with WBEZ) talk with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about their award-winning investigation, the significant changes to district policy that have followed in its wake, and some examples of CPS programs that are making legitimate strides toward helping more students graduate.
Whether the Democrats’ sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to protest congressional inaction on gun control legislation was a publicity stunt or a tipping point remains to be seen. But the episode last week could serve as a teachable moment for the nation’s schoolchildren — and future voters.
Thanks to Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda and two nonprofit groups, thousands of public high school students in New York City are getting access to the hottest ticket in town.
Wayne D’Orio, editor in chief of Scholastic magazine, joins EWA public editor Emily Richmond to discuss an innovative curriculum built around the hip-hop infused musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first secretary of the treasury. How are teachers using the show as a springboard to connect students to challenging academic content aligned to New York’s Common Core State Standards? Why is the show so popular with Advanced Placement U.S. History classes? And what are some smart story ideas of other pop culture influences being used by teachers to engage kids?
It’s been a month since a proposed textbook for Mexican-American studies courses in Texas spurred widespread controversy over allegations of racism and inaccuracy, and ethnic studies advocates who convened at a 200-person summit in San Antonio Saturday are prepared to fight the book’s presence in the state’s public schools.
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.
It’s not hard to find a teacher willing to bend your ear about the volume of standardized testing in schools today, and the pressure for “test prep.” But how widespread are such concerns among educators? And what’s the on-the-ground reality they experience?
New survey data suggest these impressions about over-testing and test prep are more than just anecdotal: They are the norm for the majority of public school teachers.
Education journalist Shelby Webb of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune spent six months digging into student suspensions and expulsions in Florida, and her findings took the local school board by surprise: Sarasota County has the second-highest rate of expulsions in the Sunshine State. But the district’s process for expulsions was certainly built for volume: as many as 14 students have been expelled with a single “yes” vote by school board members, some of whom haven’t even read the background on the individual students’ cases. The Herald-Tribune’s project also examines questions of equity of school discipline policies across Florida where — echoing a nationwide trend — many students of color face more severe punishments than their white peers.
What’s behind a cluster of student suicides in the heart of ultra-competitive Silicon Valley?
In a cover story for The Atlantic, journalist Hanna Rosin investigated a disturbing cycle stretching back more than a decade for Palo Alto and Gunn high schools. She spoke with EWA public editor Emily Richmond: How are local educators, parents, and students are responding to the crisis? What’s next for the investigation by federal health officials? And how can reporters improve their own coverage of these kinds of challenging issues? Rosin’s story, “The Silicon Valley Suicides” won 1st Prize for magazine feature writing in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.
Texas advocates of ethnic studies in public schools celebrated two years ago when the State Board of Education voted to create instructional materials for classes like Mexican-American and African-American studies that school districts could choose to offer as electives in the state. The decision wasn’t exactly what proponents of Mexican-American studies had asked for — to establish a statewide curriculum — but it was something.
Who succeeds in life? Angela Duckworth, whose new book on grit debuts in May, reviews her research on the tendency to pursue long-term goals with perseverance and passion. She explains the predictive power of grit and shares her thoughts on how to cultivate this hotly debated trait.
With state testing season wrapping up, the decision by some families to skip the K-12 exams in protest this spring has once again sparked widespread discussion – and news coverage around the country.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
When the communications office in the Huntsville (Ala.) City Schools calls English teacher Stephanie Hyatt to say a TV reporter is coming to observe her class, Hyatt knows the drill. She’s expected to stand in front of the room and lecture at students in picturesque fashion.
“That’s my job — to look exciting,” said Hyatt. “They like me, because I teach with my hands.”
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.
By offering cash prizes to Latino and black boys who read books, a retired Los Angeles school teacher is hoping to improve educational outcomes for these groups – one book at a time.
When students feel engaged and connected to their schoolwork, it’s no surprise that they tend to have better academic outcomes. But a new study of career and technical education programs suggests the benefits can extend well beyond high school graduation.
Textbooks can have a tremendous effect on what children learn, and an upcoming analysis from a University of Southern California researcher seeks to find out which books are in use in five large states.
But it’s hard to say which books are in use in which schools.
In the Long Beach Unified School District, Superintendent Chris Steinhauser actively recruits students to take Advanced Placement classes.
“Hey ‘John,’ according to our data, you qualify for these AP,” he says he would write in a letter to students in the district. “You need to talk to your mom and dad.”
More students in the District of Columbia Public Schools will have the opportunity to become bilingual starting next year. The school district has announced it will begin three additional dual-language immersion programs in the fall at the elementary, middle and high school levels, for the first time guaranteeing that students who wish to complete all of their preK-12 instruction in both Spanish and English can do so in the district.
Programs that allow students to take college classes in high school have been gaining popularity in schools across the country.
We know many American students struggle with math and trail many of their international peers. Conventional wisdom says that’s keeping them from developing the kind of critical thinking skills they need for high-paying STEM careers, and to be successful in a 21st century global economy. But is that shortsighted view of a bigger — and more positive — picture?
The state of Florida is one step closer to equating computer coding with foreign languages.
A controversial bill, which passed by a wide margin in the state Senate Wednesday would allow students to take computer coding for foreign language credit and require the state’s public colleges and universities to recognize it as such.
Spanish. French. German. Computer coding. Are they the same?
This question is at the center of a debate in Florida, where legislators are currently considering a bill that would require high schools to offer computer coding as a foreign-language credit.
The Council of the Great City Schools hosted a forum on the results of a new report on the effectiveness of standardized testing. Michael Casserly made opening remarks on the report, and then panelists that included Education Secretary Arne Duncan analyzed the data in the report.
- This panel was moderated by Caroline Hendrie, EWA’s executive director.
Published December 2015
As the Washington Post rightly pointed out, working during the holiday weeks can feel like being stranded in a dead zone. I did manage to conduct a (highly unscientific!) survey of EWA’s journalist members and ask them to name a few of their favorite stories by their peers in the past year.
Chung-Te Wang had never seen a calculator in school before traveling to the U.S. this year as an exchange student.
“We always calculate with our brain. No offense,” said the 16-year-old from Taiwan, spurring laughter in a room full of reporters at the Education Writers Association’s recent seminar on covering U.S. education in a global context.
For already struggling students in high-poverty schools, frequent turnover among their teachers – and an over-reliance on substitutes – can hurt achievement.
For years, common experience and studies have prescribed that humans learn best in their earliest years of life – when the brain is developing at its fastest. Recently, though, research has suggested that the period of optimal learning extends well into adolescence.
At High Tech High School in San Diego, there are no bells that signal the start of class periods. There are no seven-period days, no mock standardized assessments and no lectures.
Faced with massive budget cuts in the wake of the recession, many Idaho school districts switched to a four-day weekly calendar. But more than seven years into the experiment, an investigation by Idaho Education News – lead by reporter Kevin Richert — found little evidence that the schedule change improved either student achievement or the fiscal outlook of cash-strapped districts.
Since 2003, more information is produced every two days than the total sum of information produced between that year and the dawn of time, the CEO of Google said in 2010. Easily web-accessible facts, names and articles have grown exponentially, so much so that some say students can’t be taught like they were in the past, when rote memorization was the gold standard for learning and information wasn’t at almost everyone’s fingertips.
As the tune of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” plays out over the music video, the lyrics are a bit different:
“We will make mistakes…our method’s gonna break…not a piece of cake…we’re gonna shake it off, shake it off…”
It was in this video Stanford University Professor and author Jo Boaler says she was compelled to do something she didn’t want to do. “They made me rap,” she said. When her undergraduate students challenged whether she had a growth mindset about her rhyme skills, Boaler said to herself, “Oh my gosh. I’m gonna have to rap.”
John Merrow began his journalism career in 1974 with National Public Radio, and retired this summer as special correspondent with PBS Newshour. Along the way he racked up a slew of awards, broke big stories, and created a documentary production company.
The first time I heard a preschooler explaining a classmate’s disruptive behavior, I was surprised at how adult her four-year-old voice sounded.
Her classmate “doesn’t know how to sit still and listen,” she said to me, while I sat at the snack table with them. He couldn’t learn because he couldn’t follow directions, she explained, as if she had recently completed a behavioral assessment on him.
Thousands of the nation’s smaller school districts struggle to get even the most basic Internet services, making it difficult to take advantage of the wealth of classroom technology that’s giving students more options for how, what, and when they learn.
One of the most popular ideas in education today is also one that is often misunderstood. While Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” has a emerged as a meme for motivation less than a decade after the publication of her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” the Stanford psychology professor is worried about its misapplication.
Want to know what your child should be learning in kindergarten? Hunting for a list of age-appropriate books? Afraid your daughter is being bullied but don’t know how to ask?
Head over to Univision’s new bilingual Web-based parent engagement platform, Clave al Éxito (Key to Success) — “a complete guide to your child’s education.”
Last week the White House announced a new higher education experiment that will direct federal grants to some high school students who want to enroll in college classes.
The plan is to start small, with the administration offering $20 million to help defray the college costs of up to 10,000 low-income high school students for the 2016-2017 academic year. The money will come from the overall Pell Grant pot, which is currently funded at more than $30 billion annually and used by 8 million students.
Ethnic studies programs have had their fair share of controversy in this nation, but researchers maintain they can be a way to improve engagement and student outcomes.
Coming off a successful initiative to get legal driving privileges for undocumented immigrants in Delaware, a Latino activist group in the first state has now turned its attention to education.
“Solutions Journalism” aims to draw attention to credible responses to social problems. A brand-new resource can help education reporters take that approach with their own work on the beat.
Preschool-to-Third Grade Programs and Practices: A Review of Research
UW-Madison School Of Social Work
The preschool-to-third grade perspective has helped the early childhood field move away from a reliance on relatively brief or one-shot programs toward more systematic and comprehensive models that span most of children’s first decade. We review the knowledge base on the effectiveness of preschool-to-third grade intervention programs and practices for young children making the transition to school.
Children don’t have to lose one language to learn another language. That’s the theory behind dual-language programs, which are replacing traditional English as a second language (ESL) courses in schools across the country.
The Noble Street Network of Charter Schools in Chicago is taking a radical in-house approach to teacher preparation, recruiting and training its own recent graduates for spots at the front of the classroom.
Reporter Becky Vevea of WBEZ Chicago followed new teacher Jose Garcia through his first year at Noble’s Rauner College Prep, while he was also completing coursework through the Relay Graduate School of Education.
Long mocked for its inedibility, campus cafeteria food is undergoing a federally mandated transformation, and schools are realizing it’s going to take more than sprinkling kale on pizza to really change the way students eat.
Who should be responsible for teaching public school students to not only tolerate, but also appreciate, different views on religion? Where’s the line between instruction and indoctrination? And how effectively are teachers and schools handling the potentially problematic subject matter?
It’s easy to get cynical about back-to-school stories – especially when you’ve been an education reporter for many years. But it’s important to remember that for many children and their families – one of the prime audiences for such reporting – this might be the first time they’ve gone through the experience.
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.
Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.
The North Carolina Museum of Art is offering students a way to experience and learn about art firsthand, and outside the confines of a traditional classroom model.
Researchers find evidence of systematic biases in teachers’ expectations for the educational attainment of black students. Specifically, non-black teachers have significantly lower educational expectations for black students than black teachers do when evaluating the same students. We cannot determine whether the black teachers are too optimistic, the non-black teachers are too pessimistic, or some combination of the two.
This summer, native Spanish-speaking immigrant students in Los Angeles participated in a five-week pilot program testing a new algebra curriculum aligned with the Common Core.
Imagine taking an English class with a teacher who struggles with writing and grammar.
That’s the type of instruction many students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools were getting in Spanish class, where teachers with Hispanic last names who spoke Spanish well enough to get by were being thrust into a role they weren’t trained for, according to recent articles by Christina Veiga of the Miami Herald.
What if digital gaming in the classroom didn’t just make school more fun for kids, it actually made them smarter? That’s the premise of veteran education journalist Greg Toppo’s new book, “The Game Believes in You”.
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:
Education writing is famous for its alphabet soup of acronyms and obscure terms, but it could just as well be faulted for trafficking buzzwords in search of clear definitions.
Ideas like grit, motivation, fitting in and learning from one’s mistakes, often summarized as noncognitive factors, are just some of the concepts floated more frequently these days. A new paper released this week seeks to provide clarity to this fast-growing discipline within the world of how students learn.
Conversations about classroom discipline typically focus on ways to teach kids there are consequences to their actions as a means of controlling future behavior. But a new approach gaining ground removes the sliding scale of punishment from the equation.
Clinical psychologist Ross Greene — whose books are well known to parents of so-called “problem kids,” is rewriting the rules for how some schools respond to challenging students.
I’m headed to Quebec City this week, and in preparation I’ve been reading “Champlain’s Dream: The European Founding of North America” by David Hackett Fischer. There are also quite a few education titles on my vacation reading list, and we’ll be featuring some of the authors in upcoming episodes of EWA Radio.
Nestled within the new-agey sounding concept of “noncognitive factors” are fairly concrete examples of what parents and educators should and shouldn’t do to prepare students for the rigors of college and careers. Gleaned from research into brain development and human behavior, a toolkit is emerging on how to make the best of the scholarship focused on qualities like grit, persistence and learning from mistakes.
For the first time in more than two decades, a team of American high school students won the International Mathematical Olympiad, a feat that drew comparisons to the U.S. Hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” in 1980.
Fifty years ago, the federal government enacted the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. The newest version of the ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, became law 13 years ago and has stayed in place ever since. On Thursday, a new version of the federal government’s most far-reaching K-12 education law moved closer to adoption. The U.S. Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, one week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version, the Student Success Act.
Latino students might shun Advanced Placement courses if the only students they see in them are mostly affluent whites.
That’s essentially what Jeremy Goldman, head of counseling at a Baltimore high school told NBC last week in an article about the College Board’s new campaign to boost the number of minority high school students enrolled in AP classes.
In an early glimpse of how much tougher state tests could be in the Common Core era, a new federal report released in July shows that early adopters of the controversial standards are assessing their students with a far higher degree of difficulty.
Does an Arizona law banning Mexican-American studies curriculum in public schools intentionally discriminate against Hispanics? That’s the question a federal appeals court has claimed warrants a trial.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spanish professor Luis Fernando Restrepo wanted his children to be bilingual. But living in Arkansas — where Spanish classes aren’t offered until junior high — there wasn’t much institutional support for this endeavor.
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.
We quickly discovered two good reasons schools weren’t implementing mindset interventions: Schools didn’t know how to implement mindset interventions, and Schools didn’t know whether mindset interventions would work for their students. We had something important in common with them: We didn’t know either! To turn mindset interventions into something that schools could (and should) practically use, we first needed to develop a mindset intervention that schools could easily implement. We also needed to test whether this easy-to-use intervention was effective for various kinds of students.
An elective course designed to motivate Hispanic students to finish high school and go to college will be piloted in six Broward County, Florida high schools this fall.
Scott Travis of the Sun Sentinel reports the class, Latinos in Action, will focus on four major areas:
A program that pairs celebrities with struggling schools to develop their arts education is expanding to more large cities, The U.S. Department of Education announced today.
Known as the Turnaround Arts initiative, the $10-million effort pools public and private funds to teach music, dance and other arts disciplines at schools that are considered among the worst in their respective states.
What’s most notable about the Chicago kindergarten class where assistant teacher Nichelle Bell is temporarily in charge is what is not happening. Teachers are not redirecting pupils, who are not off-task. Hands are not in other people’s spaces. Voices—those of children and adults—are not raised.
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.
Nationally, eighth graders’ average scores on the NAEP U.S. history, geography, and civics assessments showed no significant change in 2014, compared to 2010—the last assessment year. However, several student groups have made gains. In 2014, eighteen percent of eighth-graders performed at or above the Proficient level in U.S. history, 27 percent performed at or above the Proficient level in geography, and 23 percent performed at or above the Proficient level in civics.
For teacher Merlinda Maldonado’s sixth graders at Hill Middle School in Denver, it’s not necessarily about getting the answer right. It’s not about memorizing procedures, either. If Maldonado’s classroom is clicking, frustration can be a good thing.
Howard University Teams Up With D.C. High Schools
University is one of thousands to offer college courses to high school students
Another university in Washington, D.C., has partnered with high schools to offer their students college-level courses for free, allowing them to earn high school and college credit at the same time.
Chicago Public Schools has announced the debut of a new interdisciplinary Latino and Latin American Studies curriculum that will be taught to students in kindergarten through 10th grade.
The new curriculum includes complete units and lessons across a range of disciplines, Melissa Sanchez reports for Catalyst Chicago.
Top tweets from #EWAChoice’s fourth panel.
Things are getting messy in Oklahoma, where a prolonged battle over the Common Core State Standards has widened to include an effort by lawmakers to block students from participating in Advanced Placement classes.
Latino and black students in the Dallas Independent School District lead the nation in the number of students who pass Advanced Placement exams. A recent story by KERA News explores the reasons for this, uncovering a unique approach that’s worth sharing.
At Summit Public School: Denali, young learners do it differently. Most of the students at this Bay Area-area school complete their coursework on school-issued Chromebooks, where they access a portal to online videos, assigned readings and interim assessments they take at their own pace. It’s a competency-based approach to proving they have mastered the subject at hand.
The United States has a gifted and talented student problem: Mainly, too few of the nation’s students score high on domestic and international assessments, and those that do are disproportionately well-off, Asian-American or white.
When education analyst Maria Ferguson looks at data from across the country, she sees record-setting confidence levels among school district leaders that the Common Core State Standards are more rigorous than what states had in place before. At the same time, Ferguson told reporters at a recent Education Writers Association seminar, these new expectations are barreling down on educators faster than they are able to prepare.
School districts aren’t allowed to discriminate based on a student’s race, color or national origin. And, in case there was any question about English-language learners, the Obama administration released a 40-page reminder in the form of guidelines Wednesday that they’re not to be discriminated against either.
As many as 3.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States are eligible for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which sets aside the threat of deportation and grants work privileges to eligible residents. Among the several conditions necessary to qualify for DACA approval is a high-school degree or its equivalent. That’s where schools enter the picture.
Being born in the United States does not guarantee proficiency in English. Maybe you knew this, maybe you didn’t. But it was new to me. Here’s what I learned.
If tough school discipline measures are meant to maintain stability in the classroom, then a new definition of stable might be in order: A new study argues high use of suspensions and expulsions brings down all students – even the ones who behave well.
A researcher with the Albert Shanker Institute flagged the study, which was published this month in the American Sociological Review. Here’s more on the paper from the Shanker Institute scholar Esther Quintero:
As tools and data profiles of students become easier to use, are teachers sufficiently data literate to make sense of the information at their fingertips? Do teachers have the skills and access to data in useful formats, and are the school leaders and institutions responsible for their professional development providing them the training they need?
New York Times science writer Benedict Carey studied what cognitive psychologists have figured out for his book “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why it Happens.”
In Watertown, N.Y., the local school district recently debated scaling back field trips for students, with administrators citing the cost of providing transportation and chaperones – money that instead needs to be devoted to more purely academic endeavors.
On a recent Wednesday morning, 11th-grader Sophia Wellington took to the undersized stage at the front of her high school gym and with seamless poise demonstrated what smarter student assessment could look like.
Nearly 10 percent of K-12 students in the United States are not native English speakers. That’s 4.4 million children enrolled in school who have been identified as English language learners.
As millions of immigrants waited for President Barack Obama to shed light on their future Thursday, educators, too, had a stake in the conversation.
If 49 multiplied by 5 is 245, why would a student think the answer is 405? And who is more likely to know this – a mathematician or an elementary math teacher?
Elizabeth Green, the author of “Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (And How to Teach It to Everyone), posed this question to a roomful of education reporters at EWA’s October seminar in Detroit.
Decades of research suggest that some types of arts education can lead to academic improvements. But even though No Child Left Behind designated arts a core subject, student access to dance, theater and visual arts declined between 2000 and 2010. What are the challenges educators face in teaching a discipline many researchers say spurs student achievement, reduces absences and boosts graduation rates?
Common Core Redoes the Math – Education Week
New standards bring hard questions, daunting instructional adjustments
As detailed in this report, part of a series of special reports by Education Week that identify and explore high-priority issues in schools, the common standards for math differ from most previous state standards in significant ways. They are fewer in number, connect more broadly across grade levels, and emphasize conceptual understanding along with the procedural skills that schools have traditionally taught.
Today is a day off from school for millions of students as campuses in some districts and states — including Michigan and New York — are converted into polling stations for the midterm elections. To Peter Levine, the director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, that’s a missed opportunity to demonstrate democracy in action.
Deborah Loewenberg Ball began her career as an elementary school teacher, working for 15 years with a diverse population of students. But math stumped her.
“That troubled me,” Ball said Oct. 21 during her keynote presentation at the EWA seminar on teaching held in Detroit. “I would work really hard on how could I make the math make sense to the students, … but on Fridays they would know how to do things and on Monday they would have forgotten.”
For new teachers, the first few years on the job can present a steep learning curve. And the students who need the most experienced teachers often don’t get them. How are schools, districts and states ramping up the support provided to new teachers? What are the hallmarks of a high-quality induction program? And what does the research show on the effects of coaching and mentoring?
Teacher Induction and Mentoring: Magdalene Lampert, Boston Residency Project
EWA Seminar on Teaching
For new teachers, the first few years on the job can present a steep learning curve. And the students who need the most experienced teachers often don’t get them. How are schools, districts and states ramping up the support provided to new teachers? What are the hallmarks of a high-quality induction program? And what does the research show on the effects of coaching and mentoring?
Students at a Pennsylvania high school are getting a real-life lesson in the power of the press – and the many shades of gray that come with First Amendment protections.
While Monday is designated as the Columbus Day holiday on federal calendars, it’s no longer being observed as such in a growing number of communities and schools.
In the battle of nature versus nurture, it’s not even close.
A study published Monday and reported on by the Los Angeles Times argues that inherited traits play an outsize role in how students perform on a compulsory exam taken by British 16-year-olds.
Can celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month lead to decreased underage drinking, substance use and high school dropout rates among Latino youth?
It might be a start.
A study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveals Latino adolescents who actively embrace their family’s native culture stand a greater chance of avoiding these risk behaviors.
In May, Missouri lawmakers approved a compromise to keep the Common Core in place for at least two more years but require more oversight and public input. And as Joe Robertson of the Kansas City Star reported, a total of eight committees comprised of lawmakers and parents were supposed to convene at the statehouse this week to begin the work of revising the standards.
There’s a section in the new Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll out this week that hasn’t gotten much attention: what parents think about schools and student health. (You can read my overview of the full poll, which focuses heavily on questions about teacher quality and preparation, here.)
In a new report, researchers say they found a link between higher rates of student absenteeism and lower scores in reading and mathematics on a nationwide exam. It’s a finding that isn’t likely to surprise many people, least of all educators in America’s public schools.
More than a few reporters at EWA’s National Seminar who signed up for the visit to Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville suggested that the campus would certainly be infused with country music elements. Perhaps cowboy hats and boots on each student, with future Taylor Swifts and Scotty McCreerys singing their way through the halls – right?
A new round of opposition to planned changes in how high schools teach U.S. history is conjuring up its own echoes of the past.
Researchers have long been searching for better ways to learn. In recent decades, experts working in cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience have opened new windows into how the brain works, and how we can learn to learn better.
In this program, we look at some of the big ideas coming out of brain science. We meet the researchers who are unlocking the secrets of how the brain acquires and holds on to knowledge. And we introduce listeners to the teachers and students who are trying to apply that knowledge in the real world.
Arizona made national headlines in 2010 with its law banning ethnic studies in public schools. That move resulted in the dismantling of the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program.
Four years later, educators in Texas and California are trying to drum up support for Latino and ethnic studies programs. The majority of public school students in both states are Latino.
This week, Emily and Mikhail talk to Joy Resmovits of The Huffington Post, who discusses her story (written with colleague Christina Wilkie) about the Charles G. Koch Foundation’s creation of Youth Entrepreneurs: a public high school finance course being used in schools in the midwest and south, which was designed to introduce students to free market theory and economics with a distinctly conservative point of view.
Do teachers innovate? Do they try different pedagogical approaches? Are practices within classrooms and educational organisations changing? And to what extent can change be linked to improvements? A measurement agenda is essential to an innovation and improvement strategy in education. Measuring Innovation in Educationoffers new perspectives on addressing the need for such measurement.
A year-long investigation into Michigan’s charter schools by the Detroit Free Press uncovered wasteful spending, cozy contracts, and missed opportunities to shut down long-struggling campuses, according to the newspaper.
Education reporters may have the power of the pen, but when it comes to navigating the complex methods of research studies, we may feel powerless. As researchers churn out report after report, how can journalists on deadline figure out which studies are worth covering?
So as the July heat kicks in, we started wondering about the whole idea. What, exactly, is summer school? How much does it cost? And, the biggest question, does it work? In a nutshell, we have no idea. “It’s been one of my pet peeves for years,” says Kathy Christie, vice president of knowledge and information management at the nonprofit Education Commission of the States. She says there’s never been a push for anyone to collect data on summer school. As a result there isn’t really good information about any of those questions above.
When Sandra Ruppert was growing up in Los Angeles every classroom at her school, Hancock Park Elementary, had a piano. And every teacher could play it.
“I made my first trip to the opera in third grade, learned ballroom dancing in the fourth grade and took violin in fifth grade,” Ruppert told those in attendance at “Kids Got the Beat,” one of the final panels of EWA’s 2014 National Seminar, held last month in Nashville. At her school, “there was artwork in the halls and seamlessly integrated into all kinds of classes.”
A class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday accuses the state of California of failing to provide adequate classroom instructional time to minority and low-income students.
The suit, Cruz v. State of California, was brought by students who attend seven economically disadvantaged schools in the state. Schools in Los Angeles and Compton are included in the lawsuit, as are Bay Area schools.
The Common Core State Standards have been reshaping the American education landscape for four years, leaving their mark on curriculum and instruction, professional development, teacher evaluation, the business of publishing, and the way tests are designed.
This week, Emily Richmond sits down with the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond to talk about her exhaustive investigation into Oregon’s chronic absentee problem.
The third installment of the Brown Center Report on Public Education is out from the Brookings Institution, and author Tom Loveless provides plenty of food for thought in three key areas: the potential effectiveness of the new Common Core State Standards; whether American students are being saddled with significantly more homework; and an examination of Shanghai’s reputation for producing some of the best 15-year-old math students in the world.