Data & Accountability


Data & Accountability

From test scores to teacher salaries, from graduation rates to grade-point averages, the education world is full of data. The federal No Child Left Behind law, signed in 2002, created an unprecedented demand for detailed information about students and schools. No longer are public schools judged simply by average test scores for all students. The law requires states, school districts and campuses to break out (“disaggregate,” in education-speak) test scores by race, gender, English proficiency, socioeconomic status and more.

From test scores to teacher salaries, from graduation rates to grade-point averages, the education world is full of data. The federal No Child Left Behind law, signed in 2002, created an unprecedented demand for detailed information about students and schools. No longer are public schools judged simply by average test scores for all students. The law requires states, school districts and campuses to break out (“disaggregate,” in education-speak) test scores by race, gender, English proficiency, socioeconomic status and more. Students in every group must meet the same academic standards.At the same time, people want to know which individual teachers have the most success working with various groups of students. 

The demand for data is growing in higher education, too. Parents, policymakers and taxpayers want to know which college freshmen need remedial education. They want to know how many students graduate on time, and whether graduates find good jobs. In both K-12 and higher education, some political leaders and others want to track academic performance with spending to see which schools and colleges seem to provide the best bang for the academic buck. This Topics section examines what this proliferation of data means for education reporters and offers links to key data resources.

This national push for accountability in education means that schools and colleges must first collect lots of useful, timely and precise data. Then, they must analyze and use that data – that is, make good decisions based on evidence — all with an eye toward improving student success. 

Here’s how Jeffrey Wayman, assistant professor of education at the University of Texas at Austin, describes the goal on his Data Use website: “If offered in a useful form, such data can help teachers, principals and other educational personnel learn more about their students, improve their teaching craft, and ultimately impact a variety of educational outcomes.”

When the Data Quality Campaign, a national coalition advocating for better data, formed in 2005, no states had extensive longitudinal databases for education. The campaign created “10 essential elements” it deemed the state data systems should have. By 2011, the group reported that 49 states (all but Montana) have eight or more of the elements. Now the group is focusing on what states should do with all of that data.

Aimee Guidera, the campaign’s executive director, says: “The need is urgent: state policymakers need to allocate scarce resources based on what works to help students, and they cannot do that without data.”

Sources of data

Federal, state and local agencies now keep a wealth of education data. At the federal level, one of the best sources is the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education. The center publishes annual reports (namely the Condition of Education and the Digest of Education Statistics) with state and national education trends on student enrollment and demographics, school staffing, education funding, graduation and dropout rates, and much more. The center also keeps searchable and downloadable databases, such as the Common Core of Data (for K-12 education) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (for higher ed). While the information at NCES is comprehensive, it’s also often dated, lagging two years behind.

State education agencies also offer a trove of data on student achievement (test scores from state exams, SATs, ACTs, Advanced Placement), graduation and dropout rates, student demographics, school funding, teacher salaries and staffing levels, and more. Some states put many databases online so they’re easily downloaded, while other states may not readily post such information — and that means reporters will need to specifically request it.

School districts also keep data on student test scores, employee salaries, budgets and the like. Again, the type and availability of information vary by district.

Keep in mind that federal privacy laws, namely the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), restricts disclosure of individual student education records. In practical terms, that means a journalist can’t ask a school district or state agency for a list of student names with their race, gender and test scores. But a journalist can ask for student-level data with all identifying information (names, social security numbers, etc.) removed. Depending on the state, education agencies may even redact information in particular for small subgroups of students (for instance, test scores for the only four white, female students in a school, under the theory someone could still deduce the individual students’ scores).

Controversies, challenges and caveats

As schools and education agencies are able to collect powerful data, and they’re able to analyze it with more sophisticated tools, controversies have risen.  Some school systems around the country rate teachers based on how much academic growth students made while in their classrooms. These “value-added” models look at which teachers are the most (and least) effective with their students by these measures. Some education leaders want to tie teacher pay or raises to their students’ academic growth, instead of compensating them solely on their education credentials and years of experience. Skeptics say the value-added models have too much statistical error to rate individual teachers accurately.

There can be other problems with education data. If students or their teachers cheat on state exams, the test scores (and everything they’re based on, such as state academic ratings) become meaningless. If schools don’t accurately report the reasons students leave school, then dropout and graduation rates aren’t accurate. Some colleges have been accused of reporting false or exaggerated data to U.S. News & World Report so they do better in the magazine’s annual college rankings. Journalists, and anyone else who uses data, need to ask questions about data when they see red flags.

With so much emphasis on data, some experts advise that journalists, policy makers and others should also examine things that can’t be easily measured — classroom observations of students and teachers, portfolios of student work, parent involvement, and school culture. And we don’t have sufficient data for all students, such as those who are exempt from state exams, or part-time college students who don’t count in the official graduation rates.

In the classroom, meanwhile, educators face the challenge of taking all of the data on students and using it well. The research isn’t yet extensive on the use of data to improve instruction or make decisions about teachers or students, but the research that is available shows that districts need to offer extensive training to principals and teachers to make the data useful. If educators don’t receive the training, they won’t use the data.

“The greatest perceived area of need among districts is for models of how to connect student data to instructional practice,” a U.S. Department of Education study found in 2010. “Districts want examples of how to identify which practices work best for which students and how to adapt instructional strategies to meet the needs of individual students.” 


How Local Reporters Can Tap Federal Education Data

When writing about education issues in a particular state or community — whether preschool access, teacher vacancy rates, homework or guidance counselor ratios  — putting local data in a national context is often essential. But how can you find those facts and figures quickly and easily, especially on deadline? 

The National Center for Education Statistics Data Lab is a useful tool that will help you find nuggets of informative data in a speedy manner.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Tapping Education Researchers Pays Off
Reporters See Value in Teaming Up With Experts to Examine Data

From test scores to graduation rates, the education system is a world of numbers that can show how well policies and practices are serving students – if you know how to analyze the data.

“When there’s a data session here and you have to pick which category you’re in, I would be in the beginner category,” said Adam Tamburin, a higher education reporter for The Tennessean, during a panel at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar in Baltimore.

Enter the trained scientists.

Latest News

Students ‘Were the Victims’: End of the Transfer Program Highlights Inequality In St. Louis Area Schools

The 2015 Ferguson Commission report called on the state to overhaul the school accreditation system to address racial and income inequity. It said the transfer system “fail(s) to fix the schools that have lost accreditation or to address the core issues that led to losing accreditation” because it sends “motivated students and money away.”

Latest News

Michigan To Have Two Separate Accountability Systems For Schools

Michigan will have two separate accountability systems for its K-12 schools, which is the result of lame-duck legislation conflicting with federal education law.

Michigan already had an accountability system in place under the Every Student Succeeds Act when state lawmakers in December passed a new state A-F accountability system in the early morning hours of a lame-duck session.

Latest News

How Pittsburgh Students Have Fared Since The Atlanta Cheating Scandal

Over the past decade, the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal devastated Pittsburgh. The community’s schools were at the epicenter, so much so that one will be the focus of a forthcoming Hollywood movie. For a proud South Atlanta community once home to one of the city’s best schools for black children, the memory of teachers marched out of school by police still stings.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

School Discipline Reform: Easier Said Than Done?

For years, kicking students out of school was a common discipline move for administrators. Now, suspending students, a practice that disproportionately affects black and Hispanic youngsters, is out of favor, as educators work to respond to bad behavior without cutting off educational opportunities.

But the change hasn’t been easy, and many educators are still grappling with how to handle discipline problems in ways that don’t hurt students’ education, according to a panel at the Education Writers Association’s annual conference this spring in Baltimore.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The State of Early Learning in Your State
A pair of new reports shed light on the well-being of children across the U.S.

The best way to predict the future is to look at how children are faring. But the task is complicated given that the well-being of children varies widely from state to state. 

That’s what data presented by researchers Sarah Daily of Child Trends and W. Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University show. The duo offered their takes on the state of early care and learning across the United States at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 annual conference in Baltimore. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How States Are Rethinking Accountability and Report Cards
A Raft of New Education Data is on Tap

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act is about to unleash a flood of new data, on everything from school-by-school spending to chronic absenteeism and achievement results for vulnerable groups of students.

But all those facts and figures don’t mean much if reporters can’t explain what they really mean to parents and the public.

That was the message from a trio of experts – and a veteran journalist – who spoke at a panel at the Education Writers Association’s recent national conference in Baltimore.

Latest News

After Biting Report, Providence Looks to Lift Failing School District

Brown tap water. Student brawls. Chronically absent teachers. Test scores that rank among the worst in the country.

The public school district here is full of deplorable conditions, according to a recent scathing report by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Now the capital city, proud of its downtown renaissance, restaurants and arts scene, faces a painful reckoning as it is debating what to do with a failing school system that serves 24,000 children, who are mostly poor and Hispanic.

EWA Radio

Cory Booker, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Newark Schools Experiment
"The Prize" author Dale Russakoff discusses massive school reform intervention spearheaded by then-Mayor Cory Booker and funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and its mixed results
EWA Radio: Episode 38

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In 2010, billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced an unprecedented gift: he would donate $100 million to the public school district of Newark, New Jersey (dollars that would eventually be matched by private partners).

EWA Radio

The Underreporting of Student Restraint and Seclusion
New GAO report details inaccuracies in district data
(EWA Radio: Episode 210)

School districts have been vastly underreporting instances when some of their most vulnerable students are physically restrained or sent to seclusion rooms by campus staff — that’s the conclusion of a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency. Two reporters on opposite sides of the country were already deep into the reporting on this issue: Jenny Abamu of WAMU in Washington, D.C., and Rob Manning of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Reporter Guide

Making Sense of Research Literature Reviews and Meta-Analyses

When journalists want to learn what’s known about a certain subject, they look for research. Scholars are continually conducting studies on education topics ranging from kindergarten readiness and teacher pay to public university funding and Ivy League admissions.

One of the best ways for a reporter to get up to date quickly, though, is to read a study of studies, which come in two forms: a literature review and a meta-analysis.


Diving Into Data Workshop
University of Wisconsin-Madison • July 26-29, 2019

The education beat offers a wealth of data —  on student achievement, college admissions, teacher turnover, student discipline, K-12 and higher ed finance, and more. For data-savvy journalists, the story possibilities are limited only by their curiosity and skill level.

That’s where EWA comes in.

EWA is inviting applications for its popular Diving Into Data Workshop on July 26-29 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We will select 20 reporters to spend three days working on self-selected data projects and getting hands-on training in data analysis methods and tools such as Excel and the programming language R.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘An Ethical Obligation to Care’ When Reporting
'I try to write like people's lives depend on my words,' says Jenny Abamu.

While working as a journalist in New York City at the start of her career, Jenny Abamu experienced firsthand one of the challenges of daily breaking news coverage in a huge media market. Her job, at the television station NY1, required quickly moving from one assignment to the next, even on the same day.

At times she felt like part of the “media herd” chasing shiny objects, Abamu recalled recently to EWA. She felt she moved on from stories that deserved more depth and context.

“I felt like I was slipping in and out of people’s lives,” she said.


(Report) Nonwhite School Districts Get $23 Billion Less Than White Districts Despite Serving the Same Number of Students

The story of our communities can in many ways be told through the lens of the school districts that serve our children. More than organizations that enable learning, school districts are geographic boundaries that serve as magnifying lenses that allow us to focus on issues of race and wealth. They are both a statement of “what is” and “what could be” in our society.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What’s in a Grade?
New data cast doubt on the connection between report card grades and academic achievement

Grades and student report cards provide parents with a picture of how their children are performing in school. New data, however, raises questions about just how accurate that picture is.

A pair of recent reports shed light on the connection, or lack thereof, between a student’s report card grades and their actual academic achievement.


72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What’s Motivating Teens to Vote?
Education Week survey, national polls offer insights into young voters

In a new national survey, concern about the February shootings at a high school in Parkland, Fla., was the top reason cited by eligible teen voters as motivating them to cast a ballot. And students who said they had taken civics classes were also more likely to say they planned to exercise their right to vote in the midterm elections.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What You Missed at the #ewaTEACH18 Seminar in Chicago

Journalists from across the Great Lakes region and the U.S. gathered in Chicago Oct. 18-19 to learn more about the teaching profession during a time of transition for the field, and to get story ideas and inspiration.

The event explored the recent surge of teacher activism across the country and the growing mismatch between teacher diversity and student diversity. Reporters also explored teacher prep, teacher evaluation, and dived into data on teacher pensions, salaries, and absenteeism. 

Key Coverage

Full-day Kindergarten Is Great for Kids, so Why Isn’t It Required?

The academic gains of kids who attend full-day kindergarten are well-documented, but most states pay only for half-day kindergarten and don’t require students to attend it.

Early learning advocates and politicians have spent a lot of time in the past five years talking about preschool. But for the benefits of preschool to be sustained, experts argue, children must continue to receive a high-quality early elementary education.

Full-day kindergarten, which has been shown to boost academic gains for students well into elementary school, could be critical.

Announcement Rick Wilson

EWA Invites Journalists to Apply for Fellowships on K-12, Higher Ed Topics
Awards of up to $8,000 will support ambitious reporting and writing

*The deadline for this round of the EWA Reporting Fellowship was Aug. 31, 2018. The application cycle is now closed. 

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 sixth class of EWA Reporting Fellows.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Research: Where to Find It and How to Evaluate It

Researchers at Michigan State University and Teachers College, Columbia University, tackled an intriguing question in a 2016 study: How much influence were large, national donors having on local school board elections?

The study’s abstract stated that large donor networks had “nationalized” local education politics in Los Angeles, Denver, New Orleans and Bridgeport, Conn.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tawnell Hobbs: ‘Always Get the Data’
The Wall Street Journal reporter offers advice about tapping data on the education beat.

Tawnell Hobbs doesn’t shy away from data.

When reporting on credit-recovery programs in public schools, she analyzed U.S. Department of Education figures on the number of students taking those courses. For context, she added stats about the nation’s high school graduation rates, which are climbing, compared to national test scores, which remain flat.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Data Literacy for Reporters: A Crash Course in Excel and More

Matthew Kauffman, an investigative reporter for the Hartford Courant, started a two-part, data literacy workshop for journalists with a question: “How many people got into journalism primarily because they were hoping to do more math?”

When zero hands went flying into the air, he was not surprised.

“There’s just kind of a disconnect between what we do and numbers and math,” Kauffman said. However, he argued it is more important than ever for reporters to get comfortable with math.


Beyond the Numbers: Getting the Story on Latino Education
The Fifth Annual EWA Conference for Spanish-Language Media

image of Miami, Fla.

The Education Writers Association is pleased to partner with NAHJ to offer a 1½-day institute on covering education at the NAHJ National Conference in Miami. The July 20-21 education coverage bootcamp, which will be held in Spanish,  will feature some of the most important and influential researchers and educational leaders in the field of Latino education. They will help journalists gain a better understanding of the education issues affecting Latino students in the U.S., such as the impacts of school choice, teacher demographics, and student loans. You’ll also get training on data sources that can help you buttress or generate  education stories.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Teacher Strikes: What Reporters Need to Know

Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky are on the picket lines this week, pushing for better compensation for themselves and more money for schools in their respective states.

These strikes come just weeks after West Virginia’s schools were shuttered statewide for almost two weeks in March, eventually sparking the legislature there to award teachers pay raises.

Such work stoppages are historically rare, but the teachers involved say they were necessary to force resolutions to months - or even years - of stalled negotiations.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

For Matthew Kauffman, Covering Education Means Covering Data
The award-winning investigative reporter explains why data matters, particularly on the education beat.

The education beat is fertile ground for data journalism. Covering K-12 issues typically requires reporters to make sense of annual standardized test data, district budgets and local property tax rates. Schools and districts also generate reams of data, addressing everything from student discipline to daily attendance and graduation rates.

This wealth of publicly available information can be a gold mine for stories, but reporters may feel intimidated or overwhelmed, and never do any serious analysis or data crunching.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?
Big cuts to popular programs, boosting school choice proposed

President Trump’s proposed federal budget, unveiled Monday, calls for major cuts to existing education programs and a huge increase for school choice initiatives. The first question stemming from his blueprint is this: How seriously will Congress take his administration’s plan, even with Republicans controlling both chambers?


Pedal to the Metal: Speeding Up Stalled Records Requests

Pedal to the Metal: Speeding Up Stalled Records Requests

You file a freedom of information request with your local school district concerning financial data or a personnel investigation, but months later, there’s still no answer. What are the next steps, especially if your newsroom’s budget can’t stretch to cover the costs of suing for access? A veteran journalist and an expert on records requests offer strategies for success in making inquiries at the federal, state and local levels.

EWA Radio

2018: What’s Ahead on the Education Beat
Betsy DeVos, Tax Reform, and DACA in the spotlight (EWA Radio: Episode 153)

Veteran education journalists Greg Toppo of USA Today and Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed offer predictions on the education beat for the coming year, as well as story ideas to help reporters cover emerging federal policies and trends that will impact students and educators at the state and local level. Top items on their watchlists include the effect of the so-called “Trump Effect on classrooms, and whether the revamped tax law will mean big hits to university endowments.

EWA Radio

Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed.)
How local politics are influencing public school programs, teen birth rates

The Central Valley is home to six of the 10 counties with the highest teen pregnancy rates in California. The same communities also have some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted disease. But as reporter Mackenzie Mays discovered by crunching the numbers in a new series for The Fresno Bee, those statistics vary widely by ZIP code, as does access to school-based health programs and services.


71st EWA National Seminar
Los Angeles • May 16-18, 2018

EWA 71st National Seminar Los Angeles graphic

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.

EWA Radio Emily Richmond

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.


Agenda: A Reporter’s Guide to Rethinking the American High School
San Diego • December 4–5, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Campus of High Tech High

Registration and Lunch
12:00–12:30 p.m.

Welcome & Ice Breaker
12:30–1:00 p.m.

  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association

Anatomy of High School Redesign
1:00–2:00 p.m.

EWA Radio Erik Robelen

‘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.

EWA Radio

When Cyber-Hackers Attack, School Districts Are Paying the Ransom.
Data security, student privacy, employee records at risk

From Georgia to California, school districts are facing a growing security threat: hackers. They target everything from employee payroll accounts to student records, and demand ransom in exchange for not taking advantage of sensitive information. Tawnell Hobbs of The Wall Street Journal discovered that school districts are surprisingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. And many are opting to pay the ransom and not reporting the crime to authorities. Is your school district a target?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Building Your Digital Audience: Tips From CNN
At Atlanta-based news giant, data helps guide coverage

To engage and grow their digital audience, journalists at CNN study the numbers.

That sort of data is front-and-center at the broadcast news giant’s Atlanta headquarters – on the screens throughout the newsroom and even emphasized in the newsroom layout. Look at the large screens at the front of the room, and you can see what topics are trending on social media, popular online searches, how certain headlines perform, and how much traction stories get on social media.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Show, Don’t Tell: The Power of Visualizing Data

In an era when data is more accessible than ever, how can journalists convey that information in a compelling way that gets beyond the numbers?

One strategy is to convert the data into visual representations that help to tell the story. Such visuals range from elaborate, interactive maps to a simple dot.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Erik Robelen

Student ‘Expeditions’ Help Drive, Inspire Learning at D.C. Charter School

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.

EWA Radio

Are the Feds Ignoring Segregated Schools?
EWA Radio: Episode 140


In a cover story for The Nation, Emmanuel Felton of The Hechinger Report argues that the federal government has substantially abandoned Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in which struck down the doctrine of “separate but equal” education. Felton found nearly 200 school districts still under federal orders to desegregate, but many of them have failed to submit the requisite progress reports.


Covering State ESSA Plans: What Reporters Need to Know

Covering State ESSA Plans: What Reporters Need to Know

States across the nation are taking another look at their school accountability systems in response to the Every Student Succeeds Act, a rewrite of the main federal law for K-12 education. So far, 16 states and the District of Columbia have submitted their ESSA plans for review by the U.S. Department of Education. Another 33 states have until Sept. 18  to do so.


Follow the Money: Digging Into School District Finances

Follow the Money: Digging Into School District Finances

When it comes to school district finances, the numbers aren’t easy to add up. But tracking and analyzing this information is a powerful tool to drive smart news coverage. 

Veteran education journalist Tawnell Hobbs of The Wall Street Journal shares tips and tricks for digging into district operating budgets and actual expenditures, as well as salary databases, overtime requests, check registers and credit card accounts, purchase orders, and more. Learn how to evaluate fiscal data that’s readily available and make the most of open records requests. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond Boundaries: Deeper Reporting on School Attendance Zones

When Baltimore County school officials wanted to move boundary lines in 2015, some parents predicted declining property values and voiced fears of sending their children to school with “those kids.”

Liz Bowie, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, pushed for clarity on the coded language. Doing so, she told a packed room at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar, is crucial to news coverage of school boundaries and the often related issues of segregation, class bias, and equity.

Key Coverage

Test Drive: New Hampshire Teachers Build New Ways to Measure Deeper Learning

Just outside Concord High School, a delivery truck has spilled its chemical supplies. The students’ mission: Investigate the properties of the spill and develop a detailed plan to clean it up safely.

Teenagers wearing safety goggles squat down, sucking up samples of the clear liquid with pipettes. The simulated spill has been “contained” in a fish tank. But the students play along, first by developing some “testable questions” with their partners: How acidic is it? How does it compare with the properties of each substance on the truck?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Advocates Fear Impact of Trump Budget on Arts Education

President Donald Trump’s plans to eliminate some big-tickets items in the federal education budget — such as aid for after-school and teacher quality programs – have sparked sharp criticism. At the same time, supporters of the arts are rallying against the president’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts — which provides some grants for arts education.


Covering ESSA Accountability in the Trump Era

Covering ESSA Accountability in the Trump Era

With states revamping their school accountability systems under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, recent actions by Congress and the Trump administration raise important questions about what’s ahead. First, the Senate last week narrowly approved a bill to repeal ESSA accountability rules issued by the Obama administration. (President Donald Trump is expected to sign the measure.) Also, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos just issued new ESSA guidelines for states.

EWA Radio

“Rewarding Failure”: Education Week Investigates Cyber Charters
EWA Radio: Episode 107

Reporter Arianna Prothero discusses Education Week’s eight-month investigation of online charter schools,  including how some companies aggressively lobby states to craft regulations that allow them to flourish despite spotty records on student achievement. Why do some students opt for this kind of alternative publicly funded education? What do we know about attendance, academic achievement, and school quality in cyber charters? Who are the big players in the cyber charter industry, and how much is known about their policies, practices, and profits?

Prothero answers these and other questions and shares story ideas for local reporters covering online charter schools in their own communities.


Examining the Utility of Achievement Levels for the ‘Nation’s Report Card’
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds that while the NAEP achievement levels for reading and math can be a useful reporting tool, they are susceptible to misinterpretation and misuse.  The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report said that users of NAEP data need more guidance on the interpretations and use of achievement levels.


Examining the Utility of Achievement Levels for the ‘Nation’s Report Card’
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds that while the NAEP achievement levels for reading and math can be a useful reporting tool, they are susceptible to misinterpretation and misuse.  The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report said that users of NAEP data need more guidance on the interpretations and use of achievement levels.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

What’s Next for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics?
A Q&A With Outgoing Executive Director Alejandra Ceja

Alejandra Ceja has been the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics since 2013 — a position she’ll give up at noon on Jan. 19, the day before the presidential inauguration. I recently sat down with her at the U.S. Department of Education to talk about the state of Latino education, the Initiative’s first 25 years, and what we can expect from the Initiative under the next administration. 

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length. 


Measuring the Soft Skills: What Reporters Need to Know

Measuring the Soft Skills: What Reporters Need to Know

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

More Students Are Graduating, But That’s Not the Whole Story

As federal education officials tout a fourth consecutive year of improvement in the nation’s high school graduation rate, the reactions that follow are likely to fall into one of three categories: policymakers claiming credit for the gains; critics arguing that achievement gaps are still far too wide to merit celebrating; and policy wonks warning against misuses of the data.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Crossing Borders Means Repeated Grades, Denied Enrollment for Some Mexican-American Students

Source: Bigstock

There are hundreds of thousands of students who cross borders to attend schools in both the U.S. and Mexico during their elementary, middle and high school years, but poor communication between the two nations often results in significant obstacles for their academic advancement, researchers said at a binational symposium in Mexico this week.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Where Students Miss the Most Class, and Why That’s a Problem

By woodleywonderworks [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Allison Kowalski

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

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.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latinos, Standardized Tests and the Opt-Out Movement

Karen Falla of Univisión Dallas, left, moderated a discussion on standardized testing and the opt-out movement with panelists Peggy McLeod of National Council of La Raza, José Palma of the University of Minnesota, and Ruth Rodriguez of United Opt Out National (not pictured). Source: Leticia Espinosa/ Hoy

While the number of parents who opt out of having their kids take their states’ standardized tests has grown nationally, much of this movement appears to be made up of white, wealthier families. Latinos and other minorities seem to be less inclined to avoid standardized testing.

That should not be the case, said Ruth Rodriguez, an administrator with United Opt Out National.


No More Free Lunch for Education Policymakers and Researchers
Brookings Institution

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


Drop Out, Push Out, & School-to-Prison Pipeline

Educational Exclusion: Drop Out, Push Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline among LGBTQ Youth provides an in-depth look at the conditions that effectively push LGBTQ youth out of school and potentially into the criminal justice system. The report provides specific, real world guidance to address the hostile school climates and damaging policies and practices that contribute to pushing LGBTQ youth out of their schools.

Read the report.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Meeting Parents’ School-Data Needs

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

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

Reporter Guide

A Reporter’s Guide to Microsoft Access
For education journalists with basic and intermediate Access skills


Published May 2016

What is Microsoft Access?

Microsoft Access is a great database manager. It allows you to use queries to pull specific information from a database. For instance, if you have a database with a million rows of information and 30 columns, you can specify what information in that data you want to see by using a query – it’s like creating a mini-database. It’s different than doing filters in Excel, because filtered information is still there but you just can’t see it. Access also allows you to join two files with ease.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Missing Class: Using Data to Track Chronic Absenteeism

Fickr/dcJohn (CC BY 2.0)

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

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

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Rethinking Accountability in the ESSA Era

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

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

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

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Behind the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Failure Factories Series

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

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

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

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Identifying ‘Gifted’ English-Language Learners

Source: Flickr/ via U.S. Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

When students don’t speak English well, it can be easy for their outstanding academic abilities to get overlooked. 

In a recent NPR story for All Things Considered, Claudio Sanchez tells listeners about a program in Arizona’s Paradise Valley Unified School District that has figured out a way to identify the talents of gifted students  – even as they’re still learning the English language.


National Benchmarks for State Achievement Standards
American Institutes for Research

State achievement standards represent how much the state expects their students to learn in order to reach various levels of academic proficiency. In the past, these achievement standards were used by each state to report adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind federal legislation, and are now being used for federal reporting under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.


National Benchmarks for State Achievement Standards
American Institutes for Research

State achievement standards represent how much the state expects their students to learn in order to reach various levels of academic proficiency. In the past, these achievement standards were used by each state to report adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind federal legislation, and are now being used for federal reporting under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.


Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments examines previously unreleased items from three multi-state tests (ACT Aspire, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced) and one best-in-class state assessment, Massachusetts’ state exam (MCAS), to answer policymakers’ most pressing questions: Do these tests reflect strong content? Are they rigorous? What are their strengths and areas for improvement? No one has ever gotten under the hood of these tests and published an objective third-party review of their content, quality, and rigor. Until now.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Making Sense of Global Comparisons in Education

Chinese girls in their classroom. Shanghai drew widespread attention for its high test scores on PISA in 2012. Later this year, new results will be released for PISA and another international exam, putting a spotlight once again on how the achievement of dozens of countries and education systems compare. (Flickr/Brian Yap)

Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. first got a snapshot of how its students compare with their peers in other countries based on a standardized test. The news was sobering.

“Look towards the bottom of this list, and see the U.S. coming in 11th out of 12 [industrialized] countries” in math, said Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution, pointing to a chart he presented last month at an Education Writers Association seminar in Washington, D.C. “Only Sweden scored below the U.S.”


Quality Counts 2016: Report and Rankings
Education Week

The 2016 edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts report—Called to Account: New Directions in School Accountability—examines how new state and federal strategies are transforming the assessment of school performance and reshaping the consequences for poor results. The new Every Student Succeeds Act is widely believed to herald a shift in authority away from the federal government and back to the states and school districts. Pressure is also mounting for accountability systems to go beyond test scores and incorporate other academic and non-academic factors in meaningful ways.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Michael Marriott

This Is What’s New in 2016 from EWA

Here’s something to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions, and it might even make it easier to keep that pledge to exercise more often: Subscribe to EWA Radio! Each week, we feature education journalists sharing the backstory to their best work. You’ll hear tips for managing the daily beat, as well as ideas for localizing national issues for your own audience. 

Here are a few more opportunities from EWA to help ramp up your reporting in 2016: 


Exclusive Access: Education Week’s ‘Quality Counts’ 2016

Exclusive Access: Education Week’s ‘Quality Counts’ 2016

EWA journalist members received an early opportunity to review Education Week’s newest Quality Counts report, which includes a special focus on school accountability.

As part of its annual Quality Counts report, Education Week grades states on a wide range of indicators, including the Chance-for-Success Index, K-12 Achievement Index, and school finance.


High School Closures in New York City

In the first decade of the 21st century, the NYC Department of Education implemented a set of large-scale and much debated high school reforms, which included closing large, low-performing schools, opening new small schools and extending high school choice to students throughout the district. The school closure process was the most controversial of these efforts. Yet, apart from the general sense that school closures are painful, there has never been a rigorous assessment of their impact in NYC.

Report Jonathan Kang

LOCKED OUT: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth
The Council of State Governments Justice Center

There is perhaps no population of young people who have a greater need for access to quality education and who experience more barriers to access than incarcerated youth. How are educational and vocational services being made available to them? How are states collecting and tracking student outcome data? How are juvenile correctional agencies and education agencies working together to ensure that these youth transition to a community-based educational or vocational setting after release from incarceration?


State Capacity to Support School Turnaround
Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools. 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Cultural Values and the Path to Early Academic Success

Selma Caal of Child Trends Hispanic Institute, Paulina Sodi of Telemundo Houston, and José Lizárraga of the University of California, Berkeley participated in a panel discussion on educating young Latinos during the 2015 Spanish-Language Media Convening in Orlando on Sept. 17. Source: Twitter/ via @PaulinaSodi

Latino children enter kindergarten with socioemotional skills that are on par and sometimes even better than their non-Latino peers’ abilities. This means they’re on track in their capability to make friends and behave in school. But Latinos also have a greater probability of arriving to their first day of classes behind their peers academically.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

PARCC Test Results Coming Soon, But State Comparisons Limited

(Flickr/USAG- Humphreys)

New details on Common Core-aligned assessments came to light yesterday, as officials with one of the state testing consortia shared information on cut scores for the roughly five million students who took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests this spring. In addition, the officials revealed the timeline for when those results will be made public.

EWA Radio

Summer Reading List: “The Prize”
EWA Radio: Episode 38

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In 2010, billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced an unprecedented gift: he would donate $100 million to the public school district of Newark, New Jersey (dollars that would eventually be matched by private partners).

Dale Russakoff, a longtime reporter for The Washington Post, spent more than three years reporting on what turned into a massive experiment in top-down educational interventions—with decidedly mixed results. 

EWA Radio

When Artists Visit a Low-Income School to Teach Theater and Music
EWA Radio: Episode 37

(Staten Island Advance/Lauren Steussy)

Over the summer The Staten Island Advance published a three-part series about an arts residency program that tasked professional artists to teach elementary school students to teach them theater and music – arts instruction that otherwise didn’t exist at PS 57, a largely low-income school in the New York borough. Reporter Lauren Steussy followed the kids, teachers and parents of the school as they took in the sights and sounds of a campus suddenly abuzz with the stomps and squeaks of performing arts.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Report: Skipping School Hurting Younger Learners


While too many students at all grade levels are regularly skipping school, many preschoolers and kindergarteners are missing nearly as much seat time as teenagers, according to a new report.

The lost learning time, particularly in the younger grades, translates into weaker math and reading skills that become long-term deficits for students even years down the road, according to the new report from Attendance Works, a national advocacy organization, and the nonprofit Healthy Schools Campaign.


69th EWA National Seminar

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.

Boston, Massachusetts
Report Natalie Gross

Connecting Education, Workforce Data Key to Strong State Labor Markets
National Governors Association

As the individual with the platform and budget authority to guide public education and economic development at the state level, the governor plays a central role in ensuring that public educational institutions provide students with the knowledge and abilities required for a successful life and career. The systemic use of data from education and labor markets informs governors and other policymakers of the effectiveness and efficiency of their existing postsecondary systems and students and employers of labor market conditions.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Lori Crouch

Back-to-School: Story Ideas That Shine


While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?

No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn

Schools With Tough Tests Send More Low-Income Kids to College

Morris Jeff Community School in Louisiana, an  International Baccalaureate school. (Source: Flickr/Bart Everson)

Schools that that teach low-income students a notoriously demanding curriculum are almost twice as likely to see those students enroll in college, a new report shows.

This news comes on the heels of growing research suggesting that challenging assessments, which are a staple of the International Baccalaureate program featured in the report, help students develop a deeper understanding of key subjects like math and history. That “deeper learning,” in turn, may lead to more college opportunities. 


Is It Bon Voyage For No Child Left Behind?
Webinar on Federal Policy


Education Week reporter Lauren Camera, David DeSchryver, senior vice president of Whiteboard Advisors, and Bethany Little, principal at Education Counsel, break down the future of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for journalists.

Now that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed bills renewing the act, journalists can examine the potential impact of the new provisions. Learn how you can cover these in your state and district and find out questions you should be asking.


Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond NCLB: New Era in Federal Education Policy?

Screenshot of a tweet by @KristenRencher

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Secret to Great School Budget Stories? Dig, Dig, Dig

A Dallas Independent School District's Citizen Budget Review Commission meeting in 2011. Dallas Morning News reporter Tawnell Hobbs found rampant misspending in an investigation of the district's finances that covered four years of financial records.  (Flickr/Todd Overman for DISD)

News stories on school district budgets often stick to whether spending is up or down, whether employees received raises or not. So Dallas Morning News reporter Tawnell Hobbs helped attendees at the Education Writers Association National Seminar delve deeper into school spending and unlock the juiciest stories during a session in Chicago on April 20.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Too Many Tests?


An opt-out movement gained momentum this spring, with tens of thousands of students sitting out of new standardized tests in states including New York, Maine and New Mexico.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, a panel of testing experts gathered at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago to discuss the very predicament.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Testing in Action: How Did It Go?

Flickr/Judy Baxter

This academic year marks a critical juncture for the Common Core, as most states started testing students on the standards for the first time. The beginning has had some rough moments, with thousands of students opting out of the tests, especially in New York and New Jersey, and technology glitches in some states disrupting the assessments.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Benefits of Investing in Early Childhood Education

(Flickr/Barnaby Wasson)

Preschool advocates have had a tough time convincing lawmakers that spending money in the earliest years of a child’s education has a long-term payoff.

Just ask Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner.

At this year’s Education Writers Association conference in Chicago, Rauner said her husband, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, understands the value of early childhood education.


Guardians of the Gigabytes: Who Is Protecting Students’ Data?
2015 EWA National Seminar

Guardians of the Gigabytes: Who Is Protecting Students’ Data?

Children are the future, but they’re also the source of billions of data points, and the battle over that information has just begun. Startups are angling for a piece of the multibillion-dollar education market those kids represent, while government agencies are touting data collection to improve instruction. But who’s keeping student data safe?


  • Benjamin Herold, Education Week


Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Get Dollars to Schools That Need Them

"Covering the Economics of Education," April 20, 2015.

At a speech in December, Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, took the United States to task for the way it funds schools.

“Public education spending is often lower for students in lower-income households than for students in higher-income households,” she told the audience at the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality, in Boston.

Story Lab

Story Lab: Making Federal Data a Gold Mine for Your Reporting

Need a state or national statistic? There’s likely a federal data set for that. From fairly intuitive and interactive widgets to dense spreadsheets — and hundreds of data summaries in between — the U.S. Department of Education’s various research programs are a gold mine for reporters on the hunt for facts and figures.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Teachers Keep Teaching, Contrary to Conventional Wisdom

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan meets with teachers in Los Angeles on October 21, 2014. Photo credit: Flickr/U.S. Dept. of Education

Despite previous reports that new teachers are ditching their professions in record numbers, new federal data suggest that a grand majority of novice classroom instructors are showing up for work year after year.

Eighty-three percent of rookie teachers in 2007 continued to educate public school students half a decade later, according to the 2007–08 Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study. Ten percent of teachers left the field after just one year.


NAEP 2014 U.S. History, Geography, and Civics Assessments

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Protecting Student Data: Even Experts Are Just ‘Figuring It Out’

Protecting Student Data: Even Experts Are Just ‘Figuring It Out’

The last decade’s increasing reliance on data-driven education tools has policy leaders scrambling to safeguard personal information as Americans increasingly become concerned about their children’s digital footprints.

Chief among the challenges lawmakers face is juggling the extraordinary growth of an industry and the personal safety of students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Motivation May Not Improve Student Scores, While Girls Still March Forward

By Jorge (originally posted to Flickr as School girls) CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

At schools around the globe, girls outscore boys, and bored students are better test-takers than their more motivated peers. These topsy-turvy observations are the latest findings in a report from the Washington-based Brookings Institution, research that is part of a long-running series that aims to put a finger on the pulse of academics in the United States and abroad. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Opponents Turn Up Heat on Testing Front

Panelists and moderator Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week discuss the political situation for common standards and testing at an EWA seminar on Feb. 26.

Source: EWA/ Natalie Gross

Fiery anti-Common Core campaign rhetoric hasn’t translated into many victories for those seeking to repeal the standards. Legislators in 19 states introduced bills to repeal the Common Core this session. So far none has succeeded. Repeal bills in even the reddest states – states like Mississippi, Arizona, and both Dakotas – have failed to make it to governors’ desks this year.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Inches Higher

For interactive map, scroll down. 

More students in the United States are graduating from high school, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Education.

“America’s students have achieved another record-setting milestone,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a prepared statement. “This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country, and these improvements are thanks to the hard work of teachers, principals, students and families.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Michael Marriott

Which States Do Best at Graduating Latino Boys from High School?

Source: Flickr/Alex Thompson (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When it comes to giving high-school diplomas to Latino males, Alaska does it best. Nevada has some work to do.

According to a report released today by the Schott Foundation for Public Education – which focuses on the graduation rates of black and Latino males — graduation rates among Latino males have risen from 59 to 65 percent since 2009-10. The gap between whites and Latinos has also decreased 5 percentage points since that time.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How One Charter Group Took a Start-Up Approach to Teaching

Classroom with Chromebooks Flickr/kjarrett (CC BY 2.0)

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. 


Data Dashboards: Accounting for What Matters
Alliance for Excellent Education

As Congress works to rewrite the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and improve accountability systems for public schools across the country, this report highlights how going beyond a test score when assessing achievement in schools and districts provides more transparent and precise ways to continuously track performance, monitor accountability, and ensure the most at-risk students are not lost in the numbers.

Read the report.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Caroline Hendrie

A Brief Look at America’s Gifted Students

A student's math textbook. Flickr/Enokson (CC BY 2.0)

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.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Natalie Gross

DC Public Schools Aim to Invest Millions in Latino, Black Males

DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson -- pictured here reading to students at a U.S. Department of Education event -- announced Wednesday the district will be investing $20 million in support programs and a new school for black and Latino male students. Source: Flickr/ U.S. Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

The District of Columbia Public Schools could soon be making a large investment in the education of Latino and black males, who comprise 43 percent of the district’s student population and who historically tend to fall behind in reading and math, and have lower attendance and graduation rates. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The 2015 Education Beat: Common Core, Testing, School Choice

Students at New York University work on a computer programming project. More interactive learning is expected to be a hot topic in the coming year on both the K-12 and higher education beats. (Flickr/Matylda Czarnecka)

There’s a busy year ahead on the schools beat – I talked to reporters, policy analysts and educators to put together a cheat sheet to a few of the stories you can expect to be on the front burner in the coming months: 

Revamping No Child Left Behind

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Webinar Wednesday: Are Teachers Making Use of Student Data?

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?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Study: Replacing Principals Tied to Boost in Student Test Scores

Flickr/ecastro (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As more research emerges on the sizable effect school principals have on student learning, some experts are asking whether removing principals who are rated poorly can lead to learning gains among students.

A new report scrutinizing schools in the nation’s capital suggests replacing low-performing principals with new ones is correlated with a modest boost in student academics.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

White House Proposes Tougher Accountability Standards for Teacher Colleges

EWA seminar panel on teacher college accountability, Oct. 21, 2014, Detroit. From left: Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week; Jim Cibulka, CAEP; Segun Eubanks, NEA; Kate Walsh, NCTQ. (NEA Media)

In 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it “laughable” that in the prior decade the majority of states had failed to rate even one teaching preparation program as inferior. On Tuesday, the White House released draft accountability regulations that are no joke for the nation’s teacher colleges, and could result in a loss of federal funding if their graduates fail to do well on the job.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Using Teacher Data to Drive Education Reporting

Tom Nehil and Beth Hawkins of the MinnPost speak with EWA members in Detroit on Oct. 21, 2014. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

In the Minneapolis Public Schools, nearly two-thirds of the district’s enrollment are students of color. Additionally, 65 percent of the district’s more than 35,000 students qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Beth Hawkins, a reporter for the MinnPost, had a hunch that the best-paid local teachers were working in the wealthiest schools, teaching white students. But this was just a guess, and her colleague at the nonprofit news site, data editor Tom Nehil, wanted to see the numbers. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat Caroline Hendrie

The ACT, STEM and Latino Students

Fewer than half of Hispanic students who took the ACT this year met the college readiness benchmarks in math or science, according to a new report. Source: Hoodr/ Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fewer than half of Hispanic students who took the ACT this year met the college readiness benchmarks in math or science, but those who actually expressed interest in STEM fared better on the college admissions exam.

Blog: The Educated Reporter Michael Marriott

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

Last fall at EWA’s Higher Education Seminar, we examined the challenges of military personnel making the transition from soldiers to students. Given today’s holiday, it seemed like a good time to re-share this post about the panel discussion, held at Northeastern University in Boston. 

Far more students seeking higher education degrees are part-time, older than the traditional 18-22 set and well into their careers. And colleges have been flagged for their lagging efforts to address the unique needs of these mature students.

EWA Radio

Principal Turnover: What’s Happening in Denver?
EWA Radio, Episode 13

Why are so many principals in Denver leaving their jobs? And what is the local school district doing to try and stem the churn? EWA Radio speaks with Katharine Schimel of Chalkbeat Colorado about her story looking into the high rate of principal turnover, and what it means for student learning and campus climate in the Mile High City.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Developments Signal More Growth for Charters

The nation’s charter schools sector appears poised for still more growth — and potentially increased geographic diversity — as several states that have long resisted the push for charters may finally allow them. Also, a fresh round of federal grants and new expansion plans by charter networks are fueling the upward trend.

Reporter Guide

Reporter Guide: Campaign Finance

Campaign finance might seem like the exclusive province of political reporters, but there are many good reasons why you should be paying attention – both in races for education positions and in other key races at the local, state, and federal levels with implications for education. You’ll need basic math and it helps to have familiarity with a spreadsheet, but you’ll find that once you’ve mastered the basics, a good campaign finance story can take on the fun of light detective work.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Much Time Do Students Spend Taking Tests?

Amid the strong and growing drumbeat of complaints about overtesting at the K-12 level, many education reporters and others may be left wondering how much time students really spend taking standardized tests. And who is demanding most of this testing, anyway? The federal government? States? Local districts?


A New Era for Educational Assessment

Among education researchers, there is a growing consensus that college and career readiness depends on not just academic knowledge and skills but on a wide range of social and developmental competencies, as well—such as the ability to monitor one’s own learning, persist at challenging tasks, solve complex problems, set realistic goals, and communicate effectively in many kinds of settings. Yet, most U.S. schools continue to use standardized achievement tests, focusing exclusively on reading and math, as their primary means of gauging student progress.


National Math and Science Initiative

DALLAS – The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) boosted student enrollment in college-level math, science and English courses by more than 50,000 in the 2013-14 school year. Based on the most recent data from the College Board, NMSI’s College Readiness Program—working in just 566 schools—also raised the number of Advanced Placement* qualifying exam scores by more than 18,500 exams, representing more than 13,000 additional students who are better prepared for college after this past school year.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

A Lesson in Using Data for Education Stories on Latinos

When investigative reporter Mc Nelly Torres got a parking ticket on a college campus, her first thought wasn’t for her wallet. Instead, her mind raced toward story ideas: Could there be a database of all previous offenses? What’s the most ticketed spot on campus? Which officers give out the most citations?


Bursting the Bubbles: Reassessing Assessments

Since the advent of No Child Left Behind 12 years ago, standardized, fill-in-the-bubble tests have become a major part of the school experience. Some say too much of a part. 


Principals Have Lots of Teacher Effectiveness Data, But Don’t Use Them

Time and timing are two other key barriers to principal data use, noted Jason A. Grissom, assistant professor of public policy and education and a collaborator on the study. “Principals face so many demands on their time already, so it can be difficult to find the time to access and analyze data, particularly when those data are not always available to principals at the time talent management decisions need to be made,” he said.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Accessing Student Data: What Reporters Need to Know

While there has been a substantial uptick in the quality and quantity of data being collected on students and educators in schools around the country, accessing it and understanding it is still a challenge.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Chicago’s Dropout Prevention Initiative Targets Ninth Graders

Efforts to address the dropout problem often focus on a host of factors over which educators have little, if any, control – poverty, violence, crime and health, among others.

But educators in Chicago have used a simpler, more precise indicator to keep more students in school: ninth grade course performance.

“That one indicator was more predictive of who would graduate than anything else,” said Elaine Allensworth, Director of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Open Records, Open Campuses: The Reporter Guide to Access

Betsey Hammond and Daniel Connolly speak at the 67th National Seminar

Education reporters are constantly negotiating access — to schools, students and data. In their session at EWA’s National Seminar, Betsy Hammond of the (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian and Daniel Connolly of the (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial Appeal discussed two approaches for getting past gatekeepers and to stories worth telling.

Hammond, who described herself as a “data nerd” to the EWA audience at Vanderbilt University in May, focused on data available through public records law.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are 4th Graders Ready For Online Writing Tests?

Are fourth graders computer-savvy enough to have their writing skills measured in an online assessment? A new federal study suggests that they are, although it’s not clear whether old-fashioned paper and pencil exams might still yield useful results.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study: Minority Youth Health May Improve With Better Schools

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics finds that low-income Latino and black youth who attend high-performing schools tend to engage in fewer risky health behaviors.

Researchers surveyed 930 high school students in Los Angeles – 521 who by lottery gained admission to top charter schools, and 409 not offered admission. Researchers noted that both groups were similar in demographics and in performance on exams in the eighth grade.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Follow-Up Friday: Get Up To Speed With EWA Webinars

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for EWA Summer School, our webinar series designed to help education reporters sharpen their skills, deepen their knowledge, and develop story ideas. If you missed out on the webinars the first time around, you can catch the replays:

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Kids Count Report Measures Child Well-Being

Three states with large Latino populations lingered in the bottom five states ranked in the annual Kids Count report on child well-being — New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. Mississippi ranked last.

Overall, states in the Southwest with high poverty rates and large Latino populations tended to be near the bottom.

The Southeast and Appalachia also lingered near the bottom.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will ‘Portfolio District Model’ Yield Returns on Investment?

The idea has a simple, seductive appeal. Expand the things that work, cut short the things that don’t.

The notion, drawn from the investment world, has manifested itself in public education as the “Portfolio District Model.” Instead of managing stocks and bonds, school districts manage schools, creating or expanding successful ones, closing unsuccessful ones, focusing with zeal on academic results.

Story Lab

FERPA and Clery Act Explained

Credit: EWA

This is a transcript of EWA’s webinar “Data Privacy Rules and Ruses” and has been edited for length and clarity. 

Mikhail Zinshteyn: Welcome everybody to today’s webinar, entitled Data Privacy Rules and Ruses. I’m Mikhail Zinshteyn of EWA and joining us is Frank LoMonte of the Student Press Law Center. For the next half hour, Frank will give us an in-depth look at the chief federal student data privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).


Where Is Your State Hiding Vital Education Data?

Dakarai Aarons and Elizabeth Dabney of Data Quality Campaign will identify the various state and local government agencies storing education data that are vital for your reporting. In many states, the state school board, department of education, mayor’s office, higher-education advisory board, and other agencies keep useful public information – and it’s on the reporter to know where to look. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

OECD Report: U.S. Teens ‘Lack Financial Savvy’

In a new report comparing financial literacy skills among 15-year-olds in 18 countries, U.S. students scored in the middle of the pack on basic questions about savings, bank accounts and credit/debit cards, and weighing risks and rewards in deciding how to spend their dollars.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Which Education Research Is Worth the Hype?

Source: Holly Yettick (

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?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Reporter’s Guide to Research: Getting Smart About Education Studies

Academic research can serve up some of the most original and meaningful stories journalists could hope to cover, if only we know where to look. But Holly Yettick, a reporter-turned-researcher at the University of Colorado-Denver, says hardly anyone in the news business today is writing about the latest research on schools.  In one of the conference’s first sessions, Yettick shared her tips for finding good studies to write about and writing about them without overselling the results.