Thousands of Students Improperly Won Seats in CPS Schools, a ‘Pervasive Problem,’ Inspector General Says
Finding fault with a notoriously frustrating school selection process, the Chicago Public Schools watchdog said in a new report that thousands of students were improperly enrolled in hundreds of elementary schools last year because of loopholes, confusion over policies or intentional disregard of rules.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, appointed last year with a mandate to close a persistent student achievement gap, was forced to resign Tuesday amid revelations he skirted the city’s competitive lottery system so his daughter could transfer to a high-performing school.
The D.C. schools chancellor brushed aside growing calls for his resignation, saying he remained focused on his job.
By Tuesday morning, seven members of the D.C. Council – a majority – said Chancellor Antwan Wilson should step down following revelations that he sought special treatment to enroll his daughter in a top D.C. high school, just two months after Wilson crafted rules prohibiting such behavior.
In this Des Moines Register feature, Kathy Bolten looks at the plight of parents who are mortgaging their future for their children’s higher education through federal parent loans.
Marta Jewson of The Lens reports that the last of the New Orleans’ traditional public schools are set to close or convert to charters.
New Orleans will close its last traditional schools this summer. This includes historic McDonogh 35, the state’s first high school for African-Americans, which will convert to a privately-run school with the same name. https://t.co/9kLFM0hjn1 #tellewa
New Orleans will close its last traditional schools this summer. This includes historic McDonogh 35, the state’s first high school for African-Americans, which will convert to a privately-run school with the same name. https://t.co/9kLFM0hjn1 #tellewa— Marta Jewson (@martajewson) February 14, 2018
A heated debate in North Carolina over teaching kids about sex highlights the difficulty for many school districts around the country. Cumberland County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to get rid of its Planned Parenthood sex education program after criticism from some parents.
The internet, social media, and the #MeToo movement is shining a light on the issues of sex and consent, but it also raises questions about what kids should be taught, at what age, and by whom.
A federal appeals court ruled today that Gardendale can’t form its own school system and agreed with a judge’s finding that racial motives were involved in the attempt to split from the Jefferson County system.
The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Haikala rescind the part of her order from last year that allowed Gardendale to secede over a three-year period from Jefferson County schools and form its own system.
The first time happened so slowly, so subtly, that the teenage boy thought it must have been a mistake – the hand of his mentor and one-time teacher straying across his leg and coming to rest on his groin.
The second time came a year later, and the boy, by then 16, would later tell police that this alleged encounter – prolonged, repeated, insistent – could not be confused with an accident. So shaken was the teen that he went home afterward and looked up the definition of molestation online.
The political fight over global warming has extended to science education in recent years as several states have attempted to weaken or block new teaching standards that included information about climate science. But only in Idaho has the state legislature stripped all mentions of human-caused climate change from statewide science guidelines while leaving the rest of the standards intact.
Puerto Rico’s governor said his administration will unveil a broad education reform bill on Tuesday aimed at incorporating school vouchers and charter schools into the bankrupt U.S. territory’s education system.
For much of the past decade the D.C. school system has been the crown jewel of public policy in the nation’s capital, held up as a national model for education reformers and a shared source of pride for the District’s fractious elected officials.
Many are now questioning whether that confidence was misplaced.
When it comes to educational dysfunction, the Hempstead school district in Nassau County on Long Island is in a class by itself.
What started as a demonstration among professional athletes against racism and police brutality has spread to high school athletes, including cheerleaders, and ignited debate over students’ First Amendment rights. Half a century after the US Supreme Court ruled that an Iowa high school had illegally barred students from protesting the war in Vietnam, V.A.’s lawsuit could set new precedents on free speech protections for public school students.
Earlier this month, Kevin Medina, a high-school sophomore, stepped up to the microphone at a crowded public hearing to defend the East Harlem middle school that, he says, changed his life.
One of every three graduates from the District’s public schools last year missed too many classes or improperly took make-up classes, undermining the validity of hundreds of diplomas, according to a report released Monday.
Megan Raposa of the Argus Leader (a 2017 EWA New to the Beat rookie) takes a close look at the educational opportunities for students growing up on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation.
Writing for The Atlantic, Melinda Anderson explores how hiring biases could be holding back efforts to improve the number of teachers of color.
The conversation re desegregation is typically focused on students. I looked at faculty desegregation—and an overlooked solution to diversifying the teacher workforce. https://t.co/mH5sBsCoqv #tellEWA
The conversation re desegregation is typically focused on students. I looked at faculty desegregation—and an overlooked solution to diversifying the teacher workforce. https://t.co/mH5sBsCoqv #tellEWA— melinda d. anderson (@mdawriter) January 24, 2018
Student journalists at Herriman High School are crying censorship after their school newspaper’s website was temporarily disabled when they published two stories alleging inappropriate messaging between a former teacher and a student.
Less than 12 hours after students at the Telegraph student newspaper published their investigation about the teacher’s departure from the school, the two articles disappeared from the publication’s website, which featured a message saying the page was down for maintenance.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted 7-2 Tuesday to take a stronger stand on supporting LGBTQ students. The vote followed an impassioned and sometimes raucous public hearing.
The board approved a revised multiculturalism policy that expands the definition of diversity to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, along with such attributes as race, gender, national origin and religion. It also strengthens the mandate to “intentionally (incorporate) diversity throughout the curriculum, instruction, and professional development.”
The chief of D.C. secondary schools has been removed from her post, making her the highest-ranking official to be relieved of duties following an investigation into whether Ballou High School in Southeast Washington improperly graduated students.
D.C. schools spokeswoman Kristina Saccone said officials placed Jane Spence, the secondary schools chief, on administrative leave, but she would not say if or when Spence would return to her job. Saccone would also not say when Spence was placed on leave.
Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance was indicted Tuesday on four counts of perjury for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 in pay he received for private consulting with several companies and school districts beginning in 2012, the Maryland State Prosecutor announced.
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.
Portland Public Schools has cut ties with a special education teacher who was on leave for alleged misconduct — two years after a district administrator declared him a danger to students and paid him to resign, reports Beth Slovic of the Portland Tribune.
Milwaukee Public Schools has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to resolve a complaint that it discriminated against black students in suspensions and other disciplinary actions.
Under the terms of the agreement, MPS must, among other things, improve its monitoring and data collection, better train staff, update its disciplinary policies and develop early identification and intervention strategies for students at risk for behavioral problems.
Ed-tech company Clever has made its way into 60,000 U.S. schools by keeping things simple, offering free solutions to often-mundane problems, and mostly managing to avoid controversy.
Now, though, the six-year old San Francisco-based companyis pushing against those guardrails, launching a new service that takes aim at one of the most vexing technology challenges schools face: keeping track of how students are using all the technology in their classrooms.
D.C. public schools are increasingly graduating students who are chronically absent — a violation of city policy — according to findings of an investigation released Tuesday by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
One month after Portland Public Schools put one of its special-education teachers on leave for alleged misconduct, a top district administrator sent an unusually blunt message about him to colleagues.
Something crucial is missing when the academic year starts in some of America’s largest school systems — a full slate of full-time teachers. Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum requested and examined data and explains what it all means for students.
Theresa Harrington of Ed Source explains a school’s push to boost the quality of students’ writing in an effort that spans every class, including P.E.
As school districts weigh the impact of losing assurances of “net neutrality,” a professional organization is encouraging them to protect themselves up-front against a potential decline in the speed and quality of their web access.
This Week’s ESSA News — Inside the Dept. of Education’s Feedback to 10 States on Testing, Accountability and Disadvantaged Students
In the past weeks, the U.S. Department of Education sent feedback to 33 of the 34 states that submitted ESSA plans in September 2017. The Department has also approved ESSA plans for 15 states and the District of Columbia — all of which were submitted earlier in the year. (Only Colorado’s plan is still pending from the spring submission period.)
[Often] attendance zones are gerrymandered to put white students in classrooms that are even whiter than the communities they live in.
The result is that schools today are as segregated now as they were about 50 years ago, not long after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
In June, a day after graduates from Ballou High received their diplomas, a group of teachers met with D.C. Public Schools officials to share an alarming allegation: Students who missed dozens of classes had been able to earn passing grades and graduate.
Baltimore’s public schools closed Thursday after parents and educators there complained students were enduring frigid classrooms with plumbing issues — conditions the local teachers union called “inhumane.” Four of Baltimore’s public schools were closed Wednesday because of facilities problems but the rest had remained open through below freezing temperatures. Some schools hovered around 40 degrees inside.
At least 26 public-school districts across the U.S. agreed this year to at least $37 million in settlements stemming from allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault of students, teachers or other employees, according to a tally of payouts by The Wall Street Journal.
In school board meetings and public statements, San Diego Unified School District leaders speak often of their commitment to transparency.
Last year, when the district achieved a record-setting graduation rate, Superintendent Cindy Marten said one of the top reasons for the accomplishment was the transparency it showed by sharing data on student progress with outside organizations.
The district has boasted of its transparency in managing school bond money and how it reactedwhen lead was detected in school drinking water.
We asked journalists to share some of their favorite education stories of 2017. Here are some highlights.
Bethany Barnes of The Oregonian investigates allegations of sexual abuse against a Portland Public Schools educator that span decades.
Peggy Barmier of The Hechinger Report explores the budget cuts and uncertainties a West Virginia program faces under the Trump administration.
Graduation rates are up, teen pregnancy is down, but the Trump administration could cut the budget for a West Virginia program that’s showing progress. by @PeggyBarmorehttps://t.co/mQsNdDmZP5 #tellEWA
Graduation rates are up, teen pregnancy is down, but the Trump administration could cut the budget for a West Virginia program that’s showing progress. by @PeggyBarmorehttps://t.co/mQsNdDmZP5 #tellEWA— Nichole Dobo (@nicholedobo) December 28, 2017
Elba Ramos, like any proud grandmother, beamed as she showed photos of four of her grandchildren, each smiling broadly in their brand-new school uniforms. She laughed as she showed video of the youngsters, ages 4 to 8, playing in the mid-December snow, the first they’d ever experienced.
But Ramos’ Camden home is a lot more crowded than she’s used to, as her three daughters and four grandchildren have all been forced to join her here after losing their own homes in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria struck the island Sept. 20.
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.
A Cheating Scandal Rocked Atlanta’s Schools. Ten Years Later, Efforts to Help Affected Students Fall Short
Until recently, near the entrance to Dobbs Elementary School hung a white banner, an artifact from a time the Atlanta Public Schools hopes to bury in the past.
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.
In the Chicago Public Schools system, enrollment has been declining, the budget is seldom enough, and three in four children come from low-income homes, a profile that would seemingly consign the district to low expectations. But students here appear to be learning faster than those in almost every other school system in the country, according to new data from researchers at Stanford.
The Tax Bill: What Education Reporters Need to Know
Public schools and universities on edge over Republican plan for overhaul
The tax legislation congressional Republicans are rushing to complete has potentially big stakes for education. Critics suggest it will translate into a big financial hit for public schools and universities, as the rules for education-related deductions, revenue-raising bond measures and more are potentially tightened. Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week and Eric Kelderman of The Chronicle of Higher Education offer a primer on the House and Senate versions of the tax-code overhaul, including key differences lawmakers still must hammer out.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday continued to defend his handpicked Chicago Public Schools chief in the face of a searing inspector general’s report that accuses district CEO Forrest Claypool of engaging in a “full-blown cover-up” to ward off an ethics probe.
As a growing number of high-profile men in politics, the media, and entertainment industry face allegations of sexual misconduct, individuals who say they’ve experienced similar harassment in other professions are speaking up — including K-12 teachers.
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.
A new project by The Hechinger Report, The Teacher Project, and Slate features early learners.
In California classrooms, teaching LGBT means teachers face difficult questions about historical figures who were not necessarily “out,” explains EdSource’s Theresa Harrington.
The AP’s Maria Danilova looks at U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ plans for scaling back the Office for Civil Rights.
In Chicago, where funding follows students, Tilden is one of more than a dozen shrinking neighborhood high schools that has been starved of resources, leaving students like Averett to prepare for their futures in largely empty buildings that can make dreaming big a daily struggle.
“Why should we go without because of our student body?” asked Averett, who dreams of attending college and pursuing a career in law enforcement. “I feel like it’s unfair. We should get the high school treatment too. But, you know, it is what it is.”
Brian Butcher, a history teacher at Ballou High School, sat in the bleachers of the school’s brand new football field last June watching 164 seniors receive diplomas. It was a clear, warm night, and he was surrounded by screaming family and friends snapping photos and cheering.
But all the excitement and accomplishment couldn’t shake one question from Butcher’s mind:
How did all these students graduate from high school?
Nearly five years after shuttering a record number of under-enrolled schools, Chicago once again confronts the same stark realities: plummeting enrollment and more than 100 half-empty school buildings, most on the city’s South and West sides, according to a WBEZ analysis of school records.
Chicago Public Schools has lost 32,000 students over the last five years, nearly the same enrollment drop as in the 10-year period leading up to the closures of 50 elementary schools in 2013. Those missing students could fill 53 average-sized Chicago schools.
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?
Beth Slovic, a longtime education journalist in Portland, Oregon, was making dinner for her family when she noticed a bearded guy on a bicycle pulling up outside her house.
Slovic thought maybe one of her neighbors had ordered takeout. Instead, the man, a process server, came to her front door: Portland Public Schools was suing to block her public-information request for employee records.
Natalie Pate of the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, reports on how Congress’ failure to reauthorize two federal programs – the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program – will potentially affect millions of children and vulnerable families nationwide.
In Minneapolis, record numbers of families are abandoning their neighborhood schools for charters and other educational options, forcing the district to cut staff, programs, and services as the state’s per-pupil funding leaves with students.
Bethany Barnes of The Oregonian discusses “The Benefit of the Doubt,” her investigation into how Portland Public Schools botched its handling of multiple allegations of a middle school teacher’s sexual misconduct stretching back more than a decade.
On the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 10, at the Theodore Levin United States Courthouse, attorneys representing Gov. Rick Snyder argued that the state of Michigan, which has been so intimately involved with Detroit Public Schools for almost 20 years, has no responsibility to ensure students in the district are taught how to read.
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.
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.
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.
It’s illegal to run schools designed to keep out black students, but the Department of Justice is letting districts get away with it.
Public school students in Houston — the nation’s seventh-largest district — had expected to start a new academic year this week. Instead, many of their campuses were converted into emergency shelters, and many students as well as educators are now homeless. Shelby Webb of The Houston Chronicle discusses the latest developments, and shares some personal perspectives on reporting under emotionally charged circumstances.
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.
Tovin Lapan of The Hechinger Report visited Greenville, Miss., to examine how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could impact rural school communities that depend heavily on federal aid for after-school and student nutrition programs. What does research show about the connections between connecting students’ eating habits and test scores?
Journalist Kelly Field recently won a top honor at EWA’s National Seminar for her compelling series, “From the Reservation to College,” on the education of Native American students. Field’s coverage for The Chronicle of Higher Education — supported by an EWA Reporting Fellowship — follows several students from the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana. Their experiences highlight the significant educational challenges facing Native communities in the U.S. today.
One of the most important things a reporter can do, particularly on the education beat, is follow the money. Tawnell Hobbs, the national K-12 reporter for The Wall Street Journal, shared insights and advice drawn from many years on the beat during an EWA webinar last week.
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.
Lisa Miller, an associate editor at New York magazine, discusses her new profile of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Miller discusses the unwillingness of people close to DeVos to discuss her on the record — including current Department of Education employees — made this one of the most challenging profiles she’s ever written. What do we know about DeVos’ vision for the nation’s public schools that we didn’t know six months ago?
Tensions between charter schools and traditional public schools are a fact of life nationwide, but few places have seen the debate play out with higher stakes and public glare than Washington D.C.
Marked for decades as one of the country’s most under-performing public school systems, the District of Columbia Public Schools gradually lost half of its students to charter schools.
Ann Schimke and Marissa Page of Chalkbeat Colorado discuss the unexpected closure of Clayton Early Learning, a highly regarded Head Start program in the Denver area. Parents were left scrambling, and early education advocates across the country wondering what went wrong.
Although the GOP effort to replace Obamacare appears to have stalled, Congress and the Trump administration still may take important steps on health-care policy and funding with big stakes for schools.
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.
Chalkbeat Detroit reporter Erin Einhorn won an EWA award this spring for outstanding beat reporting. Her enterprising coverage included stories about the impact on communities when neighborhood schools are slated for closure, unconventional methods of filling Head Start staffing vacancies, and how many families struggle to find educational options for their children that are safe, high quality, and — just as importantly — accessible.
Heather Vogell of ProPublica discusses a new investigation into how districts utilize their alternative schools — campuses set up to handle struggling and troubled students. ProPublica concluded that by reassigning students unlikely to graduate out of mainstream classrooms, some traditional high schools were “hiding” their true dropout numbers, and boosting their own ratings within their state’s accountability system.
Jamie Hopkins of The Center for Public Integrity discusses her new investigation (produced in partnership with Reveal) into how proximity to busy roadways is impacting the air quality at thousands of public schools. How close is “too close” for campuses? Why are students of color and those from low-income families more likely to be at risk? Where are parents and health advocates gaining ground in addressing air quality concerns near schools? And how can local reporters use CPI’s online databases to inform their coverage of these issues?
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.
Shelby Webb of The Houston Chronicle discusses her reporting on the gender disparity among superintendents in Texas. She and EWA public editor Emily Richmond also explore some of the reasons behind this statewide — and national — trend, its impact on learning, and what some experts say would help make school and district leadership jobs more appealing to female educators.
Teachers of Low-Income Students Are Nearly as Effective as Teachers of High-Income Students
Mathematica Policy Research
Although children from wealthier families outperform children from poorer families on achievement tests, a new study from Mathematica Policy Research finds that teachers of low-income students are nearly as effective as teachers of high-income students, on average.
The Detroit public-school system was contending with an operating debt of more than $500 million, and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan had estimated that the total debt topped $3.5 billion. For years, money intended for students has instead been paying off old loans, and academic achievement has consistently ranked among the worst in American cities.
The school districts in Texas’ eight largest cities all have Latino superintendents at the helm, as do half of the top 20, Dallas-based KERA News reported Tuesday. The story comes after the recent hire of Richard A. Carranza as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state and seventh largest in the country.
Today’s assignment: Reporting on the nation’s largest school district, with 1.1 million students and an operating budget of $25 billion. Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat New York has dug deep into the city’s special education programs, investigated whether school choice programs are contributing to student segregation rather than reducing it, and penned a three-part series on on one high school’s effort to reinvent itself. He talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about his work, and offers tips for making the most of student interviews, getting access to campuses, and balancing bigger investigations with daily coverage. A first-prize winner for beat reporting in this year’s EWA Awards, Wall is spending the current academic year at Columbia University’s School of Journalism as a Spencer Fellow.
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.
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.
Veteran education writer Paul Jablow and multimedia journalist Dorian Geiger discuss their documentary of a young man who escaped the drugs and violence of his West Philadelphia neighborhood thanks to the intensive interventions of a network of support, including his mother, teachers, and social workers. Glen Casey is now a successful student at the University of Pennsylvania and plans on a teaching career. But how unusual is his story, particularly in a public school system of ever-dwindling resources?
Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar
Low-income and minority students are less likely to have experienced, high-quality teachers, research shows. What steps can school districts and educators put in place to improve these statistics? Panelists share some strategies.
- James Cole, U.S. Department of Education
- Sonja Santelises, Education Trust
- Dyan Smiley, American Federation of Teachers
- Jeffrey Solochek, Tampa Bay Times (moderator)
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.
What will be the impact of the new Every Student Succeeds Act on states and schools, both in policy and practice? EWA will examine an array of issues with the federal law, including testing and accountability, Title I funding, teachers, stakeholder engagement, and curriculum.
Getting in Deep: Immersing Yourself in a Difficult Education Story
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar
Award-winning Boston Globe journalist Meghan Irons shares lessons from her reporting on two complex stories about students and race: one on equity and campus climate at Boston Latin, the nation’s oldest public school; and another that looked closely at school desegregation 40 years after the tumultuous debut of court-ordered busing in Boston.
- Meghan Irons, The Boston Globe
- Denise Amos, The Florida Times-Union (moderator)
As Casey McDermott reports for New Hampshire Public Radio, teachers in the Granite State are increasingly functioning as de facto case managers for vulnerable students. She talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about the issues facing youth and their families, ranging from homelessness to food insecurity to substance abuse. The focus on vulnerable students is part of NHPR’s new “State of Democracy” project, examining the real-world implications of policy decisions.
The K-12 investigative reporting track offers a how-to session on digging into public documents that help reporters examine special education policies, highlights journalists’ work on how teachers charged with abusing students are staying in the classroom, and explores how five elementary schools were allowed to become “failure factories.”
Schools in New York City are being asked to consider voluntary diversity plans in an effort to combat widespread segregation in the city’s schools.
According to its online call for proposals under the Diversity in Admissions Initiative, the city’s education department ”seeks to empower schools to strengthen diversity among their students through targeted efforts to change their admissions process.”
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.
Most reporters dread seeing the next school board meeting on the calendar. But as more states take over failing schools, removing them from local control, some journalists are finding open and easily accessible meetings harder to come by, and recognizing the value of what they’ve lost.
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.
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.
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.
Update: On May 2, “Failure Factories” won the $10,000 Hechinger Grand Prize in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.
The Pulitzer Prize for local reporting this year went to the Tampa Bay Times for an exhaustive investigation into how a handful of elementary schools in Pinellas County wound up deeply segregated by race, poverty, and opportunity.
Is “school choice” a misnomer in Detroit, where options for students hinge heavily on their ability to find their own transportation?
Steve Reilly, an investigative reporter and data specialist for USA Today, talks with EWA public editor about his newspaper’s groundbreaking year-long project examining shortfalls in how states track, and share information, about teacher discipline and licensing issues.
Iowa prides itself on holding the first caucuses of the presidential election year. EWA public editor Emily Richmond talks with statewide education reporter Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register about what it’s like to be at the epicenter of the presidential race insanity, her coverage of Republican hopeful Marco Rubio, and the big concerns for Iowa voters when it comes to public schools.
Published December 2015
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.
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.
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.
What does it really take to help students succeed at school and life, and how much of those gains can really be measured by test scores?
Those are some of the questions journalist Kristina Rizga set out to answer in her reporting on a San Francisco high school, first published by Mother Jones magazine. Her investigation turned into a four-year project and the new book “Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph.”
In 2013, Chicago education reporter Sarah Karp asked a question: Why was a no-bid contract for $20 million awarded to a relatively unknown company chosen to provide professional development services in the nation’s third-largest school district?
Discipline practices thought to disproportionately affect students of color have been at the center of debates across the country. And with a growing body of research showing the negative long-term effects of zero-discipline policies, especially on minority youth, many school districts have moved to abandon them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back in December, reporter Lauren Foreman of the Bakersfield Californian sent an email titled “Banned from classrooms” to a group of education journalists.
“One of my district’s assistant supes told me today reporters aren’t allowed to observe classroom instruction, and parents aren’t even allowed to freely do that,” she wrote. Foreman wanted to know what policies were in other districts and how she ought to respond.
EWA’s 68th National Seminar kicks off today in Chicago, and it’s going to be a fantastic three days of discussions, workshops, and site visits. The theme this year is Costs and Benefits: The Economics of Education. Be sure to keep tabs on all the action via the #EWA15 hashtag on Twitter.
Latino and black students in Montgomery County, Md., told school district officials they are sometimes perceived as “academically inferior” and want change under the district’s next leader. The speech by a group of seven minority students was given at a community gathering hosted by the Montgomery County Education Forum amid the district’s search for a new superintendent.
Top tweets from #EWAChoice’s third Saturday session.
Top journo tweets about the first session of the second day of #EWAChoice.
Top tweets from “Eye on Denver” — the second session at #EWAChoice
Top Tweets from #EWAChoice’s first session
A petition addressed to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is asking the administration to end the use of metal detectors in schools, claiming the added security measures unnecessarily treat black and Latino students like criminals.
Grappling with achievement gaps between their rich and poor students, a growing number of schools and districts are resolving to add more minutes or days to the academic calendar, and Boston has emerged as a leader in this trend.
A non-profit Hispanic group in Palm Beach County, Fla. has asked the school district for a role in helping select the next superintendent — a person they say should have a proven track record of improving graduation rates among minority students.
In Texas, Senate Hispanic Caucus leaders aim to make education a priority for the 84th Legislative Session, which started Jan. 13 and runs through June 1.
Their agenda, announced Monday, includes education along with health care, immigration, civic engagement and economic opportunity, the El Paso Times reported.
Behind every good teacher is a good principal, research shows. How can school districts make sure they have the right leaders in place? Too many school districts have haphazard ways of recruiting and nurturing potential principals.
School districts in Texas’ Bexar County are offering more options for parents to further their education in order to get more involved in their children’s, including after-hours classes in learning English as a second language or preparing to a GED.
IT’S ABOUT TIME draws on a statewide survey to examine how learning time is distributed across California high schools. The survey, conducted by UCLA IDEA during the 2013-2014 school year, included a representative sample of nearly 800 teachers. Survey findings highlight inequalities in the amount of time available for learning across low and high poverty High Schools. Community stressors and chronic problems with school conditions lead to far higher levels of lost instructional time in high poverty high schools.
One outcome of Tuesday’s midterm elections: Nevada can expect to retain the dubious distinction of having one of the nation’s lowest rates of per-pupil funding. A ballot measure that would have levied a new tax on large businesses to benefit public schools failed to garner support, with nearly eight out of 10 Silver State voters opposing it.
The midterm election results have big implications for education, from Republicans’ success in retaking the U.S. Senate to new governors coming in and a slew of education ballot measures, most of which were defeated.
The widely watched race for California’s schools superintendent came down to the wire, with incumbent Tom Torlakson edging out challenger Marshall Tuck — a former charter schools administrator:
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.
District superintendents are increasingly confident in the potential of the Common Core State Standards to help improve student learning even as the school leaders question whether there’s enough time and resources for a smooth implementation, a new survey finds.
EWA’s Emily Richmond and Mikhail Zinshteyn speak with Annie Gilbertson of KPCC, Southern California’s NPR affiliate, about her investigation into the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $1.2 billion investment in classroom technology.
Early education gets support from both sides of the aisle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce runs campaigns advocating for it. So does Hillary Clinton. And research appears conclusive that it’s important.
But as states respond to the data, a new challenge emerges: implementing early education programs successfully. Several recent stories provide different looks at how some locales are scaling up their early education offerings.
EWA’s Emily Richmond and Mikhail Zinshteyn speak with Money Magazine education reporter Kim Clark about the publication’s first-ever college rankings, which focus on the return-on-investment factor of earning a degree from a particular institution.
In a month dominated by news reports of racial tension, a significant milepost in American race relations garnered less attention: For the first time in this country’s history, white students will this year no longer comprise a majority of the nation’s schoolchildren.
A Chicago Tribune investigation turns up instances of lawmakers intervening in teacher licensing decisions on behalf of their friends and donors. Tribune education reporter Diane Rado speaks with EWA’s Emily Richmond and Mikhail Zinshteyn about her ongoing coverage of licensing issues, and what it means for local students and schools.
State takeover districts have been lauded as the savior of children left behind by inept local school boards — and derided as anti-democratic fireworks shows that don’t address the root causes of poor education. Three panelists took an hour during EWA’s National Seminar in Nashville to get beyond the flash and noise and discuss the real challenges of state school takeovers, a process all acknowledged is disruptive.
The July 21 issue of The New Yorker takes us deep inside the Atlanta cheating scandal, and through the lucid reporting of Rachel Aviv, we get to know some of the teachers and school administrators implicated. We learn not only how and why they say they cheated, but also about the toxic, high-pressure environment they contend was created by Superintendent Beverly Hall’s overwhelming emphasis on improving student test scores.
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.
Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
A school’s leader matters enormously to its success and that of its students and teachers. But how well are U.S. districts identifying, recruiting, selecting, and placing the best possible candidates in principals’ offices? To what extent do their practices enable them to find and hire great school leaders? To what degree is the principal’s job itself designed to attract outstanding candidates?
Tennessee joins a phalanx of other states in ending its relationship with one of the two Common Core-aligned assessment groups.
The state’s top three education leaders sent a letter to Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) announcing that Tennessee will be seeking a new set of tests and leaving the consortium. Education Week has more.
Will Louisiana be the fourth state to bow out of the Common Core State Standards? The state’s governor indicated today in a speech that he intends to do just that, but other state leaders are pushing back. The Times-Picayune has the story on what Gov. Bobby Jindal said and the subsequent fallout.
School leaders are critical in the lives of students and to the development of their teachers. Unfortunately, in too many instances, principals are effective in spite of – rather than because of – district conditions. To truly improve student achievement for all students across the country, well-prepared principals need the tools, support, and culture that enable them to be the best.
Preparing Principals to Raise Student Achievement: Implementation and Effects of the New Leaders Program in Ten Districts
By Susan M. Gates, Laura S. Hamilton, Paco Martorell, Susan Burkhauser, Paul Heaton, Ashley Pierson, Matthew Baird, Mirka Vuollo, Jennifer J. Li, Diana Lavery, Melody Harvey and Kun Gu
New Leaders Principals Affect Student Achievement in Their Schools
- Students who attended schools led by New Leaders principals experienced slightly larger achievement gains on average than similar students in schools led by non–New Leaders principals.
- The magnitudes of achievement effects varied substantially across districts. They also varied across principals.
A Variety of Factors Could Explain the Observed Relationship Between New Leaders Principals and Outcomes
I’ve often made the case that there’s no reporting beat where the reporters are more collegial – or more committed to their work – than education. EWA’s 67th National Seminar, hosted by Vanderbilt University, helped to prove that point.
EWA is at Vanderbilt University this week for our 67th National Seminar. We invited some of our community members to contribute posts from some of the sessions. Today’s guest blogger is Swati Pandey of The Broad Foundation.
When Felice Nudelman asked a group of college presidents to share their worst fears, the first was obvious: a crisis on campus. The second was a little more surprising.
For the first time in U.S. history the nation’s high school graduation rate rose above 80 percent, according to the 2014 Building a GradNation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic report released April 28 by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education.
When it comes to the decisions that most directly affect the business of public education and what happens in classrooms, few people are as influential – and often as unacknowledged – as local school board members.
Indeed, a new report from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests the makeup of local school boards can have a measurable effect on student achievement.
You may know that teachers make up roughly half of the education staff in school districts, but who are the other employees on the rolls? To provide a clearer picture, I broke down data from the U.S. Department of Education on district staffing to visualize this often-overlooked slice of the workforce.
Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” project was published Thursday, and it’s loaded with data, story ideas and thought-provoking reporting on how school systems are responding to new demands for improvement and accountability.
This week, we’re revisiting some of the top sessions from EWA’s 66th National Seminar held at Stanford University. We asked journalists who attended to contribute posts, and today’s guest blogger is Kyla Calvert of San Diego Public Radio. Stream any session from National Seminar in your browser, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.
With today marking the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death, I thought I would share a post I wrote last year.
In his commencement speech at San Diego State College, the president of the United States covered unsurprising territory in describing the challenges facing the nation’s public schools – inequities for minority students, a high dropout rate, and the need for better teacher training.
Are parents who withdraw their children from standardized tests similar to those who choose not to vaccinate their kids?
When it comes to student success, “smaller is better” has been the conventional wisdom on class size, despite a less-than-persuasive body of research. But what if that concept were turned on its head, with more students per classroom – provided they’re being taught by the most effective teachers?
The “Nation’s Report Card” is out today for fourth and eighth graders in reading and math, and while there are some positive trends over the past two decades, a significant achievement gap persists among minorities and for America’s students when compared with their peers internationally.
More teachers are seeing their incomes and performance reviews tied to student test scores, a new national report shows.
As the federal government restarts — along with the National Zoo’s Panda Cam, which I know is what was really worrying everyone — here are a few quick hits from the education front:
A new report highlighting the growing rate of poverty among suburban residents warns that traditional policies aimed at combating indigence aren’t designed to address the problem adequately.
Do reporters who cover major efforts to improve schools focus on incremental developments at the expense of the big picture? Do they pay too much attention to leaders with star power and too little to quieter contributors? The authors of two new books on urban education reflect on media coverage of efforts to revamp big-city schools. Moderator: Benjamin Herold, WHYY; Richard Colvin, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship; David Kirp, University of California, Berkeley. Recorded at EWA’s 66th National Seminar, “Creativity Counts: Innovation in Education and the Media,” May 2-4, 2013
When it comes to making sure students are college and career ready, middle and high school guidance counselors play a critical — and often underreported — role.In this EWA webinar, attendees received an advance look at the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center’s second-annual survey of guidance counselors, in which respondents outlined some of the challenges of helping students meet ever-increasing expectations, as well as identified shortfalls in their own training and professional development.In this recording, you’ll also hear from experts in the field as to the implications
So you’ve managed to get your hands on all the records your school district keeps about its budget and spending. Now what? How can you turn a giant data dump into a compelling story for your readers?
In this EWA webinar, you’ll hear how reporters at the Dallas Morning News used public records to create databases of district spending and budget information, and how they used those databases to uncover everything from fraud and mismanagement to cozy vendor-employee relationships to the misuse of federal grants.
The Mayor of Newark, NJ speaks at EWA’s 65th National Seminar on education inequality, innovation, and the need for tough questions in school coverage.
Anthony Cody, a longtime teacher and blogger who is now a consultant and expert on teacher leadership, and Lisa Goncalves Lavin, a first grade teacher and member of the Turnaround Teacher Team (T3) at Blackstone Elementary School in Boston, Mass., share their views of how teachers are experiencing turnaround efforts.
Ellen Holmes (NEA) and Judy Hale (AFT-West Virginia) discuss the unions’ programs developed in response to the national push to turn around low-performing schools.
In this excerpt from his presentation at EWA’s March 24 conference in Chicago, Professor Daniel Duke of the University of Virginia reviews the history of recent school turnaround efforts, lessons that can be drawn from successes and setbacks, and issues and concerns that persist as the reform effort moves forward.
How does the charter school model factor into efforts to turn around low-achieving campuses? Why haven’t more charter management organizations signed on for school turnarounds? What questions should reporters be asking when faced with conflicting data on charter school performance?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Jason Snyder of the U.S. Department of Education provides an overview of federal reform efforts and the Obama administration’s goals for the SIG program.
Timothy Knowles, director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, talks about key findings from studies of Chicago’s turnaround initiative.
Recorded at EWA’s March 24, 2012 conference on school turnarounds at the University of Chicago
William Guenther, president and chief executive of Mass Insight, discusses his organization’s role in facilitating “Partnership Zones” in numerous districts nationwide.
Published May 2003
We spend quite a bit of time talking about cheating on standardized tests — who does it, how to prevent it, the pressures that might be contributing to it. What we don’t talk much about are the errors that occur before a student is ever handed a bubble sheet and the mistakes that can occur after the completed exams are turned in.
The Wallace Foundation is a national philanthropy, based in New York City, that aims to improve the educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. The foundation has invested heavily in research and resources aimed at improving the positive effect principals can have on school and student performance. They have also put significant funding toward expanded learning, summer learning, and after-school.
The American Association of School Administrators counts more than 13,000 educational leaders from across the United States and the world in its membership. These members include chief executive officers, superintendents and senior level school administrators along with cabinet members, some professors and others who manage schools and school systems. AASA was founded in 1865. Regarding NCLB, AASA has asserted that “The accountability system should be made up of measures of growth that differentiate levels of success.
The National School Boards Association is a nonprofit organization that works with federal agencies and other national associations to influence education policy as it pertains to school boards.
The Association has been particularly vocal on issues of the quality of the academic programs some cyber charters offer, citing in a report from May 2012 a “troubling” lack of “good information about results and accountability.”
The National Association of State Boards of Education “works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and assure continued citizen support for public education.” The organization is a nonprofit founded in 1958.
The Council of Chief State School Officers is “a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions,” according to the group.
If a teacher is successful in the classroom, does it matter how she got there, or how long she intends to stay in the profession? Should personal qualities like perseverance and grit count just as much as completing the requisite coursework in curriculum and instruction?
Those are some of the questions being asked in the wake of a new study that reflects favorably on Teach For America’s corps members who teach mathematics in schools that have typically struggled to fill teaching vacancies.
Cincinnati has improved students’ test scores by fostering cooperation between teachers, administrators, and local community service organizations.
In the first of what will be an annual report, Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From spotlights 16 district-level leaders from across the country who seized on creative but practical approaches to improving their school systems and put those ideas to work.
Some districts—particularly those in small and rural communities—are finding that sharing administrators is an efficient way to make the most out of limited budgets.
EWA 2012 National Reporting Contest winner. Crumbling school buildings can impede academic achievement, but what happens when the public votes down bond measures to upgrade the infrastructure? This series of articles looks at the impasse between school boards and the voters, and cost-saving tricks to fine tune the walls of public instruction. (The Journal News)
This examination of whether the Broad Prize has spurred districts to implement the measures that that the prizewinners have used includes discussion of how administrators decide which reforms to adopt.
This report was the first national survey of school boards in almost a decade. It compiles responses of more than 1,000 school board members and superintendents. The key findings include the discovery that the membership of school boards tends to reflect their community better than their representation in Congress or their respective state legislatures does, three-quarters of school board members have a bachelor’s degree, and more than 88 percent of board members rely on their superintendent for key decisions.
EWA 2010 National Reporting Contest winner. This series details a 16-month investigation by the paper. The report “has turned up no-bid contracts, questionable property deals and supposedly self-supporting ventures that failed, lost money or drew formal complaints and lawsuits.” (Statesman Journal)
Using the city of Rochester as an example, this article examples the advantages and disadvantages of mayoral takeovers of school districts. The article offers a quick survey of the different types of takeovers that cities nationwide have tried in recent years.
This research brief examines the results of the Wallace Foundation’s efforts to build Cohesive Leadership Systems — i.e., better cooperation among school leaders at the school, district, and state levels. The researchers conducted more than 400 interviews in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oregon, and Rhode Island; and surveyed more than 600 principals. The researchers find that interagency cooperation can be effective.
This book by Brown University professor Kenneth Wong examines mayoral control of urban school districts, starting with Boston’s in 1992 and examining more than 100 school districts in 40 states. Wong’s examination concludes that mayoral control of schools, while not appropriate for every district, can improve accountability and enable the school district to strengthen its educational infrastructure and improve student performance.