EdMedia Commons Archive

Background Reading for SATURDAY of EWA National Seminar at Stanford University

Gaming: The Future of Assessment?

(Breakfast, 8:00-9:00 a.m.) 

As worries mount that standardized testing eats up too much school time, innovators are looking to video gaming as an alternative assessment tool. Not only does gaming promise to be more fun and less stressful for students than traditional tests, advocates say, but it can also give teachers a clearer picture of how well students pick up concepts. But there are challenges. Our panel will explore the issues.


Michael John, Glasslabs;

Girlie Delacruz, CRESST

Moderator: Greg Toppo, USA Today

Background content

Games as formative assessment environments:

“Due to their motivational nature, there has been growing interest in the potential of games to help teach academic content and skills. This report examines how different levels of detail about a game’s scoring rules affect math learning and performance. Data were collected from 164 students in the fourth to sixth grades at five after-school programs. The treatment conditions were randomly assigned within each setting and included a control group (played a different math game); three variations of scoring explanations (elaborated, minimal, and no scoring information); and combined elaborated scoring explanation with incentives to access additional feedback. The scoring explanation alone did not lead to better math learning. However, compared to the minimal-to-no scoring information variations, the combined treatment of the elaborated scoring explanation and incentive resulted in higher normalized change scores and, after controlling for pretest scores, higher posttest scores. Implications of the results identify attributes for learning games in mathematics.”

The GlassLab: A New GBL Initiative, Edutopia:

“Earlier this summer, the Institute of Play (famous for their work in gamification of education and the Quest to Learn school model), announced the launch of the GlassLab (Games Learning and Assessment Lab). With support from a variety of leaders in education and technology, this nonprofit focuses on many aspects of games and learning.

Concurrent Sessions, 9:15-10:30 a.m.

EWA Innovation Showcase, Higher-Ed

In these brief interactive sessions, reporters, analysts and educators discuss efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to carry out new approaches to education. Learn about experimental tools, offerings and practices, particularly those being made possible by digital technologies, and gather new ideas for covering innovation on your own beat. 

Emcee: Beth Shuster, Los Angeles Times

  • Kayvon Beykpour, entrepreneur, interviewed by Katherine Long, The Seattle Times, about universities supporting student start-ups
  • Marcie Bober-Michel, San Diego State University, interviewed by Kyla Calvert, KPBS, about a boom in courses that blend online and face-to-face learning
  • Mark Shermis, University of Akron, interviewed by Molly Bloom, WKSU, about the debate over computerized grading of student essays
  • Trace Urdan, Wells Fargo Securities, interviewed by Kim Clark, Money, about burgeoning investments in innovative education enterprises

Background content

Stanford U. Unveils iPhone Application That Will Soon Let Students …, The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Development of the application, iStanford, was led by two students at the university, Kayvon Beykpour and Aaron Wasserman. They weren’t just doing the job for fun — Stanford commissioned the software from the students’ software company, Terriblyclever Design. Last week their creation was touted as the next big thing by Time magazine.”

SDSU Classes Bridge The Face-To-Face Versus Digital Divide

Helping SDSU faculty use technology’s interactive potential is part of Mark Laumakis’ job. He’s a psychology lecturer, but also the faculty member in residence in the school’s instructional technology department. Students in his hybrid courses use something called adaptive quizzing in their online work. Students don’t advance to harder questions until they start getting easier questions right. He says it’s like practicing anything else.

Computers Grade Essays Fast … But Not Always Well:

“Mark Shermis, dean of the University of Akron’s College of Education, recently co-authored a study of nine different essay-grading computer programs. On shorter writing assignments, Shermis says, the computer programs matched grades from real, live humans up to 85 percent of the time.

“But on longer, more complicated responses, the technology didn’t do quite as well.”

How I Did the Story: Award-Winning Reporters Share Their Secrets

Hear from your colleagues on how they put together their prize-winning packages. Among the topics: absentee rates in Chicago schools; the chronicle of an attempt to turn around a school; how a school discovered a concrete way to teach writing; and a beat reporter’s stories on the pipeline to college, charter schools, cheating, and school closings.

Background content and speakers

Jenny Brundin, Colorado Public Radio, “Trevista”;

Peg Tyre, author, “Writing Revolution”;

Benjamin Herold, WHYY/Philadelphia Public School Notebook “Beat Reporting”;

David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, “An Empty-Desk Epidemic

Knowing Their Choices: Assessing Efforts to Inform Parents

More parents are facing educational choices they never had before. Privileged families have always successfully navigated the complexities around schools, but lower-income families haven’t necessarily done so. What new ways are being tried to get information in the hands of a broader array of parents? As organizations step in to  offer guidance, reporters can learn from the processes they use.

Panelist: Bill Jackson, Great Schools

Moderator: Gail Robinson, Inside Schools

Background content

What is GreatSchools?:

“In 1998, GreatSchools Founder and CEO Bill Jackson recognized the potential of the Internet to engage parents more deeply in their children’s education. He launched GreatSchools initially as a guide to Silicon Valley schools, reaching 3,000 visitors in the first year. Today, GreatSchools is the leading national source of school performance information for parents, reaching 41 million unique visitors and 44% of American families with children. Along with profiles of more than 200,000 PreK-12 schools and more than 1,000,000 parent and community ratings and reviews of schools, GreatSchools.org provides information, tips, activities, and tools that help parents get the best possible education for their children.”

What the Data Won’t Tell You, Education Week (Opinion):

“So while I applaud Great Schools for rounding out their school profiles with information that goes beyond the school’s test scores, I also know that for policymakers, `achievement’ remains the benchmark of successful reform. The same is true for too many parents out there, navigating the nascent and chaotic marketplace of school choice in cities like DC. And emails like the one I received today serve as uncomfortable reminders of how little we really know, and actively seek to know, about the classrooms that help raise our children.”

Concurrent Sessions, 10:45 a.m.- noon

EWA Innovation Showcase, K-12

In these brief interactive sessions, reporters, analysts and educators discuss efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to carry out new approaches to education. Learn about experimental tools, offerings and practices, particularly those being made possible by digital technologies, and gather new ideas for covering innovation on your own beat

Emcee: Beth Shuster, Los Angeles Times

  • Sally Downey, East Valley Institute of Technology, Mesa, Ariz., interviewed by Liz Willen, The Hechinger Report, about new ways to mix rigorous academics and career training
  • Jay McPhail, Riverside Unified School District, interviewed by Dayna Straehley, The Press-Enterprise, about digital instructional materials and mobile devices for students
  • Sandra Okita, Columbia University, interviewed by Greg Toppo, USA Today, about robotsbeing used for instruction in K-12 classrooms

How I Did the Story: Award-Winning Reporters Share Their Secrets

Winners of this year’s EWA National Awards for Education Reporting share the tips that led to their groundbreaking reporting on higher education topics ranging from sexual assault on campus to malfeasance in university governance.

Background and speakers

Justin Pope, Associated Press, “Title IX and Sexual Assault on Campus”;

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Connecticut Mirror, state Board of Regents improprieties;

Jon Marcus, Hechinger Report, “Beat Reporting”

Closing the Gaps: Improving Outcomes and Opportunities for English–Language Learners

Despite intensive efforts by school districts, significant gaps remain for ELL students. Are educators focusing on the right targets? Which initiatives show the most promise, and how can they be replicated? How are schools responding to the shift to more ELL students coming from a broader range of language backgrounds?


Ashley Bessire, KIPP Austin Comunidad

Patricia Gandara, University of California, Los Angeles

Kenji Hakuta, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Moderator: Kathryn Baron, EdSource

Background content

The Crisis in the Education of Latino Students:

The most urgent problem for the American education system has a Latino face. Latinos are the largest and most rapidly growing ethnic minority in the country, but, academically, they are lagging dangerously far behind their non-Hispanic peers. For example, upon entering kindergarten 42% of Latino children are found in the lowest quartile of performance on reading readiness compared to just 18% of White children. By 4th grade, 16% of Latino students are proficient in reading according to the 2005 NAEP, compared to 41% of White students. A similar pattern is notable at the 8th grade, where only 15% of Latinos are proficient in reading compared to 39% of Whites.

Rollout begins of new rigorous curriculum for English language lear…:

Starting in January, the Understanding Language initiative, headed by School of Education Professor Kenji Hakuta, will officially launch pilot efforts in Denver, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., and Chicago.

The new initiative is seeking to help English language learners – typically students whose first language is not English – to attain rigorous English language arts standards while developing their English proficiency at the same time.

Bonus read: KIPP Austin Comunidad, dual-language school

Awards Ceremony and Luncheon, 12:15 – 2:15 p.m.

Background content

The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 National Awards for Education Reporting, recognizing dogged journalism, accomplished storytelling, and insightful analysis produced by print, radio and online media outlets across the country.

The 62 winning entries, chosen from among hundreds of submissions, came from newsrooms as small as nursery schools and as large as college dormitories. First-place winners are eligible for the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, whose winner will be announced on May 4th during EWA’s 66th National Seminar. All winners will be honored at the event, which is being held from May 2-4 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Contest judging was conducted independently, under the direction of Chief Judge Tamara M. Cooke Henry, Ph.D., of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland. In all, 25 judges reviewed hundreds of submissions, many coming within a hair’s breadth of winning one of the three prizes possible in each category.

Sal Khan: Reimagining Education

 Khan Academy revolutionized education with a few simple videos in 2008. Now the academy has millions of visitors. In fact, the billionth math problem was recently answered on the academy website.  Khan Academy founder Sal Khan offers perspective on flipping education. 

Speaker: Sal Khan, Khan Academy 

Introduction: John Merrow

Background content

The World’s 100 Most Influential People: 2012 (Written by Bill Gates):

“Like a lot of great innovators, Salman Khan didn’t set out to change the world. He was just trying to help his teenage cousin with her algebra from across the country. But from a closet turned office in his Silicon Valley apartment, Sal, 35, has produced an amazing library of online lectures on math, science and a host of other subjects. In the process, he has turned the classroom — and the world of education — on its head.”

One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Rei…:

“’I could have started a for-profit, venture-backed business that has a good spirit, and I think there are many of them–Google for instance,’ says Khan, his eyes dancing below his self-described unibrow. ’Maybe I could reach a billion people. That is high impact, but what happens in 50 years?’”

Sal Kahn on his famous online academy, The Washington Post (Valerie Strauss):

“ ’For my kids,” he said, `I see it only as a tool.’ And, he said that he expects his children to go to a traditional brick-and-mortar where they will get a holistic education.

Furthermore, he takes positions in his book that contradict the world view of some of his financial backers’ forays into school reform. Take Gates, for instance Gates, through his foundation, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in teacher evaluation systems that use student standardized test scores in an important way to assess a teacher’s effectiveness.

In the book and in conversation, Khan says that standardized testing is terribly overused in public education. ‘Suffice it to say that our over-reliance on testing is based largely on habit, wishful thinking, and leaps of faith.’ ”

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.