Story Labs

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.

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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).

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Story Lab: Teacher Evaluation

Few areas of education policy are moving more quickly than teacher evaluations. In 2009, annual evaluations of teachers were mandatory in just 15 states. Today, that number stands at 25. Additionally, in order to qualify for federal Race to the Top competitive grants and No Child Left Behind waivers, states had to pledge to use student assessment data as a factor in measuring a teacher’s performance. At the same time, few issues are fraught with more politics—and potential controversy—than teacher evaluations.

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Story Lab: The Common Core

The Common Core State Standards are poised to remake public education from Maine to California. While the initiative once enjoyed widespread bipartisan support, in 2013 it began facing significant political pushback. As of June 2014, the number of states that fully adopted the standards has dropped from 45 to 42, with the governors of Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina signing legislation to pull out. Several others are considering similar moves. More states have backed out of the student assessment groups associated with the standards, committing to big-dollar contracts with other large testing companies.

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Story Lab: Spending by Teachers’ Unions

Teachers’ unions can be powerful forces – in addition to contract negotiations, the unions can have an impact on school board decisions on everything from zoning changes to classroom technology purchases to budget cuts. But in many cases the greatest influence of unions – specifically, where they choose to spend their money – happens behind the scenes.