Why Reporters Should Cover Middle School
Learning about the middle school years will help journalists better cover youth learning and brain development.
Although middle school is often treated as just a way station between elementary and high school, there’s much more to the story. In fact, the middle school years are a time of profound change for young people – physically, emotionally, and intellectually. These years are a crucial time for learning and brain development, a reality that is often overlooked or misconstrued.
The Hopes and Fears of Teenagers
How listening to young people might improve college and job training programs intended to help them reach better futures (EWA Radio Episode 291)
“People can’t tell me what they’re going to college for. But they put themselves in thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of debt—that doesn’t sound like it makes any sense. That’s like buying a car and not knowing how to drive.”
As schools nationwide grapple with how to recover from pandemic-driven learning disruptions, “accelerated learning” is increasingly invoked as an effective way to address troubling academic gaps for students.
The concept is promoted in U.S. Department of Education press releases and guidance, cited in many states’ education recovery plans, and talked up by superintendents, school leaders, and more.
School districts across the United States are investing millions of dollars to build and invigorate tutoring programs with the hope that the extra attention will help students rebound academically after disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Top 10 Most-Read EWA Blogs of 2021
Journalist members wrote practical resources to help their fellow reporters all year long.
Supporting our talented journalist members is one of the best parts of my job here at the Education Writers Association.
Many of them have written insightful, well-researched and, yes, educational blog posts over the course of the year. And several took time from full-time reporting jobs to write these resources – all with the purpose of helping their fellow journalists do their jobs.
These New Education Books Make Perfect Gifts. (Trust Us.)
What we’re giving the education reporters (and education enthusiasts) on our list this year
Shopping for the education writer in your life this holiday season? Any reporter can tell you which is the best seat in the school board meeting room: It’s the one near the only working wall outlet. While this popular version of a portable battery pack will set you back about $50, it’s reliable, durable, and speedy. (No, EWA does not do paid product endorsements. I actually use this.) It also has the benefit of being cable free if your gift recipient uses a compatible smartphone.
What Are Regional Educational Labs? Tips for Accessing Research and Story Ideas From an Overlooked Source
Find studies, subject matter experts, insight into educators’ concerns and more from a federal network of labs.
Reporters hunting for useful research can try a federal source that many overlook – Regional Educational Laboratories across the country.
The U.S. Department of Education’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), allocates roughly $57 million a year to this network of 10 laboratories. Each lab’s researchers team up with educators and policymakers to try to figure out what works and what doesn’t in their districts.
Conversations in English that never happened. Students struggling to follow a teacher’s demonstration of how to enunciate during lessons on Zoom. These were among the hurdles facing English language learners during the pandemic shutdown.
School leaders are scrambling, yet again, during the third academic year since the pandemic began disrupting education in spring 2020. Under pressure to keep schools open and close learning gaps, they must still provide instruction to students quarantined at home due to COVID-19 exposure.
How is it going so far? What are the biggest challenges, and how are they being addressed? To get answers to these and other questions, watch the Education Writers Association’s webinar.
Celebrating 75 Years!
As those in education and journalism work to recover from an extended pandemic, bringing together the community has never been more critical. The Education Writers Association’s 75th annual National Seminar will provide a long-awaited opportunity to gather in person for three days of training, networking, and inspiration.
How Will Educators Use Data on COVID-19 Learning Disruption?
Experts say recent findings can inform instructional strategies.
New data continues to show impeded academic learning during the coronavirus pandemic. A critical question is: What, exactly, should be done to address the problem? Efforts are growing to better connect education data with instructional strategies during the education recovery.
Home Ec’s ‘Secret History’
New book explores how home economics influenced American life and public education beyond 'stitching and stirring' (EWA Radio Episode 276)
Often overlooked and misunderstood, home economics is about far more than learning to bake cakes or sew lopsided oven mitts, argues education journalist Danielle Dreilinger. She discusses her new book, “The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live.”
Cognitive science has vastly expanded the body of knowledge on how people learn in the last 25 years. Yet, little of that knowledge has trickled down to the classroom.
A small, but growing, number of schools and districts are working to change that. More educators are looking at the science of learning after concerns expressed about learning disruptions and recovering from the pandemic. To learn more, watch the webinar recording below.
‘Don’t Go Back to the Old Normal’: Opportunities for Adolescent Learning Revealed by COVID-19
COVID-19’s effects on childhood brain development and those up to age 25 provides some new insights.
Long before the COVID-19 shutdown forced schools to launch remote learning, the nonprofit Challenge Success tracked student wellness, using the findings to encourage schools and families to rethink what constitutes “success” for students.
The pandemic has interrupted social interactions and hurt student well-being. Understanding students’ social and emotional needs will be crucial in the coming year.
What new methods are emerging for gauging social and emotional needs, competencies and learning? How has the pandemic affected SEL and what does that mean for teaching and learning?
Speakers addressed these and other issues at a May 3 session at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 National Seminar.
The participants were:
- Julia Joy Dumas Wilks, Great Oaks Charter School, Wilmington, Delaware
- Libby Pier, Education Analytics
- Juany Valdespino-Gaytán, Dallas Independent School District
- Kevin McCorry, WHYY (Moderator)
Will the Pandemic Propel ‘Competency-Based’ Education Into the Mainstream?
Instructional model replaces 'seat-time' requirements with focus on mastery of content, skills
The pandemic forced schools to switch from in-person to remote learning nearly overnight, raising questions about the relevance of “seat time” as a standard measure for earning course credit. Now, as schools move into education recovery mode, an alternative model known as competency-based learning is getting a fresh look and is expected to see more widespread adoption.
The Education Writers Association’s 74th National Seminar will focus on the theme of “Now What? Reporting on Education Amid Uncertainty.” Four afternoons of conversations, training and presentations will give attendees deeper understanding of these crises, as well as tools, skills and context to help them better serve their communities — and advance their careers.
To be held May 2-5, 2021, the seminar will feature education newsmakers, including leaders, policy makers, researchers, practitioners and journalists. And it will offer practical data and other skills training.
Can Schools Close ‘The Knowledge Gap?’
Author Natalie Wexler makes case for focusing on enriching classroom curriculum during the coronavirus pandemic to improve students’ literacy and understanding
(EWA Radio: Episode 245)
Much attention is focused on how schools will deliver instruction this fall, whether remotely or in schools with COVID-19 health and safety precautions in place. But what students are taught — the curriculum — is also an important story
Schools Brace for Mental Health Challenges During COVID-19 and Civil Unrest
Experts discuss trauma, social and emotional development
As schools nationwide gear up for a new school year during the pandemic — whether virtually or in person — meeting the social, emotional and mental health needs of students and staff will be a huge challenge and priority for school systems.
Educators and counselors said stories are waiting to be told at every level of education as the combination of pandemic fears and racial injustice puts added pressures on students and teachers.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat.
This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.
Keeping Up With Brain Science Is a Tall Order for Many Teachers
Teacher training often fails to reflect current research, experts say
When teacher Eric Kalenze introduced a new book or reading passage to his students, he used to allow them to explore it on their own, following an approach he learned in teacher training.
Now, armed with a better understanding of the science of learning, he believes leading with this type of student inquiry is ineffective. Instead, he front-loads crucial context and factual information he thinks students will need to understand the text.
Educating the ‘Whole Child’ Is Complex. Will Schools Get It Right?
Recipe blends academics with SEL, character development
The idea that education isn’t simply about academics is nothing new. But efforts are mounting to promote a better balance in schools, to more explicitly address students’ social and emotional learning (SEL), build strong character, and foster civic responsibility.
The terminology varies, but the broad concept is sometimes referred to as “educating the whole child.” What’s it all about? What’s driving the increased interest and attention? And are public schools today really equipped to deliver this expansive vision of education?
The Institute for Higher Education Policy is known for issuing wonky, data-heavy reports. So why did the Washington-based think tank just issue a report focused on the personal stories of 17 low-income students struggling with inadequate financial aid?
Driven by changing student demographics and demands from employers, colleges are experimenting with new, more flexible and affordable bachelors’ degrees, a panel of higher education leaders and experts told journalists at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar.
Colleges are trying boot camps, competency-based education, credit for prior learning, and other strategies to lower costs, speed up and improve the value of bachelors’ degrees.
Most journalists covering universities focus on undergraduate programs, even though, in many cases, the graduate student population is larger and has a bigger impact on the school’s financial health. So graduate schools can be a trove of fresh, under-covered story ideas, according to graduate student representatives and researchers who spoke at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar.
Many instructors still use traditional-style lectures despite growing scientific evidence that less-passive approaches are more effective in building students’ skills and knowledge. At the Education Writers Association 2019 National Seminar, Harvard professor Eric Mazur demonstrated to journalists how active engagement – both inside and outside the classroom – stimulates higher-order thinking and motivates students to learn.
A High School That Listens to Its Students and Teachers
'Student-centered learning' approach means more freedom but also more accountability in Revere, Mass.
(EWA Radio: Episode 187)
What happens when a teacher takes a student up on his dare to watch a TV series about zombies?
Attention is growing to the detrimental impact stress and trauma have on children’s learning and development. In response, some schools are rethinking everything from student discipline and support services to teacher training. The shift has also given birth to a whole new set of terms and practices for education reporters to understand and break down for their audiences.
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.
The Zombie Apocalypse is Here (and It’s Now Called ‘English Class’)
Student-centered learning and 'The Walking Dead' at Revere High School
(EWA Radio: Episode 187)
What happens when a teacher takes a student up on his dare to watch a TV series about zombies?
The media images illustrating students in “personalized learning” environments often look something like this: elementary-schoolers with headphones on, looking at tablets, or teenagers typing away on laptops.
But during a recent panel discussion, experts and educators sought to make one thing clear: Personalized learning is not about technology, and you don’t need a lot of money to carry it out.
About the Entry
At Chicago’s Moses Montefiore Academy, the school’s staff works to improve the lives of some of the nation’s most at-risk students.
Building character is an everyday event, woven into the fabric of how school is done on every level, educators and students told journalists during a conference in New Orleans on educating for character and citizenship.
A key goal is creating a community of trust among students and faculty, said educators at several schools that put character development at the center. During the panel discussion, they used words like “love” and “team” to describe their schools, emphasizing the mutual respect that they work to cultivate between students and teachers.
Push for Media Literacy Takes on Urgency Amid Rise of ‘Fake News’
Some states act to spark schools' focus on teaching subject
The advent of “fake news” was the worst-best thing to happen to media literacy in schools.
That’s according to Sherri Hope Culver, the director of the Center for Media and Information Literacy at Temple University.
In years past, it was tough work convincing legislators and reporters the importance of paying attention to the issue of teaching children how to analyze and evaluate media, Culver said during a recent Education Writers Association seminar in New Orleans.They’d ask what made the issue timely.
With their bodies submerged in the shallow bayou and their heads bobbing just above the water, Sunny Dawn Summers and her class of high school students talked through the process of harvesting, shucking, and selling oysters.
Just miles from restaurants in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter, the students pondered the costs of labor, boat maintenance, and shipping that get an oyster from the muddy bayou floor to the dinner plate.
Ready to Design a New School? ‘Start With the Student.’
Educators share insights on building next-generation schools
Imagine creating a new public high school from scratch — not just the building, but the learning experience itself. How would you start? What would a typical day look like? How would it differ from most high schools?
At a recent EWA seminar, several educators who have faced this challenge shared their insights as they sought to better serve students by upending traditional school models.
At High Tech High, Focus Goes Beyond the Classroom
Personalization, 'authentic' work, equity & collaboration billed as hallmarks
Walking onto a High Tech High campus is like entering a workshop. Our tour guide, sophomore Caroline Egler, pointed out classrooms that supposedly housed physics or humanities, but most students weren’t in those rooms. They were in the hallways working on projects, huddled around computers together, or even working at desks standing eight feet tall so they towered above the floor. It was chaotic, but not out of control.
Students seemed to be working with purpose, even if it was not immediately obvious what they were doing.
Reporter Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media was covering innovation in a Texas high school when she tried a fresh approach to help advance her reporting.
What’s It Really Like to Attend an Unconventional High School?
Students Offer Candid Take on Project-Based and Personalized Learning
Amida Nigena very nearly quit the Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design before the first term of her freshman year had ended. It was 2015, the school was brand new and it wasn’t anything like other campuses in the Denver school system.
The district’s goal in creating the school was to educate a generation of innovators, graduates who had mastered the self-direction skills that would get them through college and help them flourish in the workforce.
The secret to student success may well be hidden in the buzzwords frequently used today to describe efforts to transform high school.
Personalized learning. Student-centered learning. Competency-based learning, and so on.
“There’s a common denominator in all these labels, and that common denominator is learning,” said Caroline Hendrie, the executive director of Education Writers Association at a recent seminar for journalists in San Diego.
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.
What is XQ and Why Is It Spending $100 Million to Reinvent High School?
Russlynn Ali discusses the foundation-backed 'Super School' project with journalists
At a gathering of education writers last week, the Emerson Collective’s Russlynn Ali walked not one but several fine lines, promising an “open source” ethos when sharing lessons gleaned from the group’s XQ Super School Project, but declining to commit the private philanthropy to transparency in its political spending and investments in education technology companies.
The intensive focus in many public schools on basic academics has sparked concerns that the U.S. education system is neglecting a fundamental responsibility: to foster in young people the character traits and social-emotional skills needed to be successful students and engaged citizens. Empathy, collaboration, and self-efficacy, for instance, are essential in a democratic society. They also are important for success in a fast-changing job market.
Education journalists from across the U.S. gathered this week in San Diego, on the campus of High Tech High, to explore efforts to rethink the American high school. Along the way, they heard from fellow reporters, as well as educators, analysts and students.
A Reporter’s Guide to Rethinking the American High School
San Diego • High Tech High • December 4-5, 2017
High school is a critical phase in the journey to adulthood, but many students drop out or graduate ill-prepared to thrive in postsecondary education and the workforce. In response, momentum is building around efforts to reinvent the high school experience — to make it more engaging, relevant, and academically challenging for young people.
Scattered across the country are examples of public schools – both district-run and charter — that are looking to buck the norms of the typical American high school. They are rethinking how, when, where, and at what pace students learn.
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.
It’s rare, if ever, that education issues get live, prime-time programming across multiple major television networks. Then again, few, if any, education organizations have the star-studded, deep-pocketed backing that the XQ Super School Project has garnered in its effort to rethink and reshape the high school experience.
Students at the MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland don’t sit through lectures all day. They learn through projects, like designing and building above-ground gardens, calculating the powers of a comic book superhero or constructing a recording studio to record a song.
Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media discusses Furr High School, which recently received a $10 million grant to help it reinvent what, when, and how students learn. The changes are already underway: a veteran principal was lured out of retirement to take the helm; students are able dig into their own areas of interest during regular periods of “Genius Time”; and even the hiring process for teachers and staff has taken some innovative turns. What’s been the response of the school community to these new developments?
The rapid improvement over the past decade in Washington, D.C.’s district-run schools — as measured by rising test scores and graduation rates — has drawn national notice.
But officials with the District of Columbia Public Schools remain concerned that too many students still slip through the cracks, with 31 percent failing to graduate high school on time, based on the most recent DCPS data.
Two-dozen high school students are gathered around a large work table as manufacturing teacher Dan Cassidy holds out boxes of metal bars and gears. The students choose among the parts to build model bicycles. “What else are we going to use today? Let me hear some vocab here,” he says. When a student shouts out “chains,” he nudges them until they recall another term for it: “linkage.”
Ask the principal of any U.S. high school and they’ll likely tell you their goal is to graduate all of their students “college- or career-ready.” That is, students should be prepared to begin postsecondary education or enter the workforce and be successful.
Andrea Purcell, the principal of an all-girls charter school, is no different, despite the fact that her group of 120 or so high school-aged students are among the most at-risk for dropping out.
Some school districts are experimenting with ways to get students more engaged in their own learning, and to connect their individual interests to long-term goals. John Tulenko, a contributor to The Hechinger Report, visited Vermont, where a statewide investment in personalized learning is starting to gain traction. What kinds of learning opportunities are students creating for themselves? How are teachers responding to the instructional shift?
The waiting list to get into USC Hybrid High College Prep in downtown Los Angeles is long – about two students for every one admitted – and so is the commute for many of the students who go there. An hour-and-a-half each way by bus or car isn’t uncommon.
At Summit Public Schools campuses, you won’t see PowerPoint lectures on “Antigone” in English class or witness lofty explanations of the Pythagorean theorem in geometry. Instead, you’ll hear a discussion about the morals and ethics in the ancient Greek tragedy tied to students’ own teenage identity formation and observe discussions on how real-life problem-solving skills can be applied to math.
Katrina Schwartz of KQED Public Radio in San Francisco joins the 100th episode of EWA Radio to discuss the growing interest in student-centered learning and personalized instruction. What are promising examples of these approaches in action? Can personalization and efficiency co-exist? How is data — big and small — informing teachers and shaping individual student learning? And what are some big stories to watch for in the coming months?
Should schools measure skills like cooperation, communication, self-confidence and the ability to organize? Efforts to gauge these so-called “soft skills” are gaining traction in the classroom, especially with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new federal law calls on states and school districts to incorporate at least one measure beyond test scores and graduation rates in their accountability systems.
Dr. Frances Jensen Discusses the Development of the Teenage Brain
Author Discusses Book, "The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults"
Join Education Writers Association for a brown bag lunch with noted neuroscientist Frances Jensen, author of “The Teenage Brain.”
Teens may look like amateur adults, equipped with the kind of know-how parents and teachers take for granted. But behind those side-eyes and earbuds is a brain fast at work learning to cope with an onslaught of hormones, sensory experiences and the last gasps of adolescence.
1030 15th Street, NW, Suite 600E
Washington, DC 20005
In Louisiana, a high school focused around the theme of coastal restoration will be built on a barge — yes, a barge. Two Los Angeles educators have dreamed up plans for a high school designed to serve foster and homeless children. And the Somerville, Mass., district is planning a year-round high school that “feels more like a research and design studio,” reports the Boston Globe.
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.
Here’s why I attended this year’s Education Writers Association National Seminar: As a high school student, I wanted to gain a new perspective on public schools and what is being done to improve them. And as an aspiring journalist, I was hoping to learn more about news coverage of education and why it is so important.
I attended many sessions over the course of the three-day event, but the session that stood out to me and that I continue to think about months later is Students At Center Stage.
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.
Looking Under the Hood of Competency-Based Education
American Institutes for Research, Nellie Mae Education Foundation
Competency-based education (CBE), an instructional approach that emphasizes what students learn and master rather than how much time they spend in school, is gaining popularity nationwide. CBE environments provide students with personalized learning, autonomy, flexibility, and responsibility for their own learning, which is theorized to improved learning behaviors.
Developing a phone app to ensure students know their rights. Crafting legislation to advocate for student press freedom. Creating a civic engagement class.
Those are just a few examples of “student-centered learning” in action, high schoolers told an audience of education journalists recently.
For Nancy Barile, who teaches English at Revere High School, turning around a reluctant reader meant turning on her own TV.
The student wouldn’t read or do homework, Barile said, but he was “obsessed” with The Walking Dead and urged his teacher to watch the program. So Bartile, who has taught at Revere for 21 years, made a deal: She would watch the TV show if he would read.
Imagine you’re a student: You walk into school and check an electronic board for your name and where you go for the day. At the assigned station, you and a small group of fellow students work with a teacher on algebra, which builds on the lesson you mastered the day before. Then, you take a short quiz that helps to create your class schedule for the next day.
Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance
Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners summarizes the research on five categories of noncognitive factors that are related to academic performance: academic behaviors, academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies and social skills, and proposes a framework for thinking about how these factors interact to affect academic performance, and what the relationship is between noncognitive factors and classroom/school context, as well as the larger socio-cultural context.
Many conversations about school improvement skip an essential element: student voices. This session stars students who are learning to advocate for themselves — both inside and outside the classroom. What’s firing them up, particularly in “student-centered learning” environments? What do they want reporters to know about the real world of schools?
At Codman Academy Charter Public School, the walls in the lower school hallways aren’t covered in the bright reds, yellows, and oranges visitors might expect in an elementary setting. Instead, they’re subdued neutrals, mostly creams and browns. Rather than large chart paper displays and murals, there are natural wood panels, internal and external windows, and glass panels decorated with branches and leaves.
Who succeeds in life? Angela Duckworth, whose new book on grit debuts in May, reviews her research on the tendency to pursue long-term goals with perseverance and passion. She explains the predictive power of grit and shares her thoughts on how to cultivate this hotly debated trait.
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.
For years, common experience and studies have prescribed that humans learn best in their earliest years of life – when the brain is developing at its fastest. Recently, though, research has suggested that the period of optimal learning extends well into adolescence.
At High Tech High School in San Diego, there are no bells that signal the start of class periods. There are no seven-period days, no mock standardized assessments and no lectures.
Since 2003, more information is produced every two days than the total sum of information produced between that year and the dawn of time, the CEO of Google said in 2010. Easily web-accessible facts, names and articles have grown exponentially, so much so that some say students can’t be taught like they were in the past, when rote memorization was the gold standard for learning and information wasn’t at almost everyone’s fingertips.
As the tune of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” plays out over the music video, the lyrics are a bit different:
“We will make mistakes…our method’s gonna break…not a piece of cake…we’re gonna shake it off, shake it off…”
It was in this video Stanford University Professor and author Jo Boaler says she was compelled to do something she didn’t want to do. “They made me rap,” she said. When her undergraduate students challenged whether she had a growth mindset about her rhyme skills, Boaler said to herself, “Oh my gosh. I’m gonna have to rap.”
One of the most popular ideas in education today is also one that is often misunderstood. While Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” has a emerged as a meme for motivation less than a decade after the publication of her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” the Stanford psychology professor is worried about its misapplication.
About a third of the students who started college in 2009 have since dropped out, joining the millions of young adults who never entered college in the first place.
Several years into a massive push by both the federal government and states to increase postsecondary graduation rates, education policymakers across the country are asking what else they can do to get more students to and through college.
“Solutions Journalism” aims to draw attention to credible responses to social problems. A brand-new resource can help education reporters take that approach with their own work on the beat.
Why do so few students from low-income families earn college degrees, even when they were academic standouts as high schoolers? And what can be done to help these students make a smoother transition to higher education?
Kavitha Cardoza tackles these questions in “Lower Income, Higher Ed”, a new documentary for WAMU Radio in Washington, D.C.
The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.
Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.
The North Carolina Museum of Art is offering students a way to experience and learn about art firsthand, and outside the confines of a traditional classroom model.
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.
Conversations about classroom discipline typically focus on ways to teach kids there are consequences to their actions as a means of controlling future behavior. But a new approach gaining ground removes the sliding scale of punishment from the equation.
Clinical psychologist Ross Greene — whose books are well known to parents of so-called “problem kids,” is rewriting the rules for how some schools respond to challenging students.
I’m headed to Quebec City this week, and in preparation I’ve been reading “Champlain’s Dream: The European Founding of North America” by David Hackett Fischer. There are also quite a few education titles on my vacation reading list, and we’ll be featuring some of the authors in upcoming episodes of EWA Radio.
Nestled within the new-agey sounding concept of “noncognitive factors” are fairly concrete examples of what parents and educators should and shouldn’t do to prepare students for the rigors of college and careers. Gleaned from research into brain development and human behavior, a toolkit is emerging on how to make the best of the scholarship focused on qualities like grit, persistence and learning from mistakes.
In a second-grade classroom outside of Palo Alto, Calif., students were sharing their answers to a math quiz. A young boy named Michael held up his answer, and, as was customary, his classmates showed their verdict on the answer – thumbs up or thumbs down.
Focusing on student learning, and structuring the school to fit students’ varied learning paces, is proving to be a game changer, said panelists at EWA’s recent National Seminar in Chicago, moderated by journalist Katrina Schwartz of Mindshift at KQED Public Radio.
If teachers and principals want students on center stage in their classrooms, they’ll first have to do a lot of work backstage. However, as a panel of teachers and students told attendees at EWA’s recent National Seminar in Chicago, the return on investment can be substantial.
When Revere High School, outside Boston, began moving to a more student-centered approach, the educators didn’t expect an overnight miracle.
Most students don’t study using methods backed by scientific research, panelists at the Education Writers Association’s deep dive on the science of learning told reporters in Chicago at the association’s 68th National Seminar.
“Why do people find learning so hard?” asked Henry Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who participated in the April event.
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.
How do teachers and parents determine whether school reform is effective? Hint: it’s not all about test scores.
Reporter Katrina Schwartz focuses on classroom innovations for KQED San Francisco’s Mindshift education blog, which is produced in partnership with NPR.
She spoke to EWA’s Emily Richmond and Mikhail Zinshteyn about sifting through the buzzwords, what attracts her to a potential education story, and why anecdotal evidence is worth considering when evaluating school and student performance.
Top Tweets from #EWAChoice’s first session
At Summit Public School: Denali, young learners do it differently. Most of the students at this Bay Area-area school complete their coursework on school-issued Chromebooks, where they access a portal to online videos, assigned readings and interim assessments they take at their own pace. It’s a competency-based approach to proving they have mastered the subject at hand.
The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape – Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
The study finds that the Carnegie Unit remains the central organizing feature of the vast American education system, from elementary school to graduate school, and provides students with an important opportunity-to-learn standard. But at best, the Carnegie Unit is a crude proxy for student learning. The U.S. education system needs more informative measures of student performance.
Education journalists took a field trip to Impact Academy of Arts and Technology this week to see project-based learning in action, including observing classrooms and watching a student defend her project on World War II and the Holocaust. Check out some Tweets from the visiting reporters, as well as more highlights from the first day at the EWA seminar at Stanford University. (Also, check out this earlier blog post about our testing seminar.)
Competency education is attracting significant interest as a promising way to help meet our national priority of ensuring that all young people are ready for college and careers. In competency-based schools, students advance at different rates, based on their ability to demonstrate mastery of learning objectives. Teachers provide customized supports to help propel everyone to proficiency.
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.
Are Personalized Learning Environments the Next Wave of K-12 Education Reform?
American Institutes for Research
Are Personalized Learning Environments the Next Wave of K-12 Education Reform?, the first issue paper in a new series from AIR, examines 16 successful applications from the first round of Race to the Top District (RTT-D) awards. It identifies trends and lessons learned from these pioneering grantees’ efforts to implement and scale teaching and learning innovations.
Whether you’re a veteran journalist or relatively new to the education beat, EWA’s resources can help you make the most of your reporting.
More students are earning high school diplomas – but the diplomas don’t mean those students are ready to succeed in college.
Nicholas Donohue, president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, made that observation as he began to argue for a dramatic rethinking of the way schools measure learning, promote students and award diplomas. He made the argument during a “Deep Dive on Competency-Based Education and Student-Centered Learning” at EWA’s National Seminar in Nashville in May.
While students might be basking in a long summer break, that leisure time carries a heavy price tag: on average, students will return to school in the fall a month behind where they performed in the spring. And the learning loss is typically even greater for low-income students who were already behind their more affluent peers.
Competitive colleges in the U.S. have an image problem: By many accounts, their student bodies are much whiter and richer than the general population. Over at The Hechinger Report, Jamaal Abdul-Alim reports on a program aimed at steering academically high-flying low-income and minority students to the nation’s top-ranked universities.
A project of the nonprofit Jobs For the Future, Students at the Center “synthesizes and adapts for practice current research on key components of student-centered approaches to learning and deeper learning outcomes.” The organization’s mission is to “strengthen the ability of practitioners and policymakers to engage each student in acquiring the skills, knowledge, and expertise needed for success in college, career, and civic life.”
The Stanford Center for
Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) fosters research,
policy, and practice to advance high quality, equitable education
systems in the United States and internationally.
Founded in 1937 to benefit the people of California, the James Irvine Foundation’s mission is expanding opportunity. The foundation has awarded more than $1.3 billion in grants to over 3,500 nonprofit organizations across the state.
Based in Quincy, Mass., the nonprofit Nellie Mae Education Foundation focuses on improving the equity and quality of public schools in New England, with a special emphasis on student-centered learning, district and state-level change, research and analysis, and increasing the public’s understanding.
This organization grew out of the work of Theodore Sizer, former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who advocated an aggressive overhaul of how the nation’s high schools are structured, with a goal of improving student interest and engagement.
The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education finds student-centered learning programs are closing achievement gaps for minority students at four high schools.
Each week, The Educated Reporter will feature a buzzword or
phrase that You Need To Know (yes, this designation is highly
subjective but we’re giving it a shot). Send your Word on the
Beat suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Word on the Beat: Differentiated instruction.
Getting Down to Dollars and Cents: What Do School Districts Spend to Deliver Student-Centered Learning?
The Center for Reinventing Public Education examines how much school districts are spending on student-centered learning programs, and how existing resources can be effectively re-allocated.
The Center on Education Policy’s literature review of student motivation concludes it’s an overlooked piece of school reform efforts.
Researchers for the Students at the Center (a project of Jobs For the Future) connect higher student engagement and motivation with stronger academic achievement.
Brittany Rollins is hanging out a lot at the local animal shelter this year. Delving into the issue of pet euthanasia and writing about it will help her earn English/language arts credits toward graduation. The 17-year-old senior at Newfound Regional High School, in the rural central New Hampshire town of Bristol, is part of one of the most aggressive statewide efforts in the country to embrace competency-based learning.
Robert Mendenhall is president of Western Governors University, a nonprofit online school. He spoke with EWA about the role of distance education in re-training the nation’s workforce, and a new federal initiative aimed at improving the quality of teacher preparation programs.
In Laconia, N.H., high school principal Steve Beals sees the potential of a schoolwide culture that celebrates learning beyond a traditional classroom.
A case study conducted by Columbia University researchers looked at how teachers’ perceptions of student-centered learning significantly impact the program’s implementation and effectiveness.