Standardized testing has loomed larger on the education beat this school year than ever before, as most states rolled out new assessments pegged to the Common Core. How did the assessments really go? What’s the state of the testing backlash?
The nation’s private and public universities own endowments that together total more than half a trillion dollars – tax-free investments that schools use to sustain their long-term financial health.
Recent news stories once again have shined a spotlight on the troubling issue of teacher misconduct. Consider these headlines:
Over the past decade, many states and school districts have overhauled the way they evaluate teachers. Some rely primarily on test scores; others add classroom observations. Some even bring student surveys into the mix. Meanwhile, new federal leeway may spark a fresh round of changes around the country.
What are some practical ways for journalists to write about the evaluation systems in the school districts they cover? What questions should they ask about design, implementation, training, and teacher attitudes toward the evaluations?
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.
Most education reporters at one time or another cover test results on NAEP, known as “the nation’s report card.” But if that’s all you do, you’re missing out on a powerful tool that can complement your daily reporting.
While students are celebrating the start of the long summer break, there’s a significant tradeoff for the three months of leisure – on average, students will return to school in the fall a month behind where they performed in the spring. And the learning loss is even greater for low-income students, who are often already behind their better-off peers.
As part of its effort to help close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students, the U.S. government spends more than $14 billion annually through the Title I program. But a sizable share of those billions go to affluent school systems. Why do some high-poverty districts receive less federal Title I aid than those that serve a far smaller proportion of low-income students? This week, U.S. News & World Report released an exclusive investigation on the federal funding stream.
EWA journalist members received an early opportunity to review Education Week’s newest Quality Counts report, which includes a special focus on school accountability.
As part of its annual Quality Counts report, Education Week grades states on a wide range of indicators, including the Chance-for-Success Index, K-12 Achievement Index, and school finance.
Despite continued debate over the Common Core, the standards are now a classroom reality for thousands of schools across more than 40 states. But what exactly does that mean? What does it look like in action? How is implementation going? Two journalists who have dug into Common Core implementation offer fresh angles on coverage, as well as suggestions on how to interview parents, teachers and students about their experiences with the standards.
Following congressional passage of a bipartisan bill to overhaul federal K-12 policy, the action will quickly shift to states and local school districts. Although the new federal law maintains required testing each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school, it significantly scales back accountability demands, handing states far more leeway on issues such as teacher evaluations and low-performing schools. How will states and districts respond?
Across the nation, racial tensions are spilling onto quads and front pages as student protesters demand that their colleges do more to ensure students of all races and ethnicities feel welcome on campus. But in some cases, it’s not just university administrators who face scrutiny: Journalists also have drawn the ire of protesters demanding improved campus climates.
How does the United States compare to other countries when it comes to spending on early childhood, K-12, and higher education? Where are the greatest inequalities, and what are the potential consequences for individuals’ earning potential, as well as communities and national economies? What cuts have been made to school workforces and resources in the lingering wake of the recession?
The answers to these questions and more are in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s forthcoming “Education at a Glance 2015” report.
While many first-generation students are excited and ambitious when they step on campus — eager to beat the odds and become the first in their families to earn a college degree — others struggle with guilt, fear and loneliness, sometimes even struggling to remember why they decided to attend college in the first place. And they grapple with these feelings while they also have to figure out how to apply for financial aid, register for classes, and manage the other necessities of undergraduate life knowing they can’t turn to their families for guidance based on experience.
Many states are rolling out the first round of test scores this fall from brand new assessments pegged to the Common Core standards. Join EWA for a Sept. 10 webinar designed to help reporters better understand what’s coming and how they can report on the data in meaningful ways.
Webinar on School District Finance & Bonds
Bonding Over School Data: Finding District Finance Stories Through Bond Records
What’s your district’s financial outlook?
Often that’s a tricky question, requiring a lot of digging through multiple sources. But if the district recently issued bonds, you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. That’s because the financial laws governing the bond market require districts to share a wide range of information (including details they may want to keep quiet).
Most U.S. students continue to have a weak grasp of civics, as well as U.S. history and geography, recent national data suggest. Only about one-quarter of 8th graders, for instance, scored “proficient” or higher in civics on the latest exam from NAEP, known as the “nation’s report card.”
Education Week reporter Lauren Camera, David DeSchryver, senior vice president of Whiteboard Advisors, and Bethany Little, principal at Education Counsel, break down the future of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for journalists.
Now that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed bills renewing the act, journalists can examine the potential impact of the new provisions. Learn how you can cover these in your state and district and find out questions you should be asking.
For education reporters, coming up with fresh angles for back-to-school stories is an annual challenge. Two veteran education journalists—Steve Drummond (NPR) and Beth Hawkins (MinnPost)—share smart tips for digging deep, and keeping ahead of the curve on the latest trends. We discuss new ways of approaching the first day of school, ideas for unique profiles, strategies for data projects and how to make the most of your publication’s multimedia resources.
Common Core: Politics Meets Policy
Webinar to Probe Legislative Activity, Policy Shifts on the Standards and Testing
From state legislatures to the presidential campaign, the Common Core has drawn considerable political attention, and criticism, this year. But what steps have policymakers actually taken to cut ties to the new standards and aligned tests, and what are the practical implications for states and school districts?