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The Washington Post Local Education section provides coverage and analysis of schools, home school and education policy for DC, Maryland and Virginia. With in-depth coverage and analysis of Washington, DC education and schools, including DC charter schools, DC Schools Chancellor, DC teacher contract news and map of DC schools.
Updated: 13 hours 36 min ago

Strauss: They still don’t get it: Obama’s new Race to the Top contest for ‘equity’

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 12:14pm

They still don’t get it.

The Obama administration still apparently thinks -- despite evidence to the contrary -- that it can achieve “educational equity” by holding a contest with winners and losers.

When the $4.35 billion Race to the Top was first announced in 2009 as the administration’s chief education initiative, it was promoted as an effort to en sure that every student was “college and career ready” and to achieve “educational equity” by aggressively ”turning around” the lowest-performing schools (or by closing them if they didn’t turn around fast enough.)

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D.C. leads nation in free school breakfasts

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 8:30am

It’s national school breakfast week, and federal officials say that the number of K-12 students who are eating the first meal of the day at school is on the rise.

Between 2009 and 2013, the number of students served free breakfast in the nation’s public schools jumped by about 2 million, with the District of Columbia leading the country in terms of having the biggest percentage increase in participation compared to all 50 states.

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Socialization technique helps in academic achievement, trial study finds

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 1:01am

A popular teaching technique to help elementary students develop emotional and social skills also leads to academic achievement, according to a study released Thursday.

In a randomized, controlled trial that examined the technique known as Responsive Classroom, researchers found that children in classrooms where the technique was fully used scored significantly higher in math and reading tests than students in classrooms where it wasn’t applied.

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Categories: Education News

D.C. charter officials seek to keep Options open

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:56pm

D.C. charter school officials who previously had said they would seek to close Options Public Charter School for financial mismanagement said Thursday that they will now push to keep the school open.

Options was thrust into turmoil in October when the D.C. Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit alleging that three former school managers funneled millions of dollars to two for-profit businesses they ran. The D.C. Public Charter School Board voted in December to take the first steps toward closing the school.

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Categories: Education News

Revisions to the SAT college admissions test follow years of gains for rival ACT exam

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:49pm

Anthony Simon’s experience with college admissions testing might shed light on why the College Board this week announced big revisions to its SAT exam, and why the rival ACT has become the most popular admission test in the country.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: ‘The drive to test, test, and re-test’ leads famous school board member to quit

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 5:32pm

Rick Roach, who is completing his fifth four-year term representing District 3 on the Board of Education in Orange County, Fla, may well be the most famous local school board member in the country. In 2011, he made national news when he took a test with questions used on standardized tests given to students in Florida and flunked, becoming a vocal critic of high-stakes standardized tests. Last year he became alarmed that the state was forcing severely disabled students to take alternative versions of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and helped publicize the plight of a boy named Michael, who was born with only a brain stem and not a full brain with cognitive ability. Michael, was also blind and bound to a wheelchair, was still required to take a state standardized test last year (and will have to take another one this year).

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Strauss: Why a ‘Student Privacy Bill of Rights’ is desperately needed

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 4:31pm

The growing use of technology has allowed for the collection of mass amounts of data on students. Control over personal information has been lost by students and the risks to student privacy have risen dramatically. In this post, Khaliah Barnes, director of the Student Privacy Project and administrative law counsel for the non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center, lays out a Student Privacy Bill of Rights that gives back to students control over information about their lives.

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Categories: Education News

Prince William may add three days to school year to make up for snow days

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:47pm

The Prince William School Board is considering a plan to add three days to the end of the school year, an effort to dig out of a deep, snow-day induced instructional hole.

The suburban district closed schools Monday and Tuesday, bringing the total number of snow days to 12 this school year, twice as many as last year. Schools opened with a two-hour delay Wednesday.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Grieving mom takes on state education commissioner over testing disabled students

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 1:42pm

I recently wrote about a bizarre open letter to teachers that Education Commissioner Pam Stewart released that accused people who want a change in standardized testing requirements for severely disabled students of launching a political attack on the department. Stewart’s missive followed testimony before the Board of Education by an Orange County, Fla., mother named Andrea Rediske who had waged a long battle with the department over a requirement that her severely brain-damaged and blind son, Ethan, who also suffered from cerebral palsy, take an alternative version of the state-mandated Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Rediske fought for a test waiver for her son last year and won, but recently, while he lay dying in a hospital, she was required to fill out paperwork proving that Ethan could not take a new standardized test this year. Ethan passed away on Feb. 7, at home with his parents at his side. There is now a bill called the Ethan Rediske Act in the Florida legislature that would make it easier for families to obtain test waivers by allowing local authorities to exempt disabled students from taking these high-stakes exams rather than continuing the current lengthy process that involves state officials.

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Categories: Education News

Is SAT becoming more like the ACT?

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 12:26pm

The nation’s two dominant college admissions tests, the SAT and ACT, have always sought to distinguish themselves from each other. Now they may be converging in some key ways.

The SAT, begun in 1926, is rooted in a tradition of assessing how students think regardless of what curriculum they have studied. After all, no one takes a class called “verbal.” That was the longtime name of the section of the SAT that covered language skills. It was changed in 2005 and renamed “critical reading.”

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Categories: Education News

Montgomery teachers ratify contract with raises, higher share of health premiums

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:15am

Montgomery County teachers ratified a new contract Wednesday that would provide raises totaling about 5.5 percent over three years for 12,000 educators but would require employees to pay a larger share of health insurance premiums.

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Categories: Education News

Loudoun moves to open N. Virginia’s first charter school

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 8:30pm

The Loudoun County School Board has granted conditional approval for a community-led effort to save a small-town school by turning it into Northern Virginia’s first charter school.

The Middleburg Community Charter School would take the place of a century-old elementary school that has been threatened with closure in recent years as the school system has struggled to balance a tight budget with the cost of rising student enrollment.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: The key problem the SAT changes won’t fix

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 7:53pm

Big changes are coming (again) to the SAT, the once almighty college admissions test that was overtaken in popularity by the ACT.

The essay portion of the exam, added in 2005 with great fanfare as a crucial new part of the exam, is now being made optional, because apparently, it wasn’t all that crucial after all.

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Categories: Education News

Say goodbye to the 2400-point SAT

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 4:32pm

The SAT is undergoing yet another makeover, ditching some of the more obscure words on the vocabulary section and dropping the essay requirement (the essay will now become optional).

And it is reverting to the 1600-point score system that made SAT scores a quick and understandable shorthand (rather than a complicated “Wait, what’s that score on the new scale?” riddle), moving away from the 2400-point scale that arrived in 2005 along with the essay.

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Categories: Education News

Test yourself: Sample questions from the current SAT

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 3:18pm

The College Board plans to launch a revised SAT admission test in 2016. Here are a few sample and practice questions that illustrate portions of the current version of the test, drawn from The College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide.

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Categories: Education News

SAT to drop essay requirement and return to top score of 1600 in redesign of admission test

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 3:15pm

The SAT college admission test will no longer require a timed essay, will dwell less on fancy vocabulary and will return to the familiar 1600-point scoring scale in a major overhaul intended to open doors to higher education for students who are now shut out.

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Pr. George’s school was on lockdown after nearby shooting

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 12:41pm

Prince George’s County authorities placed Potomac High School on lockdown for about an hour and a half Wednesday morning as police responded to a call for a shooting nearby in Oxon Hill.

At about 9:15 a.m., a woman called 911 reporting that two men, one with a gun, confronted her, said Officer Harry Bond, a spokesman with the Prince George’s County police department.

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Categories: Education News

College Board plans SAT announcement

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 11:44am

The College Board plans an announcement Wednesday afternoon about changes to its SAT college admission test.

The SAT, last overhauled in 2005, is one of two standardized tests widely used for applications to selective colleges. The other is the ACT, which recently surpassed the SAT in the total number of student customers nationwide. But the SAT remains more widely used in the Washington region and in many states on the East and West coasts.

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Categories: Education News

Snow means some new state testing dates in Montgomery County

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 11:00am

This week’s snowfall meddled with the schedule for MSA (Maryland School Assessment) testing in Montgomery County. Tests were supposed to begin Monday, but with school closings Monday and Tuesday, testing starts Wednesday.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Parent to Obama: Why don’t private schools adopt your test-based school reforms?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 7:00am

Bertis Downs is a parent who lives in Athens Ga., and the former legal counselor and manager of the band R.E.M. He wrote the following letter to President Obama, inviting the president to visit a high school in Athens to see the impact of his administration’s standardized test-based policies there.

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Categories: Education News
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