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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: 10 hours 17 min ago

Strauss: Is this really how we should test reading development in kids?

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 5:01am

DIBELS, or Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills,  is a set of procedures and measures developed at the University of Oregon for assessing literacy development in students from kindergarten through sixth grade. The DIBELS website says that the measures — one-minute fluency exercises — were “specifically designed to assess the five early literacy components: Phonological Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Fluency with Connected Text,” but critics say its validity is very weak. (Here’s an extensive critique.) Nonetheless, DIBELS has become widely used in schools around the country since 2001 — reaching some 2 million children a year. In this post, Rachael Gabriel,  an assistant professor of reading education in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, write about continuing problems with DIBELS and how struggling readers are affected.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: U.S. Education Department bailing out for-profit college chain

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 4:54pm

The U.S. Education Department just announced an agreement — or, rather, a bailout — with for-profit Corinthian Colleges, Inc., which would keep open the chain of more than 90 schools that has been investigated repeatedly by government entities for issues including false advertising and high dropout rates. It even was found to have paid companies to hire its graduates temporarily to boost its job placement rates.

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Categories: Education News

Prince George’s libraries offering free lunch to students

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 4:26pm

Grab a book and get a meal.

The Prince George’s Memorial Library System is providing free lunch to children who might otherwise go hungry during the summer because they depend on free and reduced-price lunches during the school year.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Better ways to use millions of dollars now spent on testing

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 12:16pm

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by states and school districts on standardized tests every year, money that could be used for purposes far more helpful in improving student achievement. What are those purposes? Here are some suggestions, from Jim Arnold and Peter Smagorinsky. Jim Arnold recently retired from the superintendent’s position of the Pelham City Schools in Georgia and he blogs at drjamesarnold.com. Peter Smagorinsky is Distinguished Research  Professor of English Education at the University of Georgia. His essays are archived here.

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Categories: Education News

Garza unveils new hires in Fairfax schools leadership team

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 11:24am

Fairfax County schools superintendent Karen Garza has announced a slew of new hires as part of her organizational shake-up of the administration that will take effect July 1.

The hires include five new “executive principals” who will serve as deputies to the assistant superintendents leading the recently created “regions” that will divide the county’s 196 schools, replacing the old eight clusters. Garza also created two new executive principals for school improvement, who will focus on student achievement in schools with lagging performance.

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Categories: Education News

States’ special education services face tighter oversight by the Obama administration

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 9:01am

The Obama administration is tightening its oversight of the way states educate special-needs students, applying more- stringent criteria that drop the number of jurisdictions in compliance with federal law from 38 to 15.

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Categories: Education News

States’ special education services face tighter oversight by the Obama administration

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 9:01am

The Obama administration is tightening its oversight of the way states educate special-needs students, applying more-stringent criteria that drop the number of states in compliance with federal law from 38 to 15.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: How Arne Duncan talked about Common Core without mentioning ‘Common Core’

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 6:01am

Here’s how Education Secretary Arne Duncan just gave a speech that discussed the Common Core State Standards without actually mentioning the words “Common Core.”

Duncan was in Texas on a trip that included an appearance in Austin at the 2014 annual convention of the National PTA, at which he gave a speech after being introduced by National PTA President Otha Thornton. In the speech (titled “A Vision for Better Education: Areas of Surprising Agreement” by the U.S. Education Department, which posted the speech here), Duncan talks about various education issues, including “new, higher learning standards that many states have adopted.”

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Major probe of Michigan charter schools finds wasteful spending, little accountability

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 4:01am

This week the Detroit Free Press is publishing results from its year-long investigation into charter schools in Michigan, which has more for-profit companies operating schools than any other state. The findings, based on tens of thousands of records spanning two decades as well as hundreds of interviews, paint a dismal picture of a charter sector that spends $1 billion annually with little accountability and lax oversight. Ultimately, the paper found, Michigan’s charter schools do no better in terms of student achievement than traditional public schools.

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Categories: Education News

Wallace Foundation aims to help school leaders get better, donates $30 million

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 12:01am

Fourteen school systems around the country, including the District and Prince George’s County, will receive grants totaling $30 million to improve the effectiveness of unsung middle managers in large urban districts — those who supervise principals.

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Categories: Education News

Children’s Defense Fund summer literacy program opens in Prince George’s County

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 3:51pm

Prince George’s County on Monday became home to a new summer literacy program sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, one of 131 Freedom Schools operating across the country.

About 100 students began the six-week literacy program designed to address the reading and reading comprehension problems that face middle school students.

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Categories: Education News

Langley Park study finds students face serious challenges

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 2:19pm

Most of the children who live in Langley Park are at risk of not completing high school, as gang involvement, pregnancy and the need to work are all trumping education in the small, high-
poverty Prince George’s County community, according to a study released Monday.

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Categories: Education News

In Fairfax, Garza announces new support team at Stuart High amid low staff morale

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 1:37pm

Acknowledging concerns among parents, Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Karen Garza announced a new support team at the troubled Stuart High School, where a vast majority of staff in a survey described the leadership as ineffective.

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Categories: Education News

Montgomery school board candidates cite top issues

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 11:27am

With Maryland’s primary election Tuesday, four candidates vying for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Board of Education are making their final push with voters.

Three of the candidates have experience as parent advocates and have held PTA leadership roles in Montgomery: Merry Eisner-Heidorn, Shebra Evans and Jill Ortman-Fouse. The fourth, Edward Amatetti, was a teacher for seven years and works in finance.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: Northwestern’s journalism school misspells its name on 2014 diploma

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 10:40am

Northwestern University’s Medill school of journalism changed its name several years back to this unwieldly title: Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. 

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Categories: Education News

New Coursera chief stresses the ‘wow’ factor of huge audience for free online courses

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 10:31am

A little more than two years ago, the emergence of massive open online courses wowed the higher education world. The sheer scale of the response to free classes from star faculty at prestigious universities boggled minds. A single professor was capable of reaching more students — topping 100,000, say — with one online course than she would have drawn in an entire career of lecturing on campus.

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Categories: Education News

Strauss: In surprise move, key legislator allows state testing moratorium to pass

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 4:01am

This actually happened: A key legislator listened to his constituents and changed his mind about an important piece of legislation, which changed the fate of the bill.

It just happened in Rhode Island, where House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello first opposed a three-year moratorium on using a standardized test as a requirement for high school graduation, but then learned about what was at stake for students and decided to support it. Instead of tabling legislation calling for a moratorium, which had already been approved by the state Senate, he allowed it to come up for a vote on the last day of the legislative session and it passed 69-3. It would be surprising if Gov. Lincoln Chaffee did not sign the legislation into law.

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Categories: Education News

How teachers are solving the problem of incompetent teachers

Sun, 06/22/2014 - 8:12pm

Greg Jouriles, one of the best high school teachers I know, still remembers a conversation 17 years ago with a top student. Jouriles was the teacher union bargaining chair. His team had just negotiated the best contract he could get, but he was irked there would be no raises that year. The student seemed unmoved. “Don’t you think we deserve a raise?” Jouriles said.

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Categories: Education News

Fairfax student finishes school with perfect attendance

Sun, 06/22/2014 - 6:12pm

In her 13 years in Fairfax County schools, Catherine Overberg never had a sore throat or a fever. At McLean High School this year, she skipped “senior skip day.”

From kindergarten through her high school graduation last week, Overberg never missed a day of school.

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Categories: Education News

Montgomery schools chief offers new plan to tackle high rates of math exam failure

Sun, 06/22/2014 - 5:53pm

Montgomery County school officials have found no single cause to explain the district’s steep failure rates on high school math exams, but they are proposing a series of steps designed to help boost student performance and close the math achievement gap.

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Categories: Education News
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