Education

Education
3:59 am
Fri December 19, 2014

The Administration's College Rating System: How It Looks On Campus

Tuition, room and board at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., costs $45,000 a year.
Parker Michels-Boyce Randolph College

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:23 pm

It's late afternoon. Most classes at Randolph College are done for the day but students have begun gathering in the lobby of the elegant, century-old main hall.

A student taps on a piano while he and four classmates wait for their philosophy professor. After-hours sessions like these are a key feature of this small, private liberal arts college in Lynchburg, Va.

It markets itself nationally as a "unique, nurturing community of learners," well worth the $45,000 a year in tuition, room and board.

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Education
3:42 am
Wed December 17, 2014

An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!'

A restorative justice circle at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif.
Sam Pasarow/Edna Brewer Middle School

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 9:27 am

One by one, in a room just off the gym floor at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif., seventh-graders go on the interview hot seat.

Some 80 students have applied to be "peer leaders" in the school's new, alternative discipline program called "restorative justice."

Kyle McClerkins, the program's director, grills them on aspects of adolescent life: "What is the biggest challenge for middle school girls? What has changed about you from sixth grade to now?"

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Education
4:48 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Teach For America At 25: With Maturity, New Pressure To Change

TFA at 25 years (from left): Matt Kramer, current co-CEO; Wendy Kopp, founder; Elisa Villanueva Beard, current co-CEO.
Courtesy of TFA

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:54 pm

This story was reported for the radio by Eric Westervelt and for online by Anya Kamenetz.

"We, the Committee of Public Safety, find Jean Valjean guilty. The sentence is death by guillotine!"

Molly McPherson, a redhead with glasses, is dressed in a blue bathrobe — in costume as Robespierre. Her seventh-graders are re-enacting the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, with a little assist from Les Miserables.

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Education
10:37 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Secret Lives Of Teachers: 'Bored Of Education'

"Bored of Education" music video

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 11:09 am

You're a sixth-grader in New York City. Your principal gives you a choice: Get free tickets to a Columbia University football game, or participate in a music video in which your assistant principal is the lead singer.

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Education
3:46 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Common Core Reading: The High Achievers

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 1:29 pm

Part 2 in a four-part series on reading in the Common Core era.

Linnea Wolters was prepared to hate the Common Core State Standards.

She taught fifth grade at a low-income school in Reno, Nev., where, she says, there was always some new plan to improve things. And none of it added up to good education. But, after leading her class through a Core-aligned lesson — a close reading of Emma Lazarus' sonnet "The New Colossus" — she was intrigued, especially by the way different students reacted to the process.

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Education
8:40 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Tools Of The Trade: The Abacus

"A" is for Abacus
LA Johnson NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 1:30 pm

For this series, we've been thinking a lot about some of the iconic objects that some of us remember using — if only for a short period of time — in our early schooling. Slide rules, the recorder, protractors and Bunsen burners.

But when the abacus came up, we were a bit stumped.

"Does anyone still use this thing?" we wondered. "And how the heck does it work?"

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Education
3:09 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

From Blue Bleach To Hazmat Hacks, Students Take On Ebola Challenges

Students taking part in Columbia University's Ebola design challenge demonstrated for judges how to use a special chamber for decontaminating small items.
Courtesy of Columbia Engineering

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 12:24 pm

If there's one thing college kids do best, it's thinking creatively. Often operating with limited resources and tight deadlines, they're used to coming up with ingenious solutions to life's everyday problems (usually on little sleep). So it's no surprise that experts are turning to students for help in battling one of this year's most pressing global health issues: the Ebola outbreak.

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Education
3:23 am
Mon October 13, 2014

A New Orleans Charter School Marches To Its Own Tune

Art projects like these anatomy murals are woven into the curriculum at the Homer Plessy Community Charter school in New Orleans.
Eric Westervelt/NPR

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 9:42 am

This year, NPR Ed is reporting on the dramatic changes in the New Orleans school system.

All startups face big hurdles. But when you're a startup school in one of America's poorest cities, without deep-pocket backers, the challenges are daunting.

Oscar Brown is a New Orleans native. He grew up in the Desire housing project, a little over a mile west of his current home in a neighborhood ravaged by the storm that struck nearly a decade ago.

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Education
4:54 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

To Cut Student Debt, Florida College Cuts Off Some Student Borrowing

Students at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attend a debt management workshop. Broward is one of 29 colleges that no longer accepts unsubsidized student loans. The effort is part of an experiment to cut down on student loan debt and defaults.
John O'Connor WLRN

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 6:52 pm

To get a student loan at Broward College, one of Florida's largest community colleges, you first have to sit through a two-hour financial lesson with Kent Dunston.

It's a little like Scared Straight, the 1978 documentary designed to keep kids from ending up in prison.

Dunston's lesson, though, is about scaring students into making good financial choices. Nationwide, student loans total more than $1.2 trillion. And schools now face punishment — even closure — by the federal government if the rate is too high.

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Education
12:57 pm
Sat October 11, 2014

It's 2014. All Children Are Supposed To Be Proficient. What Happened?

President George W. Bush, seated, signs No Child Left Behind into law at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio.
Ron Edmonds ASSOCIATED PRESS

Take yourself back to those highly emotional, patriotic months after the 9/11 attacks.

In the midst of war, terrorism, fear and mourning, one bill passed 87-10 in the Senate and by a similar margin in the House — with equal support from both sides of the aisle. It was signed into law in January 2002 by George W. Bush, with the liberal lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, by his side.

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Education
4:03 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Who Needs Algebra? New Approach To College Math Helps More Pass

Ashjame Pendarvis, a first-year community college student, works on her math homework at the University of District of Columbia.
Elissa Nadworny NPR

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 7:16 am

Let's start with a little word problem. Sixty percent of the nation's 12.8 million community college students are required to take at least one course in subject X. Eighty percent of that 60 percent never move on past that requirement.

  1. Let Y = the total percentage of community college students prevented from graduating simply by failing that one subject, X. What is Y?

    The answer: Y = 48.

  2. And if you haven't guessed it by now, What is X?

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Education
8:03 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Competency-Based Education: No More Semesters?

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 1:32 pm

"I went to a four-year university." "That job requires a one-year certificate." "It's a two-semester course." "She's a fifth-year senior." What do these expressions have in common? They use time as the yardstick for higher education.

Essentially, this means measuring not how much you've learned, but how long you've spent trying to learn it.

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Education
5:54 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Even Techies Limit Their Children's Screen Time

A recent UCLA study found that screen time could negatively affect children's ability to read emotion. But scientists are still unsure how much screen time is too much for a child.
Anatoliy Babiy iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 7:54 pm

Sure, using tablets and computers can have upsides for children. They can provide, education for one, or just plain old entertainment value.

But we know there are downsides, too. NPR reported just last week on a study indicating screen time can negatively affect children's ability to read people's emotions.

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Education
5:05 am
Fri October 3, 2014

After Protests Over History Curriculum, School Board Tries To Compromise

Students line a busy intersection and overpass in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo., on Sept. 25, protesting a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 3:56 pm

Hundreds of Colorado high school students have walked out of class in the past two weeks to protest proposed changes to the Advanced Placement history curriculum.

The firestorm of protest was sparked by a resolution in August from Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams. When she heard that conservatives across the country were upset about the new AP history curriculum, she proposed a committee to review the district's courses.

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Education
5:06 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Kids And Screen Time: Cutting Through The Static

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 6:46 pm

The walls are lined with robots and movie posters for Star Wars and Back to the Future. But this is no 1980s nerd den. It's the technology lab at Westside Neighborhood School in Los Angeles, and the domain of its ed-tech coordinator, Don Fitz-Roy.

"So we're gonna be talking about digital citizenship today."

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Education
7:47 am
Thu September 18, 2014

How To Make The Most Of Your 10 Minutes With Teacher

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 9:11 am

So you finally get the chance to meet one on one with your child's teacher — now what?

Like a good Boy Scout, be prepared: Educators agree that doing your homework before a parent-teacher conference can make a big difference.

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Education
1:55 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

The NPR Ed Mailbag: Alternative Teacher Certification

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 7:48 pm

Last week I reported about Indiana's newest teaching license. Called a "career specialist" license, it allows anyone with a B.A., a B average, and three years of related work experience to become a middle or high school teacher just by passing a content test.

Overall, 1 in 5 teachers now enters the profession through nontraditional means — meaning other than by studying education in a four-year or master's program.

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Education
10:27 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Q&A: Why Teaching Music Matters

Margaret Martin (right) poses with student Jose Correa during a Harmony Project open house at the Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles.
Esteban Rael Harmony Project

Originally published on Sat September 20, 2014 2:07 pm

I went to Los Angeles to report a story on brain science. A new study had just been released, exploring how music instruction helps kids process language. The children the researchers studied were all participants in a community music program run by the nonprofit Harmony Project.

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Education
8:03 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Playgrounds For All Children: Here's How To Find One

John W. Poole/NPR

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 1:11 pm

Janna Espinoza's daughter Coraline has hearing loss, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and developmental delays. Nearly 2 years old, she can't sit up, stand, creep or use her hands as a typically developing child does.

Coraline is among an estimated 6.4 million children in the U.S. with a disability. And for these kids the simple ritual of playing outside can get very complicated.

"My daughter can't do very much at a typical playground, except watch her older sister play," says Espinoza. "Playgrounds are a depressing place for us."

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Education
10:13 am
Thu September 4, 2014

The Myth Of The Superstar Superintendent?

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 8:01 am

At corporations, leadership matters. A lot. Think of the impact of the late Steve Jobs at Apple or Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg today, to name a couple.

CEOs often play a vital role in bolstering a company's performance, image and culture of success. (Although studies show that obscenely high CEO compensation isn't always the best incentive.)

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