Opinion & Analysis

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Hard lessons in Baltimore

What a group of middle-schoolers learned from their recent field trip to the city.

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The case for the school bus as the final tech-free frontier

The school bus — perhaps more than any other place — is for getting into trouble, horsing around with friends, shooting paper airplanes, singing silly songs, making faces at truck drivers and daydreaming out the window. If home and school are full of technology, then shouldn't the good old school bus be a one last remaining tech-free frontier?

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Lawmakers opt out of Colorado school accountability disaster

A new law strikes a fair balance between reducing the amount of testing, while preserving enough to effectively measure student and educator performance. Without some standardized tests, it is impossible to evaluate and compare schools, and without school data and rankings, parents can't make informed choices about where to send their children.

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Can prizes motivate kids to show up at school?

It seems like a no-brainer: Offer kids a reward for showing up at school, and their attendance will shoot up. But a recent study of third-graders in India suggests that incentive schemes can do more harm than good.

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Close failing schools, whether district-run or charter

When the Philadelphia School Reform Commission recently voted to close two underperforming charter schools, it was making a decision that was in the best interests of students. The commission should go further and close the other underperforming public schools in the city: district-run schools.

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Biology test shouldn't prevent students' graduation

The Washington Legislature must act immediately to make common sense changes to the state's confusing, expensive and burdensome system of student testing. Why now? This is the first year that students must pass a biology assessment as a graduation requirement. Predictably, about 8,000 students statewide have not passed the test.

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Teachers: stop complimenting your students

A student's appearance should be the last thing of concern to a teacher, but more importantly, these comments — even when positive — can be damaging and hurtful to other kids. There are simply too many other things worth complimenting for any educator to be discussing physical appearance.

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Don't count PARCC while fixes unfold

New Jersey legislators should follow through in blocking the state's education commissioner from punishing students because of high opt-out rates. They should take statewide action to prevent PARCC scores from being used in any way for student placement or teacher evaluations for at least three years. The tests simply aren't ready to carry such high stakes.

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School districts struggle with hard realities

Each year at budget time, the aspirations that Maine school districts have for the education they provide run up against the cold, hard reality of steadily rising costs, additional mandates and, increasingly, diminished state aid. The delay as school districts and towns struggle to limit tax increases while still offering an adequate education is slowly killing both school districts and taxpayers.

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Change needed in school testing rule in Washington state

About 2,000 high school seniors will fail to graduate this year despite many having enough credits because they didn’t pass an end-of-course test for biology in 10th grade or meet the state academic standard through an alternative approach that evaluates classroom work samples. New legislation needs to find a compromise to reduce testing but retain standards for learning.

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