Education Desk

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



The Obama Administration's long awaited, and slightly-different-than-planned College Scorecard is open ... for interpretation.

The new tool combines data from the Treasury and IRS with Department of Education records on more than 7,000 colleges and universities, going back 18 years. Anyone can access the data that shows how particular colleges are doing at enabling students to pay back loans and pay their bills.

Anyone, including our colleagues over at NPR's Planet Money team.

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If you made it past the headline, you're likely a student, concerned parent, teacher or, like me, a nerd nostalgist who enjoys basking in the distant glow of Homework Triumphs Past (second-grade report on Custer's Last Stand, nailed it!).

Whoever you are, you're surely hoping for some clarity in the loud, perennial debate over whether U.S. students are justifiably exhausted and nervous from too much homework — even though some international comparisons suggest they're sitting comfortably at the average.

PARCC Parsed

Sep 18, 2015
Illinois State Board of Education

News director Sean Crawford quizzes me about what the just-released preliminary PARCC scores do -- and do not -- say about Illinois students.

Back when Grant Hosford's older daughter was in first grade, she signed up for an extracurricular class, building robots with a programmable Lego toy called Mindstorms. Hosford, a dot-com entrepreneur, came to visit the class and was startled to see that Naomi, who loves science and math, was both the only girl there and the youngest by a couple of years.

"My first reaction was not, 'Oh, I'm going to go build a coding company.' My first reaction was, 'What can I build for my daughter that will help her down this path?' "

More than 20 students missed a day of classes in rural Virginia after they were suspended for violating their high school's dress code that bans wearing Confederate flag emblems.

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

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

Illinois State Board of Education

Today, Illinois became the first state to release results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers -- or PARCC -- assessment. It's the new standardized test linked to the Common Core. 

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Expressing his admiration for a high school student's curiosity about science, President Obama has invited Ahmed Mohamed to the White House.

A tweet from the president reads: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

Imagine you're a principal, walking through the crowded halls of your school. You're on your way to 11th grade chemistry, to watch a science lab. They're expecting you in two minutes.

It already feels like a long day and it's not even lunchtime. You're nearly there, 30 seconds to spare, but then — out of the corner of your eye — you see a student wearing cutoff shorts. And they're really, really short.

What should you do?

Stopping to have a disciplinary chat is probably the last thing you want to do. But, rules are rules, right?

School Nurses Stock Drug To Reverse Opioid Overdoses

Sep 16, 2015

AnneMarie Zagari found her teenage son unresponsive on the couch after he took too many opioid painkillers in 2011. She began pounding his chest and slapping his face, and finally succeeded in reviving him by giving him CPR. It was a terrifying moment. And that panic wouldn't have been necessary if she'd had access to the drug naloxone (also known as Narcan), which can instantly reverse an overdose.

"It would have been instant revival," Zagari says.

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People looking out the windows of a Washington, D.C., school saw a group of men outside.


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" by US Department of Education / Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Illinois students will get a hint about how they scored on the PARCC test — the standardized test based on the Common Core — when statewide results are announced tomorrow. State officials have warned that scores will be lower than with previous tests. But U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says it’s time for an honest assessment.

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This summer, sophomore Anna Clemons spent a really long time trying to find an off-campus apartment.

She visited different complexes with her dad, took notes and made neat lists of pros and cons.

"They're really expensive here," she says. "I don't know how they can afford that, but I can't."

Some of the places were more expensive than the dorms at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she's a student. But then she found one that made sense with her budget.

The apartment is simple: fully carpeted, one bathroom and lots of beige.

Updated 11:10 p.m. ET

Leaders of Seattle's public school teachers voted Tuesday evening to suspend their week-old strike and return to work on Wednesday. The district's 53,000 students begin classes on Thursday.

The decision follows a tentative contract agreement which will go before the full membership for a vote on Sunday.

The Associated Press reports the plan includes a pay hike:

Defeating Democrats' attempt to filibuster a large budget shift, Republicans in Alabama's state Senate approved transferring $100 million from the education budget to the general fund to help cover a large deficit.

A critic of the move said his colleagues decided to "rob children" instead of finding the money elsewhere.

That statement came from Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, whose attempt to filibuster the move was cut off by the Republican supermajority.

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There is big news today for prospective college students and their parents. It comes from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is in Iowa with President Obama for his annual Back to School Bus Tour.

"Today, we're lending a hand to millions of high school students who want to go to college and who've worked hard," Duncan said. "We're announcing an easier, earlier FAFSA."

That's the Free Application For Federal Student Aid. With more than 100 questions, it's a gatekeeper for students hoping to get help paying for college.

To get to this college classroom, you have to walk past the barbed wire, between a line of armed guards, and through the heavy metal bars. Only then do you arrive at the circle of chairs.

When class starts, half the chairs are filled with so-called "inside students," men and women serving time behind bars. The other half of the seats are occupied by "outside students" — basically, traditional college students.

This coming year, more than 100 universities and colleges around the world will offer Inside-Out classes.

A few years ago, a good friend and I were walking near downtown Philadelphia, not far from my old elementary school, Thomas C. Durham, on 16th and Lombard. The school was built on the edge of a black neighborhood in South Philly in the early 1900s, and its design earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places when I was in the third grade. I nudged my friend to take a quick detour with me.

It's not just baby talk. Any kind of talk with young children — especially if they're too young to talk back — will do.

Because talk is vital to a child's brain development, says Dana Suskind, who found her passion for literacy in an unlikely place: the operating room.

Last week was supposed to be the first week of school for students in Seattle, Washington. Instead it was the beginning of a teachers' strike. Negotiators are at a standoff over wages and performance evaluations.

In 2012, Chicago's public school teachers went on strike, leaving the city's 350,000 kids out of school for eight days.

All over the country, high school graduates are making the jump to college. They're getting to know their roommates, buying supplies, and saying tearful goodbyes to parents.

It's a stressful time for any family, but consider this: For the growing number of students dealing with mental health issues, it can be a terrifying transition. Sometimes, it raises the question: Is college really an option?

That's the case with Luis, a bright young man from Virginia with a brain injury and bipolar disorder.

President Obama has been talking about creating a Consumer Reports-style college ratings system for more than a year. But the effort seemed to get bogged down in politics and a debate over what metrics to include.

Well, in a Saturday surprise, Obama unveiled his new College Scorecard this morning.

"You'll be able to see how much each school's graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school's students can pay back their loans," the president said in his weekly address.