Class Struggle: what will


Posted at 04:06 PM ET, 07/24/2013

A visionary’s final ideas on fixing high schools

Ted Sizer was both scholar and reformer, and he left some intriguing concepts for change.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:06 PM ET, 07/24/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:37 AM ET, 07/21/2013

Why do schools refuse to send exams home?

It is a growing policy that irritates parents, but school districts don’t seem to care.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:37 AM ET, 07/21/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:03 PM ET, 07/14/2013

Why top teacher ignores latest reform directives

I think Rafe Esquith is America’s best teacher. So why is he telling educators to disobey orders?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:03 PM ET, 07/14/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:37 PM ET, 07/10/2013

Why schools refuse to let exams go home

Howard Kass wanted to help his son figure out his math exam mistakes. The school said no.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:37 PM ET, 07/10/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:29 PM ET, 07/06/2013

Inside the class of America’s best teacher

Rafe Esquith is a wonder in many ways. Listen to his lesson on bathroom breaks.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:29 PM ET, 07/06/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:26 PM ET, 06/30/2013

Alexandria teacher fired despite no negative evaluations

John Nolan had gotten no negative evaluations during his two years, yet his principal suddenly fired him.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:26 PM ET, 06/30/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 06/24/2013

Why test failures can lead to success

Big failure rates on Montgomery County math tests have been denounced. I think otherwise.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:10 PM ET, 06/24/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:56 AM ET, 06/21/2013

Is AP better than freshman college courses?

UNC student thinks his freshman courses weren’t as good as AP. What do you think?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:56 AM ET, 06/21/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:29 PM ET, 06/16/2013

School ignores advice from learning disability experts

Leading national experts on learning disabilities assessed the Brockman twins. Their school didn’t care.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:29 PM ET, 06/16/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:19 PM ET, 06/12/2013

Experts’ wrong way to pick best principals

Two national experts say we can use key proficiencies to identify great leaders. Sorry, try again.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:19 PM ET, 06/12/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:00 AM ET, 06/09/2013

How to survive our education battles

I am against reforms like the parent trigger, but maybe it’s better we wait and see what happens with them.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:00 AM ET, 06/09/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:55 AM ET, 06/03/2013

How a special-education student found success

Seven years ago he dropped out of high school. Now he is a master auto technician. What happened?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:55 AM ET, 06/03/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:28 PM ET, 05/25/2013

Six ways to survive college search with a smile

Treat college tours as trips to Disneyland and save note-taking for later. It’s your vacation, right?

By Jay Mathews  |  08:28 PM ET, 05/25/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:22 PM ET, 05/22/2013

What do you do if your child isn’t going to college?

How do you prepare a child for the working world? Experts say the same courses, skills are needed.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:22 PM ET, 05/22/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:54 PM ET, 05/18/2013

Miriam Hughey-Guy, one of best principals ever, transforms an Arlington school

Miriam Hughey-Guy will never be a household name, but she is a star among principals.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:54 PM ET, 05/18/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:24 PM ET, 05/11/2013

A powerful term in U.S. high schools: DBQ

The document-based question on AP exams frightens students, but is changing significantly

By Jay Mathews  |  09:24 PM ET, 05/11/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:44 AM ET, 05/09/2013

Two D.C. high schools dare to require deep research

Small charters with mostly low-income students outshine our most affluent campuses.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:44 AM ET, 05/09/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:28 AM ET, 05/05/2013

Did D.C. schools cheat? Ask the students.

After many fruitless investigations, the latest D.C. erasure probe has gotten smart and queried students.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:28 AM ET, 05/05/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:54 PM ET, 04/25/2013

Surprise! D.C. admits school test tampering at Meridian Public Charter

For the first time, investigators say high erasure rates constitute cheating.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:54 PM ET, 04/25/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:10 AM ET, 04/25/2013

Admissions 101: why smart, poor students are dumb

Two economists prove that bad decisions by smart poor students can be prevented with good information.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:10 AM ET, 04/25/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:31 PM ET, 04/21/2013

Motivated student seeks challenge. School says no.

Jacqueline Berthold is an “A” student who wants to take a challenging course. Why does her school say no?

By Jay Mathews  |  03:31 PM ET, 04/21/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:17 AM ET, 04/15/2013

Nation’s best high school may be closed

My new list of America’s most challenging high schools is led by an Oakland campus in trouble.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:17 AM ET, 04/15/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:46 AM ET, 04/08/2013

Hidden power of teacher awards

Teacher prizes like the Agnes Meyer awards seem like nice gestures, but there may be more to them than that.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:46 AM ET, 04/08/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:53 AM ET, 04/04/2013

Research projects harder than I thought, but worth it

Research projects are very tough, but some schools make them work.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:53 AM ET, 04/04/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:07 PM ET, 03/31/2013

While fixing Prince George’s schools, don’t mess with successes

Prince George’s Rushern Baker should be careful on more school power.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:07 PM ET, 03/31/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:18 PM ET, 03/24/2013

Why my grandson, 4, won’t be taking a gifted ed test

New York City four-year-olds are studying for gifted tests. Ben Mathews will skip that.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:18 PM ET, 03/24/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/20/2013

AP good for high school, bad for college?

Two professors explain to me why they think AP is great for high schools but is hurting their colleges.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 03/20/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:35 PM ET, 03/17/2013

Ability grouping is back despite scholarly qualms

When I was in school, reading groups were the norm. Then they faded. Now they have returned in a big way.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:35 PM ET, 03/17/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:09 PM ET, 03/10/2013

Arguing about school reforms that go nowhere

We debate furiously new reforms in schools, but a new book suggests they change little.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:09 PM ET, 03/10/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:00 AM ET, 02/27/2013

Biggest study ever says KIPP gains substantial

Many educators have wondered if the KIPP charter schools deserve their reputation. A new study says yes.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:00 AM ET, 02/27/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/20/2013

Missed challenges more worrisome than tests

Missed challenges are more of a threat to our schools than too many tests

By Jay Mathews  |  11:00 AM ET, 02/20/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:48 PM ET, 02/17/2013

More high school may be bad for this student

Chris dreamed of high school graduation, but moving to Maryland set him back. Should he still try?

By Jay Mathews  |  04:48 PM ET, 02/17/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:12 PM ET, 02/10/2013

Sad failure of two inspectors general in D.C. schools

Two recent inspector general reports seem mystified by cheating charges in D.C. They ignored the evidence.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:12 PM ET, 02/10/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:33 AM ET, 02/06/2013

Why U.S. schools are better than we think

Feeling blue about all the countries with better schools than ours? A new study will cheer you up.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:33 AM ET, 02/06/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 02/03/2013

Why much-praised KIPP D.C. expels kids

Do charter schools expel students to get test scores up? Not in the case of KIPP, but expulsion is an issue.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:00 PM ET, 02/03/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:50 PM ET, 02/02/2013

Admissions 101: Learning from your campus tour mistakes

Were you too pushy when you took your kid on college visits? This mom tells how she got better.

By Jay Mathews and Cynthia Cross  |  02:50 PM ET, 02/02/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:55 PM ET, 01/27/2013

Dartmouth’s unresearched swipes at AP

Dartmouth’s faculty drop students’ ability to get credit for AP, IB and AICE without looking at research.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:55 PM ET, 01/27/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:57 AM ET, 01/24/2013

Refusing to transfer a pupil away from abusive class

John Schwartz asked the school to transfer his fourth-grader from abusive teacher. Answer was no.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:57 AM ET, 01/24/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:03 AM ET, 01/20/2013

How University of Virgina cheats great students

A new Virginia law bans discrimination against IB students. U-Va. is ignoring it.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:03 AM ET, 01/20/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:43 PM ET, 01/16/2013

Private schools funded through student jobs

I wasn’t sure a private school could survive through student salaries. I was wrong.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:43 PM ET, 01/16/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:19 PM ET, 01/13/2013

Time for Michelle Rhee to probe test tampering

She is a tough-minded education leader. Here is a chance to prove that once more.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:19 PM ET, 01/13/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:39 PM ET, 01/10/2013

Unreleased D.C. report exposed by tampering charges

The D.C. schools just revealed a report on test security kept secret until now. Its importance is unclear.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:39 PM ET, 01/10/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:40 AM ET, 01/10/2013

D.C. principal slammed for reporting cheating

Adell Cothorne looked forward to leading a D.C. school. Then she noticed oddities in test scores.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:40 AM ET, 01/10/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:40 AM ET, 01/06/2013

Exceptional D.C. student educates me

The e-mail from a D.C. student was way too smart. “Who are you really?” I asked. I was in for a surprise.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:40 AM ET, 01/06/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:41 PM ET, 01/02/2013

Discarded integration method sees new life

Socioeconomic integration seemed unworkable, but scholar Rick Kahlenberg has led a revival.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:41 PM ET, 01/02/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:16 AM ET, 12/20/2012

Why I became an education writer

I thought I was stealing an L.A. Times story, but it stole me.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:16 AM ET, 12/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 12/19/2012

Expert suggests putting all black students in IB

School expert Joseph Hawkins thinks high schools should be more challenging, and wants to force that.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:55 AM ET, 12/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:10 PM ET, 12/16/2012

Test of algebra relevance as scores fall

State math scores plunged in Virginia this year. One teacher worries that new standards help only college-bound students.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:10 PM ET, 12/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:34 AM ET, 12/13/2012

Thoughtful bribes for AP students

The National Math and Science Initiative spends millions on cash for good AP scores. Is that smart?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:34 AM ET, 12/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:45 AM ET, 12/09/2012

Prince George’s battle with algebra doubts

Prince George’s County made great strides getting more kids into algebra, and how they are doing even better

By Jay Mathews  |  02:45 AM ET, 12/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:33 AM ET, 12/06/2012

Teachers leaning in favor of reforms

Some people say teachers are standing in the way of strengthening their profession. Look again.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:33 AM ET, 12/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:06 PM ET, 12/04/2012

Is big disruption good for urban school districts?

A new book by veteran charter advocate Andy Smarick says districts like D.C. need radical change

By Jay Mathews  |  09:06 PM ET, 12/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:06 PM ET, 12/01/2012

Heroes in war against dummy math

Vinetta Jones and Sol H. Pelavin showed algebra was better than remedial arithmetic.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:06 PM ET, 12/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:29 AM ET, 11/29/2012

Do rich and poor parenting styles matter?

Research indicates middle class parents behave differently than low income parents, but who is right?

By Jay Mathews  |  01:29 AM ET, 11/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:42 PM ET, 11/24/2012

Homework torture for some gifted students

The mother explained homework overload hurt her kids’ learning process. But she was ignored.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:42 PM ET, 11/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 11/22/2012

Artsy side of AP captures different audience

Students are drawn to AP courses in the arts because they are passionate about the subject.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 11/22/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 11/20/2012

Why private school vouchers aren’t enough

The Post’s expose shows why national enthusiasm for this reform is misplaced.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:42 AM ET, 11/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:09 PM ET, 11/18/2012

Unlike DC, Baltimore takes test tampering seriously

Thousands of annual tests in DC and Baltimore show evidence of adults changing wrong answers to right. Why is only one of those districts trying to fire those responsible?

By Jay Mathews  |  09:09 PM ET, 11/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:26 PM ET, 11/14/2012

Even a bad AP score can be good

A new study shows that students who have struggled in Advanced Placement learn enough to do better in college.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:26 PM ET, 11/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:49 AM ET, 11/11/2012

Finding good schools in average neighborhooods

Education expert reveals the secrets of his search for a school for his kids

By Jay Mathews  |  01:49 AM ET, 11/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:47 AM ET, 11/08/2012

Moving the best teachers to the worst schools

Why this is so necessary in D.C., according to new report

By Jay Mathews  |  01:47 AM ET, 11/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:40 PM ET, 11/07/2012

Six non-college reasons not to blow off high school

Everybody tells you hard work in high school prepares you for college. But why sweat it if you are not going to college?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:40 PM ET, 11/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Fairfax County, Centreville, Schools, Courts

Posted at 01:09 PM ET, 11/04/2012

Seth’s case: Special-education battles with no end

Everyone wants Seth, born 9 years ago weighing 15 ounces, to have a good education, but the schools and his parents can’t agree how.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:09 PM ET, 11/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:08 AM ET, 11/01/2012

Why not a Jefferson High for poor kids?

Is the academic load at our nation’s most selective school too much for low-income children? A school in California says no.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:08 AM ET, 11/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:18 PM ET, 10/27/2012

Admissions 101: Obama-Romney guide to great college essays

Did you miss the subtle lesson in winning your college’s heart during the presidential campaign?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:18 PM ET, 10/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Beer, All We Can Eat

Posted at 09:39 PM ET, 10/24/2012

Readers’ cures for bad teaching of writing

Readers say they have tried one-on-one editing as a way to help students write well, and it works.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:39 PM ET, 10/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 10/21/2012

A sad attack on Advanced Placement

Here is a lesson in how to demean, without any evidence, the most beneficial challenges offered by high schools

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 10/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:16 AM ET, 10/18/2012

Non-fiction vs. fiction smackdown

New national standards insist on more non-fiction. Some English teachers don’t like it. Expect blows.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:16 AM ET, 10/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:23 PM ET, 10/14/2012

Reforming a nation of bad note-takers

Like most people, I have never learned to take proper lecture notes. But a thriving college preparation program is finding good note-taking to be a key to learning.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:23 PM ET, 10/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 10/11/2012

Schools will change despite election

The two major political parties generally agree on education reform, but they are not going to get what they want.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 10/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 10/09/2012

Admissions 101: When president dumps your school

This will be the first transfer student presidential election. Should rejected colleges celebrate?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 10/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:06 AM ET, 10/07/2012

Hidden rival to charter schools

We write and talk a lot about charter schools, but what about another educational option just as big but rarely discussed?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:06 AM ET, 10/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:23 PM ET, 10/03/2012

Why teacher training fails our teachers

Teachers are rarely given time and opportunity to practice what they have learned.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:23 PM ET, 10/03/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:53 PM ET, 09/29/2012

School reform at odds with itself

Why are the leaders of education reform so contradictory?

By Jay Mathews  |  09:53 PM ET, 09/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 09/27/2012

Time to retire the SAT

America’s scariest test should give way to something that helps prepare students for college.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:47 AM ET, 09/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:52 PM ET, 09/26/2012

Why NOT to admire Asian schools

They get a lot of work out of their students, but the teaching leaves much to be desired, students say.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:52 PM ET, 09/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:42 PM ET, 09/23/2012

D.C. schools’ test-score fantasyland

The D.C. schools have adopted ridiculous test-score targets for their worst schools. I can’t understand why.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:42 PM ET, 09/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:11 PM ET, 09/19/2012

KIPP gains survive new scrutiny, with a footnote

A new analysis of the nation’s best-performing charter network confirms its success, but says it may get a small bump from good students arriving in later grades.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:11 PM ET, 09/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:07 PM ET, 09/16/2012

Two-year college students deserve more respect

UCLA scholar Mike Rose, an expert on remedial education, reveals all the wrong ways we think about community college students in his new book, “Back to School.”

By Jay Mathews  |  04:07 PM ET, 09/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/13/2012

Forget rating teachers. Think Grit 101.

The striking teachers of Chicago might as well give up fighting the plan to rate them based on student performance. It is a weak reform and won’t last long. Instead welcome the future of powerful new character education as examined by author Paul Tough.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 AM ET, 09/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:22 PM ET, 09/12/2012

Lasting mystery of suspended Falls Church teacher

Why was popular special education teacher Jamie Lahy told to pack up his desk and go home in February 2011?

By Jay Mathews  |  04:22 PM ET, 09/12/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:26 PM ET, 09/09/2012

How a Georgia school’s cheating probe differed from the District’s

Two elementary schools, one in the District and one in Atlanta, showed strong indications of test tampering. The response by the school systems was very different.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:26 PM ET, 09/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 09/06/2012

Let’s get rid of high school substitutes

Short-term substitutes cost money and, through no fault of their own, don’t add much to a student’s day. Give that time back to students.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 09/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:55 AM ET, 09/05/2012

Admissions 101: Where first school kids go to college

Sidwell Friends is such a good school the president’s kids go there. They should all get into their first choice college, some Ivy League place, right? Not so.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:55 AM ET, 09/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:54 PM ET, 09/02/2012

Our ignorance of learning disabilities

I don’t write much about special education, so I think I should take some of the blame for the results of a remarkable new survey of views on learning disabilities.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:54 PM ET, 09/02/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 08/30/2012

Successful principal dodges D.C. rules

Many great school leaders sidestep district rules, but keep quiet about it. The outspoken principal of the highest-performing high school in D.C. goes the other way, telling the authors of an eye-opening new book that his policy is to seek forgiveness, not permission.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 08/30/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:05 AM ET, 08/29/2012

Who’s afraid of China and India?

A new report says the growth of schools in the world’s two most populous countries is a threat to us in the battle for global economic advantage. I say that’s wrong. The Chinese and the Indians have way more problems in building their education systems than we do.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:05 AM ET, 08/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:27 PM ET, 08/26/2012

Triumph of a tough writing teacher

The teaching of writing in American high schools is mostly mediocre, but not in the classroom of Rick Cannon at Gonzaga College High School in the District. He hates weak words and teaches students to rewrite always. The results, says one parent, are “astounding.”

By Jay Mathews  |  12:27 PM ET, 08/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:19 AM ET, 08/23/2012

School office can mislead parents

Donna Reid just wanted a copy of her son’s class schedule at Chantilly High School. The person who answered the phone at the office said no way. That information was wrong. How can we fix such mishaps?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:19 AM ET, 08/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 08/19/2012

Close look at KIPP charter school challenges

The KIPP charter school network has raised the achievement of low-income students more than any other group of public schools, regular or charter. But each year still brings difficulties.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 08/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:34 PM ET, 08/16/2012

Do the math: Too much calculus?

Every high school wants to have a calculus class. Math teaching experts say this has produced too many weak classes that leave students unprepared for college math.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:34 PM ET, 08/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:05 AM ET, 08/14/2012

Being a minority at America’s best high school

Former Thomas Jefferson High School student body president Anita Kinney describes being a minority at the famous high school, now accused of being discriminatory.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:05 AM ET, 08/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:24 PM ET, 08/11/2012

D.C. schools cheating report thin and biased

The IG report is thin, biased and does little to solve the erasure mystery.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:24 PM ET, 08/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:25 PM ET, 08/09/2012

Let principals, not tests, rate teachers

D.C. schools have improved their teacher evaluation by reducing the importance of tests, increasing the importance of principals.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:25 PM ET, 08/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:17 PM ET, 08/08/2012

Inspector General clears D.C. schools of widespread cheating

Third probe leaves intact the mystery of how so many D.C. students could have changed so many answers from wrong to right.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:17 PM ET, 08/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:16 PM ET, 08/05/2012

Let charters bloom. Let teachers be creative.

Well-meaning parents are trying to block what would be the first charter school in Northern Virginia. This is a mistake.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:16 PM ET, 08/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 08/02/2012

Junking old way of teaching writing

My suggestion of a required high school course where teachers edit students in person while the rest of the class reads good books seems radical, but some educators say they like it.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 08/02/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 07/30/2012

Large study says great teachers get little respect

They are the irreplaceable teachers, but few people seem to care, a new study of 22,000 teachers shows.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:00 PM ET, 07/30/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:25 PM ET, 07/27/2012

What it means when test scores plummet

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has praised this year’s rise in school proficiency, but his statement ignores evidence in the just-released results that some schools thought to have tampered with their test results had unusually sharp drops after security was tightened.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:25 PM ET, 07/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:55 AM ET, 07/26/2012

How academic standards disappear

The professor thought she had given the student a plagiarism-resistant assignment. Maybe she had, but he came up with something she knew was wrong. What did she do?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:55 AM ET, 07/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:24 PM ET, 07/24/2012

Admissions 101: One dad’s promising college selection system

Chris Katucki has a way to find hidden gems.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:24 PM ET, 07/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/22/2012

Perilous time for D.C. schools

The D.C. schools are controlled by the mayor, but when he is in trouble, so are they.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/22/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012

Bogus college essays graded F

A college professor, worried about students submitting essays purchased off the Internet, pretended to be a student and ordered papers from four companies. The results were full of surprises.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:12 PM ET, 07/18/2012

A cure for bad teaching of writing

Many teachers don’t understand good writing. Those who do lack the time to teach it. Here is a way to fix that — courses that give teachers time to edit in the student’s presence.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:12 PM ET, 07/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  why teaching of writing is bad, how to fix the teaching of writing, many teachers don't recognize good writing, those that do don't have time to teach it, create classes that just edit student work

Posted at 02:23 PM ET, 07/15/2012

How computers can hurt schools

Seventh-grader Melvin Marshall was given a computer to help improve his reading. It didn’t work. What was missing?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:23 PM ET, 07/15/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  how computers can hurt schools, ACLU of Michigan, story of 7th grader Melvin Marshall, an online reading program that lacked a teacher

Posted at 08:54 PM ET, 07/11/2012

Private schools leader vs. me

I wrote that private schools wrongly hide vital data. The head of a large private school association says I am wrong.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:54 PM ET, 07/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Jay Mathews debates National Association of Independent Schools president Patrick Bassett, do private schools hide data?, Bassett says it is wrong to rank schools

Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 07/10/2012

Admissions 101: Should community colleges give four-year degrees?

A new essay by two scholars points out that what we consider two-year colleges don’t necessarily have to stay that way for all students. Would this expand opportunity in our beleaguered higher-education system?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:35 PM ET, 07/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:33 AM ET, 07/09/2012

Erasures: The unsolved mystery

A look at school data in detail shows a big hole in the D.C. cheating investigation.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:33 AM ET, 07/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  D.C. investigation ignores test tampering, Alvarez & Marsal investigation, D.C. chancellor Kaya Henderson ignore big hole in the report, one class with huge and mysterious corrections left out of report, Office of the State Superintendent of Education

Posted at 01:55 AM ET, 07/06/2012

Immigration voted best teaching strategy

Our best teaching strategy competition has a winner — a smart social studies teacher at Connelly School of the Holy Child.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:55 AM ET, 07/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:21 AM ET, 07/05/2012

Is our neighborhood school really bad?

Aaron McMahon asked me if he should leave Alexandria because the local high school was bad. I told him why he was wrong about T.C. Williams High School, and others like it.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:21 AM ET, 07/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  why your neighborhood school might not be bad, the power of great teaching and high standards, T.C. Williams High School, low-income students do not mean a bad school

Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 07/01/2012

How inspections would embarrass schools

I would like to try them, but recent inspections in D.C. reveal how embarrassing they can be.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:15 PM ET, 07/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Should inspections replace test scores to rate schools?, recent DC inspections were embarrassing, test access in doubt, teachers reluctant to be interviewed, well-trained inspectors could help identify what needs fixing, but would be stressful

Posted at 10:25 PM ET, 06/27/2012

Trying to save vocational education

Can vocational education be saved?

By Jay Mathews  |  10:25 PM ET, 06/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:18 PM ET, 06/26/2012

Admissions 101: Will uproar make U-Va. less popular?

What do you think are the likely consequences of a university looking out ofcontrol in the popular press?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:18 PM ET, 06/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:59 PM ET, 06/22/2012

D.C. keeps ignoring its test erasure scandal

A new investigation tells us nothing about why so many D.C. test sheets had wrong answers erased and right answers filled in. It might be principals, but few officials are eager to find out.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:59 PM ET, 06/22/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:21 PM ET, 06/20/2012

Quiet teacher changed a school

The teachers we hear about are usually larger than life, but quiet teachers can also have enormous impact on their schools. Take the case of Betsy Calhoon, who died suddenly this month.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:21 PM ET, 06/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  quiet teacher transformed a Fairfax County school, Betsy Calhoon, introduced low income students to challenging International Baccalaureate courses, Calhoon died June 11 of a heart attack

Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 06/19/2012

Admissions 101: What are the new hidden gems for summer college visits?

Ten years ago, I created a list of 100 colleges that deserve bigger reputations. It proved popular, but now it’s time for an update.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:00 PM ET, 06/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Jay Mathews' list of 100 colleges that are better than you think, Mathews invites readers to suggest new hidden gem colleges, a guide for families doing summer college visits, in 2003 Elon, Earlham and Clark topped the list

Posted at 10:10 PM ET, 06/10/2012

Diversity lags at highly selective Thomas Jefferson High School

The controversy at the famous high school over a drop in freshman grades in algebra2/trigonomety exposes the lack of progress in admitting more Hispanic and black students.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:10 PM ET, 06/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  diversity lags at most selective high school in US, only 4 percent of freshmen are black or Hispanic, a figure that has not changed, MIT by comparison is 20 percent black and Hispanic, TJ freshman grades have dropped, but it is the fault of white and Asian students

Posted at 02:58 AM ET, 05/31/2012

Try parent visits, not parent takeovers of schools

The parent trigger, a way for parents to takeover schools, is spreading fast despite little evidence it works. Visiting parents does help, but we ignore that.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:58 AM ET, 05/31/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Why the parent trigger doesn't work, parent trigger laws cause legal and political fights but don't help students, teachers visiting parents at home does work but is ignored, HOME WORKS!, Parent Revolution

Posted at 01:59 PM ET, 05/27/2012

Why Romney, Obama are education twins

They say they have different approaches to fixing our schools, but the two presidential candidates don’t really mean it. On charters, unions and other issues, they are pretty close.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:59 PM ET, 05/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  why Romney and Obama are education twins, both candidates agree on charters, both resist union pressure, a generation of bipartisan approach to schools

Posted at 08:02 PM ET, 05/24/2012

Are charter schools bad at special ed?

It depends on the charter school.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:02 PM ET, 05/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  charter schools and special education, DC Prep success with learning disabilities, Emily Lawson

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 05/24/2012

Schools with many APs but few passing

I created a special category of schools with many AP tests but low passing rates. Are they getting better?

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 05/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  high schools with many Advanced Placement tests but low passing rates, Jay Mathews' Catching Up Schools list, after four years a few have raised their rates, several are backsliding, Crossland High School, SEED school, good example of Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School

Posted at 02:10 AM ET, 05/22/2012

My unbiased guide to 3 high school lists

CLASS STRUGGLE | My list is out, along with lists by U.S. News and Newsweek. Here’s how they differ.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:10 AM ET, 05/22/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:41 PM ET, 05/20/2012

New Challenge Index: Why do private schools hide data?

Private schools have not been on my annual high school list, but this year I included some, and there were surprises.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:41 PM ET, 05/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 05/20/2012

2012 Challenge Index rankings--why small schools rule

Small schools rule in the 14th year of the high school list. Private school numbers are revealed for the first time.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 05/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Education, High School

Posted at 01:39 PM ET, 05/13/2012

Why rating teachers by test scores won’t work

Blogger Grant Wiggins offers one of the most cogent attacks on valued added I have seen,

By Jay Mathews  |  01:39 PM ET, 05/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:11 AM ET, 05/10/2012

Best teaching strategies? You decide

Read our finalists and decide.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:11 AM ET, 05/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:14 PM ET, 05/09/2012

Welcome back, U.S. News high school list

After a two-year absence, U.S. News & World Report is back to ranking high schools. See how its list compares with Jay Mathews’s Challenge Index.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:14 PM ET, 05/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:32 PM ET, 05/05/2012

Math stumble at renowned Jefferson High

The linear algebra students noticed their teacher was struggling, then he quit and four more instructors followed as the school tried to adjust.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:32 PM ET, 05/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  thomas jefferson high school, education

Posted at 11:48 PM ET, 05/01/2012

Admissions 101: Should lawyers sanitize high school transcripts?

In Redwood City, Calif., parents are suing a high school for removing a student from an honors class for cheating. Their first concern is this will hurt the students when he applies to college. Lawyers often get involved in this way. Is that fair?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:48 PM ET, 05/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 07:49 PM ET, 04/28/2012

Why are our high schools invisible?

Look at any prize announcement or obituary or other account of a person’s life and you will likely see the subject’s college mentioned. But the person’s high school does not appear. Why is that, when our high schools are far more likely to reflect our tastes and habits?

By Jay Mathews  |  07:49 PM ET, 04/28/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:46 AM ET, 04/26/2012

Is college too much me, too little us?

A new study says our colleges’ emphasis on individualism may be hurting students from families with no college background. Should admission letters say more about togetherness?

By Jay Mathews  |  03:46 AM ET, 04/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:15 PM ET, 04/21/2012

Online courses may make graduation too easy

Online courses that let students make up bad grades earn billions, but critics call them a scam.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:15 PM ET, 04/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:30 PM ET, 04/18/2012

Admissions 101: Will new tool help low-income students tackle admissions?

Lloyd Thacker, a strong critic of the college admissions system, has somehow allied with one of the system’s bulwarks, the College Board, to create a new tool to help kids without much support navigate the process. Take a look. Will it work?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:30 PM ET, 04/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 04/16/2012

Pain of college rejection reconsidered

Christina Zhang thought being rejected by Penn was the end of the world. Now, after graduating from a lower-ranked college and experiencing the working world, she sees that her teenage despair was short-sighted.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 AM ET, 04/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:59 AM ET, 04/12/2012

Big reward for your teaching strategies

You probably used, or had used on you, a classroom technique of haunting effectiveness. Tell us about it, and if we really like it, teacher Patrick Mattimore and I will give it some free publicity.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:59 AM ET, 04/12/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2012

How to get off that college wait list

#1: Tell your parents to butt out.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, admissions 101

Posted at 02:46 PM ET, 04/08/2012

Congress says ‘no’ to kids seeking challenge

The most beneficial programs in America in preparing students for college, according to several studies, are Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate. And yet Congress has just sharply reduced funds for low-incomes students to participate. Why?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:46 PM ET, 04/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:35 PM ET, 04/04/2012

Why getting into Harvard is no longer an honor

You may have seen that Harvard just set a record for low undergraduate admission rate. Only 5.9 percent of applicants for the class of 2016 were accepted.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:35 PM ET, 04/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, admissions 101

Posted at 10:27 PM ET, 03/31/2012

Clumsy teaching happens even in great schools

The big reaction to my column about teachers not helping a bright but disabled child in Prince George’s County shows this is a problem for every district.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:27 PM ET, 03/31/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:53 PM ET, 03/29/2012

Great but irritating D.C. teacher forced to retire

Erich Martel spent 40 years as a teacher, compiling at great record in D.C. in Advanced Placement U.S. history. But he also exposed many rule violations and embarrassed principals. Finally he has been forced to retire. Is this a loss that could have been prevented?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:53 PM ET, 03/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 03/27/2012

Admissions 101: What are you getting out of the last-chance April college visits?

Hundreds of thousands of high school seniors will be showing up for April college visits next month. We need to help them decide what to do while they are there.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:43 AM ET, 03/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, admissions 101

Posted at 08:26 PM ET, 03/23/2012

D.C. test tampering hurting teachers, poisoning schools

COLUMN | D.C. school officials are ignoring possibly tainted, inflated test scores at Davis Elementary.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:26 PM ET, 03/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 03/20/2012

Admissions 101: Ban parents from final college visits

Why mess up your April visits to the campuses that have accepted you by having all those parents there?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:36 AM ET, 03/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher educaiton, admissions 101

Posted at 10:40 PM ET, 03/14/2012

Too much college? History suggests otherwise.

When the G.I. Bill passed in the 1940s, many commentators said it would not work. Not that many people needed to go to college, they said. That proved very wrong, and similar thoughts today may be equally short-sighted.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:40 PM ET, 03/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 03/13/2012

Admissions 101: Do you prefer college acceptances and rejections be done by Web site or envelope?

At the end of this month, college acceptance and rejection notices go out. If you had the choice, would you prefer to hear by Web site or envelope?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:42 AM ET, 03/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  admissions 101, Higher Education, Colleges

Posted at 12:54 PM ET, 03/10/2012

Prince George’s parent upset by school’s handling of disabled child

Tracy Thompson says Heather Hills Elementary School did not help her daughter, who has ADHD, secure her homework materials daily, as many schools do with such children.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:54 PM ET, 03/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:44 AM ET, 03/08/2012

Peterson’s latest: Thrilling or galling?

Take a look at Paul E. Peterson’s latest piece in Education Next. It will thrill you or enrage you, but what better way to start your day?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:44 AM ET, 03/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/06/2012

Admissions 101: AP takes step toward International Baccalaureate-like credential

Will this help our schools and the college preparation process?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 03/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  admissions 101

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 03/04/2012

AP college arms race: how to survive

I once said with confidence that you don’t need more than five AP courses to look good to colleges. That is no longer true for many students in many schools. Here is how to gauge your competition and do enough AP not to go crazy.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 03/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/01/2012

New standards may kill desire to rate teachers by test scores

One thing not often mentioned in commentary about the Common Core standards going nationwide is that they could stop the movement to rate teachers by their students scores. New standards mean new tests, and a halt to test comparisons at least for a while.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 03/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:13 AM ET, 03/01/2012

Can D.C. handle gifted education?

The District has not had much of a gifted education program, but next school year that will change. A new program of gifted education for all will start in two middle schools, and a new D.C. charter will unveil the most challenging program ever seen in the region.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:13 AM ET, 03/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:14 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Admissions 101, GOP Primary edition: Are we pushing kids too hard to go to college?

Sen. Rick Santorum may have gone too far in suggesting that it’s snobbish of President Obama to put such emphasis on college, but many readers have made the point to me in other ways.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:14 PM ET, 02/28/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  admissions 101

Posted at 01:58 PM ET, 02/25/2012

Why textbooks don’t work and hurt schools

A veteran textbook editor exposes a system in which teachers pick books that don’t require them to change their methods, and why that is so bad.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:58 PM ET, 02/25/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:48 AM ET, 02/23/2012

Why Common Core standards will fail

Only five states, including Virginia, refused to participate in the new Common Core learning standards. Now new research reveals the change, costing billions of dollars, will likely have little positive impact on student achievement.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:48 AM ET, 02/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 02/22/2012

Bonus Admissions 101: Is it time to end racial preferences in college admissions?

The Supreme Court should strike down the college admissions system being challenged in Texas.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 02/22/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Admissions 101: Getting college credit for International Baccalaureate courses

I have been ranting about the failure of most U.S. colleges to give proper credit for IB courses successfully completed with good IB exam scores.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:25 PM ET, 02/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  admissions 101

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 02/19/2012

International Baccaureate drop hurts Mount Vernon High

Mount Vernon High School is one of the leading examples nationally of how challenging learning can be encouraged even with many low-income students. But adults who make bad decisions can mess that up. Take, for instance, last year.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 02/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/16/2012

9 ways to pick a great school for your child

It takes some effort, but if you want to be sure your child’s new school is good, there are clever ways to make it happen.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:00 AM ET, 02/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Education

Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 02/15/2012

How not to respond to a testing scandal

Hosanna Mahaley, state superintendent for education in the District of Columbia, said last week city officials are “committed to restoring and improving confidence” in standardized test security. Yet what they are doing will achieve the opposite.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:39 AM ET, 02/15/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:13 PM ET, 02/14/2012

Admissions 101: How badly do school test-tampering scandals hurt college applicants?

Selective colleges are more likely to believe the information they receive from school officials with a history of candor and clarity in their transcripts and other data.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:13 PM ET, 02/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  testing

Posted at 12:57 PM ET, 02/12/2012

Fighting over school fad with meager results

Block scheduling has become a big thing in American high schools, but the research supporting it is nonexistent and parents are rebelling.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:57 PM ET, 02/12/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:02 PM ET, 02/08/2012

Md. first, Va. 3rd in AP report

Maryland ranked first in the nation and Virginia third in the percentage of graduating seniors in 2011 who scored a passing grade on an AP test during high school.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:02 PM ET, 02/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Admissions 101: Smart and lazy ways to pick a college major

Why did you pick a major? And would your method work for today's students?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, college majors

Posted at 04:58 PM ET, 02/02/2012

School food may not be so cool

High school students gravitate toward fast food because the consequences of too much sugar, salt and fat don’t interest them.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:58 PM ET, 02/02/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:43 PM ET, 02/02/2012

Outsider’s wild teacher-evaluation idea

Luke Chung is a businessman with much experience on school district committees. But his district was not ready for what he had to say when he was put on the teacher evaluation task force.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:43 PM ET, 02/02/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 07:32 PM ET, 02/01/2012

Depending too much on charters is perilous

A new report commissioned by DC Mayor Vincent Gray suggests closing regular schools in favor of charters. I am a charter advocate, but I think this risks killing the soul of the school system, the neighborhood school. We can save regular schools using charter methods.

By Jay Mathews  |  07:32 PM ET, 02/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 01/31/2012

Admissions 101: Checking admissions essays for plagiarism

Universities are expanding the use of plagiarism checks in vetting admissions essays. Is it a waste of time and money?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:20 PM ET, 01/31/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  admissions, higher education, plagarism

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 01/29/2012

Is college too much for disadvantaged students?

Many think poor students’ low college completion rate is their fault, or a sign that it is too much for them. Here are fives ways to fix that.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 01/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:03 PM ET, 01/26/2012

Can computers teach writing?

Some experts say it can happen. The Hewlett Foundation is sponsoring a competition to push the research forward. But I am deeply skeptical and won’t accept this until English teachers say it is okay.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:03 PM ET, 01/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 01/24/2012

Admissions 101: How many AP courses should I take?

Have you seen colleges give preference to a student who has an amazing ton of APs, as opposed to one who just has a healthy amount?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 01/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:16 PM ET, 01/22/2012

Lifting bans on parents in classrooms

Virginia Del. Patrick Hope has submitted a bill to remove barriers to parents observing their kids in class. It‘s a good first step — if it gets anywhere.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:16 PM ET, 01/22/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 01/20/2012

5 wrong ideas about college admission

Your high school counselors will give you good college advice, but often you won’t listen because your friends have a different idea. Those stupid ideas thus live on.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 01/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:50 PM ET, 01/18/2012

Our region can handle Darwin debate. Yours can’t.

Many ridiculed my suggestion for enlivening biology classes by testing evolution against alternative theories. Schools can’t handle it, they said. Maybe not their schools, but Washington area schools are better than other schools. Bring it on, Creationists.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:50 PM ET, 01/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:10 PM ET, 01/18/2012

Admissions 101: Do legacies make private schools look good in college admissions?

Parents see lots of kids from private schools go to Ivy League colleges and their equivalents. But it is not the private schools that accomplish that feat.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:10 PM ET, 01/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 01/15/2012

Matt Damon’s mother is wrong

The National Education Association has been at odds with the Teach For American program for two decades, for no useful reason. They should get together to improve teacher training. But now Matt Damon’s mom, an education professor, wants to aggravate the feud.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 01/15/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:37 AM ET, 01/12/2012

Santorum’s good but hated education idea

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and I don’t agree on much, but I like his support for encouraging lessons in high school on alternative theories of evolution. He thinks God might have had a hand in creating our species. I don’t — Darwin was right about natural selection. But the debate would enliven biology classes, which can be dull.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:37 AM ET, 01/12/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 01/10/2012

Admissions 101: Many colleges don't teach creative thinking and writing very well

Do we care about that, or is the reputation of the colleges of more use, as we choose colleges?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:54 AM ET, 01/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101

Posted at 04:16 PM ET, 01/08/2012

Who needs analytical skill? Our colleges have football.

College football’s BCS system provokes outrage among much of the public. Why can’t the fact that colleges aren’t improving many students’ analytical skills stir similar passions?

By Jay Mathews  |  04:16 PM ET, 01/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:37 PM ET, 01/04/2012

Stunningly reasonable achievement gap approach

I didn’t think Arlington County superintendent Rob Smith knew what he was doing when he declared war on the achievement gap. It would hurt him, I warned. Guess who was right?

By Jay Mathews  |  10:37 PM ET, 01/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:10 PM ET, 01/03/2012

Admissions 101 (Bowl season edition): How important is a university’s sports reputation?

Should we consider a university’s football and basketball success when we pick a school?

By Jay Mathews  |  01:10 PM ET, 01/03/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 01/01/2012

Don’t hurt the children in front of me

Pam Emerson found as a special education teacher she couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She suffered for that, but we can learn from her.

By Pam Emerson  |  07:00 AM ET, 01/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/28/2011

Revealing private school secrets

This spring I will add private schools for the first time to my annual rankings of America’s most challenging high schools. Private schools used to resist inclusion, but many seem interested now. The Challenge Index will attempt to show which are best.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 12/28/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:08 PM ET, 12/26/2011

Why it’s good that I’m not on TV

We education writers don’t get to yell on MSNBC nearly as often as the political writers because, despite all the bickering about school policy, Americans are surprisingly in tune on how to teach our kids.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:08 PM ET, 12/26/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:03 PM ET, 12/26/2011

Are D.C. school officials hiding test data?

I was told in September I would get the data on 2011 erasures on the annual D.C. school tests. My Freedom of Information request is being ignored.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:03 PM ET, 12/26/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:58 PM ET, 12/21/2011

Gingrich, Romney, Obama--education triplets

The two leading contenders for the GOP presidential nomination and the president himself try to accentuate their differences, but on education issues they are much closer than many would suppose.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:58 PM ET, 12/21/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 12/20/2011

Admissions 101: Do colleges with test-optional admissions inflate their U.S. News ratings?

A growing number of colleges that do not require SAT or ACT tests. Does that help, hurt or do nothing for a school’s U.S. News ranking?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 12/20/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 12/18/2011

New teacher decries lesson plan gap

Bruce Friedrich did very well as a new high school teacher in Baltimore, but he thinks he would have done even better — and schools would be improved nationwide — if rookies like him did not have to come up with their own lesson plans.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 12/18/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:54 PM ET, 12/14/2011

5 ways to save American education

The most successful education nations are doing things we don’t do. Should we try them? The methods include letting class sizes grow larger, paying teachers more and making education schools more selective.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:54 PM ET, 12/14/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/13/2011

Admissions 101: Using your SAT and ACT scores to pick a college

Most college guides note the mid-range of SAT scores. Why not pick your school by comparing your score?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 12/13/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 12/11/2011

U.S. school excuses challenged

I have long believed that international comparisons downgrade U.S. schools unfairly. But a new study is making me doubt myself.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 12/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:29 AM ET, 12/08/2011

Rise of D.C. charter schools

We don’t know if public charter schools nationally are adding value. On average their students do not progress any further than regular pubic schools. But in Washington they have taken several steps forward, dramatized by new report cards for each of their schools.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:29 AM ET, 12/08/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 12/07/2011

Five wishful changes for D.C. area schools

Could we require all seniors to write research papers? Could we abolish the usual elementary school homework? What would you like done?

By Jay Mathews  |  01:00 PM ET, 12/07/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 12/06/2011

Admissions 101: Is early decision here to stay?

It's early decision anxiety time — Is this once controversial practice to be part of the college admissions process forever?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 12/06/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101

Posted at 10:56 PM ET, 12/03/2011

Are parent class observations disruptive?

In some schools, the rule seems to be don’t let prospective parents observe classes for any significant length of time. It might be disruptive. That makes little sense to me and other parents I know. Some school welcome observations. What is there to be afraid of?

By Jay Mathews  |  10:56 PM ET, 12/03/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:19 AM ET, 12/01/2011

My favorite adversary, Diane Ravitch

The nation’s most prominent education historian, Diane Ravitch, is having some weaknesses exposed in a piece in The New Republic. But I think it also identifies some of her strengths. She is clear and forceful, and that helps the debate.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:19 AM ET, 12/01/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 11/29/2011

Admissions 101: Is our tendency to choose colleges with the shiniest toys hurting efforts to improve the teaching of students?

Should we, or can we, stop being so impressed by big sparkly items like news stadiums on the college tour?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 11/29/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101

Posted at 07:24 PM ET, 11/27/2011

5 reasons for-profit colleges will survive

I don’t like for-profit colleges. I don’t think worrying about market value mixes well with good teaching. It would seem that the troubles of the Post’s corporate partner, Kaplan, have proved me right. But a new book convinces me that for-profits are here to stay, no matter what I think.

By Jay Mathews  |  07:24 PM ET, 11/27/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 11/24/2011

What made you a better writer?

When I suggested that schools dispense with old and clumsy ways of teaching writing, like the five-paragraph essay, many readers had suggestions for improvements. I want more for a column of personal tales on becoming better writers.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 11/24/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)