May 2-4, 2013

National Seminar 2013

EWA’s 66th National Seminar

Note: Only sessions with multimedia or associated reading are listed on this page. 

Thursday, May 2

Site Visit

Blended Learning Takes Off. Rocketship was founded in 2006 as the first elementary blended-learning school model in the country, and has become both the highest-growth charter school system in the country and the highest-performing low-income school system in California.


Keynote Speaker: Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
Secretary Duncan discusses the future of federal education reform and the new directions the Department of Education will take during President Obama’s second term. Topics include federal No Child Left Behind Act waivers for states and the outlook for congressional reauthorization of that law.

Introduction: Scott Elliott, The Indianapolis Star

EWA Blogs

Arne Duncan’s Kick-Off Keynote at EWA’s 66th National Seminar by Joy Resmovits of the Huffington Post



Arne Duncan at the National Seminar

Thursday Morning Sessions

Dissecting the Data on Charter Schools 
Research around charter schools seems rarely neutral. How do you navigate it with use of data? Two researchers offer insight on how to cut through the spin and look at the real numbers behind how charter school students are performing and what kinds of students charter schools are serving.

Moderator: Joy Resmovits, The Huffington Post

Jeffrey Henig, Teachers College, Columbia University

Margaret Raymond, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Erica Green of the Baltimore Sun


Stream, RSS, iTunes

Solutions Journalism: A Different Lens on Stories
The author of The New York Times “Fixes” blog explains and discusses solutions journalism, which aims to examine credible responses to social problems. What is “SoJo”? How does it differ from traditional reporting and how does it apply to education reporting?

David Bornstein, Solutions Journalism Network


Stream, RSS, iTunes

  1. Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline
    What is the proper punishment for fighting? For cursing? For tardiness? Does punishment always fit the crime and can disproportionate punishment lead to a future in prison? These questions arise as researchers are documenting examples of “unconscious bias” that can affect professionals in law enforcement, medicine and education.

Moderator:  Linda Lenz, Catalyst Chicago

Susan Ferriss, The Center for Public Integrity

Phillip Goff, University of California, Los Angeles

Josefina Alvarado Mena, Safe Passages

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Helen Zelon of City Limits

  1. What Online Education Means for College Classrooms
    The rise of online education arguably represents the first real change in centuries to how courses are taught in postsecondary education, both on and off campus. This discussion examines the potential online teaching technologies have to change how students learn—both in lecture halls and cyberspace—and how universities function.

Moderator: Claudia Dreifus, The New York Times

Sir Michael Barber, Pearson

John Mitchell, Stanford University

Mark Smith, National Education Association


What Online Education Means for College Classrooms 


Plenary Speaker – Thomas Friedman
Thomas Friedman shares his views on what the United States can learn from other countries’ education systems, the importance of education as a national security issue, emerging arrangements such as massive open online courses, and other subjects related to innovation.

Interviewed by: Stephanie Banchero, The Wall Street Journal

EWA Blogs

Thomas Friedman on Competition, Common Core, and the Surge of MOOCs by Patrick O’Donnell of the Cleveland Plain Dealer



A Conversation with Thomas Friedman

Thursday Afternoon Sessions

Reporting Recipes: Stories Using Data
Seasoned reporters provide guidance on how to delve into data sets, detect patterns, and unearth information that can yield compelling, data-rich stories. Using recent investigative projects as reference points, panelists offer practical advice on everything from developing sources to creating interactive databases.

Moderator: Cathy Grimes, Hampton Roads Daily Press

Agustin Armendariz and Erica Perez, California Watch
Bill Bush and Jennifer Smith Richards, The Columbus Dispatch

EWA Blogs 

Panel Wrap-up by Sharon Noguchi

Top 10 Stories on Innovation in Higher Education
What are the higher education stories on innovation that reporters should be following this year? The editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed offers his insights on what stories are worth covering in the coming months.

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed


Top 10 Stories on Innovation in Higher Education 


Urban School Reform: Beyond Stars and Scandals
Do reporters who cover major efforts to improve schools focus on incremental developments at the expense of the big picture? Do they pay too much attention to leaders with star power and too little to quieter contributors? The authors of two new books on urban education reflect on media coverage of efforts to revamp big-city schools.

Moderator: Benjamin Herold, WHYY

Richard Colvin, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship

David Kirp, University of California, Berkeley


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Dinner and Keynote Speaker: Claude Steele
Claude Steele, an eminent social psychologist, has been dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education since 2011. His pioneering theory about the threats to the self posed by stereotypes (“stereotype threat”) has been a focus of much of his research for the past two decades. The theory sheds light on such topics as affirmative action, the achievement gap and other contemporary topics in education.

Introduction: Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University

EWA Blogs

Stanford Ed School Dean Claude Steele on Stereotype Threat in Academics by Nanette Asimov, higher education reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle


West Coast Film Premiere – “Rebirth: New Orleans”
A new documentary film draws on years of footage of post-Katrina New Orleans to critically examine ongoing efforts to dramatically restructure public education in the Crescent City. Following a screening of the film, panelists explored New Orleans’ choice-based education landscape and the national implications of the groundbreaking changes unfolding there.

Moderator: John Merrow, Learning Matters

Sarah Carr, Author and Freelance Journalist

Jean Desravines, New Leaders

Andre Perry, Loyola University New Orleans

EWA Blogs

Rebirth’: New Documentary Explores NOLA’s Charter Schools


May 3

Friday Morning Panels

Opportunity Gaps and Out-of-School Factors: Challenges and Solutions
Much attention has focused on achievement gaps among children from different demographic groups, and on teacher effectiveness as the chief in-school influence on student performance. But what about factors that carry more weight than teachers? And how can society close opportunity gaps often associated with widely decried achievement gaps in school?

Moderator: Sarah Garland, The Hechinger Report 

Prudence Carter, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Michael Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Sean Reardon, Stanford Graduate School of Education

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Rebecca Catalanello of The Lens



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A Different Class: Why Talented Students Don’t Apply to Top Colleges

Stanford economics professor Caroline Hoxby discusses her new research arguing that the most selective U.S. universities are ineffective at recruiting many of high-achieving, low-income students who could succeed on their campuses. Hoxby offers her insights on how colleges should recruit these missing “one-offs.”

Moderator: Kavitha Cardoza, WAMU; Respondent: Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times

Caroline Hoxby, Stanford University

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Mackenzie Ryan


Ready or Not: Common Core Assessments
By 2014, it is expected that assessments based on the Common Core State Standards will be widespread across the country. What are the obstacles, opportunities and implications? Do schools have the needed technological capacity? How will states implement “cut scores”? Can the tests measuring “deep learning”? How high-stakes should they be? Leading experts explore the answers.

Moderator:  Virginia Edwards, Education Week

Joan Herman, University of California, Los Angeles

Chris Minnich, Council of Chief State School Officers

James Pellegrino, University of Illinois-Chicago

EWA Blogs

Common Core: Should States Slow Down on New Assessments?



Stream, RSS, iTunes

Higher Ed – What to Make of MOOCs
In less than two years, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have altered discussions about higher education reform and access. Following the announcement that a handful of the courses merit traditional college credit, MOOCs may be poised to alter students’ pathways to a diploma. Or they might be the latest example of Internet overreach. A discussion of the possibilities.

Moderator: Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed

Daphne Koller, Coursera

Bob Samuels, University Council-AFT

Cathy Sandeen, American Council on Education

Gabi Zolla, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Gwendolyn Glenn



What to Make of MOOCS

New Prescriptions for Remedial Education
The biggest obstacles that many undergraduates face en route to a college degree are the remedial or developmental courses in which they will be placed for their first year. These courses, which students must pass before they can take classes that carry college credit, add to the expense and time it takes to earn a degree. Are such classes really needed? Or can schools replace them with other forms of academic support?

Moderator: Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

Eric Bettinger, Stanford University

Stan Jones, Complete College America

Karon Klipple, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching



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Lunch and Keynote Speaker – James Heckman
Dr. Heckman, a Nobel laureate economist, is a strong proponent of investing early in children and disadvantaged families. In his talk and the ensuing Q&A, he discusses the “Heckman Equation” and why the early investments pay dividends in the future.

Introduction: Stephanie Banchero, The Wall Street Journal

EWA Blogs

Economist James Heckman on Long Dividends of Early Learning Investment by Maureen Kelleher 



James Heckman at the National Seminar

Friday Afternoon  Sessions

Measuring the Impact of More–and Better–Time for Learning
What questions should you ask about the way your school district uses extended learning time? How are public-private partnerships guiding new approaches? Must schools choose between using the time for deeper learning or enrichment? What does the latest research show about best practices?

Moderator: Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, Education Week

Jennifer Davis, National Center on Time and Learning
Lucy Friedman, The After-School Corporation
Zakia Redd, Child Trends
Mark Triplett, Urban Promise Academy (Oakland, Calif.)

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-up by Debbie Cafazzo

Retention in Third Grade: Help or Hindrance?
More states are embracing “third grade reading guarantees” that aim to prevent children from moving to fourth grade until they have progressed from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” But research has shown that students who are retained often end up dropping out. Two researchers probe what the research says, and whether legislatures are on the right track.

Moderator: Lyndsey Layton, The Washington Post

Shane Jimerson, University of California, Santa Barbara

Martin West, Harvard University

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Dave Murray of the Grand Rapids Press


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Success in College: Models That Improve the Odds
Students from low-income families face special challenges not only in getting admitted to college, but also in succeeding once they’re in. More programs are coming on line to strengthen students who live in poverty and may have few college graduates in their family and social circles. What traits do these programs share, and how can journalists examine them?

Moderator: Peg Tyre, Freelance Journalist

Anthony Lisel Antonio, Stanford University

Jessica Cogan, SEO Scholar

Tim Sandoval, Brighter Prospect

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Upby Nan Austin of the Sacramento Bee


Teacher Turnover: Who Stays and Who Leaves
One out of every three new teachers leaves the profession within five years. More veteran teachers are opting to retire. Teacher attrition costs the nation about $7 billion a year. What does the research say about teacher turnover and retention? What role does school leadership play in teachers’ decisions to leave or stay?

Moderator: Francisco Vara-Orta, San Antonio Express-News

Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue

Susanna Loeb, Stanford Graduate School of Education

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Upby Melissa Bailey of the New Haven Independent


Early Childhood Education: Not All Options Are Created Equal 
President Obama got the early childhood education world buzzing when he announced his ambitious plans to expand preschool during his State of the Union. But doubts remain. Would expanding universal pre-K lead to a top-down push for more academics at younger ages? Do states have the funding to provide early childhood education for all who want it? Can state programs and Head Start coordinate effectively?

Moderator: Karin Klein, Los Angeles Times

Ron French, Bridge Magazine

Bruce Fuller, University of California, Berkeley

Sterling Speirn, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

EWA Blogs

Getting it Right on Preschool for All by Suzanne Bouffard of the Harvard Education Letter



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For Good Measure: Assessing College Performance
What’s the best way to determine how effectively a college goes about the business of educating its students? If popular college rankings in the media are flawed, what other models of crunching the data might deliver more illuminating comparisons? To what extent is a college’s success at graduating students dependent on the types of students it enrolls? This session offers insights on new approaches on how to use the data available to see a more complete picture of college performance.

Moderator: Mary Beth Marklein, USA Today

John Pryor, University of California, Los Angeles

Douglas Harris, Tulane University



For Good Measure: Assessing College Performance

Guiding Principals: How to Recognize Innovative Leaders
Some principals are not just great leaders, but they’re also great innovators. What are ways that principals are taking the lead in using technology and other techniques to help students thrive?

Moderator: Richard Whitmire

Trevor Greene, Toppenish High School (Toppenish, Wash.)

Nicole Veltze, North High School (Denver)

Michelle Spencer, New Technology High (Napa, Calif.)

James Dent, Gilroy Prep School (Gilroy, Calif.)

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Hattie Brown Garrow of the Virginian Pilot

Not Your Father’s Shop Class: Linked Learning and STEM
Traditionally, career and technical education (CTE) has often translated into tracking low-income students into less demanding classes. But with a focus on college and career readiness, a national push is under way to fuse rigorous academics and career training at the high school level. From project-based learning in the sciences to acquiring work-ready skills in targeted industries, a panoply of initiatives aim to equip students—especially those at-risk of falling through the cracks—with the tools to be both employable after graduation and prepared for the demands of postsecondary education.

Moderator: Katy Murphy, Oakland Tribune

Nancy Hoffman, Jobs for the Future

Anne Stanton, James Irvine Foundation

Preston Thomas, Life Academy (Oakland, Calif.)

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Michelle Sokol of the (Frankfort, Ky.) State Journal


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Tapping Public Opinion Polls to Strengthen Stories
Polling organizations offer data that can enrich reporting on education. What data is available and how can you tap into it to provide context for your local and national stories? Representatives of Gallup and Harris Interactive share information and insights.

Moderator: Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post

Brandon Busteed, Gallup Polls
Regina Corso, Harris Interactive

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Mark Walsh

Choice and Competition: Improving or Undermining Public Education?
Is there evidence that empowering all parents to choose among competing schools—district-run, charter, and private—leads to better outcomes for students? Will a critical mass of charter schools in a community be a catalyst for positive change or for school closings that leave students behind? Advocates with different views debate whether competition threatens to destroy public education or is strengthening it one school at a time.

Moderator: Scott Elliott, The Indianapolis Star

Kevin P. Chavous, American Federation for Children

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Jessica Williams of The Lens 


Choice and Competition

Paying for College: Financial Aid Innovations
With the cost of attending college rising each year, what techniques might enable students to get more effective financial aid with fewer hassles? Which public universities are changing their financial aid practices to encourage students to earn their degrees more affordably? This session makes sense of the dollars behind degrees.

Moderator: Kim Clark, Money

Eric Bettinger, Stanford University

Rory O’Sullivan, Young Invincibles

Nate Johnson, HCM Strategists


May 4

Friday Morning  Concurrent Sessions

EWA Innovation Showcase 
These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. Learn about experimental tools, offerings and practices being made possible by emerging digital technologies, and gather new ideas for covering innovation on your own beat.

EWA Blogs

Showcase Wrap-Up by Daarel Burnette

Kayvon Beykpour, Mobile Technologies Entrepreneur, interviewed by Katherine Long, The Seattle Times, about how universities can encourage students to start companies

Video:  Fostering Entrepreneurship in Higher Ed

Marcie Bober-Michel, San Diego State University, interviewed by Kyla Calvert, KPBS, about a boom in courses that blend online and face-to-face learning

Video:Blended Learning Boom

Mark Shermis, University of Akron, interviewed by Molly Bloom, WKSU, about the debate over computerized grading of student essays

Video:  Grading Goes 2.0

Trace Urdan, Wells Fargo Securities, interviewed by Kim Clark, Money Magazine, about burgeoning investments in innovative education enterprises

Video:  Investing in Education


Jay McPhail, Riverside Unified School District (Riverside, CA), interviewed by Dayna Straehley, The Press-Enterprise, about digital instructional materials and mobile devices for students

Video:  The Digital Textbook Debate

Sandra Okita, Columbia University, interviewed by Greg Toppo, USA Today, about robots being used for instruction in K-12 classrooms

Video:  Robots as Peer Learners

Wanda Longoria, Northside Independent School District (San Antonio, TX), interviewed by Kelsey Sheehy, U.S. News & World Report, about new ways for teachers to share lessons online

Video:  Lesson Plans Go Open-Source


How I Did the Story: Award-Winning Reporters Share Their Secrets
Hear from your colleagues on how they put together their prize-winning packages. Among the topics: absentee rates in Chicago schools; the chronicle of an attempt to turn around a school; how a school discovered a concrete way to teach writing; and a beat reporter’s stories on the pipeline to college, charter schools, cheating, and school closings.

Jenny Brundin, Colorado Public Radio, “Trevista”

Video:  Reporting From a Turnaround School in “Following Trevista”

Benjamin Herold, WHYY/Philadelphia Public School Notebook, “Beat Reporting”

Video:  Beat Reporting in a Medium Newsroom 

David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, “An Empty-Desk Epidemic”

Video:  “An Empty Desk Epidemic”

EWA Blogs: EWA Grand Prize Winner Offers Advice on Investigating Student Absenteeism by David Jackson, the Chicago Tribune

Peg Tyre, Author, “Writing Revolution”

Video:How I Did the Story: “The Writing Revolution

Jon Marcus, Hechinger Report, “Beat Reporting”

Video: Beat Reporting in an Education-Only Newsroom

Justin Pope, Associated Press, “Title IX and Sexual Assault on Campus”

Video: Title IX and Sexual Assault on Campus

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Connecticut Mirror, “State Board of Regents Improprieties”

Video:  Investigating Huge Administrator Pay Increases in Higher Ed


Knowing Their Choices: Assessing Efforts to Inform Parents
More parents are facing educational choices they never had before. Privileged families have always successfully navigated the complexities around schools, but lower-income families haven’t necessarily done so. What new ways are being tried to get information in the hands of a broader array of parents? As organizations step in to  offer guidance, reporters can learn from the processes they use.

Moderator: Gail Robinson, Inside Schools

Bill Jackson, Great Schools

EWA Blogs

Panel Wrap-Up by Kara Newhouse of the Perry County (Penn.) Times


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Awards Ceremony and Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Sal Khan, Khan Academy

Khan Academy revolutionized education with a few simple videos in 2008. Now the academy has millions of visitors. In fact, the billionth math problem was recently answered on the academy website.  Khan Academy founder Sal Khan offers his perspective on how U.S. education can be reimagined.

Introduction: John Merrow, Learning Matters

EWA Blogs

Will Online Khan Academy ‘Educate the World”? by Justin Pope, Associated Press



A Conversation with Sal Khan