PARCC Exams Will Be Shortened

In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2015, practice test books sit on a table in the Sixth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies classroom at Morgan Elementary School South in Stockport, Ohio. Students in Massachusetts and eleven other states who take Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Career (PARCC) exams will spend about 90 minutes less on testing starting next school year. (Ty Wright/AP)

As Massachusetts grapples with whether or not students should switch to a new standardized test, the proposed new test is undergoing its own changes.

Beginning next school year, students who take Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Career (PARCC) exams will spend about 90 minutes less on testing. PARCC exams will also only be given once a year, instead of twice.

The change will affect students who take PARCC exams in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Currently, about half of Massachusetts' school districts take the PARCC exam. Read More →

New Data Says School Bullying Has Declined

New data indicates the first significant decrease in school-based bullying since the federal government began collecting that data in 2005. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

School-based bullying for kids 12 to 18 appears to have dropped nationally in recent years, according to a new federal government survey.

About 22 percent of students reported being bullied at school in 2013, the first significant decline since the federal government began collecting data in 2005, according to a biennial survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Dr. Kim Storey, a bully prevention expert and child development specialist unaffiliated with the survey, says she believes the decline is due to the "amount of programs, anti-bullying programs and intervention efforts in the schools." Read More →

Incoming Superintendent Launches Learning Tour Of Boston Schools

Incoming Superintendent of Schools Tommy Chang gets off the bus on his way to the Boston International High School in Dorchester on May 13, 2015. (Jesse Costa./WBUR)

BOSTON -- The Boston International High School in Mattapan, which is designed to serve English-language learners, had another new student on Wednesday morning whose first language was not English.

Incoming Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang was in the school to learn from students, teachers and administrators about their experiences in the district.

"I came to this country and had to learn English too," Chang told 10th grade student Loberno Merisier in the school's noisy cafeteria over a lunch of cheeseburgers, fat free milk and carrots with ranch dressing.

The visit was the first in a series of weekly tours of local schools that Chang and members of his transition team will take to learn about the atmosphere and day-to-day experiences in as many neighborhood schools as possible. Read More →

Mixed Feelings As Boston Sets Out To Redesign High Schools

Community members work in groups at a high school redesign meeting at Boston Public Schools headquarters on May 11, 2015. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/WBUR)

BOSTON -- During the second in a series of public conversations aimed at imagining the high school of the future, community members raised concerns about steps the district has taken to include students in the process.

Held at the new Boston Public Schools (BPS) headquarters in Roxbury's Dudley Square on Monday, about 60 educators, school officials, teachers, parents, students and others came together to submit their vision for how BPS high schools may look in the years to come. Read More →

Kids Shine As National Math Competition Comes To Boston

Kevin Liu, left, shakes Andy Xu's hand after winning the Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition. (courtesty of Raytheon)

When Kevin Liu hit the buzzer, the room held its breath. But the eighth grader from Indiana knew he had it.

"Fifteen," Liu said calmly.

And the room erupted in cheers.

A Different Type Of Sport

While Boston is a city that is no stranger to cheering for sports competitions, this week a group of dedicated fans took over the Sheraton Boston Hotel to rally on a different type of team.

For the very first time, Boston played host to the Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition, the mathematics equivalent to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Read More →

4 Takeaways From Jonathan Kozol On Race, Poverty And Corporate Reform In Education

Jonathan Kozol speaks about what he sees as public education’s most pressing challenges on May 6, 2015 at First Parish Church in Cambridge. (courtesy Lou Kruger)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In a wide-ranging conversation about race, poverty and corporate reform in public education, the writer, educator and activist Jonathan Kozol spoke on Wednesday evening about what he sees as public education’s most pressing challenges.

In the packed pews of First Parish Church in Harvard Square, roughly 250 people turned out to see Kozol in an event hosted by Citizens for Public Schools. The audience included teachers, education activists, union members, school officials and parents from throughout Massachusetts.

Here are Learning Lab’s four takeaways from Kozol’s remarks: Read More →

Boston Public Schools Receives $100,000 Grant To Expand Arts Education

Students create a rough draft of mask ideas using illustrations from a Greek art history book at the Josiah Quincy School in Boston on January 15, 2014. The activity is part of the district’s Arts Expansion Initiative, bringing arts education to students in kindergarten through twelfth grades. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON -- Boston Public Schools has been awarded $100,000 in grant funding to expand arts education in high schools.

The grant is one of 22 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants awarded to Boston-area organizations on Wednesday. In total, Boston-area organizations are receiving $870,000 from this round of NEA grants to support local arts initiatives.

“Arts are critical to the social, emotional and academic growth of a student,” Mayor Martin Walsh said in a statement. “We are grateful to the NEA for its support of our expansion efforts."

The money awarded to Boston Public Schools will support a two-year project to expand the work of the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Initiative into more high schools. Read More →

Report: Reducing Class Sizes To 15 Could Boost School Achievement

In this March 10, 2015 photo, teacher Allison Williams, upper right, works with her kindergarten students in a basement classroom at Des Moines Elementary School in Des Moines, Wash. Washington recently passed a mandate reducing class sizes for grades K-3. A new report recommends that Massachusetts do the same. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

BOSTON -- A new report says that Massachusetts could boost statewide school achievement by reducing class sizes to 15 students in kindergarten through third grade, particularly in low-income schools, at an estimated cost of $161 million statewide.

The report, released last week by left-leaning research organization Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), studied the outcomes of class reduction efforts throughout the nation and their costs. When implemented correctly, MassBudget finds, reduced class sizes can help raise students' academic performance and give teachers additional time to focus on class materials.

"What we see in looking at states that have reduced class sizes is that if you do it right -- that is if you can get class sizes in the early grades down to about 15 students with well qualified teachers -- it can have very significant effect in improving student learning," Noah Berger, president of MassBudget, said.

Class reductions efforts are most effective, the report finds, when they target students in early grades, students of color and low-income students. Read More →

‘Law Day’ Gets Boston Students Thinking About Civics

Lawyer Emily Hodge, left, assists fourth grade student Amy Pol at Manassah E Bradley School in Boston on April 29, 2015. Pol and other students write down rules that they must follow as part of a "Law Day" activity organized by the Boston Bar Association. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/WBUR)

"Laws are like adult versions of the rules," Emily Hodge, a white collar criminal defense lawyer, tells the attentive students. "What're we're going to do today is to figure out why we have rules."

On most days, Hodge, a lawyer with Boston-based law firm Choate Hall and Stewart LLP, presents to the U.S. Attorney's Office. On this recent Wednesday, however, she holds court with a different audience -- a fourth grade classroom at the Manassah E. Bradley Elementary School in East Boston.

She is one of 77 lawyers and judges visiting Boston public schools this week. The goal: Teach students about the law and give students the chance to nitpick their brains. Read More →