Our Northwest Matters blog discusses ideas and innovations in education from a Northwest perspective. Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

Jacqueline Raphael May 28, 2015
Four years ago, when I taught first-year composition at Portland Community College, I remember working hard to focus my class on topics I felt would interest my students: how experts achieve excellence in their chosen fields, for example, and how to balance work, school, and personal life. My students read and discussed popular magazine and newspaper articles on these topics, analyzing the ideas...
Shirley Araiza May 26, 2015
My sister is about to become the first college graduate in our family, and we were chatting recently about the things that our future holds as well as our childhood. We were looking through some old baby pictures—cringe-worthy ones, may I add—and we started talking a lot about our upbringing. Both of my parents are Mexican immigrants. They came to the United States and met each other. Then they...
Kris Herda May 19, 2015
Located on the Spokane Indian Reservation, the Wellpinit middle and high schools serve roughly 150 students in grades 6 through 12. When I started in September as a first-year principal, I was looking for a method to maximize results. I’d taught at Wellpinit for six years and saw that our teachers had so much to do that we really didn’t have a solid system in place to communicate about our...
Daphne Gallegos, Josue Guevara, Sierra Perez, Timmy Martinez May 12, 2015
As graduation draws near, Education Northwest would like to honor a group of exemplary students and future leaders from Pasco High School in Washington who met with us last year during a site visit. A minority-majority school, Pasco High promotes bilingual and biliterate education. Their culture is celebrated and reinforced by the school’s offering of classes such as math and science in Spanish...
Art Burke May 5, 2015
I’m a researcher at Education Northwest. I’ve worked in district offices and parented six children who are now adults, so for both personal and professional reasons, I have a long interest in helping young people succeed in school. The part of my job that I enjoy the most is producing results that help teachers and administrators deal with challenges they face in school. My recent work has...
Mary Martinez-Wenzl April 21, 2015
In our region—Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington—young people between the ages of 13 and 17 are more than twice as likely to be foreign-born immigrants than children from birth to the age of 12. Oregon and Washington have the greatest concentration of immigrant adolescents, where there are more than 53,000 immigrants between 13 and 17. We still do not know a lot about how to best meet...
Ashley Pierson April 14, 2015
Recognition is growing that school factors play a role in student success. One of the key school factors is the principal, and many believe that the success of principals is related, in part, to their educational background and professional experience. However, district leaders don’t have all the information they need when it comes to understanding which elements of a principals’ background...
Yvonne Ryans April 9, 2015
Hafa Adai roughly translated means hello in the Chamorro language. As the director of Education Northwest’s Equity Assistance Center, I recently journeyed to the beautiful island of Guam to provide technical assistance to public and private school teachers, counselors, administrators, and other educators about federal compliance requirements and culturally responsive strategies. All I can say is...
Aurora Moore April 2, 2015
Collective impact initiatives thrive on meaty problems—problems worth the attention, energy, and resources of the community that cannot be solved by the efforts of single organizations or sectors. At Education Northwest, we are currently working with three communities in Montana that formed communitywide initiatives around the problem of high school graduation. It’s through a statewide program...
Celeste Janssen March 31, 2015
Since this post appeared in March, 2015 as part of our series on collective impact, the Institute for Youth Success has joined Education Northwest to better support youth-serving agencies in Oregon and across the region. Collective impact initiatives have data at the core of their efforts to improve communities, but when partners in a collaborative don’t necessarily collect, value, or have access...
Lisa Dillman March 26, 2015
What are “lessons learned” that can benefit not only newly formed collective impact initiatives?
June Sobocinski, Sarah Sledge, and Ciara Johnson March 19, 2015
This blog post comes from 90% by 2020 , a broad partnership promoting student success in Anchorage, Alaska, and continues our March series on collective impact—an approach that mobilizes the community to form a long-term and permanent solution to a societal problem. See our news article about 90% by 2020, and subscribe to our blog so you never miss a post. Our community partnership realized early...
Steve Fleischman March 13, 2015
I was excited to read Thomas J. Kane’s March 5, 2015 piece for the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings on how to promote improvement in education. He had my attention from the title onwards, “Frustrated with the pace of progress in education? Invest in better evidence.” As someone who has been making the case for more and better evidence and promoting its widespread use in education for...
Steve Fleischman March 12, 2015
Educators and community members often view evaluation in the same way as they think of the work of Dr. “Ducky” Mallard , the fictional medical examiner on the popular TV series, NCIS. While viewers may think that what Ducky does is important—examining corpses to determine their time and cause of death, while searching for clues for the investigators—they also know that Ducky’s efforts are a...
Jerry Colonna March 10, 2015
Jerry Colonna's blog post kicks off our March series on collective impact—an approach that mobilizes the community to form a long-term and permanent solution to a societal problem. Subscribe to our blog so you never miss a post. As Oregon starts a new legislative session, I am encouraged that public education is a matter of such attention and importance. But, I am also reminded that Oregon’s...
Mike Siebersma March 3, 2015
Last year, we unveiled Success Now!—our new approach to school improvement . Unlike other approaches, the Success Now! framework helps schools focus their efforts and see quick gains in student success while working toward long-term goals and sustainable change. The Mary Walker School District in Springdale, Washington—a town of less than 300 people located an hour north of Spokane—was one of the...
Jacqueline Raphael February 19, 2015
An important feature of Education Northwest’s Success Now! school improvement approach is the development of shared leadership throughout a school. Shared leadership does not minimize the need for a strong principal leader; rather, it adds to “leadership” the concept of creating the conditions for sharing influence, responsibility, and accountability among staff for achieving the school’s goals...
Steve Fleischman February 17, 2015
At the beginning of our second annual Northwest and Pacific Equity Convening , I asked participants to shout out the temperature it had been at home the day before they arrived at our meeting in Honolulu. I wanted to see who came from the hottest and coldest location—to give folks a sense of the range of participants we had at the meeting. Several residents from the Pacific islands shouted out...
Caitlin Scott February 12, 2015
I just finished facilitating one of the most satisfying evaluation meetings of my career. No, I did not present results of outstanding successes or reveal the secret to improving schools. Drawing on materials from the Wallace Foundation , I helped project leaders create a logic model to inform the evaluation activities scheduled for later this summer. The logic model broke down and described the...
Rich McBride and John Welch February 10, 2015
The authors wrote this post on behalf of the Association of Educational Service Districts Network (AESD Network). In Washington state and around the country, educational service agencies—or ESDs, as they are known in our state—play an important role in delivering professional development, financial, and administrative services that school districts might not be able to provide efficiently on...
Nanci Schneider February 5, 2015
A parent once asked me where I had gone when I was no longer a principal at his neighborhood school. I replied that I was working in school improvement. He said, “That’s great! Our playground needs more stuff to play on.” That would have been an easy fix. Instead, I chose the simple task of school improvement—a term that at its core means increasing student learning. What I do is manage a network...
Ashley Pierson January 29, 2015
This blog post examines ways education leaders in Oregon are working to address the problem of rural students struggling to get a head start on college while still in high school.
Kyle Cole January 22, 2015
As the director of Oregon State University’s Precollege Programs , I was naturally disappointed when I had to turn down a request by the I Have a Dream Foundation (IHD) in 2012 to “adopt” one of their classrooms at Alder Elementary in Portland. Adopting a high-need classroom fits perfectly within our mission to inspire Oregon’s youth to pursue higher education and help them understand how to...
Sarah Frazelle January 20, 2015
The idea for the early warning system (EWS) work came out of a meeting I had with superintendents and other leaders from the AA districts of Montana—the seven largest districts in the state. What I heard over and over was, “We have students in our districts who are struggling, and we’re providing those students with interventions. We think they’re working, but we really have no concrete evidence...
Michelle Hodara January 15, 2015
For many Americans, high tuition costs are a primary barrier to attending college and earning a postsecondary credential. President Obama’s new plan to make community college tuition-free seeks to alleviate this barrier, but the plan is not just about working with states to provide a more accessible college education. America’s College Promise proposal also expects community colleges to adopt...
Caitlin Scott January 13, 2015
In my previous job as a teacher of students with disabilities, I often wished I had more time with my class—more time for quiet reading, more time for raucous games, more time to connect lessons to the real world. In short, I wanted more time for everything in the curriculum to sink in and take root. Now, as an Education Northwest researcher, I know that expanded learning time is not just...
Nettie Legters and Christopher Mazzeo January 8, 2015
It’s a new year, a time when many of us resolve to be healthier and happier. This typically involves making changes, like becoming more physically active, giving up smoking, or learning how to be a more effective parent. Then, despite our goals and plans, we inevitably encounter the very human experience of the divided self. We may believe, even know, that change will produce more of what we want...
Steve Fleischman January 6, 2015
Whenever I get together with my fellow members of Knowledge Alliance , we spend time discussing how research, evaluation, and data use can further support the improvement goals of state education leaders. Daily, staff from our nearly 20 member organizations help apply research and data to address educational challenges ranging from improving early-childhood education to increasing postsecondary...
Charles McGee December 29, 2014
I recently reminded supporters of the Black Parent Initiative (BPI)—a community-based, “culturally specific” nonprofit in Portland that I co-founded—that their actions empower a parent just down the street, protect a child who sits next to theirs in school, and make the community in which we all live stronger. Madeleine Leininger, a nursing expert, defined culturally specific organizations as...
Theresa Deussen December 18, 2014
So much of the discussion on English language learners in U.S. schools focuses on what they don’t have (for example, academic English) or what they haven’t been able to do (such as graduate in rates comparable to proficient English speakers). These are real problems that deserve our attention. But, sometimes it is important to turn around the conversation and talk about what English learners can...