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

Vicki Nishioka September 1, 2015
Researcher Vicki Nishioka frames alarming statistics for out-of-school suspensions and discipline disparities in preschool programs with a set of practices that can help schools end the problem.
Barbara Peterson August 27, 2015
As economic forces shift in rural areas, how can creating expanded educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math make a difference for rural students? Guest Blogger Barbara Peterson answers the question in a post based on an article she coauthored in the May 2015 issue of the Peabody Journal of Education, edited by Education Northwest.
Debbie Ellis August 25, 2015
This blog post provides strategies for educators to help promote family involvement in students’ education. Tips include communicating early; establishing a consistent, targeted strategy for...
Steve Fleischman August 18, 2015
Steve Fleischman reflects on how using research and evidence to provide an excellent education for every student was as important 50 years ago as it is today.
Fiona Helsel and Basha Krasnoff August 11, 2015
Research shows the importance of kindergarten transitions for children to succeed in school and later in life. What do principals need to know to help their youngest students thrive?
Art Burke August 4, 2015
Do English learner students miss more class time due to discipline than their non-English learner peers? Art Burke examines this and other questions in his newly published REL Northwest study.
Danette Parsley July 28, 2015
Danette Parsley writes about two exceptional schools in rural Oregon that are beating the odds through data use, high-quality instruction, community building, and strong leadership.
Malkeet Singh July 16, 2015
Malkeet Singh writes about the potential of the Common Core State Standards to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students and his own work in providing professional development to math teachers.
Isaiah Blum July 7, 2015
Coming into high school a few years ago, I could not have anticipated how valuable skills like marking up important parts of the text or re-reading certain passages could be to my grasping of the material. As a sophomore last year (and a freshman the year before), I shrugged off most of the advice, as well as the warnings, on how much I would need those skills later on. Without those two skills,...
Barbara L. Adams June 16, 2015
Rural schools around the country are challenged in hiring and keeping high-quality teachers. Many things contribute to this reality: Teaching in a rural and/or remote community can mean being geographically isolated, having fewer resources and colleagues, dealing with the sense of being an “outsider,” or sometimes facing a lack of modern necessities that are often taken for granted. This can be...
Theresa Deussen June 9, 2015
When schools get an influx of English learners, what can principals do to help ensure their academic success?
Caitlin Scott June 4, 2015
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) turned 50 on April 11, 2015. The law is our nation’s primary mechanism for distributing federal funds to schools and for guiding improvement efforts, especially in schools with high percentages of low-income students. I, too, turn 50 in 2015. As I type this blog, I squint at my computer screen through my new trifocals. If I do not have the bright...
Danette Parsley and Rhonda Barton June 2, 2015
This blog post describes how a one-size-fits-all approach to school turnaround may be inappropriate — or even detrimental — to rural schools.
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 little...
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...