Tags : education

Behind the Story: High-stakes testing in Norwegian schools subject to corruption

By Shazia Sarwar

A series of investigative reports by Verdens Gang (VG) in 2013 exposed that principals at all primary and secondary schools in Oslo, Norway’s capital, were given personal incentives and salary benefits in secret working contracts and on the basis of student results on national tests.

The investigation found a significant correlation between the number of students exempt from tests and the average scores. An associate professor at the University of Oslo reviewed the data and found that the more students exempt, the better a school’s score. Minority students and children with other special needs are ...

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Federal education data highlights rising college costs for low-income students

If you’re shopping for a college, forget the published sticker price. Just like airline passengers on the same flight, students on the same campus can pay vastly different rates.

And on the whole, those rates are increasing faster for the poorest students.

That’s what a Dallas Morning News analysis of federal education data found this year. In a project with the Hechinger Report, we examined four years of data showing what students actually paid, based on their family income. We produced several stories and an online search tool called Tuition Tracker.  

The inequity was most glaring at the ...

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How to investigate subsidized tutoring

Florida's mandated tutoring program used taxpayer dollars to hire firms run by criminals, cheaters and profiteers. Last year Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael LaForgia used invoice records, complaint reports, audits and interviews to report on the industry, which goes virtually unchecked by state regulators.

In this series of clips LaForgia walks through how to investigate subsidized tutoring. To get started, LaForgia introduces Supplemental Educational Services (SES) and explains how it affects your community.

 

 

Step 1: Identify the contractors and find out who's getting paid.
(To view the presentation that goes with this audio, click here.)


 

Step 2: Run ...

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How to identify – and expose – inflated student enrollment statistics

Will Evans of The Center for Investigative Reporting explains how he started investigating an Oakland, Calif. church school that appears to have vastly inflated its enrollment numbers to collect extra taxpayer funding.

"The place was in total disrepair, but the pastor drove an Escalade," Evans said.

In this first clip, Evans explains how he found the story (at a subway station, of all places) and began checking out the school.

 

 

The next step was to follow the money. Evans explains how Title I and Title II funds flowed into the private school with little oversight. 

 

 

The religious school appeared to ...

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IRE Preview: Hone your campus coverage skills with our lineup of pros

Screen shot from Walt Bogdanich's New York Times story on a flawed rape case at Florida State University

IRE is expanding its vast panel lineup for our national conference in San Francisco to include sessions specially-designed for student journalists and others who cover college campuses and higher education issues.

The track will cover topics such as investigating college athletics; investigating sexual assaults on campus; and covering issues related to student loans, debts and scholarships. In addition, winners of the IRE student journalism awards will give a deep dive into how they did their stories.

Expected speakers include Walt Bogdanich ...

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Data leads way to suspect tutoring companies

A little creative thinking and some simple tricks using Microsoft Access and Excel allowed us to report how criminals, cheaters and insiders were benefitting from subsidized tutoring in Florida.

Federal law requires the state to pay contractors to tutor poor kids in failing schools, and, because of the loose way in which the program was run, I expected to find abuses.

While trying to test this theory I did some seriously jury-rigged data work, but it got the job done.

First, I visited an online state directory of so-called supplemental educational services providers and exported a list of more than ...

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New digital book on future of journalism doubles as classroom tool

The Knight Foundation has published a new book titled "Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes from the Digital Age of Journalism," which looks at the challenges facing journalism and includes essays on investigative reporting.

Written by Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation, the text is intended to double as a tool for journalism educators, with more than 1,000 lesson plans and resources.

The text is available at searchlightsandsunglasses.org. You can read more about the project on the Knight Blog or follow the conversation on social media with #edshift.

New webinar: Watchdogging Lions, Tigers, Bears, et al: Inside college sports

Jill Riepenhoff of The Columbus Dispatch shares tips on investigating college sports, from how to examine the rule book and find story ideas to using the NCAA's infraction database and digging into athletes' mysterious departures from their teams. Watch it here.

Riepenhoff has worked at The Columbus Dispatch since 1985 and as a projects reporter since 2004. She has investigated issues ranging from naughty teachers to naughty college athletes and coaches to naughty mortgage brokers. She's spent the past year peeling back the onion on the shadowy operations of the national credit-reporting agencies, which largely ignore complaints from ...

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Behind the Story: Orange County Register reporter stays patient and follows the money trail

Melody Petersen of The Orange County Register has two pieces of advice to offer reporters: stay patient and follow the money trail. Petersen investigated school bonds in Orange County after realizing schools were opting for expensive agreements that would push costs onto taxpayers decades after the initial bond was distributed. She found that school districts were accepting deals that would cost taxpayers more than 10 times the original amount in a special bond known as a capital appreciation bond.

Other reports from the Orange County Register state that the bond deals will cost Orange County districts $2 billion over the ...

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Fraud in the classroom: Cooking the books to make grades better

Test scores rocketed and plunged over several years at Annette Officer Elementary School in East St. Louis, Ill., often a telltale sign of tampering. The school district determined that cheating was “accepted practice. Photo: Hyosub Shin, AJC

In Atlanta, 35 educators were indicted in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, all but three of whom had surrendered at the Fulton County jail by Wednesday morning. The cheating scandal was first reported by Atlanta Journal Constitution reporters, who used statistical tests to document test score irregularities. John Perry, who did the statistical analysis for the stories, explains in the latest IRE ...

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