Guides for Journalists

Business Leaders and the New Education Agenda: Investments in Our Littlest Learners — Published December 2010

This primer gives business reporters and editors insight into the many intersections between business and education, at a time when the nation spends nearly $1 trillion annually on education, from pre-kindergarten through postgraduate programs. The publication takes a close look at the push to expand pre-kindergarten, which is supported by many in the business and education-policy communities, and provides tips on understanding the relevant research. The global competitiveness of U.S. students, especially in math and science, is also scrutinized. Story ideas, examples of great reporting on business issues within education, and details on some of the major players influencing education policy today are all included.

Math Matters: A Journalist’s Guide — Published October 2009

For all that is known about the problems plaguing American math education – as well as how to fix them – math teaching remains stubbornly fixed in place. Scholars of math education say that classes today would seem familiar to Americans who finished school decades ago. But today’s graduates enter an adult world where the price they’ll pay for math deficiencies is far greater than that paid by their parents. Meanwhile, the cost to the nation is steep and growing steeper still. This guide seeks to clarify what many of the issues are and what efforts are currently under way to address them.

Covering Pre-K: New Investments in Our Littlest Learners — Published July 2009

For years, preschool was the stepchild of education – largely ignored by policymakers and researchers. That has changed dramatically, thanks to the convergence of new findings in neuroscience, child development and economics. Policymakers, educators, foundations and business leaders are now pushing for greater access to preschool. Between 2006 and 2008, states more than doubled their spending on early childhood programs, and President Obama has emphasized his commitment with increased federal money.

Understanding and Reporting on Academic Rigor — Published June 2009

Remember the three Rs? Now there’s a fourth: Rigor. It’s the buzzword in education. But translating the rhetoric about rigor into classroom reality is not easy, and it means that journalists need to know more about the new push for rigor. The tension between academic excellence and universal access is as old as American public schools. But today, rigorous schools are touted as a potent force against American industrial decline. Creating these schools is up to school district leaders and their faculty, but journalists should be equally rigorous in their own reporting on this issue.

Making Sense of the Dollars: Reporting on Higher Education Budget Cuts — Published November 2008

Public colleges and universities face unprecedented financial challenges in the latest economic downturn. Every state makes budget decisions that affect the access, affordability and quality of its institutions of higher education. But how do states make these decisions, and how do the decisions ultimately affect students? This new publication helps journalists understand both how institutions are funded and how university leaders make difficult decisions about what to cut. The guide urges journalists to ask tough questions about the rationales behind and consequences of budget cuts at the state and institutional levels.

The Hechinger Institute Guide to Education Research for Journalists — Published July 2008

When a study or an e-mail that sounds like major news about education comes across your desk, how can you tell if it’s valid? The Hechinger Institute has a new guide aimed at teaching reporters to access and understand research about education.

Leadership and Learning — Published July 2008

Journalists who cover school leaders often don’t understand what qualities make a great leader, in part because education leadership is like air: It is invisible and can go unnoticed, but its absence is painfully obvious. This new primer on leadership argues that journalists miss great stories by not asking explicitly who made something happen, how they did it, by what means and how the change fits into a larger vision. The guide will help journalists recognize what high-quality leadership looks like and how to know if it is missing in the districts and schools they cover.

On the Beat: Covering Education – Online Learning with — Published April 2008

This course will help you gain a better understanding of the public education system in the United States. Explore everything from how to gain access to a classroom, why the power structures are the way they are, where money comes from (and where it goes) and why it all matters.

Reporting on Classrooms and Teaching — Published October 2007

Journalists are focusing more on teacher quality than ever, especially since the No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2002. The law required states to determine which teachers were “highly qualified,” the term used in the law. This publication is not about such policies, important as they are. It’s about encouraging journalists to visit classrooms and to give them some tips on what to look for when they’re there.

Classrooms are complex environments – and good classrooms are more complex than bad ones. We want journalists to recognize that it takes more than just passion and charisma to make a great teacher and that popularity isn’t the best criterion for judging teaching quality. Journalists who are better observers of teaching will ask better questions of the experts – the teachers whose classrooms they visit.

From Contracts to Classrooms: Covering Teachers Unions — Published April 2007

This publication provides a closer look into the role teacher unions play in education, and their effects on teacher quality and student achievement.

Change and Controversy on Campus: The Tough Questions Reporters and Editors Should Ask — Published November 2006

This guide addresses institutional accountability to taxpayers and students, and the complexities of what constitutes proper learning in an array of disciplines.

Beyond the Rankings: Measuring Learning in Higher Education — Published September 2006

This publication was created to describe the emerging themes in higher education and describe ways that journalists can do a better job of covering these issues.