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Stories by Elaine McArdle

By Elaine McArdle 08/24/2015 10:16 PM EDT
Dreamers illustration
Gloria Montiel, Ed.M.'11, can't recall the first time she heard about a place called Harvard, but from the sixth grade on, she could dream of nothing else.

"I was sure I was going to go there," says Montiel, who set about figuring out how. At the top of her class in eighth grade, she learned of a program that places children of color in elite prep schools. But her school counselor revealed a devastating truth: Montiel couldn't apply. "At that moment, I realized that all this time, everything I had been doing toward my goals — this was going to become a problem," Montiel recalls....
By Elaine McArdle 09/03/2014 4:47 PM EDT
What Happened to the Common Core?
The Common Core. Just last year, according to a Gallup poll, most Americans had never heard of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, or "Common Core," new guidelines for what kids in grades K–12 should be able to accomplish in reading, writing, and math. Designed to raise student proficiencies so the United States can better compete in a global market, the standards were drafted in 2009 by a group of academics and assessment specialists at the request of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. With...
By Elaine McArdle 01/18/2013 12:26 PM EST
A refugee sits in a makeshift, outdoor school in the Ifo camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (Photo: Erin Hayba)
What happens to learning when a hurricane devastates your city or a civil war tears apart your country. A refugee sits in a makeshift, outdoor school in the Ifo camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (Photo: Erin Hayba) Imagine a school in a refugee camp in one of the most desolate locations on earth. It has no roof, walls, desks; no chalkboards or books. There is just one teacher, but she is not paid, and she stands in front of 100 students who are traumatized, sick, and hungry. She herself barely finished primary school. She has no teaching materials. Many of her students are too distressed to learn,...
By Elaine McArdle 08/16/2010 11:18 AM EDT
Illustration, student with carrot
It's a warm afternoon in May in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, and as the bell signals the end of the school day at the Smith Leadership Academy School, kids flood into the halls and burst through the doors outside. They stop immediately, staring, and begin to point and whisper. Two white stretch limousines are parked at the front of the school building, each with a uniformed chauffeur standing solemnly beside it. The buzz grows louder: Is there a rapper visiting the classrooms? Maybe one of the Boston Celtics has come to get a tour of their new charter school. The kids crowd around the...
By Elaine McArdle 01/22/2010 10:54 AM EST
Illustration by James Yang
Despite repeated efforts to reward teachers based on performance -- both theirs and their students' -- many experts say this incentive doesn't improve education. Illustrations by James Yang Offering financial incentives to improve education -- providing money rewards to students, teachers, schools, or districts as a way to motivate them to try harder and do better -- is one of the hottest topics in education today. On the student side, schools in cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., are experimenting with financial rewards, including cash payouts to students who make good...
By Elaine McArdle 01/09/2009 9:11 AM EST
Illustration by Doug Boehm
With enrollment in rural schools on the rise, will education in small-town America finally get the attention it deserves? Illustrations by Doug Boehm Doctoral candidate Sky Marietta, Ed.M.'08, was born and raised deep in the mountains of Kentucky and North Carolina -- "in the holler," as they say in Appalachia. She attended rural public schools all her life, including one so far from her home that, when she was in third through fifth grades, she endured a two-hour bus ride each way. Her high school offered more home economics classes than math and science courses combined. When she...