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Standardized Testing
3:10 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Four Red Flags Found In One Seattle School's Now-Invalidated Test Results

File image
Wes Chapman Flickr

Someone altered test responses at Seattle's Beacon Hill International School in a way that significantly increased the elementary school's test scores. State education officials have now thrown out the entire school's results after noting "heavy erasure" marks on the test forms.

Whatever the reason for the alterations — both Seattle Public Schools and the state aren't using the word "cheating" — the changes produced some pretty startling test results, as a state analysis shows:

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Jobless Rate
12:47 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Job Growth Stalled In Washington, Oregon During September

FILE - In this June 23, 2014 photo, recruiter Christina O, with New Western Acquisitions, left, take Raheem Shaw's resumé during a job fair.
Matt Rourke AP Photo

Job growth stalled during September in Oregon and Washington, according to new numbers from the respective state employment departments.

In Washington's case, state labor economist Paul Turek is not too concerned by one month of flat hiring.

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How We Sound
12:37 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Listen: Can You Pick Out The Northwest Accent? (And Yes, We Have One!)

Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP Photo

Think we don’t have an accent here in the Pacific Northwest? Think again.

Scientists say we do, in fact, have an accent, though our native ears may not always pick up on it. The longer we’ve lived here, the harder it is for us to hear our own distinct subtleties, according to experts.

So let’s put our ears to the test. We asked three people to say the same sentence: “Please put the fish you caught at dawn in the bag, not in the bowl.” Click on the three audio clips below to hear them, then pick out the voice you think belongs to a native Northwesterner. 

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BirdNote
9:00 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Cattle Egret - You've Got A Friend In Me

Credit Kenneth Cole Schneider

  Many birds that forage in open country, such as Cattle Egrets, benefit from association with large grazing mammals. The mammals scare up insects as they move, making them more visible to the birds. In the egrets’ native lands in Africa, the birds feed with elephants, rhinos, and Cape buffalos. In the Americas, Cattle Egrets associate with cattle and horses.

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Food for Thought
5:00 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Hugs And Kisses For XO Sauce, The Mommy Of All Umami

Simple and tasty. Plain boiled noodles with a gob of XO.
Nancy Leson

Editor's Note: This is a rerun of a vintage Food for Thought post.

Nancy Leson and I love the XO sauce, the incredibly flavorful Chinese condiment, but we don't love the price. Besides, it's always more fun to make your own. And there's no shortage of recipes.

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Lobbyists & Legislators
4:59 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Washington Ethics Board Adopts Annual Cap Of 12 Lobbyist-Paid Meals For Lawmakers

Starting in January, Washington lawmakers will be barred from accepting more than 12-lobbyist-paid meals per year. The state’s Legislative Ethics Board adopted that limit today after months of public hearings and deliberation.

The issue of free meals first came to light in May of last year when we, in partnership with the Associated Press, reported on the practice of lawmakers letting lobbyists pick up the tab.

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Standardized Testing
4:11 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Suspicious Test Results At Seattle Elementary Thrown Out As State, District Investigate

Carol VanHook Flickr

Washington state education officials have thrown out all standardized test scores at Seattle's Beacon Hill International School after a review found "heavy erasures" in the test booklets, district officials said in a letter to the school's parents and staff Tuesday.

State officials think "the test responses were altered in such a way as to significantly increase total scores," Interim Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland wrote in his letter.

High numbers of the erasure marks made from students changing wrong answers to right ones could indicate cheating, according to education experts. That said, there can also be legitimate, innocent explanations for these stray marks.

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BirdNote
9:00 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Shorebirds - Not On The Shore

Credit Brent Wellander

  Shorebirds' lives take them to many places other than the shore. Most of the shorebirds we see along our coasts migrate to the Arctic in summer. Here, many nest on the tundra, some along rushing streams, and others on rocky mountainsides. Long-billed Curlews winter on the Florida, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. But this one was seen in a field near Creston, BC, Canada, nearly 500 miles from the coast and 1/2 mile from the nearest body of water, the Kootenay River!

Ebola Preparedness
5:00 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Sea-Tac Airport Has CDC Quarantine Station In Case Of Contagion

File image
Tetona Dunlap AP Photo

Nervous air travelers might know Sea-Tac International Airport doesn’t have any flights to or from Africa. What it does have is a quarantine station that’s prepared to stop the spread of contagious diseases, such as Ebola.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has 20 quarantine stations around the U.S. In Seattle, the station is located at Sea-Tac, and it’s not new. 

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Swimming Upstream
5:00 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Part 5: Cedar River's Restored Habitat Provides Ideal Spawning Conditions For Chinook

Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU

Editor's Note: Fifteen years ago, Puget Sound salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Despite the billions of dollars spent on recovery since, the results remain mixed. Some runs are seeing record returns while others are facing one of their worst years ever.

To learn more about the challenges of salmon recovery, this series follows one Chinook run from the open ocean to Puget Sound, through the Ballard Locks, past Renton and finally home to native spawning grounds on the Cedar River.

About five miles from the clogged freeways, shopping malls and airplane hangars at the south end of Lake Washington, the Cedar River starts winding its way through Maple Valley.

It’s here, along some 30 miles of streambeds, some just a few paces off the highway, where life begins and ends each fall for hundreds of Lake Washington chinook.

Read the full story on our companion site, northwestsalmon.org >>>

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Dueling Initiatives
4:05 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Elway Poll: Wash. Background Check Measure Retains Healthy Lead

FILE - Elections worker Joseph MacLean moves boxes of petitions for Initiative 594 at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Olympia, Washington.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

A ballot measure to expand background checks for gun sales in Washington has lost some support, but still enjoys a healthy lead, according to the latest Elway Poll released Monday.

Meanwhile, a competing gun rights measure appears to be in trouble.

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Drones
3:54 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Wash. State Police Push Back Against Potential Limits On Drones

FILE - In this May 8, 2014 photo, a Parrot Bebop drone flies during a demonstration at a Parrot event in San Francisco.
Jeff Chiu AP Photo

Law enforcement groups in Washington state are pushing back against possible limits on police use of drones.

A task force convened by Gov. Jay Inslee continued to wrestle Monday about how to regulate small unmanned aircraft.

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Same-Sex Marriage
2:53 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Gay Marriage In Idaho Cleared To Start Wednesday Morning

Machelle Migneault and her partner, Ms. Smith, embrace after being the first ones to arrive the the recorder's office to attempt to get a same sex marriage license at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014.
Otto Kitsinger AP Photo

Same-sex couples in Idaho can start getting married and have those marriages legally recognized by the state starting Wednesday morning, according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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History
12:36 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Cross-Time Photos From Northwest Fire Lookouts Reveal Big Changes

Northwest of Bald Mountain in Kittitas County, Washington.
John Marshall / U.S. Forest Service

The old saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." That was the reaction of a U.S. Forest Service researcher when he rediscovered a trove of landscape panoramas called the Osborne Panoramas.

The photos were taken during the Great Depression at hundreds of fire lookouts in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

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Election 2014
11:10 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Watch Your Mailbox For Ballots, Voter’s Guides

Priscilla Slaughter of Seattle lets out a little cheer and raises her arms in celebration after dropping in her ballot at a ballot drop box Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Election 2014 is less than a month away. 

Ballots will soon be arriving in mailboxes in Washington and Oregon where the election is all vote-by-mail. Idaho voters still go to the polls, but about a quarter of Gem State ballots are cast absentee.

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