Kyle Stokes

Youth & Education Reporter

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.

Kyle joined KPLU after nearly three years covering education in Bloomington, Ind., where he helped launch a reporting collaboration between NPR and member station WFIU. His work for that project, called StateImpact Indiana, earned him a National Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), along with recognitions from the Online News Association and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI).

Kyle earned his degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. He worked in Columbia, Mo., as a producer for NPR member station KBIA and a reporter for NBC affiliate KOMU. He graduated in 2011.

The Minneapolis native is hopelessly devoted to his Minnesota Twins — sorry, M's fans. Try your luck hooking him on the Sounders, though.

Ways To Connect

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A bid to get back Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind law — and regain for school districts the flexibility to spend $40 million in federal funding that came with that waiver — appears to have hit a dead end in Olympia.

Majority Democrats in the House Education Committee on Thursday blocked a procedural maneuver to force an up-or-down vote on a bill making changes to the state's teacher evaluation system in hopes of convincing federal education officials to give Washington its waiver back.

Joe Wolf / Flickr

Eleventh graders at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School will take a state- and federally-required standardized test after all, an apparent reversal of an earlier decision by staff, students and parents to boycott the exams this year.

"The [Smarter Balanced assessment] is required by the state. Therefore, to comply with Seattle Public Schools directives, students will be tested" in April, Nathan Hale Senate chair Melinda Greene said in an email to parents Thursday.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Technically speaking, Alicia Goodwin knows she's benefiting from one of Washington state's biggest tax exemptions just by checking out at the grocery store. Sales taxes aren't charged on food purchases.

AP

A Washington State House committee will hear a bill requiring student scores on statewide standardized tests to play a role in teachers' evaluations next week, a member of the committee said Tuesday.

But the proposal from Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, aimed at getting back the state's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, has gotten a chilly reception among House lawmakers — and the bill's supporters fear they're running out of time.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Editor's Note: We're taking a closer look at Washington's tax system through a week-long series. This is the second installment of “Where’s the Dough? On the Hunt for Washington’s Missing Tax Dollars." Our first installment explored the history of the state's tax system.  

When she was in the legislature, the giant wooden table in Marilyn Rasmussen's kitchen — the one with the lazy susan big enough to comfortably serve the seven kids she raised here — used to swarm with farmers wanting to talk shop.

"This table always had people around it, always talking about ideas. 'What are our problems? How can we solve 'em?'" the former lawmaker, 76, remembered as she warmed her hand over a hot cup of coffee. "Farmers are really good at solving issues."

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

The letter of the law is pretty clear, state schools superintendent Randy Dorn has warned.

If teachers at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School follow through on their promise not to give their eleventh graders a federally-required standardized test, Dorn's office says federal education officials could cut off funding not only for Seattle Public Schools but even for schools across Washington state.

But would the feds actually go so far? Some anti-testing advocates and policy experts doubt it.

Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

She may be an accomplished public speaker, but Bellevue teacher Kristin Leong says she's still "secretly super introverted." Getting comfortable with public performance, she tells her students, is about "faking it 'til you make it."

But Leong says she starts every year in her middle school humanities classes at the International School in Bellevue with the same promise to her students: 'all of them will be performers this year.'

Joe Wolf / Flickr

This spring, juniors at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School will not sit for a federally-required standardized test, a leadership team of staff, students and parents at the school decided this week.

The staff's refusal to administer Smarter Balanced Assessments to eleventh-graders would make Nathan Hale the latest Seattle school to thumb its nose at a standardized test and would fly in the face of the nation's tough school accountability law, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Eric E Castro / Flickr

As evidence mounts that harsh discipline policies in U.S. schools make students more likely to drop out or even to end up in jail, Washington state has not been able to explain why most students are getting in trouble.

More than half of the suspensions and expulsions handed down in Washington schools were not for drugs, alcohol, weapons or violence, but for "other behavior." The category has been a catch-all for a range of misbehaviors — from talking back in class to cheating on a paper, to sexual harassment.

Sequim School District

After getting a drubbing at the polls in April 2014, when just 44 percent of Sequim voters supported a $154 million school construction bond issue, Kelly Shea says he got the message: "You guys are biting off more than you can chew."

Cactusbone / Flickr

A bill dividing Seattle Public Schools into two separate districts took another step forward in Olympia Thursday after House Education Committee members sent the proposal to the full chamber by a 16-to-5 vote.

Though it doesn't mention Seattle by name, the bill would bar any Washington school district from enrolling more than 35,000 students at the opening of the 2018-2019 school year. Only Seattle Public Schools currently fits that description.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

The process of vetting new charter schools will look different during the next round of applications, the head of the Washington State Charter School Commission has now said.

It's one of the lessons the commission says it's learned as it raises new questions about the academic and financial health of Seattle's First Place Scholars school, the first charter to open its doors in Washington.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Even as low-income populations south King County's suburbs have surged, seven school districts in these communities have seen modest gains on key standardized test scores over the past five years, according to a new report.

But the report also highlights the stubborn achievement gap between socioeconomic groups. That gap will be very difficult to close within five years in the ethnically-diverse region, where one in five students is still learning to speak English.

Courtesy Highline Public Schools

Voters in the Highline School District have once again rejected a plan to rebuild aging schools, upgrade the district's technology and make other critical building repairs. 

Though the proposed $376 million bond issue was slightly smaller than the package voters rejected by just 215 votes in November, it fared worse in Tuesday's special election. Results showed 53 percent of voters supporting the property tax hike, short of the 60 percent supermajority it needed to pass.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

UPDATED — Seattle Public Schools has fallen short in bidding for a vacant downtown building, meaning the district’s search for a downtown school site has hit another dead end.

The district did not win the former Federal Reserve building in a government-run online auction that closed Saturday afternoon, officials confirmed.

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