Special Reports

Tuition tracker

The Hechinger Report, the Education Writers Association, and the Dallas Morning News have teamed up to study how financial aid and tax credits for tuition have shifted from lower- to higher-income students. Read our stories below or click on the logo to find out how much you might pay to go to college.

Never Too Early

Research shows that babies can benefit from their parents reading and talking to them before they're even born. And by 3 years old, a child born into poverty has heard an estimated 30 million words fewer than a child from a well-off family, creating a major disparity in school readiness. As early childhood education increasingly becomes a national priority, The Hechinger Report is exploring efforts to stop the achievement gap before it starts, with a focus on President Obama's hometown of Chicago.

Time to Learn

By sixth grade, a child from a poor family has spent an estimated 6,000 fewer hours learning than a peer from an affluent household, who tends to have more exposure to everything from books to museums to travel and summer camp. The resulting divide can seem impossible to reverse. Is it? The Hechinger Report is spending a year exploring this so-called "opportunity gap" and how schools around the country are trying to narrow it by providing more time to learn.

New Orleans

In the coming months The Hechinger Report will be homing in on education in Louisiana, with a particular focus on the school system in New Orleans, which has been dramatically remade since Hurricane Katrina. Our stories will look at what's working — and what's not — in the nation's largest, most ambitious experiment with charter schools.

Digital Education

The Hechinger Report keeps a close eye on ways that technology is changing the ways we teach and learn.

Lessons from Freedom Summer

As the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches, The Hechinger Report will look back at the violence surrounding the 1964 campaign to register blacks to vote in Mississippi and the murders of three civil rights workers. Change has been a long time coming; racial divisions and inequities still run deep. Yet there are many efforts underway to stem the achievement gap between black and white students and to make sure history does not repeat itself.

Student Voices

Five students from South LA write about their experiences growing up in neighborhoods where race, class, gender, sexual orientation and immigration status create barriers to academic success--and tell us how they think those barriers should be torn down. The series is a partnership between The Hechinger Report, Intersections South LA and Reporter Corps, a USC Annenberg program that trains young adults to report on their own communities.

Common Core

Can the Common Core State Standards transform teaching and raise student achievement? The Hechinger Report investigates.

State of the Union

For decades, teachers unions have used their political power to exert enormous control over the country's education system. But now, under attack from the left and the right, the unions face the prospect of weakening strength. The Hechinger Report is investigating where the unions stand now and what their future holds.

Learn and Earn

Many students drift through college unsure of what they want to do, what jobs are available, or how to get them. Now efforts are under way to better sync up graduates’ skills with workforce needs. This series of stories relates to the problems and solutions in the area of higher education and workforce preparedness.

Teacher Effectiveness in Louisiana

A new teacher evaluation system in Louisiana requires frequent classroom observations and the use of test score data in teacher ratings. The Hechinger Report has partnered with The Times-Picayune in New Orleans on a four-part series of in-depth stories examining the possible benefits and pitfalls of the new policies. The front-page series, "Grading the Graders," also looks at how the new system is playing out on the ground as teachers and principals adjust to it.

Education Nation

The Hechinger Report has teamed up with NBC to highlight examples of schools and communities that have come up with innovative solutions and have succeeded. The stories are part of NBC's annual Education Nation Summit in New York City. The three-day event brings together more than 300 of the country's leaders in education, government, business, philanthropy and media.

Mississippi Learning

The largely poor and rural state of Mississippi suffers from the highest rate of childhood poverty in the country, along with some of the lowest scores on standardized tests. A legacy of racism and segregation are among the roadblocks that keep the children of Mississippi from reaching their full potential. The Hechinger Report is examining why the children of Mississippi start behind -- and stay behind. In the coming months, we'll report on some of the obstacles, consequences and potential solutions to the state’s woeful education performance, beginning in the critical early years.

A Promise to Renew

A new spirit of reform pervades Quitman Street Community School in Newark, N.J. In recent decades, school and city alike have been beaten down and subject to wave after wave of so-called rebirths, renewals and reforms. The Hechinger Report has partnered with NJ Public Radio and NJ Spotlight to share Quitman’s story over the next year, dispatching a team of reporters to cover its daily trials and triumphs and the lessons it provides for schools and communities nationwide.

Teaching the Teachers

The federal government gives local districts more than a billion dollars a year for the professional development of teachers. But there's little accountability for how the money is spent and whether it’s improving teaching and learning. The Hechinger Report is investigating how professional-development funds are spent in the country's largest school system—New York City—as well as in other districts around the nation to see what we can learn from schools, districts and countries that excel at ongoing teacher training.

School Improvement Grants

Education Week, the Education Writers Association and The Hechinger Report partnered with 18 news outlets in 16 states to investigate how $3 billion in federal School Improvement Grants are being used to revitalize some of the nation’s lowest-performing schools. Interviewing scores of students, teachers, researchers and education officials at all levels of government, participating reporters set out to determine how the money is being spent and whether the changes it sparks are likely to last.

Teacher Effectiveness

Since 2010, The Hechinger Report has been taking an in-depth look at efforts to improve teacher effectiveness. What's the best way to identify a good teacher? Should test scores be used to hire and fire teachers? How is the role of a school principal changing? Are schools improving as a result of the new efforts? Our reporters are asking these and other critical questions in states that are leading the reforms, including Wisconsin, Florida, Tennessee and Indiana.

Lessons From Abroad

There’s lots of evidence that American higher education could be doing significantly better. But how? It’s a question The Hechinger Report set out to answer by visiting countries on three continents and examining their new higher-education agendas. Our stories will be appearing in major publications over several months. You can also follow our blog on these issues.

For-Profit Colleges

For-profit institutions have come under fire for saddling students with too much debt and not enough job options, even as enrollment has nearly tripled to 1.8 million since 2000. New federal regulations are aimed squarely at the booming businesses, threatening to cut off student aid if too many graduates default on their loans.

Connecticut Achievement Gap

Connecticut has the nation's largest achievement gap between poor students and their more affluent peers, and it's acute even in higher-income towns like West Hartford. This is a three-part series looking at how Braeburn Elementary School in West Hartford is trying to close the gap. It’s the first collaboration between the Connecticut Mirror and The Hechinger Report.

Suspicious Test Scores

The Hechinger Report, USA TODAY and several other news outlets partnered to investigate the standardized test scores of millions of students in six states and the District of Columbia. The investigation identified 1,610 examples of statistically rare, perhaps suspect, gains on state tests.

Economic Stimulus

The Hechinger Report and the Education Writers Association partnered with more than 30 newspapers nationwide to take a look at how the stimulus money was spent.

School Leadership

School leadership is central to improving student outcomes, as recent research has shown. But it’s not about the school leader as drill sergeant, or the charismatic leader whose skill-set is impossible to replicate. Instead, it’s about a leader capable of creating conditions in which students and teachers can flourish. It’s about vision, instructional leadership and a strong school culture. Schools that make significant progress are often led by a principal whose role has been radically re-imagined. And while school leadership is essential, there also must be consistent, strong leadership at the district level.

The Worrying State of Science Education

While American students do better in science than they do in math on international comparisons, over time, science scores have not improved, while math scores have risen, and other countries have caught up. In a 2007 test of eighth graders, the U.S. students placed just tenth, behind countries like Japan, England and Russia. That worries experts because of how it can impact everything from the U.S. supply of engineers and researchers to the ability of everyday people to make decisions on things like vaccinations or conserving energy.

Community Colleges

Community colleges enroll nearly half of the country’s students and have never been in greater demand. They are under pressure to move students more quickly through remedial or basic-skills courses that can trap them for years and cause so much frustration that they drop out. And community colleges rely on a range of funding sources and charge tuition that is considerably less than that at other higher-education institutions.

The Dropout Problem

Graduation rates at U.S. high schools have hovered around 70 percent for decades. But many urban and rural areas routinely graduate only 40 or 50 percent of their students. The dropout crisis in many cities is acute, with 2,000 high schools producing half of the nation’s dropouts. Cutting the dropout rate and turning around “dropout factories” are among the Obama administration’s priorities. But what strategies work? In collaboration with the Washington Monthly, we looked at how New York City, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., have fared in their attempts to cut dropout rates.

What is Rigor?

Remember the three Rs – reading, writing and ’rithmetic? Get ready to add a fourth: rigor. It’s the buzzword in education. From presidents to principals, billionaires to school board members, governors to teachers, everybody seems to be promising rigor, demanding rigor, or deploring the lack of rigor in American schools. But what does the word “rigor” actually mean? What are the hallmarks a rigorous curriculum? And do students in other countries receive a more rigorous education than U.S. students?

California

The Hechinger Report takes a deep dive in California, a state with large achievement gaps and even larger budget woes, but also exciting innovations in education reform.

Pre-K in Depth

Our littlest learners are receiving some attention in high places, thanks to recent findings in neuroscience, child development and economics, as well as the work of advocates who champion the benefits of early learning and high-quality preschool. Here we look at why early childhood education is on the agenda of politicians, foundations and policymakers – and the many obstacles that remain to providing a high-quality start for all children in the U.S.

Math Achievement

American students’ math achievement nationally has been improving slowly since 2003. But U.S. 15-year-olds fall behind 22 countries on one international test and 12 on another. Math is a frustrating subject for many students and their parents and educators and policymakers agree the U.S. needs to do a better job to remain competitive in an increasingly technical global economy. Poor math skills exacerbate inequities, shut people out of jobs and make it hard for voters to understand complex issues such as the cost of health care and the size of the national debt.