Behind the Story: High-stakes testing in Norwegian schools subject to corruption

By Shazia Sarwar A series of investigative reports by Verdens Gang (VG) in 2013 exposed that principals at all primary and secondary schools in Oslo, Norway’s capital, were given personal incentives and salary benefits in secret working contracts and on the basis of student results on national tests. The investigation found a significant correlation between…

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How to investigate subsidized tutoring

Florida’s mandated tutoring program used taxpayer dollars to hire firms run by criminals, cheaters and profiteers. Last year Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael LaForgia used invoice records, complaint reports, audits and interviews to report on the industry, which goes virtually unchecked by state regulators. In this series of clips LaForgia walks through how to investigate…

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How to identify – and expose – inflated student enrollment statistics

Will Evans of The Center for Investigative Reporting explains how he started investigating an Oakland, Calif. church school that appears to have vastly inflated its enrollment numbers to collect extra taxpayer funding. “The place was in total disrepair, but the pastor drove an Escalade,” Evans said. In this first clip, Evans explains how he found…

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IRE Preview: Hone your campus coverage skills with our lineup of pros

Screen shot from Walt Bogdanich’s New York Times story on a flawed rape case at Florida State University IRE is expanding its vast panel lineup for our national conference in San Francisco to include sessions specially-designed for student journalists and others who cover college campuses and higher education issues. The track will cover topics such…

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New digital book on future of journalism doubles as classroom tool

The Knight Foundation has published a new book titled “Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes from the Digital Age of Journalism,” which looks at the challenges facing journalism and includes essays on investigative reporting. Written by Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation, the text is intended to double as a tool for journalism educators, with more…

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New webinar: Watchdogging Lions, Tigers, Bears, et al: Inside college sports

Jill Riepenhoff of The Columbus Dispatch shares tips on investigating college sports, from how to examine the rule book and find story ideas to using the NCAA’s infraction database and digging into athletes’ mysterious departures from their teams. Watch it here. Riepenhoff has worked at The Columbus Dispatch since 1985 and as a projects reporter…

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Behind the Story: Orange County Register reporter stays patient and follows the money trail

Melody Petersen of The Orange County Register has two pieces of advice to offer reporters: stay patient and follow the money trail. Petersen investigated school bonds in Orange County after realizing schools were opting for expensive agreements that would push costs onto taxpayers decades after the initial bond was distributed. She found that school districts…

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Fraud in the classroom: Cooking the books to make grades better

Test scores rocketed and plunged over several years at Annette Officer Elementary School in East St. Louis, Ill., often a telltale sign of tampering. The school district determined that cheating was “accepted practice. Photo: Hyosub Shin, AJC In Atlanta, 35 educators were indicted in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, all but three of whom…

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Behind the Story: Sweeping FOIAs, document-mining reveal problems with Norway kindergartens

By John Bones, Verdens Gang Rather than a traditional front page, VG created this cover, which reads “Mom and dad think I am safe in the kindergarten, but is it true?” It started like an ordinary news story last October. One of our reporters, Frank Haugsbo, made Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the…

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What journalists can learn from this year’s Sunshine Week

Journalists don’t need more reason to celebrate public records, but Sunshine Week provides a time for swapping tips and tricks, successes and horror stories. The EditorialMatters blog in Iowa spent the week posting tips like advice on requesting records, finding stories in those records, and avoiding all-too-common mistakes. Watchdog Wire shared their own tips on…

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