Ashley Gross | KNKX

Ashley Gross

Youth and Education Reporter

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat.  She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.

She studied history at Brown University and earned a master's in international affairs at Columbia University. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two sons.

One of Ashley's most memorable moments in radio happened several years ago in Northwest Alaska: "I was visiting an alcohol and drug rehab program in the tiny village of Selawik. It helps Alaska Natives recover by helping them get back in touch with their subsistence lifestyle. It was spring, which meant the river was still frozen - barely. We went out on snowmachines to go ice-fishing, but late in the day, as we headed back, the river had melted to the consistency of a Slurpee. It was a harrowing ride and a good lesson in trust - I rode with my eyes closed, clinging for dear life to the woman driving. A week later, three people drowned trying to ride a snowmachine over that river, and that's when I realized just how dangerous life in rural Alaska can be."

Ways to Connect

Researchers at the University of Washington have been examining the health of child care workers and one thing they've found is high rates of depression.

Tyee High School students Bashar Abokar (left) and Guled Ahmed collected about 600 signatures on a petition asking the Highline district to recognize Eid celebrations as official school holidays.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

New York City and some other school districts on the East Coast and in the Midwest have designated the Muslim celebrations of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as official school holidays.

Both are very important holidays in the Muslim religion. Eid al-Adha marks the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid al-Fitr comes at the end of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day.

Now, two high school students in the Highline school district are asking their school board to do the same.

Kent Superintendent Calvin Watts
Ashley Gross / KNKX

UPDATE, June 27: Adds that the school board voted to end automatic renewal of the superintendent's contract.

The Kent school board voted Wednesday evening to cease automatic renewal of Superintendent Calvin Watts' contract beyond June 30, 2021, ahead of a Monday deadline to make a decision on the matter.

Under the proposed dress code policy in Seattle, students will be allowed to wear tank tops.
colorblindPICASO / Flickr

Seattle public school students who have been told not to wear tank tops or short shorts will probably be relieved to hear that a new districtwide policy is in the works. The proposed policy will be introduced at tonight’s school board meeting.

Camp to Belong Washington

This is a special week for about 100 kids in Washington who live apart from their siblings. Camp to Belong Washington brings together siblings who are separated from each other because they're in foster, adoptive or relative care.

Graduates celebrate receiving associate degrees at last year's ceremony of the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound.
Freedom Education Project Puget Sound

Graduation ceremonies have been taking place all over the region, and this Saturday, 11 people incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center for Women will receive Associate of Arts degrees. 

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Thousands of students in Washington state enroll in online schools every year, but it’s difficult to figure out who the students are and why they’re opting for online programs instead of attending brick-and-mortar schools.

Data from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction show that almost 10,000 students enrolled in the state’s three biggest online schools in the 2017-18 school year.

Seattle Central College

It's graduation season, and it's an accomplishment for everyone who reaches that milestone. For one mother of three who came here as a refugee from Somalia as a teenager, that degree will help fulfill a promise she made to herself long ago.

Eric Neurath / Peninsula College

Community and technical colleges across Washington state are working to increase the percentage of students who graduate or transfer to another college or university.

Peninsula College in Port Angeles has had the biggest increase in the past five years. The college’s rate of full-time students graduating or transferring to another college has jumped by 47 percent since the 2013-14 school year. The school’s rate reached 62.1 percent this school year, according to statistics from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Shaima Shamdeen / Graduate Tacoma

 UPDATE, June 11: Clarifies identification of Tacoma Completes initiative.

School bus after school bus rolled up to Tacoma's Eastside Community Center on a recent Friday morning. High school seniors stepped out and were greeted by people cheering and waving pompoms — a welcome crew from the University of Washington Tacoma.

The high schoolers were there to participate in an event called What’s Next — a chance to meet students from other Tacoma high schools heading to local colleges in the fall and get a head start on connecting with college mentors and advisers. 

Jeff Shulman and Steven Fong

Growth and development have reshaped much of Seattle in recent years. That's especially true in the Central District, the neighborhood that has been the heart of the city's African-American community for decades. A new documentary screening this Sunday explores the toll of gentrification on the community.

The film, "On the Brink," tells the story of a neighborhood that hummed with black-owned businesses, from Helen’s Diner, famous for soul food, to Mr. Gideon's drugstore, where kids would sip malts.

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

Student journalists at Western Washington University in Bellingham have taken their own school to court. They allege the university violated the state Public Records Act.

Students and teachers gave public testimony at Wednesday's school board meeting in favor of adopting new science curricula, including Amplify Science at the elementary and middle-school levels.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

After a lengthy meeting with a lot of debate Wednesday night, the Seattle School Board voted to approve new science curriculum that some community members and one former board director urged them to reject.

Rainier Beach High School
Architectsea / Wikimedia Commons

Computer coding and software jobs have become linchpins in Seattle's economy. But Seattle Public Schools has been outpaced by nearby school districts when it comes to providing computers to students.

Now the Seattle district is asking the school board to approve a $12 million purchase to try to catch up, including by providing all ninth graders with a laptop starting this fall.

Curtis Cronn / Seattle Pacific University/Flickr

Washington lawmakers voted to make public college or university tuition free for students who come from families earning less than about $50,000 a year. That will become a guarantee starting in the 2020-21 school year.

They also expanded eligibility for the grant, so students from families that earn up to about $90,000 will qualify for partial tuition assistance.

Officials at private colleges and universities said it’s good news for them, too.

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

The Everett School District is in the final stages of choosing a new superintendent to succeed Gary Cohn, who is retiring after a decade in the position. The school board has selected three finalists.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

The high-paying jobs in the Puget Sound region can seem out of reach for a lot of people. Officials from King County and the City of Seattle say they want job training to benefit people who have been left behind as the local economy has grown.

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

In recent years, there's been a big jump in the number of public school students experiencing homelessness in Washington. More than 40,000 students were identified as homeless in the 2016-17 school year, an increase of more than 30 percent from the 2012-13 school year.

A new performance audit from the state auditor's office recommends ways that school districts could do more to help those students, who often suffer significant academic setbacks due to their lack of stable housing.

Kent School Board Directors Karen DeBruler (second from left), Ross Hardy (third from left), and Debbie Straus (fourth from left) say they will not run to retain their seats.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

UPDATE, May 20: Updates to say that two people withdrew their names from the race for the Seattle School Board District 2 seat.

The Kent School District, which has contended with budget shortfalls in recent years and criticism from its teachers’ union, will have significant changes on its school board after this November’s election.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

May 17 is the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision that said segregating public schools by race was unconstitutional.

Many public schools in Seattle remain segregated in spite of past efforts to address that, including several decades of busing. A national nonprofit group, Integrated Schools, is hosting an event on Thursday, May 16, examining racial divides in Seattle schools, what’s worked and what hasn’t worked and “how to disrupt segregation now.”

While school districts got some relief from the Legislature in the form of an increase in their levy authority and extra funding for special education, some districts still have to make budget cuts.

Tacoma Public Schools said it’s notifying 31 employees that their jobs will end in August. That includes nine administrators and central support staff, nine certificated employees, including one classroom teacher, and 13 non-certificated school-based staff, the district said in a statement.

A 7th grade science class at Denny International Middle School, which has been using the Amplify curriculum
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle Public Schools is in the final stages of choosing new science curriculum and that process is now embroiled in controversy. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

For high school students with test anxiety, there's good news. Starting next school year, the state will no longer require high school students to pass statewide assessments to graduate.

Washington Superintendent Chris Reykdal
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Going into the legislative session, many Washington school district officials said one of their biggest priorities was to get more funding for special education.

Now that lawmakers passed a two-year budget and adjourned, some district leaders say they're disappointed in how much lawmakers approved for special education services.

A screenshot from the trailer of the Rainier Beach episode of "Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas."

Students at Seattle's Rainier Beach High School will be featured on national television Friday evening, as part of an episode of HBO's show "Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas."

Now that lawmakers have passed a new state budget, school districts are busy figuring out whether they'll still have to make cuts for the coming school year.

The Seattle school district, which has been facing a $40 million deficit, said it will no longer have to cut librarians, assistant principals and other school-based positions. The projected cuts to schools had totaled about 90 full-time positions.

S Kaya / University of Washington Tacoma/Flickr

Tacoma Public Schools has increased its graduation rate in recent years, though, as KNKX Public Radio has reported, some of the gain is due to a state policy that excludes students in dropout re-engagement programs from the calculations.

Nevertheless, there has been growth in the number of students receiving a diploma. But that's not the case for the number of students going on to college.

A construction crane collapsed on Mercer Street near Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle. The Seattle Times tweeted that several vehicles and a building were damaged.
Chelsea Oughton / via The Associated Press

UPDATE, April 28, 7:15 p.m.: Adds information about the state investigation and more.

A construction crane collapsed in downtown Seattle on Saturday afternoon, damaging buildings, pinning cars beneath it and killing four people. 


This story is the third in our series, “Who’s Counted: Taking a Closer Look at School District Graduation Rates.” The first part of the series examined how dropout re-engagement programs are excluded from district graduation rates under a state policy, and the second part focused on how online schools that enroll students from across the state are also left out of district graduation rate calculations.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story is the second in our series, “Who’s Counted: Taking a Closer Look at School District Graduation Rates.” The first part of the series examined how dropout re-engagement programs are excluded from district graduation rates.