After I updated the WordPress on this blog to version 3.5.1 I could not save the order and location of my administration dashboard widgets. No matter what arrangement I used, after a page refresh they stacked themselves out of order into the first column.
I explored the WordPress database and discovered the dashboard ordering information was correctly saved in the wp_usermeta table with the key meta-box-order_dashboard. However, WordPress was reading an apparently older version of a similar key: wp_meta-box-order_dashboard.
I solved the problem by deleting the old key wp_meta-box-order_dashboard from table wp_usermeta. This caused WordPress to use the newer key (without the prefix) and now the administration widgets behave.