Press Releases

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 8:49 AM

Quality early learning programs can improve the health and lifetime success of children exposed to extreme stress in their early years.

In childhood, fleeting stress can be positive, helping children build resilience and problem-solving abilities. Other stress is tolerable if supportive adults help buffer the effects.  In the early years, different parts of the brain develop the circuitry for vision and such executive functioning skills as working memory, problem solving, and planning. Problems in those areas are easier to correct if caught early because of the brain’s plasticity. That’s when positive reinforcement, such as the sound of an adult reading aloud or babbling back and forth, can encourage the brain to strengthen its circuitry. But plasticity can have a flip side, when stresses derail healthy development, and the lack of positive reinforcement causes the brain to prune away the unused connections – even those that would have facilitated such positive activities as reading and problem-solving.

An intriguing study from University of Wisconsin, asking children to spot the point in photo arrays where happy expressions changed to fearful and sad, showed that children who had experienced early life adversity were likelier to sense the signs of looming anger. The “constant activation of alarms” is a hallmark of toxic stress, causing more wear and tear on the heart and reducing neural connections when the brain should be building new ones.

As adults, children exposed to toxic stress are prone to such adverse health outcomes as greater likelihood of heart attacks and out-of-control eating. But the effects can be minimized if children are exposed to nurturing, stable, and engaging environments.

In the scale of life, positive experiences can outweigh the negative, tipping the child’s scale toward good outcomes. But some children are more sensitive to stress than others. Moving the fulcrum on the scale affects its disposition toward the positive or negative, and the accumulation of positive experiences and coping skills can shift the fulcrum to help children achieve positive outcomes.

Capabilities that help to promote brain development and resilience include focusing attention, planning ahead, behavior regulation, controlling impulses, adjusting to new circumstances, and problem-solving so that children learn to recognize difficulties and brainstorm ways of dealing with them.

These are all particularly good things to focus on because they’re positive.  The child will use circuits to do these things again and again and again, and those circuits will be strengthened, but they’ll also shift the fulcrum. If children learn these skills, they will be much more sensitive to positive things in their life and much more able to deal with negative stresses.

Stable, caring adult relationships, such as those found in quality early learning programs, make a world of difference in the developing child’s ability to cope with stress. They help children build mastery of executive functioning skills and self-regulation. A community that offers structure such as this can help children no matter what is going on in their personal lives.

SOURCE:  Dr. Judy Cameron, Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Science Outreach, University of Pittsburgh, as shared at the PA Early Learning Investment Commission (ELIC) Summit of April 15, 2015, in Harrisburg, PA. For more information and the full recording of Dr. Cameron’s presentation see the PA ELIC website:  http://pa-elic.org/events/economic-summit/2015-summit/

 
Monday, July 20, 2015 11:06 AM

Click here for article.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 19, 2015 12:00 AM.

 
Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:15 AM

Congress has finally taken significant action to enact a full reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – also known as the No Child Left Behind Act – that will provide teachers and principals with the support they need to offer a high quality education for every student.

This afternoon, the Senate will vote on final passage of the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177). We are asking you to send an email to your senators now to let them know that you support S.1177 because it will ensure that students and all educators will be better off than under the current No Child Left Behind-test-and-punish laws and regulations.

While the bill is not perfect, it represents a bipartisan comprised renewal of the law that is important for the nation’s education system. NAESP, in collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the American Federation of School Administrators, were pleased to see several of our recommendations included in the bill the Senate will vote on:

  • The elimination of Adequate Years Progress (AYP) measures and the 100 percent proficiency requirements
  • Clarification of the term “School Leader” as the principal of an elementary, middle, or high school
  • Inclusion of use of funds in Title II for a “School Leader Residency Program”
  • Updated school leadership focused activities to improve the recruitment, preparation, placement, support, and retention of effective principals and other school leaders in high-need schools
  • The removal of the unworkable school turnaround models that are required under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program regulations
  • The continued disaggregation of subgroup data and reporting
  • Allowable use of local Title II funds to develop induction and mentoring programs that are designed to improve school leadership and provide opportunities for mentor principals and other educators who are experienced, effective, and have demonstrated an ability to work with adult learners, as well as provide “personalized” professional development for educators
  • Includes coordinated services and alignment with early childhood education, as well as use of funds to support professional development for principals in leading Pre-K-3 alignment in their learning communities

As a leader in your school and in your community, your voice is extremely powerful in this debate. Please take a moment to take action and send an email to your senators in Congress to urge them to vote YES on passage of S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act. While a sample letter has been provided for you, we strongly urge you to personalize the letter where possible.

Click here to send a letter to your senator.

Thank you for your leadership and advocacy in improving public school education for all children.

Sincerely,

The NAESP Advocacy Team

 
Wednesday, July 15, 2015 10:02 AM

Congress has taken significant action to enact a full reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Earlier this month, the Senate began consideration of the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) to renew the outdated law. We are asking you to send an email to your senators to let them know that you support S. 1177 because it will provide teachers and principals with the support they need to offer a high quality education for every student.  

While the bill is not perfect, it represents a bipartisan comprise of the laws renewal that is important for the nation's education system. NASSP, in collaboration with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the American Federation of School Administrators, we're pleased to see several of our recommendations included in S. 1177, and specifically support the following provisions of the bill:

  • The elimination of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures and the 100 percent proficiency requirements
  • Clarification of the term "School Leader" as the principal of an elementary, middle, or high school
  • Inclusion of use of funds in Title II for a "School Leader Residency Program"
  • Updated school leadership-focused activities to improve the recruitment, preparation, placement, support, and retention of effective principals and other school leaders in high-need schools
  • The removal of the unworkable school turnaround models that are required under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program regulations
  • The continued disaggregation of subgroup data and reporting
  • Allowable use of local Title II funds to develop induction and mentoring programs that are designed to improve school leadership and provide opportunities for mentor principals and other educators who are experienced, effective, and have demonstrated an ability to work with adult learners as well as provide "personalized" professional development for educators

As a leader in your school and community, your voice is extremely powerful in this debate. Please take a moment to send an email to your senators in Congress, and urge them to consider the voice of principals in the reauthorization of ESEA. While a sample letter has been provided for you, we strongly urge you to personalize the letter where possible.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/HAnIIHdZKOI5CgPMl5FMhw

 
Wednesday, July 15, 2015 9:57 AM

This week, the State Board of Education approved the new PSSA cut scores for our students as the next step in a process that began several years ago. Now, as we prepare to receive official student and district PSSA data in the coming weeks it is important to remember a few things:

1. The PA Core Standards that were adopted in 2013 were expected to be much more rigorous.

2. The PSSAs in English Language Arts and Mathematics administered this past spring were comprised solely of the new, more challenging standards.

3. Our new, more rigorous standards have resulted in lower standardized test scores, particularly in Mathematics.

It is important to note that these anticipated results represent a snapshot in time of student progress on a more rigorous assessment. The PA Core standards that were adopted in 2013 set the bar high, purposefully, in order to better prepare our students to be college and career ready when they graduate, and be successful in the 21st century work force. Our students haven't changed, but the assessment has.

At PDE we understand there are secondary impacts of these scores, and we're committed to helping you --- the state's educators, school administrators and stakeholders -- in improving student achievement and communicating the new assessments and the results in your communities. Further, I assure you that we understand that standardized test results should not be the sole indicator of a student's or school's success, and will be part of a larger conversation on accountability and how we best serve our students.

You can see the new PSSA cut scores and preliminary impact data by visiting PDE's website: http://www.education.pa.gov/, under the K-12 tab: Assessment and Accountability. We [PDE] will be reaching out again in a few weeks with additional materials you may find useful in your discussions around this year's results.

--Pedro A. Rivera, PA Secretary of Education

 
Wednesday, July 8, 2015 10:28 AM

The No Child Left Behind Act, a George W. Bush-era law that expired in 2007, may finally be on its way to becoming fully defunct.  On Tuesday, the Senate debated its version of a No Child Left Behind rewrite, called the Every Child Achieves Act. Later this week, the House of Representatives is set to do the same with its version, called the Student Success Act. It is currently unclear where a final bill may land, but civil rights groups, politicians and teachers unions agree -- it is time for an update.  The No Child Left Behind Act, a 2002 bipartisan law enacted by Bush, emphasizes standardized tests and penalties for bad scores. Since 2011, the Obama administration has offered waivers to states, allowing them to elude some of the law's most stringent requirements. Amid this patchwork of state waivers, previous attempts to overhaul the law have failed.  This time around, Congress appears determined to make something work. Here are three things you should know about the Senate and House bills that are up for debate.

Click here for full article.

Source: The Huffington Post By Rebecca Klein 07/07/2015 7:57 pm EDT Updated: 07/07/2015 10:59 pm EDT.

 
Wednesday, July 8, 2015 10:25 AM

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) commends the U.S. Congress for taking up the outdated No Child Left Behind law. As debate commenced today for floor action of the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), NSBA sent a letter to all 100 U.S. Senators urging their strong support for moving forward on a final bill that restores community ownership to local school districts, maximizes authorized funding for Title I, and advances academic achievement among all students.  During the Senate floor action, key amendments were introduced for debate and consideration. NSBA is pleased that Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced a bipartisan amendment focused on strengthening local governance. NSBA worked closely with Senator Fischer and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Angus King (I-ME), who co-sponsored the amendment, to assure that S. 1177 includes strong support for local autonomy in managing school administration, budget development and related operations that support school district responsibilities for student achievement.  Additionally, the White House released a Statement of Administration Policy affirming the President’s intent not to veto the final Senate bill.

Click here for full article.

 Source: NSBA Press Release, July 7, 2015.

 
Wednesday, July 8, 2015 9:25 AM

Math not your thing? Confused by the proposed formula proposed by the Basic Education Funding Commission? You're not alone. PSBA has produced a short video to help explain the formula and how it works with a real example. 

Source: PSBA Daily Edition, July 8, 2015.

 
Wednesday, July 8, 2015 9:24 AM

Harrisburg's budget impasse isn't just a partisan staring contest threatening to hobble the commonwealth and those who count on it. There are principles at stake. Unfortunately, they include the principles that fossil fuels should be tax-free and the government should own all the liquor stores.
Click here for article.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, July 8, 2015.

 
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 2:13 PM

Gov. Tom Wolf and top Republican legislative leaders resumed their on-again, off-again talks on Pennsylvania's delayed state budget Monday. While there was plenty of action, it was hard to see any discernible progress.

Click here for article.

Source: Pennlive.com, July 7, 2015.

 
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