Press Releases

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 12:35 PM

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is aware of at least four Network Time Protocol Distributed Denial of Service attacks targeting school districts in 2014, indicating a possible trend of K-12 school district targeting.

The Network Time Protocol syncs the clocks of networked machines and runs over port 123/UDP. An obscure command, "monlist," allows a requesting computer to receive information regarding the last 600 connections to the Network Time Protocol server. A Network Time Protocol Distributed Denial of Service attack uses Distributed Denial of Service reflection and amplification: a malicious actor spoofs the victim's IP address and uses the monlist command to request that the Network Time Protocol server send a large amount of data to the victim. Since the requesting attacker sends a request to the Network Time Protocol server that is much smaller than the amount of information returned, it amplifies the effect on the victim.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Implement firewall rules that restrict traffic to the Network Time Protocol server from unauthorized sources.
- Instructions for determining if a Network Time Protocol server is vulnerable are available at http://openntpproject.org/

Please refer all questions regarding this advisory to RA-CISO@state.pa.us

 
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 12:30 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and its statewide assessment vendor, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), will conduct training sessions on the administration of the 2014 Spring Keystone Exams on April 16, 2014. The training sessions will be presented live at the Harrisburg PaTTAN at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., and broadcasted via video-conference to the King of Prussia and Pittsburgh PaTTAN locations, along with additional intermediate unit sites.

The information being presented is critical to the administration of the spring Keystone Exam therefore, it is required that every LEA participating in the 2014 Spring Keystone Exams (that did not attend a 2013-14 Winter Keystone Exams training session conducted in November 2013) send at least one representative to a training session. These are train-the-trainer sessions and are designed so that the representative who attends in-person can deliver the same information to his or her coordinators and administrators.

To register for the live session and view a list of available locations that will be broadcasting the event visit PaTTAN's website at http://www.pattan.net/category/Training/Calendar/2014/April.
 
For more information, contact PDE's Bureau of Assessment and Accountability at 717-265-7655.

 
Thursday, March 6, 2014 8:58 AM

On March 1, 2014, the State Board of Education published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin amendments to the Chapter 4 Regulations that govern Standards and Assessments (22 Pa Code Chapter 4).

This action puts in place new academic standards, known as the Pennsylvania Core Standards; and the Keystone Exams, or project-based or similar assessments, as a graduation requirement beginning with students in the class of 2017.

To read the new Chapter 4 regulations, as printed in the March 1, 2014, Pennsylvania Bulletin, visit http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol44/44-9/434.html.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at RA-00BasicEd@pa.gov.

 
Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:42 PM

The U.S. Department of Education's Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) released new guidance today to help school systems and educators interpret and understand the major laws and best practices protecting student privacy while using online educational services.

Click here for the full story.

Source: ed.gov (United States Department of Education, Feb. 25, 2014.

 
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 10:33 AM

Dr. Bill Ziegler is a high school principal and President of the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary/Secondary School Principals. He was in attendance for MCDPEL’s LIVE Global #SATCHAT hosted here on the PennGSE campus. Here are a few of Bill’s takeaways.

 
Friday, February 21, 2014 10:27 AM

Of all the challenges facing public schools in Pennsylvania, pension reform is the one that keeps Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq up at night.

Click here for the full story.

Source: Lancaster Online, Feb. 20, 2014.

 
Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:04 AM

Have you been searching for a template for a Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP) that can be used with the new educator effectiveness model? PA Principals Association has developed a template which can be modified by the user to his/her own setting. The TIP includes all the necessary components of an effective plan which include: participants involved, identification of areas of remediation in priority order, composition of specific action plans and documentation of observations and meetings.

If you use the TIP template in any manner, please give credit to PA Principals Association.

Click here for the template.

 
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 1:29 PM

As educators we believe that instructional time is critical in supporting student achievement. To ensure that all students have access to an appropriate amount of instruction, school entities (school districts, intermediate units, career and technology centers) are still responsible for meeting the requirement of 180 days of instruction and the number of hours of instruction required by law: 990 hours of instruction for secondary students, 900 hours for elementary students, and 450 hours for half-day kindergarten students.

To clarify how a school entity is able to meet these requirements, the Department of Education has issued three relevant Basic Education Circulars (BECs): Emergency Closings, Instructional Time and Act 80 Exceptions, and Graduation of Seniors.

As specified in the BEC on Emergency Closings, when an entity must close all or the majority of its buildings, the expectation is that the lost day(s) will be made up by June 30th. IF ALL MAKE-UP DAYS THAT WERE BUILT INTO THE SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED, THEN THE ENTITY SHOULD REVIEW ITS CALENDAR TO ENSURE THAT IT HAS AVAILED ITSELF OF THE ALTERNATIVES TO THE 180 DAY REQUIREMENT UNDER ACT 80 OF 1969.  IT IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT EVEN IF A REQUEST FOR AN ACT 80 EXCEPTION WAS NOT MADE PRIOR TO THE EVENT, APPLICATIONS CAN BE MADE UP UNTIL JULY 31 FOLLOWING THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. 

The BEC on Graduation of Seniors provides guidance on actions that entities can take to keep the original date of graduation as addressed in Section 1501 of the PA School Code.

It is also important to understand that the issuance of a “state of emergency” does not trigger an exception for days of school missed.

The full text of the BECs referenced above can be found at:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/basic_education_circulars/7497

Questions may be sent to the School Services Office at RA-PDE-SchoolService@pa.gov.

 

 
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 3:31 PM

Beginning in the 2014-15 School Year, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) will be offered an alternative to collecting Household Free and Reduced Price Meal Applications. This alternative is known as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and was enacted with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 §104(a).  Qualifying LEAs may participate in CEP with one, several, or all schools in the LEA. CEP is a beneficial and streamlined option for eligible LEAs and schools that wish to offer free meals to all children in high poverty schools and eliminate the paperwork and frustration that can go along with collecting individual household applications.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Division of Food and Nutrition (DFN), will be presenting three CEP informational webinars, which we highly encourage you to participate. The webinars will provide guidance on determining which LEAs and schools qualify for the CEP, timelines for submitting information and applications, and benefits, barriers, and lessons learned from other states who are already participating in the CEP. To participate, simply use the call-in numbers and codes below to sign-in to any session (registration is not required):

  • Thursday, 2/20/14 – 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. - Conference dial-in:  Toll Free:  1-855-750-1027,

Toll:  1-717-612-4733, Conference PIN:  476784, Web Conference URL: https://openscapewebconf2.pa.gov/client/fastclient_i_r606283EA.exe

  • Tuesday, 2/25/14 – 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. - Conference dial-in:  Toll Free:  1-855-750-1027,

Toll:  1-717-612-4733, Conference PIN:  117672, Web Conference URL:  https://openscapewebconf2.pa.gov/client/fastclient_i_r717901EA.exe

  • Wednesday, 2/26/14 – 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. - Conference dial-in:  Toll Free:  1-855-750-1027,

Toll:  1-717-612-4733, Conference PIN:  758471, Web Conference URL:  https://openscapewebconf2.pa.gov/client/fastclient_i_r829718F4.exe

 
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:54 AM

Michael E. Allison, a former president of the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PA Principals Association) and principal of Hopewell Senior High School in Aliquippa, Pa., has been elected to the position of President-Elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), headquartered in Reston, Va. The announcement was made following an election held during the association’s Ignite14 conference held recently in Dallas, Texas. Congratulations, Mike!

 
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P.O. Box 39, 122 Valley Road, Summerdale, PA 17093 Phone: (717) 732-4999 Fax: (717) 732-4890
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