Press Releases

Friday, February 8, 2013 3:07 PM
Pursuant to Act 85 of 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has published the list of low-achieving schools in which students, who live within the schools' boundaries, may be eligible to apply for a scholarship through the EITC 2.0 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program.

Last year Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law Act 85 of 2012 that gives low- and moderate-income students in low-achieving schools the option to obtain a scholarship to attend a participating public or private school. Under Act 85, PDE is required by law to notify school districts that have schools identified as low-achieving by Feb. 1.

Within 15 days of notification by the department, school districts are required to notify parents and post on its web site, a description of the opportunity scholarship tax credit program, as well as instructions on how families may apply.  

As required by the law, the list of schools contains the lowest-achieving 15% of elementary schools and the lowest-achieving 15% of secondary schools, based on combined math and reading scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment from the 2011-12 school year. Career and technology centers as well as charter schools are not included on the list.

PDE's list of low-achieving schools contains 406 school buildings in 71 school districts across Pennsylvania. The scholarship program has the potential to impact more than 240,000 students. Additional information and sample parent notification letters are available on PDE's web site by clicking here.

For the 2013-14 school year, students who live within the attendance boundaries of one of these schools may be eligible for a scholarship if their household's annual income is no greater than $75,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent member of the household. The maximum scholarship award available to non-special education students is $8,500 and the maximum for a special education student is $15,000.

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, Feb. 7, 2013.
Friday, February 8, 2013 3:02 PM
The PA House of Representatives approved HB 19, following earlier approval from the Appropriations Committee. The bill requires school districts to incorporate an age-appropriate child exploitation awareness education program into the existing curriculum for students in grades K-8. The Department of Education would develop model guidelines and provide educational materials to be used in the creation of the programs.
Thursday, February 7, 2013 5:17 PM

The following notification is provided with the intent of soliciting input into the Pennsylvania Department of Education's (PDE) proposal to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) seeking flexibility in implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  

Listed below are three principles which our proposal must address.  The "ESEA Flexibility Policy Document"? explains these principles and also lists the flexibility available to Pennsylvania and its LEAs once our application for flexibility is approved. The "ESEA Flexibility Policy Document"? can be found at

During the past several years, these principles have been pursued by Pennsylvania education leaders. The State Board of Education's adoption of the Pennsylvania Common Core State Standards and Keystone Exams demonstrate adherence to Principle 1. Our work on the PA School Performance Profile creates an excellent foundation for a new accountability system under Principle 2. Principle 3 requirements are met with the implementation of our Educator Effectiveness initiative.  

Although there have already been opportunities for input into Pennsylvania's approach to standards and assessments, school performance profile and educator effectiveness rubrics and multiple measures, we are once again requesting, in accordance with guidance from USDE, that if you have input you believe should be considered relative to the principles noted below and/or on implementing the allowed flexibility identified in the above-referenced policy document, please send your thoughts to no later than February 21, 2013.


Principle 1:  College- and Career-Ready Expectations for All Students                          
1.A       Adopt college-and career-ready standards         
1.B       Transition to college- and career-ready standards         
1.C       Develop and administer annual, statewide, aligned, high-quality assessments that measure student growth               

Principle 2:  State-Developed Differentiated Recognition, Accountabilit, and Support                  
2.A       Develop and implement a State-based system of differentiated recognition, accountability and support      
2.B       Set ambitious but achievable annual measurable objectives                 
2.C       Reward schools                
2.D       Priority schools                
2.E       Focus schools       
2.F       Provide incentives and supports for other Title I schools           
2.G       Build SEA, LEA, and school capacity to improve student learning          

Principle 3:  Supporting Effective Instruction and Leadership                            
3.A       Develop and adopt guidelines for local teacher and principal evaluation and support systems           
3.B       Ensure LEAs implement teacher and principal evaluation and support systems

Thursday, February 7, 2013 2:00 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has developed an interactive training module that all test administrators must complete as part of their training to administer the PSSA and Keystone Exams. District and school assessment coordinators will need to incorporate this module into their regularly scheduled training for test administrators. The purpose of the module is to assist district and school assessment coordinators in ensuring all test administrators have been properly trained to effectively administer the PSSA and Keystone Exams.

PDE will offer an overview of the new learning module to district personnel in a webinar. District superintendents should notify their district assessment coordinator to attend one of three required webinars. District superintendents will need to ensure that all test administrators have completed the learning module by April 5, 2013, prior to the April 8, 2013 PSSA math and reading testing window.

Presentations will be made via "GoToMeeting™."? To register, click on the link provided for the session you plan to attend:         

LEA's in IU's 1-8, 27, 28; Tuesday, February 19, 9AM-10:30AM; the link is:

LEA's in IU's 9-12, 15-17; Tuesday, February 19, 2PM-3:30PM; the link is:

LEA's in IU's 13, 14, 18-26, 29; Wednesday, February 20, 9AM-10:30AM; the link is:

A recording of one of the sessions will be posted to and to PDE's web site as soon as possible following the sessions.

If there are questions regarding the training, please contact Dr. Kerry Helm at or 717-783-6538.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 2:13 PM

The PA Department of Public Welfare and PDE have issued this joint statement regarding the recently enacted Uninterrupted Scholars Act (P.L. 112-278).

On Jan. 14, 2013, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (P.L. 112-278) was signed into law with an immediate effective date. This Act makes key revisions to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that will make it easier for child welfare agencies to access education records. 

This amendment creates a new exception under FERPA that authorizes an agency caseworker or other representative of a state or local child welfare agency, or tribal organization to have access to the student's educational records without having to obtain parental consent or a court order. This exception applies to children for whom the public child welfare agency has legal responsibility for their care and protection, specifically those children in the legal custody of the agency who are placed in out-of-home care. This would include children placed under a voluntary placement agreement and shared case responsibility youth who have been adjudicated dependent.

It is the position of both departments that the individuals who can obtain education records under this exception, specifically those who have the right to access the child's case plan, includes the following:

 the child's caseworker from the public children and youth agency;
 the child's caseworker from a private children and youth agency with whom the public agency contracts; and
the supervisors or managers of such agencies.  

In order to obtain a student's records, proof of this relationship with the child must be provided. This proof can be in the form of a court order or written notification on agency letterhead indicating that the agency has legal custody or is otherwise legally responsible for the care and protection of the child.  
The records obtained pursuant to this exception may not be re-disclosed to any other person or entity unless those individuals or entities are engaged in addressing the student's educational needs and authorized by the child welfare agency or organization to receive such disclosures.

Child welfare agencies have a continuing obligation to work collaboratively with families and their local education agencies to address the educational needs of children in dependent care. The amendment does not usurp the right of a student's parent to make all other decisions regarding the release of the child's education records, nor does it place the child welfare agency in the role of parent or educational decision maker. It merely allows child welfare agencies to obtain a student's education records in a more timely and efficient manner. As a result, the child welfare agency representative working with the family should explain to the parent and to the school entity that provides the records that, while the agency will have access to the education records, the parent still maintains the right to access the records directly from the school and the right to make decisions about the child's education. The child welfare worker should also make all efforts to keep parents informed and involved in the child's education. 

In addition, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act also provides that, in cases where a parent is a party to a proceeding involving child abuse or neglect, or a dependency matter, and a court order is issued authorizing the disclosure of education records, additional notice need not be provided to the parent by the educational agency before educational records are released.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 6:57 PM

Today, Governor Tom Corbett delivered his proposed budget for 2013-14 using the words, "we spend no more than we have," and increasing basic education funding by $90 million, which includes a modest increase for pre-K education.

Gov. Corbett also proposed to privatize the state's liquor stores investing the proceeds into K-12 education (Passport for Learning Block Grants). Pennsylvania school districts will share grant funds for the following: school safety, "Ready by 3" initiative, an initiative for a customized learning plan and enhancing access to STEM programs.

Under the governor's budget proposal, there are also plans for resolving the pension crisis. He proposed no cuts to present retiree benefits and no impact to pension dollars already earned. While these details are sketchy, there will be some proposed changes to current employees' pensions going forward. The governor also wants a 401k plan for future employees.

Click on the links below for more on the budget:

Friday, February 1, 2013 6:13 PM
The Pennsylvania Senate amended and passed Senate Resolution 6, which directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the issue of violence prevention, to establish an advisory committee to conduct a thorough review and comprehensive analysis of the underlying causes of violent crime, including mass shootings.

The final report, due Dec. 31, 2013, would include recommendations regarding mental health laws and procedures, necessary changes in state laws and practices, policies relating to violent crime. The report also would include recommendations on ways to make schools safer, and to develop awareness, education and other strategies to address issues relating to violent crime. Prior to adoption, the resolution was amended to specify that the laws in which changes may be recommended include the Mental Health Procedures Act, and 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 Subch. A (relating to Uniform Firearms Act).

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, Jan. 31, 2013.
Friday, February 1, 2013 6:12 PM

Gov. Tom Corbett recently unveiled his plan for the privatization of liquor and wine sales, with the revenue from the auction of liquor licenses to be used for a proposed a new "Passport for Learning" block grant that would provide $1 billion to public schools over the next four years. The grant will focus on four priority areas: school safety, enhanced early education programs, individualized learning and science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and programs.

The announcement was made at a news conference in Pittsburgh; details are still forthcoming.Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis was with the governor and several members of the House of Representatives supporting the plan. The governor intends to have a follow-up news conference next week to announce the sponsors of the legislation that is expected to be introduced in the House.

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, Jan. 31, 2013.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:32 PM
While there has been great progress made with the implementation of the Pennsylvania Common Core in the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has also received feedback from educators who have communicated the challenges and demands in developing and implementing the curriculum as well as concerns about providing instruction that supports the rigor of the revised assessments.

Another area of concern expressed is the implementation of the new teacher evaluation system and the start of the collection of data for the PVAAS three-year average for teacher ratings.  

As a result, implementation of the Pennsylvania Common Core-aligned PSSAs for grades 3-5 has been delayed for one year.

Below is the revised roll-out plan for the Pennsylvania Common Core-aligned PSSAs:
  • Embedded field-test items will be included for grades 3-5 in 2013 and 2014, and grades 6-8 in 2014, which will add an additional year for field testing to permit greater curricular alignment to the Pennsylvania Common Core standards.
  • Operational English Language Arts and Mathematics assessments will be administered to grades 3-8 in 2015.
While the revised operational PSSA for grades 3-5 has been delayed for one year, LEAs should continue with the Pennsylvania Common Core implementation. PDE will continue to provide detailed resources to guide LEAs in this process. Grade-by-grade alignment documents in both English Language Arts and Mathematics will detail the similarities and differences in the Eligible Content for the current PSSAs and the revised Pennsylvania Common Core-aligned PSSAs. Direction on content that will prepare students for the current PSSAs, yet focus on Pennsylvania Common Core will be included. Future notice will announce a SAS posting of this resource.
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P.O. Box 39, 122 Valley Road, Summerdale, PA 17093 Phone: (717) 732-4999 Fax: (717) 732-4890