Press Releases

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:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/994662722

LEA's in IU's 9-12, 15-17; Tuesday, February 19, 2PM-3:30PM; the link is:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/433476738

LEA's in IU's 13, 14, 18-26, 29; Wednesday, February 20, 9AM-10:30AM; the link is: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/231859274

A recording of one of the sessions will be posted to https://pssatraining.com 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 khelm@pa.gov 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:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/news_and_media/7234/p/1089220

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/current_and_proposed_commonwealth_budgets/4566

 
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.
 
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 4:20 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) will conduct training sessions on the administration of the 2013 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) on February 11, 13 and 14, at the Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and King of Prussia PaTTAN office locations. The information being presented is critical to the administration of the 2013 PSSAs, and it is required that every LEA send at least one representative to a training session. These are train-the-trainer sessions, and it is expected that the representatives deliver the information to their coordinators and test administrators.

The training sessions will be presented live at each of the PaTTAN sites listed below. The live presentations will simultaneously be broadcasted to additional PaTTAN locations and intermediate units for individuals who cannot make it to the live sessions. To register for a live session and view a list of available locations that will be broadcasting the event, visit PaTTAN's web site at: http://www.pattan.net/category/Training/Calendar/2013/February.  

Live Sessions
Feb. 11, 2013

PaTTAN Pittsburgh (two live sessions)
9 a.m.  - 11 a.m.
1 p.m.  - 3 p.m.

Feb. 13, 2013
PaTTAN Harrisburg (two live sessions)
9 a.m.  - 11 a.m.
1 p.m.  - 3 p.m.

Feb. 14, 2013
PaTTAN King of Prussia (two live sessions)
9 a.m.  - 11 a.m.
1 p.m.  - 3 p.m.

For more information, please contact Judith Roseborough, PDE, Bureau of Assessment and Accountability, at 717-265-7655.

 
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 2:21 PM

Available via the United States Department of Education'ss web site is a set of materials that provide a substantive overview of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility process—also known as ESEA waivers—by which 34 states and the District of Columbia have applied for and received flexibility regarding certain provisions of ESEA. The intent of these materials—a brochure and five companion fact sheets—is to explain the rationale and intent of ESEA flexibility, as well as address its key components and highlight plan elements for a number of states approved for flexibility.  For the ease of your members and affiliates, all of the documents can be easily printed and produced as front-to-back copies; the fact sheets are two-pagers, and the brochure is a tri-fold.

The brochure and fact sheets can be found on the Department's updated ESEA flexibility web page: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/esea-flexibility/.  Individual links to the documents are below:

 
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 2:16 PM

The number of charter schools hitting testing benchmarks plummeted after the federal government said the state Education Department graded them too leniently.

At first, nearly half of the state's 156 charter schools whose students took the 2012 PSSA math and reading tests made so-called Adequate Yearly Progress under a new grading system Education Secretary Ron Tomalis implemented last summer.

The new system, which Tomalis initiated without federal approval and at the behest of a charter school lobbying group, made it easier for charter schools to reach federal standards than traditional public schools. It classified charters, no matter their size, as school districts, which are measured on a broader scale than individual schools.

Click here for the full story.

Source: Article by Steve Esack and Eugene Tauber, The Morning Call, January 22, 2013.

 
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