Press Releases

Thursday, April 28, 2011 7:30 PM

By Robert Swift (Harrisburg Bureau Chief) - Citizen'ss Voice, Wilkes-Barre
Published: April 27, 2011

The scope of a state business tax credit program that promotes school choice would expand greatly under legislation approved Tuesday by a House committee.

By a 21-4 tally, the Republican-controlled Education Committee voted to make more state tax credits available to businesses and expand student eligibility for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program into the range of middle-class incomes.

Read more:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 3:34 PM

The results of PA Principals Association's 2011 Election have been announced thanks to our Nominations Committee - Dr. Joan Crouse, chairperson, and members Brian Cashman, Sr. and Michael Gay, along with Margaret Foster, PA Principals Association president, who assisted in obtaining the candidates for this year's election.

After our members voted online, we are proud to report that the following are your newly- elected president-elect and regional representatives for this year's election:

President-Elect (Elem.)        -       Dr. Joshua A. Doll, Dallastown Area M.S., Dallastown A.S.D.

East III Elementary         -       Jacqueline C. Havrilla, Evans E.S., Spring-Ford A.S.D.

East I Secondary        -       Vito S. Quaglia, Wyoming Area Sec. Ctr., Wyoming A.S.D.

Central II Elementary        -       Tabetha A. Haldeman, Reamstown E.S., Cocalico S.D.

Central II Secondary         -       Dr. Benjamin K. Ruby, Northeastern M.S., Northeastern York S.D.

West I Elementary         -       Rosemary C. Sheridan, Pfeiffer-Burleigh E.S., Erie City S.D.

West I Secondary         -       Sharon D. Sielski, Linesville H.S., Conneaut S.D.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 1:03 PM
A proposal to create a school voucher program for Pennsylvania (Senate Bill 1) was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, April 11 with a vote of 15-11, but a scheduled Tuesday, April 12 vote on the bill was delayed until April 26 at the earliest so the bill could be revised.

The school choice bill allows students to attend private or parochial schools of their choice with state-paid vouchers.

To read more: Corbett pushes school vouchers - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 7:40 PM

The 2011 Annual Safe Schools Conference, "Keeping Our Children Safe: Strategies for Schools and Communities" will be held at the Hilton Harrisburg, May 11-13, 2011. This conference will focus on creating a positive school culture that supports academic success and provides a safe teaching and learning environment. The conference provides an opportunity to learn about the latest research in school safety and violence prevention, hear about effective program models and practices from state and national experts and network with colleagues. The conference is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Center for Safe Schools.   

Additional details and registration information can be found on the Center for Safe Schools web site:

Friday, March 18, 2011 7:00 PM
This week, the State Board of Education met to discuss and receive updates on a variety of issues, including the proposed Chapter 12 regulations on student nutrition/health and wellness which have been tolled by the Attorney General's office in order for the State Board to provide clarification on provisions relating to the composition and duties of the health advisory committee; and also whether students who participate in work related to school gardens would be subject to child labor laws. Once the Attorney General's office receives the information, the regulatory review process may continue and the State Board will determine next steps concerning the proposal.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 5:02 PM

James P. Testerman, president of the 191,000 members of the Pennsylvania State Education Association [PSEA], today responded to Gov. Tom Corbett's call for school employees to consider a one-year pay freeze.

Testerman released the following statement:

"The education professionals in the Pennsylvania State Education Association have been willing to be good public partners and tackle tough issues before, and we're willing to do it again.

 "We hope to prevent a $1 billion cut in state education funding, but we also realize that tough economic times have hit many of our public school districts.

 "We have serious concerns about some of Gov. Corbett's proposals, but we want to do our part to ensure that our students' education does not suffer as a result of the worst recession since the Depression.

"As part of his budget proposal, the governor requested that education employees accept a one-year pay freeze. The governor stated that this decision is  'determined at a local level and arrived at by contract and collective bargaining.' As president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, I concur.

 "I encourage PSEA members to seriously consider this request.

 "Today, I sent a letter to the presidents of all PSEA locals.   I encouraged them to enter into discussions with their school boards about a pay freeze or other cost-saving measures to maintain class sizes and academic programs.   In some communities our members have recently agreed to economic concessions to maintain class sizes and academic programs. Their contribution must also be recognized.

 "Such cooperation can help to preserve the academic gains made in Pennsylvania's public schools over the last decade.

 "Our scores on National Assessment of Educational Progress, the 'Nation's Report Card,' are among the country's best.   Our students showed progress in all academic subjects and grade levels.   And seven of 10 graduates are going on to higher education.

 "We need public partners to join us in our effort to advocate for our public schools.   PSEA calls on parents, caregivers, and community leaders to ask legislators to prevent the cuts to school funding.   A pay freeze alone will not be enough to preserve the programs our students need to succeed in the future.

 "Despite the difficult economy, we must remember that students only get one chance at a quality education.   Pennsylvanians must not permit this recession to rob our children of the opportunity public education provides to prepare them for a better future.

 "Pennsylvania's schools are among the best in the nation. PSEA remains steadfast in its commitment to provide a quality education to the 1.8 million children who attend our public schools."

Testerman is a science teacher in the Central York School District. A state affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 191,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.

Source: PSEA Press Release - March 16, 2011.

Thursday, March 10, 2011 2:28 PM

From the Office of the Secretary of Education: The 2011-2012 State Budget proposal presented by Governor Corbett includes many difficult decisions to address a significant budget shortfall. While the PDE remains committed to the new system of high school graduation requirements that took effect just over one year ago, fiscal constraints will delay implementation of certain provisions, including the use of Keystone Exams during the 2011-2012 school year.                                                                                                                           

The Governor's proposal reflects a one-year pause in the development and implementation of Keystone Exams. It is important to note that this delay will not adversely impact students. Fortunately, in developing this initiative the State Board of Education anticipated that fiscal challenges might require course corrections in implementation of the reform and included a waiver provision to ensure that no student is negatively affected by a delay in implementation. The additional time also will allow districts to make certain that local curriculum is fully aligned with the content assessed by Keystones and to provide associated professional development.

PDE's work on other components of the new high school graduation requirements - including development of the project-based alternative assessments - will continue to move ahead. Additionally, the voluntary model curriculum, classroom diagnostic tools and other SAS resources - key components of the broader reform - will continue to serve students and schools during 2011-2012.

Below is a Frequently Asked Questions document that responds to potential questions surrounding the implementation of Keystone Exams. You may continue to use the graduation requirements resource account - - to raise any questions or concerns.   

Keystone Exams FAQs

1.         Is the PDE still going to implement the new system of high school graduation requirements?

Yes; however, fiscal constraints will delay implementation of certain provisions, including the use of Keystone Exams during the 2011-2012 school year.

2.             Why the delay?

The delay is a result of a combination of factors including the $20 million cost anticipated for 2011-12. In addition these exams are rigorous and

3.             When will the specific Keystone Exams be available?

During 2012-2013, the following exams will be available: Literature, English Composition, Algebra I and Biology. A Social Studies Keystone will be field tested in 2012-2013 for use during 2013-2014.

4.             When will the Keystone Exams replace the grade 11 PSSAs?

The PSSA will continue through 2012-2013.   PDE expects the Keystones to be approved and in use for AYP during 2013-2014. This timeline aligns precisely with the transition plan for the newly-adopted Pennsylvania Common Core Standards.

5.             Will PDE still provide supports to districts?

Yes. The Voluntary Model Curriculum, Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) and other SAS resources will not be impacted by the one-year delay in Keystone Exam development and administration.  

6.             How will this change in the schedule impact students in the Classes of 2015, 2016, and beyond?

The State Board's rulemaking provides adequate flexibility in the language of Chapter 4 Regulations: "Students who will graduate in the 2014-2015 school year or thereafter, who successfully complete courses...for which Keystone Exams or local validated assessments were not available at the time the course was completed, shall be deemed proficient for purposes of this section."
Essentially, these students are exempt from the state proficiency requirement. Local district requirements will not be impacted.

7.             Is there a guarantee of funding for Keystones to continue in 2012-2013?

The Keystone Exams create an opportunity for consistency in the rigor of requirements for all students in Pennsylvania public high schools prior to graduation therefore, it is imperative that we continue with this effort. PDE remains committed to the Keystone program and expect it to continue subject to annual funding.

8.       Should School Districts continue, as planned, to participate in the spring 2011 Keystone Exam testing program?

Yes. It is important to participate for two reasons.   First, the data will be used to set the cut scores for the performance levels. Second, districts will receive useful Keystone Exam results for the students who participate.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 6:51 PM

Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled his proposed 2011-12 state budget today. According to a PDE press release, the education budget continues to provide the necessary resources for basic education while reshaping the system to put more control into the hands of families and local school districts. Read on for links to the budget press releases and additional information on the education budget.

Governor Corbett Proposes Education Budget Putting Families, Taxpayers First; Begins Reshaping System. Read More

2011-2012 Budget Press Releases:

Governor Corbett'ss Budget Address - March 8, 2011

Governor Corbett Proposes Education Budget Putting Families, Taxpayers First; Begins Reshaping System

Governor Corbett Unveils 2011-12 Budget, Balanced and Built on Fiscal Discipline, Free Enterprise, Limited and Transparent Government.

Additional Information on Education Budget:

A World Class Education that Enables All Pennsylvania Children to Achieve their Full Potential - An overview of the 2011-12 Education Budget (PDF)

Summary of State Education Appropriations: This page contains a summary of the funding levels proposed for Education appropriations for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Basic Education Funding: The Governor'ss Budget includes $5,226,142,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $104,803,000 increase (2.0%) over the General Fund amount appropriated in 2010-2011.

Special Education Funding: The Governor'ss Budget includes $1,026,815,000 for the 2011-2012 Special Education appropriation.




Tuesday, March 1, 2011 6:49 PM

Spokespersons for the Pennsylvanians Opposed to Vouchers expressed disappointment in the vote by a legislative committee in support of voucher legislation. The coalition said the vote by the Senate Education Committee to approve Senate Bill 1, which would create a tax-funded voucher program for private school tuition, was expected, but emphasized the group will continue fighting the bill in the General Assembly.

Coalition spokespersons Olivia Thorne, president of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania said, "While we share the concerns of Senate Bill 1'ss sponsors that far too many children are not getting the quality education they deserve, we respectfully disagree with the approach being promoted by voucher supporters.

 "Sadly, instead of promoting proven programs targeted to the needs of individual schools that could help all students in struggling schools, the Senate Education Committee has chosen a path of dubious benefit to the few at the expense of the many," Thorne said.

Woodrow Sites of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools said Senate Bill 1 would create a new government spending program with unknown actual costs, with some estimates projecting as high as $100 million in the first year alone, at a time when the Commonwealth's public schools could potentially lose as much as $1 billion in funding.

 "This is not the time to start a new expensive government program and new bureaucracy, when state lawmakers are predicting widespread cuts to all areas of state government, including public education," Sites said. "We should fix public schools that are struggling, not abandon them using a voucher program."

Joan Duvall-Flynn of the NAACP-PA, said the legislation does not satisfactorily address problems of equal access to quality education for all students.

 "Private schools, not parents, still have the  'choice' under Senate Bill 1 of which students they will accept, and which students they will turn away," Duvall-Flynn said.

Source: PSEA Press Release, March 1, 2011.

Friday, February 11, 2011 5:07 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) are developing a new Praxis Series TM licensure assessment for entry-level Pennsylvania Grade 4-8 teachers. A licensure assessment is intended to provide information regarding the knowledge and skills that are important for entry-level teachers to engage in independent practice.

The assessment development process involves two major phases: construct definition and test design. In order to complete these two phases, PDE needs to recruit teachers and/or teacher-educators to provide their professional judgment regarding which knowledge and/or skills are important for safe and effective entry-level practice (construct definition phase), and how that content should be measured (test design phase).

You are invited you to nominate teachers teaching middle grades to become a member of the Pennsylvania Grades 4-8 Advisory Committee. Committee members will be expected to attend either a three-or-two day meeting depending on assignment.

The goal of the first part of the meeting will be to define the construct to be measured by the assessment. Committee members will work collaboratively to determine the knowledge and skills important for safe and effective entry-level practice. The goal of the second part of the meeting will be to develop test content specifications (i.e., a blueprint that defines how the content will be measured by the test). Additional responsibilities may include pre- and post-meeting web-based assignments.

Details regarding the meeting include the following:

Subject:   Pennsylvania Grades 4-8
Dates:   April 18-22, 2011
Times:   9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Place:   Harrisburg, PA
Honorarium:     $250/day for each full day
Travel:   All expenses paid by ETS
Certificate:   Professional Development hours
Reimbursement for Substitutes: Upon request by committee member

If you or the appropriate staff would like to attend, e-mail Debra McKee at and attach a resume by February 25, 2011. Please be sure that your school or institution has approved your leave if you are chosen to serve on this committee.
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P.O. Box 39, 122 Valley Road, Summerdale, PA 17093 Phone: (717) 732-4999 Fax: (717) 732-4890