Press Releases

Monday, October 1, 2012 2:20 PM

A great resource - for each county in Pennsylvania, your state senators and state representatives along with their contact information, committee assignments and the school districts that they represent, are listed in this guide.

A full list of legislative guides can be viewed and downloaded for FREE here: http://www.educationvoterspa.org/index.php/site/take-action/legislative-guide7/.

 

 
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 2:32 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is providing the following training opportunity: GETTING READY for the 2013 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Keystone Exam.

Assessment specialists from the Division of Assessment will present information on the:

Winter Wave 1 Keystone Exams to be administered Dec. 3-14, 2012.
Winter Wave 2 Keystone Exams to be administered Jan. 9-23, 2013.
PSSA Grades 3 through 5 Writing Field Test to be administered Feb. 4-15, 2013.
PSSA Grades 5 and 8 Writing Assessment to be administered March 11-15, 2013.
PSSA Grades 5 and 8 Writing Assessment Make-Ups to be administered March 18-22, 2013.
PSSA Grades 3 through 8 Math and Reading Assessments to be administered April 8-19, 2013.
PSSA Grades 4 and 8 Science PSSA to be administered April 22-26, 2013.
PSSA Math, Reading, and Science make-ups to be administered April 29 through May 3, 2013.
Spring Keystone Exams to be administered May 13-24, 2013.
Summer Keystone Exams to be administered July 29-Aug. 2, 2013.

The many changes from previous test administrations will be highlighted. In addition, information on Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will be discussed. Opportunities will be provided for questions.

Presentations will be made via  "GoToMeeting," To register, click on the link provided for each session:        

A recording of one of the sessions, along with the PowerPoint, will be posted to https://pa.drcedirect.com and to PDE's web site as soon as possible following the sessions.

For more information, contact PDE'ss Bureau of Assessment and Accountability: 717-265-7655 or go to www.education.state.pa.us.

 
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 1:34 PM

The Board of Directors of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has named Thomas J. Gentzel as its next executive director. Gentzel is the executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA).

As executive director of PSBA since 2001, Gentzel represents and serves more than 5,000 school directors, administrators and other officials from school entities throughout Pennsylvania.  He joined the PSBA staff in 1980 as a lobbyist and, five years later, was promoted to head the organization's Office of Governmental and Member Relations -- a position he held for more than 16 years. Gentzel also is the immediate past chair of NSBA's Organization of State Association Executive Directors. 

NSBA's executive director reports directly to  the organization's board of directors and is responsible for guiding the development and implementation of the strategic plan, programs, policies, and practices of the association. The executive director is responsible for the management and development of nearly 100 employees and an annual budget of more than $20 million.

Gentzel will join NSBA on December 1, 2012.
 
Monday, September 24, 2012 1:14 PM

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, public schools and school districts across the state got hit with a one-two punch when statewide test scores were released Friday. Scores have dropped, resulting in dramatically fewer schools and districts making adequate yearly progress, known as AYP. On top of that, state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis said the reason is past scores were inflated due to cheating and fell because of increased test security. While 94 percent of school districts in 2011 made AYP, only 60.9 percent did so this year. In 2011, 75 percent of schools made AYP, but this time it was 50.3 percent. Click here to read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article.

Source: PLS The Eye Opener, Sept. 24, 2012.

 
Friday, September 21, 2012 3:04 PM
Senator Al Franken (D-MN), a constant champion for principals, introduced and successfully passed on September 12, S. Res 552, a bipartisan resolution recognizing the month of October 2012 as "National Principals Month." This resolution was cosponsored by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Carl Levin (D-MI), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jim Webb (D-VA).

A Congressional resolution has officially recognized the month of October as National Principals Month since 2009, when the honor began. NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals worked collaboratively on the Senate resolution as well as the House resolution, H. Res. 781, which also recognizes October 2012 as National Principals Month thanks to the strong support for principals from Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA).

 
 
Friday, September 21, 2012 2:27 PM

Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis will announce the results of the 2011-12 PSSA exams during a press conference at 11 a.m. today in the state Capitol Media Center.

At the same time, the department will post on its web site the 2011-12 PSSA results and Adequate Yearly Progress status by local education agency and school. Files can be accessed by visiting www.education.state.pa.us and clicking on the "2011-12 PSSA" icon.

In addition, the state, local education agency and school report cards will be available for viewing and download at http://paayp.emetric.net.

 
Thursday, September 20, 2012 4:52 PM
According to an article in the Scranton Times, investment returns for the Public School Employees's Retirement System (PSERS) were half of what was budgeted for the fiscal year ending in June. The lower rate of return means that the pension system'ss unfunded liability increases, Jeffrey B. Clay, PSERS executive director, said during an editorial board meeting with The Times-Tribune on Tuesday. And with returns of 3.43 percent instead of the 7.5 percent the fund budgeted, the loss will eventually need to be covered by additional earnings or an increase in contributions by employees or school districts. PSERS unfunded liability is now $26.5 billion. Click here to read the Scranton Times article.

Source: PLS Eye Opener, Sept. 20, 2012.
 
Thursday, September 13, 2012 5:06 PM

Despite the widespread influence of the nation's 95,000 principals on three million teachers and 55 million students -- cited by the Wallace Foundation as second only to teaching among school influences on student success -- most state and district frameworks for principal evaluation do not reflect existing standards or proven practices. In the context of federal demands for increased principal accountability, more rigorous teacher evaluation systems and next generation student assessment the country's school leaders are calling for the adoption of a new set of policy guidelines and best practices that go beyond student test scores to evaluate school culture, professional growth and learning and other aspects of students' learning environments that are directly influenced by school leaders.

Rethinking Principal Evaluation: A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice was introduced today [September 13, 2012] by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) at a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. With the introduction of this research-based framework, the coalition has launched a call to states and districts to adopt a new paradigm including the institution of multiple and meaningful measurement systems of principal and assistant principal effectiveness.

"NAESP has long been at the forefront of establishing standards of principal's practice through its Leading Learning Communities standards initiative. It is essential to insert the principals' voice and the standards in the redevelopment or refinement of evaluation systems to change practice to improve schools," said Gail Connelly, Executive Director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. "This report was created by principals, for principals and takes the best of their expertise and pairs it with the latest research. Policymakers now have a clear path to follow and must establish principal evaluation systems that will build the capacity of principals to lead our nation's schools," Connelly further noted. Developed by a joint committee of practicing principals over the past two years, the report identifies six key domains of school leadership that should be incorporated into principal evaluation systems:

Professional growth and learning;
Student growth and achievement;
School planning and progress;
School culture;
Professional qualities and instructional leadership; and
Stakeholder support and engagement.

Rethinking Principal Evaluation also identifies essential features of comprehensive evaluation systems -- including systemic support, flexibility, relevance and utility -- and a roadmap for policymakers to follow in the development of these systems. States and districts are encouraged to:

Consider student, school and community contexts;
Incorporate standards that can improve practice;
Use evaluation to build capacity; and
Focus on multiple measures of performance data.

"Principal evaluation systems can be powerful tools to support the kind of schoolwide improvement efforts NASSP encourages in the Breaking Ranks framework," said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. "But those tools must be well constructed and well implemented to evaluate the leadership behaviors that really matter. School improvement is a process, not a destination. So an evaluation tool becomes valuable when it builds a leader's capacity to advance the improvement process."

The full report and executive summary is available online.

 
Monday, September 10, 2012 1:29 PM
According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the way the state measures eleventh graders' academic progress is expected to change this year. Under a plan that must be approved by the federal Department of Education, juniors will take state-developed Keystone Exams in algebra I, biology and literature instead of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test this school year. Passing the exams will be a graduation requirement for The Class of 2017, current eighth graders. Click here to read the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Source: PLS Eye Opener, Sept. 10, 2012.
 
Monday, September 10, 2012 12:45 PM
I. Changes to Section 111 of School Code are Effective June 30, 2012

Act 82 of 2012, signed into law on June 30, 2012, amends Section 111 of the School Code, which provides for background checks for employees of public and private schools, intermediate units and area vocational-technical schools who have direct contact with children. Section 111 also applies to independent contractors and their employees who have direct contact with children and to student teachers and student teacher candidates assigned to public and private schools. The amendments clarify that the employment prohibitions contained in Section 111(e) and Section 111(f.1) of the School Code, based on conviction of certain offenses, apply to both current and prospective employees. The changes to Section 111 went into effect on June 30, 2012.  

II. Expansion of Reporting Requirements to School Administrators: Reporting of Section 111(e) and 111(f.1) offenses required

Act 82 expands the requirements for mandatory reporting of arrests and convictions of school employees to school administrators for certain offenses.  Under the prior version of the law, current and prospective school employees were required to report to school administrators only arrests for or convictions of offenses listed under Section 111(e) of the School Code.  Section 111(e) offenses include such criminal offenses as homicide, rape and kidnapping, among other offenses. Under Act 82, the reporting requirement is expanded to include, in addition to the 111(e) offenses, arrests for or convictions of offenses listed under Section 111(f.1) of the School Code.  Section 111(f.1) offenses include felony offenses not listed in Section 111(e), if less than 10 years have elapsed since the date of expiration of sentence; first degree misdemeanors not listed in Section 111(e), if less than five years have passed from the date of the expiration of sentence; and any offense relating to driving under the influence graded as a first degree misdemeanor (if the person has been previously convicted of such an offense and less than three years has elapsed from the date of expiration of the sentence for the most recent offense.) Expiration of sentence typically means completion of imprisonment, probation and parole; and satisfaction of all financial obligations required by the sentence, including restitution, which is recognized by court order.

III. Availability of REVISED PDE Form-6004 for Employees to Report Section 111(e) and (f.1) Offenses to School Administrators

As required by Act 82, PDE has revised the form (PDE-6004) to report arrests or convictions to include offenses listed under Section 111(f.1) of the School Code as well as Section 111(e) offenses.  

This revised form (PDE-6004) is now available on the PDE web site at:  http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/background_checks_%28act_114%29/7493

As required by subsection (j)(2) of 24 P.S.  §1-111, the revised PDE-6004 is required to be completed and submitted by all current or prospective employees of a public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school.  Please note that under Act 82, any current employee who completed a PDE 6004 on or before December 27, 2011, in compliance with 24 P.S.  § §1-111(j)(1) and (2) on that date, and who has never been arrested for or convicted of an offense enumerated under 24 P.S.  § §1-111(e) or (f.1) is not required to complete and submit an additional form.  In addition, as required by subsection (j)(4) of  24 P.S.  §1-111, this form shall be utilized by employees to provide written notice within seventy-two (72) hours after an arrest or conviction for an offense enumerated under 24 P.S.  § §1-111(e) or (f.1).  

School administrators are advised to distribute a copy of the revised PDE-6004 to all current and prospective employees as soon as possible, as well as inform their employees as to whom the form must be returned.  

Such employees should be informed that they must complete and return to the school administrator the new form if: (1) they did not complete a PDE-6004 on or before December 27, 2011, or (2) if they ever have been arrested for or convicted of a Section 111(e) or Section 111(f.1) offense (whether or not such reportable arrest or conviction occurred before, on or after such date).

School administrators are required to have the revised PDE-6004 completed and returned by independent contractors and their employees (contract employees), if the contract employees did not complete a PDE-6004 on or before December 27, 2011, or if the contract employee has been arrested for or convicted of a Section 111(e) or a Section 111(f.1) offense. To assist PIAA-registered sports' officials in this process, the PIAA has developed an interactive revised PDE-6004 for submission to the PIAA Officials' database and is available by clicking on this link; www.piaa.org/officials. This form will be saved in the PIAA Officials' database and will be able to be accessed by all PIAA member schools.

Higher education administrators are also required to have the form completed and returned by student teachers and student teacher candidates (student teachers) if such student teacher did not complete a PDE-6004 on or before December 27, 2011, or if the student teacher has been arrested for or convicted of a Section 111(e) or 111(f.1) offense.

IV. School Administrator Required to Order Background Check Upon Reasonable Belief That Employee was Arrested or Convicted of a Section 111(e) or Section 111(f.1) Offense

Act 82 requires that if a school administrator has a reasonable belief that an employee was arrested or convicted of a Section 111(e) or Section 111(f.1) offense and the employee has not notified the school administrator of such arrest or conviction, the school administrator must require the school employee to submit to a current Section 111 background check at the expense of the employing entity.

V. School Districts Advised to Report Crimes Noted on PDE-6004 to Department

The superintendent, assistant superintendent, executive director of an IU, chief administrator of an AVTS, or career and technology center, administrator of a charter school, or their designees, currently are required to report to the department all instances of certificated employees or charter school staff members (as such term is defined in the Professional Educator Discipline Act) reporting an arrest or conviction for offenses listed under Section 111(e) and crimes involving moral turpitude which have been disclosed on the revised PDE-6004 or which is otherwise known to them as the result of background checks or otherwise. (See a non-exclusive list of such crimes at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/educator_discipline_system/11389/educator_misconduct/529147). It is strongly recommended that any other arrest or conviction, noted by certificated employees or charter school staff members on a PDE-6004 or which is otherwise known to them as the result of background checks or otherwise, be reported to the department.  The report should be made on a mandatory report form which can be found on the department's website at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/professional_standards_practices_commissions/8829. For Section 111(e) offenses or for offenses involving moral turpitude, the report form is required to be filed within 30 days of the receipt of information concerning the arrest or conviction and must include all available information concerning the indictment or conviction.  The completed mandatory report form with supporting documentation should be sent to:  Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Chief Counsel, 333 Market Street, 9th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333.

For additional information, please contact the School Services unit at 717-783-3750 or via email at ra-pde-schoolservice@pa.gov.
 
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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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