Press Releases

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 8:43 PM
Applications are currently being accepted for two of the former Pennsylvania Governor's Schools, the PA School for Global Entrepreneurship at Lehigh University and the University of Pittsburgh Health Career Scholars Academy. Applications for both programs are due by February 15, 2012.

Benefits for the student include the opportunity to work as a consultant on a real company business project; live and work as a team with international students; network with international and local faculty and professionals; an amazing pre-college experience; an edge in the college application process, and more. Please share the opportunity about the residential summer programs with guidance counselors, gifted teachers, high school students and/or their parents who you believe may be interested in this opportunity.  

Applications and further information on the Global Entrepreneurship program can be found at For specific questions, please contact Trisha Alexy, director, at

For applications and further information on the Health Career Scholars Academy, visit the web site or contact Karen Narkevic, director, at
Monday, January 9, 2012 6:00 PM
In October 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced that it would participate in the pilot year of Green Ribbon Schools, which was created by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to recognize those schools that have achieved or made considerable progress toward energy efficient buildings, healthy students and school environment and the environmental literacy of all graduates.

The Green Ribbon Schools Application is now available on the PDE web site and at the Pathways to Green Schools' web site.   Interested public and private schools throughout the Commonwealth will submit their application for consideration to PDE.   The deadline to apply is Thursday, February 23, 2012.

Once all applications are received and reviewed, the department will nominate up to four schools to the USDE to be designated as Pennsylvania's Green Ribbon School.   From those nominated by each state, it is expected that up to 50 awards will be presented by USDE.

All public and private schools that have configuration of K-12 are eligible to apply, including charter schools, career and technical centers, and those educational schools operated by intermediate units.   All applicants must meet college- and career-ready standards, be in compliance with federal civil rights laws and all federal, state and local health and safety standards and regulations.

To access the Green Ribbon Schools Application, visit

To learn more about the Green Ribbon Schools program, visit the USDE's web site
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 7:14 PM

Governor Tom Corbett announced that Pennsylvania has been awarded $41,326,299 under the federally-funded  "Race to the Top" grant program.

The funding will be used to supplement the state's support of student-specific educational choices in grades K-12, and the current efforts to increase the number of outstanding teachers working in Pennsylvania classrooms.

 "I know, from my time spent as a teacher and with my own two children, that a one-size-fits-all approach to education does not create a successful learning environment," Corbett said.  "Our students need quality options that fit their academic abilities and their aspirations for the future. We must have educators who are prepared and capable of meeting the needs of our diverse student population."

Pennsylvania joins 22 other states that have received Race to the Top grants. The grant will be allocated over the next four years by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

A significant focus of this grant will be used for the statewide implementation of a new teacher evaluation, which is currently being piloted in more than 100 school districts, charter schools, career and technical centers, and intermediate units. It will also provide the necessary means to develop a new principal evaluation, which is planned to be piloted during the 2012-13 school year.

 "The focus of our grant application is to improve public education for every student," Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said.  "The funds awarded to Pennsylvania will support the work already being done by Governor Corbett and the department to ensure that, regardless of ZIP code or socioeconomic status, every child receives an education that provides them with the opportunity to be successful."     

The new teacher and principal evaluation is a cornerstone of Corbett's education reform agenda. Once developed, the evaluations will give parents, taxpayers and school leaders the ability to assess the quality of individuals tasked with educating students. Evaluations will also provide individual teachers and principals with meaningful feedback to help them to better serve students and increase achievement.

 "The state House of Representative's Education Committee recently voted out legislation that would base a significant portion of an educator's and a principal's assessment on multiple measures of student achievement," Tomalis said.    "This is an important piece of legislation that will benefit all students across the state."

In addition, funding will also be directed to further develop Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System, which provides educators with valuable tools and resources to improve student achievement. Funding will also be allocated to provide students with greater access to quality charter schools and online curricular options that may not be available in their district, especially science, technology, engineering and math courses.

 "As a result of the Race to the Top Grant award, funds will be allocated to increase transparency at Pennsylvania's public schools," Tomalis said.  "Ultimately, the goal is to provide parents with the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding their child's educational future."

Half of the grant funding will be appropriated to local education agencies, such as school districts and intermediate units.

In addition to the new Race to the Top grant, Pennsylvania was awarded $38 million in September as part of the Striving Readers Grant Comprehensive Literacy Program grant. Under this initiative, Pennsylvania is pursuing a broad approach to improving literacy outcomes for all children.

In total, nearly $80 million has been awarded to Pennsylvania to improve educational opportunities for students.

Source: Press Release, PA Office of the Governor and PDE, Dec. 23, 2011.

Friday, December 16, 2011 7:05 PM

Today, the White House announced that nine states -- California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington - will receive grant awards from the $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge fund, a competitive grant program jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.   

Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius made the announcement of state grantees this morning at a White House event with over 100 early learning and development experts, educators, policymakers and researchers.

Through the competition, 35 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have created plans to increase access to high-quality programs for children from low-income families, providing more children from birth to age 5 with a strong foundation they need for success in school and beyond. The number and list of winners was determined both by the quality of the applications and the funds available.

The fiscal year 2011 budget provided an additional $700 million to invest in early learning and elementary and post secondary education reform. In addition to the $500 million awarded today to Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grantees, seven states -- Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania - have applied for a share of the $200 million to invest in K-12 education reform. Awards will be announced later this month.

Grant awards will range from around $50 million up to $100 million, depending on state population and proposed plans.

To learn more about the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, visit

Source: Press Release from The White House Office of the Press Secretary, Dec. 16, 2011.

Friday, December 16, 2011 3:32 PM

This week, the House amended and unanimously approved SB 1183 that creates the offense of institutional sexual assault in a school or child center setting. The bill was then returned to the Senate for a concurrence vote, where it passed 48-2. SB 1183 will now go to Gov. Corbett for his signature.  

The provisions of SB 1183 would apply whether or not the student is 16 years old, the age of consent in Pennsylvania. The amendment to SB 1183 incorporates language creating the offense of institutional sexual abuse, which would make it unlawful for a teacher, coach or other employee of a public or private school or a volunteer or employee of a center for children to engage in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a student, or a child receiving services at the center. The penalty would be a third-degree felony that would be punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, Dec. 15, 2011.

Friday, December 16, 2011 1:47 PM

EF Professional Development Tours are a unique way to earn professional development hours and allow you to learn about educational practices in other countries with colleagues from your school and schools around the world. EF's Education in China tour features educational visits and activities that allow you to compare different approaches to teaching and learning. In addition to the tour, they offer a pre- and post-tour online course which provides content about China and helps teachers and administrators find rewarding and innovative ways to bring global perspective back to their classrooms and communities.   

The trip has been opened to include all educators (teachers, administrators, central office staff).   This is the perfect opportunity to take a team from your district of teachers and administrators.

NASSP President Ken Griffith will be attending the trip with this cohort

Itinerary - The trip itself is 10 days: 3 days in Beijing, 2 days in Xi'an and 3 days in Shanghai. The tour dates are 7/16/2012 - 7/25/2012. Click on the link below for the detailed itinerary or visit the EF web site at The pricing for departure includes departing from Philadelphia.   If you would like to depart from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, NY/NJ or any other airport, EF can accommodate this with price adjustments.   

All accommodations and materials, including a private bus and tour director -- who will serve as a guide, organizer and translator -- are included in the cost. Please Note: You only need to pay a $95.00 deposit to reserve your spot and then pay monthly up to the tour. EF can develop a payment plan for you, if needed.   

Enroll at or call Andrew Hagopian at (800) 872-8439, ext. 3141. Use tour number: 114 5583.   

Click here for the revised pricing flyer.

To view informational video, click on this link: Professional Development in China -- Continuing Education for Educators (best viewed full screen with sound).

Dr. William Ziegler, treasurer for PA Principals Association Board of Directors, is the "group leader" for this trip. He is available to assist you with registering for the trip or for further details. He may be contacted at: (610) 326-8243, ext. 2051, or The deadline to register has been extended until Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 2:16 PM
Act 24 of 2011, signed into law on June 30, 2011, significantly amended Section 111 of the Pennsylvania Public School Code, which requires background checks for employees of public and private schools, intermediate units and area vocational-technical schools (AVTS), including independent contractors and their employees. There is a new Basic Education Circular (BEC) that provides school administrators with guidance concerning the duties imposed on them as the result of these important amendments. The Background Checks BEC can be found via the BEC table, posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) web site or by clicking here.

For additional information on these changes, please contact Denise Wolfgang in the PDE's School Services office at 717-783-3750 or
Monday, December 12, 2011 7:58 PM
The Public School Employees's Retirement System (PSERS) board on Friday set the employer contribution rate, which is shared by school districts and the state, at 12.36 percent of a district'ss payroll. That is up from this year'ss 8.65 percent rate. The new rate is expected to generate $1.8 billion for the pension system.

Dramatic as the increase seems, it comes as no surprise to school district officials. A 2010 state law, known as Act 120, capped the annual increases for several years to smooth out the anticipated spike in pension obligations that were coming next year to help districts plan for this large bill.

"If Act 120 was not in effect the employer rate would have jumpled up to 29.65 percent next year, rather than 12.36 percent," said PSERS Executive Director Jeffrey Clay.

Source: Patriot-News, Dec. 11. 2011 -- By Jan Murphy.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 2:36 PM

Click here for pertinent information regarding issues surrounding the Arrest/Conviction Report and Certification Form ("PDE-6004"), which must be completed by all current school employees pursuant to Act 24 of 2011.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 3:59 PM

Pennsylvania is among seven states that have submitted applications for Race to the Top (RTTT) Phase Three funds. The states that will compete for a share of $200 million provided by Congress in 2010 include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (Nine states that were runners-up in the initial Race to the Top competition were eligible for Round Three, but South Carolina opted out and California submitted an incomplete application.) The applications include commitments to enhance data systems, raise academic standards, improve principal and teacher support and evaluation systems and implement school interventions in under-performing schools. By Dec. 16, applicants also have to provide a detailed narrative and budget. Race to the Top Round Three focuses on supporting efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform, while also improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Round Three awards will be announced in late-December. Award amounts within the $200 million fund are based on state population.

Pennsylvania has also has applied for a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. (Click here to see Pennsylvania's application.) The $500 million competitive grant program is for states to use to improve early learning and development. Including Pennsylvania, there are 35 states that have submitted applications. In mid-December, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will award the highest ranked applicants within funding availability. Awards will range from around $50 million up to $100 million, depending on a state'ss population of children from low-income families and proposed plan.

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, Dec. 1, 2011.

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