Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:30 PM
According to an article in the Patriot News, By a 27-22 vote, the state Senate passed a school voucher plan that is targeted to low-income children attending poor-performing schools. The vote on the plan, co-sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin and Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, followed a more than four-hour debate. It now goes to the House for consideration where support remains uncertain for a taxpayer-funded voucher to allow students to attend another public or a private school where they are accepted. Click here to read the Patriot News article.
Source: myPLS Eye Opener, Oct. 27, 2011.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 6:08 PM
Governor Tom Corbett today outlined his agenda for education reform in Pennsylvania.
"We are set to start work on one of the most important jobs state government can do," Corbett said, and that is to rearrange our priorities when it comes to education.
"It needs to be: child, parent, teacher... and just in that order," Corbett said, speaking at the Lincoln Charter School in York.
Joined by Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis and several legislative leaders in education, Corbett listed his top four priorities for school reform in Pennsylvania including: opportunity scholarships, expanding the Educational Improvement Tax Credits program, improved charter school quality and accountability, and more robust and comprehensive educator evaluations.
To read the full article, click here.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education Press Release, Oct. 11, 2011.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011 7:13 PM
By a wide margin, Pennsylvanians oppose recent state funding cuts to public education and support investments in programs that work, according to a new public opinion poll.
Pennsylvanians strongly support investing in tutoring students, reducing class sizes and making schools safer. By a similarly wide margin, Pennsylvanians oppose creating a taxpayer-funded voucher system for private and religious schools.
Those are the findings of the latest Terry Madonna Opinion Research survey, released today by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). The results are available on PSEA's web site, www.psea.org.
The Madonna poll asked Pennsylvanians for their views regarding the $860 million cut from public schools as part of the state budget Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law last June. Sixty-nine percent said they oppose or strongly oppose these cuts, while only 27 percent said they favor or strongly favor the action.
The Madonna poll then asked survey respondents to give their opinion on how state funds for education should be used if the cuts were restored.
The respondents favored or strongly favored "more individualized student attention and tutoring"? (89 percent), reduced class sizes (88 percent), and "programs to help make schools safer" (85 percent). They also favored: alternative placement for disruptive/violent students (85 percent); "pre- and full-day kindergarten"? (73 percent); and "programs to coordinate school, community and law enforcement programs" ?(79 percent).
At the same time, the poll results establish Pennsylvanians oppose "a voucher plan to send students to private, religious and parochial schools." Fifty-nine percent said they were "strongly opposed or somewhat opposed"? to vouchers, while only 38 percent were in favor of such plans.
The poll presents the findings of a survey of 801 Pennsylvania adults designed by Terry Madonna Opinion Research and conducted September 2011. The sample error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Source: PSEA Presss Release, Oct. 5, 2011.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 7:12 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has been awarded $38 million through the United States Department of Education's Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program. The states winning the Striving Readers Grant are:
Georgia, $25.65 million
Louisiana, $28.5 million
Montana, $7.6 million
Nevada, $14.25 million
Pennsylvania, $38 million
Texas, $66.5 million
Pending legislative approval, the program is projected to span five years with matching awards each consecutive year. Pennsylvania was one of 35 states that applied for the award.
The Striving Readers Grant was awarded to support Pennsylvania's comprehensive approach to improving literacy outcomes for all children including disadvantaged students, limited English proficient students and students with disabilities. For more information on the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders-literacy/index.html.
Pennsylvania will hold competitions to award 95 percent of the funds as "sub grants" to school districts and early learning providers. Preliminary criteria for the sub grant competition include:
- Comprehensive literacy plan (birth through 12th grade)
- Quality of proposed or existing program
- Target population
- Quality of data
- Fifteen percent of funds will serve children from birth through age five
- Forty percent of funds will support students in kindergarten through fifth grade
- Forty percent of funds will serve middle and high school students
- Five percent is set aside for state administration
Funds will support programs that advance literacy skills through:
- Professional development
- Screening and assessment
- Targeted interventions for students reading below grade level
- Research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice
Part of the 5 percent set aside for administration that PDE will incorporate into the first year implementation of the grant will include district training by intermediate units in the following areas:
- Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and digital technology
- Building Blocks for Elementary Literacy
- Successful Transitions Along the Literacy Continuum
- Reading Apprenticeship (RA)
- Implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC)
- Family literacy and parent engagement
- Supporting learners with special needs
- Navigating content with English language learners (ELL)
- Data analysis and decision-making
No vendor's products, services or publications are endorsed by this grant. Pennsylvania's intermediate units are the recommended service organizations that will provide training on the key elements required for the implementation of the Striving Readers Grant.
Detailed information relating to the application process is expected to be available in November. Below is the tentative timeline for submission. This timeline is subject to change. Details will be posted on the PDE's federal programs web page when the application process is finalized.
Request for proposals released: November 2011
Application review: December 2011
Awards announced: February 2012
For more information contact:
Jo Beth McKee
Striving Readers Project Director
Pennsylvania Department of Education
firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-7815
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 1:14 PM
The updated salary data for 2010-2011 from PDE is now on our web site. Check it out! Remember, you must log in to access this information.
Monday, October 3, 2011 4:31 PM
In the Sept. 24, 2011 issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin a notice was published to announce that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has calculated the Act 1 base index for the 2012-13 fiscal year at 1.7%. The index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage and the employment cost index. For school districts with a market value/income aid ratio greater than .4000, an adjusted index will be posted on the department'ss web site. The department's web site also will include links to additional information and updated timelines regarding Act 1 activities. To access this information, go to PDE's web site at www.pde.state.pa.us and clink on the link from the home page called "The Taxpayer Relief Act."
Friday, September 30, 2011 3:43 PM
In recognition of "the importance of principals in ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education," the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent S. Res. 277, a bipartisan resolution honoring October 2011 as National Principals Month.
NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals worked collaboratively with Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) on the resolution, which honors and pays tribute to the critical role principals play in our nation's schools to help every student succeed. Additional Senate cosponsors of this resolution included Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:00 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Reminds School Administrators of Applicability of Changes to the Background Check Law Under Act 24 and Availability of PDE Form to Report Arrests and Convictions of Offenses.
I. Changes to Section 111 of School Code are Effective Sept. 28, 2011.
Act 24 of 2011 (Act 24) contains a number of significant changes to the Pennsylvania Public School Code that are designed to enhance the safety for school children. Among these changes, Act 24 amends Section 111 of the School Code, which provides for background checks for employees of public and private schools, intermediate units (IU) and area vocational-technical schools (AVTS). Section 111 also applies to independent contractors and their employees who have direct contact with children and to student teacher candidates assigned to public and private schools. The changes to Section 111 went into effect Sept. 28, 2011.
II. Changes to Section 111(e) Crimes: Former Five-Year ban on School Employment is Now a Permanent Ban on School Employment.
Act 24 adds several additional crimes to the list of Section 111(e) offenses that disqualify individuals from school employment. The amendment also increases the period of disqualification for employment for Section 111(e) offenses. The wording of the previous version of the law prohibited anyone convicted of a crime listed in Section 111(e) from being hired for a period of five (5) years from the date of conviction. Under the amendments to Act 24, a person convicted of a Section 111(e) crime will be permanently excluded from school employment.
III. New 10-Year, Five-Year and Three-Year Bans on Prospective Employment for Certain Offenses.
Act 24 also amends Section 111 to now prohibit the prospective employment of anyone who has been convicted of any felony of the first, second or third degree not listed in Section 111(e), from school employment for 10 years after the expiration of the sentence. Further, conviction of any first degree misdemeanor will prohibit employment for five years after the completion of the sentence. The law now also states that a second offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, graded as a first degree misdemeanor, will result in a three-year prohibition on hiring from the date of the completion of the sentence for the most recent offense.
IV. Availability of a new PDE Form for Employees to Report Section 111(e) Offenses to School Administrators.
The new law includes an important mechanism to help ensure that current school employees, who may not have been subject to a previous background check, are now required to provide assurances that they have not been previously arrested or convicted of a Section 111(e) offense. Accordingly, under Act 24, all current school employees are required to complete and return to their school administrator, or other person responsible for school employment decisions (the school administrator), a form developed by PDE to report prior arrests or convictions for any offense listed in Section 111(e). This form "PDE-6004" is now available on PDE's web site:
All current school employees of a public or private school, intermediate unit or AVTS must complete "PDE-6004" and return it to the school administrator by Dec. 27, 2011. School administrators are responsible for making sure that all employees complete this form. If an employee refuses to submit the form, Act 24 allows for a school administrator to require that the employee submit to a current background check under Section 111. In addition, school employees will be required to report to the school administrator within 72 hours of any arrest or conviction of an offense listed in Section 111(e) that occurs after Sept. 28, 2011. "PDE -6004"? should be used to report these arrests or convictions to the school administrator.
School administrators are advised to notify their employees of the availability of "PDE-6004"? as soon as possible, as well as inform their employees as to whom the form must be returned and the applicable deadlines for return of the form.
V. School Administrator Required to Order Background Check Upon Reasonable Belief That an Employee was Arrested or Convicted of a Section 111(e) Offense.
The new law requires that if a School Administrator has a reasonable belief that an employee was arrested or convicted of a Section 111(e) 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. That background check shall be at the expense of the employing entity.
VI. Other Changes to Section 111 Under Act 24
Act 24 also eliminates the exemptions which had permitted certain persons under 21 in a job training program in which summer or seasonal students are hired by the district, to work at schools for up to 90 days without a background check.
VII. School Districts Required to Report all Crimes Noted on "PDE-6004"? to the Professional Standards and Practices Commission (PSPC)
Under Section 2070.9a of the Professional Educator Discipline Act, 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 will be required to report to PSPC all instances of employees reporting any arrest or conviction noted on "PDE-6004"? or which is otherwise known to them as the result of a background check or otherwise. Contact information for the PSPC, as well as mandatory reporting forms, can be found on PDE's web site: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/professional_standards_practices_commissions/8829
For additional information please contact Denise Wolfgang in PDE's School Services Office at 717-783-3750 or email@example.com.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 1:46 PM
The National Association of Elementary School Principals's (NAESP) long-held position to protect principals from automatic dismissal as part of federal school improvement models has been incorporated into the Obama administration's package to ease some sanctions of No Child Left Behind.
Instead of the ill-advised "ready, fire, aim" approach -- which NAESP has been fighting for more than a year -- the administration has agreed that the first step in implementing one of the models should be a mandatory but fair review of the current principal, not the drastic step of his or her automatic dismissal.
NAESP applauds the administration's policy shift and welcomes this important change to support sustainable school improvement and acknowledge the vital instructional leadership of principals. Read NAESP'ss entire statement at www.naesp.org.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 2:25 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is providing an opportunity for school districts to prepare themselves for the 2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Pennsylvania System of School Assessment - Modified (PSSA-M).
PDE will be offering webinar presentations via "GoToMeeting(tm)" during the month of October. Assessment specialists from the Bureau of Assessment and Accountability'ss Division of Assessment will present information on the following: *
PSSA and PSSA-M mathematics and reading assessments to be administered March 12, 2012 through March 23, 2012*
PSSA and PSSA-M mathematics and reading make-ups to be administered March 26, 2012 through March 30, 2012*
PSSA Writing Assessment to be administered April 16, 2012 through April 20, 2012*
PSSA and PSSA-M Science Assessment to be administered April 23, 2012 through April 27, 2012*
PSSA and PSSA-M science and PSSA writing make-ups to be administered April 30, 2012 through May 4, 2012
Similarities and changes to the previous test administration 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. There will be opportunities for questions.
To register, go to the link provided for each session: Oct. 19, 2011 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/284045066 Oct. 25, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/113205666 Oct. 25, 2011 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/985710226
A recording of a session, along with the accompanying PowerPoint, will be posted on PDE'ss web site (http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pennsylvania_department_of_education/7237
) after the last session.