Press Releases

Thursday, September 22, 2011 8:10 PM

Hotel Reservations at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel

Please Note: Hotel reservations must be phoned in from now until the conference.

To make hotel reservations, call The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel reservations department at (800) 233-7505 and refer to our reservation ID# PAEJ11A assigned to the PA Principals Association Conference.

At this time, the deadline to reserve hotel rooms for the conference has been extended until Tuesday, September 27, 2011. The conference hotel room rate will be honored until Tuesday, October 4, 2011.
 
Thursday, September 15, 2011 7:45 PM

A report from two groups representing school administrators and business managers confirms what teachers already knew -- state funding cuts to Pennsylvania's public schools have adversely affected the quality of education in the Commonwealth.

As Pennsylvania children start the new school year, they are finding fewer teachers and school staff, larger class sizes, reduced course offerings, outdated textbooks, reduced opportunities for extra help and cuts to and fees charged for extracurricular activities, according to the report.

"When Governor Tom Corbett and the General Assembly reached a deal on the state budget in June, and cut nearly $900 million from public schools, Pennsylvania's teachers predicted our students would feel the consequences,"? said Michael J. Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.  "This report confirms our predictions."

"Now, with fewer resources, the challenge of educating our students, especially in schools serving struggling communities, has become much more difficult,"? Crossey said.

The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) surveyed the state's 500 school districts and documented the negative consequences inflicted on the quality of education.

The report released Wednesday shows that class sizes have increased in 70 percent of school districts that responded. The report also pointed out that course offerings have disappeared in nearly half of the school districts, and tutoring opportunities have been eliminated in many others. Full-day and pre-kindergarten have been eliminated in some school districts.

"In some struggling districts, news media have recently reported classes as large as 75 students per classroom," Crossey said.  "Teachers will struggle to teach and students will struggle to learn in these conditions."

"The report is the latest evidence that Pennsylvania is headed in the wrong direction with these brutal school funding cuts," Crossey said. "Governor Corbett and the General Assembly should roll up their sleeves and start working on a plan to provide our schools with the resources they need to deliver the power of a great education to all of Pennsylvania's students."?

Crossey said PSEA looks forward to working with PASBO and PASA and other members of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign to advocate for adequate and equitable funding of public schools.

The PASA-PASBO report is available online at www.pasa-net.org and www.pasbo.org.


Source: PSEA Press Release, Sept. 15, 2011.

 
Friday, August 19, 2011 4:22 PM
According to an article from The Associated Press on pennlive.com: Former state education secretary has resigned as the superintendent of a Pennsylvania school district after a year on the job.

Gerald Zahorchak resigned Thursday as superintendent of the Allentown School District following a year of curriculum changes and teacher layoffs.

The school's board voted unanimously to accept Zahorchak's resignation. Zahorchak did not attend the meeting.

The district's deputy superintendent will take over for Zahorchak, who will stay on for one more year in a strategic role at his old salary.

Deputy Superintendent Russ Mayo tells The Morning Call of Allentown that Zahorchak resigned because the district would not be able to afford his salary over the life of his five-year contract.

Zahorchak served as the state secretary of education under former Gov. Ed Rendell.
 
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:22 PM
According to a Patriot-News article (August 17, 2011, pennlive.com): A line-up of heavy hitters, including national education reform experts and staunch public education advocates, will testify before the House Education Committee today and tomorrow to provide testimony on reform initiatives under consideration.

Click here to read the full article.
 
Monday, August 15, 2011 2:00 PM

Reports and data files for the Spring 2011 Keystone Exams will be available for all participating schools and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) as follows:
STUDENT DATA FILES

Keystone Exam Student Data Files will be available on Aug. 15, 2011, on the PA eDIRECT web site (https://pa.drcedirect.com/) by logging in and clicking on the Reporting Tools tab.   A PDF describing the layout of the Keystone Exams Student Data File will also be available on the PA eDIRECT web site and can be accessed by clicking on the Documents tab under General Information.       

Keystone Exams Student Data Files will be made available only to the district, charter school or Career Technical Center (CTC) reporting contacts specified on the PA eDIRECT website.   If you would like other users to view the Keystone Exams Student Data Files for their specific schools, instructions to grant access have been included in the "Keystone Exams Spring 2011 Student Data File System Reference Guide."   The System Reference Guide will be available on Aug. 15, 2011, on the PA eDIRECT web site and can be accessed by clicking on the Documents tab under General Information.         

INDIVIDUAL STUDENT REPORTS
Keystone Exam Individual Student Reports will be delivered to participating districts, charter schools and CTCs by Sept. 7, 2011. All reports will be packaged by school and shipped to the attention of the district, charter school or CTC reporting contact listed on the PA eDIRECT web site.

STUDENT REPORT INTERPRETATION GUIDE
The "Keystone Exam Spring 2011 Student Report Interpretation Guide"? will be available on Sept. 7, 2011, as well as alternate versions of the guide translated into different languages. All versions of the "Keystone Exams Spring 2011 Student Report Interpretation Guide"? will be posted on the PA eDIRECT web site and can be accessed by clicking on the Documents tab under General Information.   

SCHOOL AND DISTRICT SUMMARY REPORTS
Keystone Exam School and District Summary Reports will be available on Sept. 15, 2011, on the PA eDIRECT web site and can be accessed by logging in and clicking on the Reporting Tools tab.   

Keystone Exams Summary Reports will be made available only to district, charter school or CTC reporting contacts specified on the PA eDIRECT web site. If you would like other users to view the Keystone Exams Summary Reports for their specific schools, instructions to grant access have been included in the "Keystone Exams Spring 2011 Summary Reports System Reference Guide."? The System Reference Guide will be available on Sept. 15, 2011, on the PA eDIRECT web site and can be accessed by clicking on the Documents tab under General Information.   

If you have questions about these documents, please contact Pennsylvania Customer Service at 1-888-551-6935 or email PAcustomerservice@datarecognitioncorp.com.

 
Monday, August 8, 2011 1:58 PM
According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, federal officials, state governments and school districts from coast to coast agree that current teacher evaluations, which are usually administered by principals, are missing the mark. Last week, Pennsylvania became the latest state to express interest in a serious overhaul of the system used to determine which teachers are making the grade and which are under-serving students. Click here to read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article. (Source: myPLS The Eye Opener, August 8, 2011.)
 
Friday, August 5, 2011 1:01 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) invites all school districts, charter schools, intermediate units and career and technical centers to join them in the development of a new teacher evaluation system to be introduced in the 2012-13 school year.

PDE will be conducting a Phase II pilot program during the 2011-12 school year. The major elements of the pilot include:

  • A detailed teaching practice rubric based on the work completed under the Gates-funded initial pilot project and other frameworks;
  • Continuing study of "multiple measures of student achievement" and their correlation with the teaching practice rubric;
  • Detailed guidance on the evaluation process, its components and the evidence to be considered for evaluation;
  • The development of a formula for determining the summative evaluation rating;
  • The development of an ongoing training network through the intermediate units that will be launched with a two-and-a-half-day Training of Trainers to be held Oct. 26-28, 2011;
  • A practitioners oversight group as defined in the Pennsylvania School Code (24 P.S.  § 11-1123);
  • External evaluators to analyze the second phase of the pilot project; and
  • An online evaluator training system to address inter-rater reliability.

Pilot sites will have the opportunity to provide recommendations, based upon their experience, into the final design of the new teacher evaluation form and rubric. In addition, pilots will be able to offer recommendations for the evaluation guidelines that will include local flexibility, practice components and evidence recommendations.

Pilots will also have the opportunity for ongoing online training at no cost, as well as priority registration for the PDE SAS Institute in Hershey to be held Dec. 4-7, 2011.

Please join us in this very important endeavor. We need a broad representation of the education community across Pennsylvania to develop a strong system. You may select individual buildings for the pilot rather than the entire LEA. There are limited positions for the pilot.

PDE will be holding a webinar from 10:30 a.m. to noon on August 24, 2011, to answer further questions and discuss the pilot with interested parties.   Please reply to Carolyn Dumaresq at cdumaresq@pa.gov by August 19 and provide the following information:

Name of Entity:______________________________

Contact Information for Pilot:__________________________________

_____     We are ready to commit to participating in the pilot.

_____     We would like to participate in the webinar before requesting consideration to participate in the pilot. Please send directions for participation.

 
Thursday, August 4, 2011 5:51 PM
Act 24 of 2011 provided for a two-year suspension of the Act 45 and Act 48 continuing professional education requirements for school and system leaders and educators. The following list of frequently asked questions along with their answers is provided for your information

Frequently Asked Questions

1.     Under what authority has the Act 45 and Act 48 suspension/moratorium been instituted?

Act 24 of 2011 amended section 1205.1 of the Public School Code of 1949 by adding subsection (F); section 1205.2 of the Public School Code of 1949 by adding subsection (N.1); and section 1205.5 of the Public School Code of 1949 by adding subsection (H).   These amendments suspended Act 45 and Act 48 continuing professional education requirements for school and system leaders and educators until June 30, 2013.   24 P.S.  § § 12-1205.1(F); 12-1205.2(N.1); 12-1205.5(H).

2.     When do the Act 45 and Act 48 moratoriums take effect?

The Act 48 suspension/moratorium period takes effect on August 29, 2011. The Act 45 suspension/moratorium was effective on June 30, 2011.

3.     May I complete Act 45 or Act 48 courses, programs or activities and receive credit hours during the suspension?

Yes, no one is prohibited from taking Act 45 or Act 48 courses, programs or activities if they choose to do so during the suspension period.   Any educator or school or system leader may continue to acquire Act 45 or Act 48 credits and/or hours during the statutorily prescribed two-year suspension period.   Hours accrued during this time will be credited to the compliance period in effect at the time of the suspension/moratorium.

4.     Have all of the professional education requirements for Act 45 and Act 48 been suspended for two years?

No, not entirely as all administrators currently identified as school and system leaders in   Act 45, 24 P.S.  § 12-1205.5, as listed below, must complete the induction program within FIVE years of serving in that capacity for the first time in Pennsylvania.   Those needing to complete the induction program are:
*             Principal
*             Vice principal
*             Assistant principal
*             Superintendent
*             Assistant Superintendent
*             Intermediate Unit Executive Director
*             Director of an Area Vocational-Technical School
*             Those converting an administrative certificate from a Level I certificate to a Level II certificate.

5.     Will individuals facing inactivation of their certification as of June 30, 2011, have their certificate inactivated?

The Department will inactivate the certificates of educators that have not met their Act 48 continuing professional education requirements as of June 30, 2011, as the suspension/moratorium for Act 48 does not take effect until August 29, 2011. Certificates of school and system leaders that were pending inactivation for failure to complete their Act 45 continuing professional education requirements will remain "pending inactive" during the course of the suspension/moratorium period, as the moratorium/suspension for Act 45 was effective on June 30, 2011.

6.     May currently approved Pennsylvania Inspired Leaders (PIL) courses continue to be offered during the suspension/moratorium period?

Yes, courses and programs approved through the ITQ process prior to the suspension may be offered throughout the period of the suspension/moratorium.

7.     Will the provider approval process continue for Act 48 during the suspension/moratorium period?

Yes, providers that wish to apply for initial Act 48 Approved Provider status may submit new applications for review by the Department of Education.

8.     Will the Invitation to Qualify (ITQ) approval process continue for new PIL courses and programs during the suspension/moratorium period?

Yes, the Department of Education will continue to approve PIL courses and programs.

9.     Will principals have to complete the induction process to receive Level II certification?

Yes, Principals are required to participate in the PIL induction program in order to receive Level II certification during the moratorium.

10.   During the suspension/moratorium period does it matter that educators have "inactive" certificates?

Yes, those with inactive certificates, as of June 1, 2011, will remain inactive (currently 600,000 educators's certificates are inactive).

11.   Will any certificates be inactivated during the suspension/moratorium period?

No, those with "active" status will not be subject to inactivation during the suspension/moratorium period.

12.   Will educators with inactive certificates be able to reactivate their certificates during the suspension/moratorium period?

Yes, a certificate(s) will be re-activated if the individual completes the required 180 hours or six college credits of continuing professional education during the course of the suspension/moratorium period.

13.   Will four-year notices be sent to those with one year or less remaining in their compliance period during the suspension/moratorium period?

No, four-year notices will be discontinued during the suspension/moratorium period.

14.   Will educators with compliance periods that ended in May 2011 receive inactivation notices?

Yes, those inactivation notices were processed in July 2011; however, inactivation will not occur until August 20, 2011.   Note: inactivation will not occur if continuing professional education requirements are fulfilled.

15.   Will all reporting of hours continue during the suspension/moratorium period?

Yes, all providers will be able to report Act 45/Act 48 hours during the suspension/moratorium period.

16.   Are Local Education Agencies (LEAs) required to submit professional education plans during the suspension period?

Professional education plans as required by section 1205.1 of the Public School Code of 1949, 24 P.S.  § 12-1205.1, are not required during the suspension/moratorium period; however, professional education plans associated with the federal requirements of Title I and Title II will continue in effect. It should be noted that Title I requires sustained on-going, intensive professional development as a component within mandated school improvement plans. Further, any district receiving Title I and Title II funding is required to include a professional development plan within the school improvement plan along with the requirements of 22 Pa. Code 49.17 (Continuing Professional Education).

17.   Will the Department continue to analyze and approve professional education plans that are submitted by Private/Non-public Schools during the two-year moratorium?

Yes, it will be acceptable for Private/Non-public Schools to submit initial professional education plans to the Department for review.
 
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 12:46 PM
As part of the 2011-12 state budget, Governor Tom Corbett signed into law House Bill 1352, which makes several changes to the Public School Code of 1949. Below is an overview of the changes made by Act 24 of 2011.

Please note that this is a summary and further guidance on the implementation of these provisions will be forthcoming.

School Employees
  • Suspends the state's continuing professional development requirements for educators and school and system leaders until June 30, 2013; however, this provision would not apply to a new superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal, IU executive director, IU assistant executive director and director of a Career and Technology Center, who are still required to complete a leadership development program aligned with Pennsylvania's school leadership standards. Those not required to complete a leadership development program during this two-year period can still participate in Act 45 and Act 48 activities, which will count toward their professional development requirements. For those who opted not to take courses during the two-year suspension of the requirements, they will have the same number of hours of continuing professional education and the same amount of time to complete those requirements as they did at the time the suspension took effect. For additional information, contact Dave Volkman at dvolkman@pa.gov.

  • Adds several offenses that would bar or suspend an individual's eligibility for school employment and creates standardized reporting requirements for current or prospective school employees to provide notification of arrests or convictions for certain offenses. For more details, contact Steve Fisher at sfisher@pa.gov.

  • Allows individuals who hold a graduate degree in business, management or finance and have at least four years of relevant work experience to serve as a superintendent or assistant superintendent.   Individuals with this background must successfully complete the state's professional development program for school leaders (PIL).   For more details, contact Dave Volkman at dvolkman@pa.gov.

  • Provides alternative certification pathways for second-career professionals to become teachers and school administrators through residency programs. Contact Terry Barnaby at tbarnaby@pa.gov for more information.

  • Allows individuals who hold a teaching certificate issued by another state to be eligible for comparable Pennsylvania certification if the candidate holds a bachelor's degree, has at least two years of successful classroom experience, demonstrates subject matter competency in the applicable area, and satisfies statutory requirements related to their criminal background check, medical history and being of good moral character.   For more information, contact Terry Barnaby at tbarnaby@pa.gov.

  • Provides an alternate route to teaching for individuals who possess a bachelor's degree, pass relevant subject exams and complete an approved program in education within three years of issuance of the certificate.   In addition, candidates for administrative certificate of vocational director certification must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college school, three years of relevant professional experience and must be of good moral character.   Candidates must complete a graduate program in education or within two years of employment in a school or system leader position provide evidence that they successfully completed the state's professional development program for school leaders (PIL).   The Secretary of Education is authorized to evaluate and approve all post-baccalaureate certification programs and qualified providers of such programs, which may include providers other than institutions of higher education; and to develop guidelines for the approval of flexible post-baccalaureate instructional certification programs. For more information, contact Terry Barnaby at tbarnaby@pa.gov.
School Finances
  • Provides for an additional $100 million in Accountability Block Grants in the 2010-11 fiscal year to be distributed by formula and expendable on ABG eligible expenses in either the 2010-11 or 2011-12 fiscal years. For additional information, contact Bob Staver at rstaver@pa.gov.

  • Allows school districts to reopen their 2011-12 budgets to reflect state and federal appropriations for fiscal years 2010-11 and 2011-12.   Contact Benjamin Hanft at bhanft@pa.gov for additional information.

  • Provides for payments for Basic Education Funding, Special Education Funding, community colleges, libraries, intermediate units, pupil transportation and remaining Accountability Block Grant funds. For additional information, contact Benjamin Hanft at bhanft@pa.gov.

  • Exempts school districts from securing PDE approval for construction projects, plans and specifications and leases when state reimbursement is not requested. For additional information, contact Mike Walsh at micwalsh@pa.gov.

  • Removes provisions requiring the Commonwealth to reimburse charter and cyber charter schools for the employer's share of Social Security payments. Contact Benjamin Hanft at bhanft@pa.gov for additional information.

  • Requires public reporting of Intermediate Units' (IU) annual financial reports and detailed information associated with certain IU financial transactions in excess of $50,000. For more information, contact Jeannine Weiser at jweiser@pa.gov.
District Administration
  • Limits preK-12 data collection for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years to only that which is necessary to: comply with federal mandates; populate the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System; meet DPW requirements with regard to supervising and licensing or registering a child care provider; satisfy requirements for criminal background checks and state payments or reimbursements; and meet school safety reporting requirements. Contact Dave Ream at davream@pa.gov for more information.

  • Eliminates the requirement for a school entity to maintain a dual enrollment committee. Contact Bob Staver at rstaver@pa.gov for more information.

  • Permits school districts to admit beginners after the first two weeks of the school year. Contact Steve Fisher at sfisher@pa.gov for more information.

  • Requires school districts to maintain certified safety committees. Districts that do not form such a committee would lose a portion of their state subsidy equal to the discount the district would have received under the Workers' Compensation Act. This would not apply to districts that self-insure.   (Continuation of prior year provision.) For additional information contact Mike Kozup at mkozup@pa.gov.
School Safety
  • Clarifies that school safety reports must be filed with PDE on an annual basis. (This was a clarification; previous language referenced semiannual reporting.)   For additional information, contact Mike Kozup at mkozup@pa.gov.

  • Re-establishes the Safe Schools Advocate for school districts of the first class and moves the office from PDE to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Contact Mike Kozup at mkozup@pa.gov for more information.
Higher Education
  • Allows post-secondary students to choose not to be individually identified in federally required data submissions. For more information, contact Wil DelPilar at wdelpilar@pa.gov.

  • Moves to the school code the transfer and articulation provisions previously enacted in the fiscal code. These require state-owned universities to accept associates degrees for transfer with full junior standing, and requires state-related universities to identify at least 30 general education credits that can seamlessly transfer for credit from institutions participating in the state's Transfer and Articulation system. (Continuation of prior year provision.)   Contact Julie Kane at jukane@pa.gov.
Other Changes to the School Code
  • Requires the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to establish a policy by August 8, 2011, that allows students who attended a school entity that abolished its athletic program in whole or part to participate in another district's athletic program. For more details, contact John Tommasini at jtommasini@pa.gov.

  • Codifies language previously enacted regarding employment pools for former employees of the Scranton School for the Deaf and the Scotland School for Veterans Children. (Continuation of prior year provision.) Contact Diana Hershey at dihershey@pa.gov for more information.
In a separate action, Governor Corbett signed into law Senate Bill 330, Act 25 of 2011. This eliminated most referendum exceptions that were contained in Special Session Act 1 of 2006 allowing a school board to increase taxes above the statutory index without seeking voter approval. As a general matter, the referendum exceptions maintained are costs to pay interest and principal for certain debt already incurred and interest and principal related to electoral debt, special education costs that exceed the index and pension costs that exceed a certain index. This law also allows small businesses to pay school property taxes in installments. For more information, contact Benjamin Hanft at bhanft@pa.gov.
 
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 3:52 PM
The development of the Standards Aligned System (SAS) initiative has been a signature effort of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) in order to dramatically improve student achievement across the Commonwealth. Efforts, to date, have focused on identifying, organizing and disseminating high-quality resources and researched-based strategies to educators across Pennsylvania, centered on the six SAS elements.

With the overwhelming success of (SAS), the SAS Model District (SASMD) project is the next logical step to ensure that educators across Pennsylvania know the value of SAS as a tool to improve student achievement. Most importantly, educational leaders must clearly understand and implement the methods and strategies required for full SAS implementation in a school'ss daily practice so that student achievement can be significantly improved.

PDE will select a small number of demographically diverse school districts (between four and eight) to serve as model districts for the SASMD project.   The kickoff event for this project is scheduled for October 16 - 18, 2011.

Benefits of district participation include:
  • Gain statewide recognition as a model SAS district and develop district experts in SAS.
  • Improve student achievement in all subgroups.
  • Participate in ongoing professional development, with support from expert consultants.
  • Become part of a statewide network of other educators working intensively on becoming SASMD.
  • Share and collaborate with other districts and schools involved in the model project.
  • Work with Dr. Grant Wiggins, international educational researcher, as he shares his expertise in curriculum and teaching.
  • Fulfill some state planning mandates.

The following application parameters below will apply:
  • Enrollment is limited to four to eight districts.
  • Teams require a minimum of five members to a maximum of eight.
  • The superintendent must be a team member and the remaining team participants must include the following roles: a district designee for curriculum and supervision, special education director, a building administrator, a teacher and an intermediate unit (IU) representative (In some instances, one individual may assume multiple roles).
  • Teams will collaborate with their local IU for the duration of the three-year project.
  • Teams must commit in the second and third year of the project to share information and successes with financially distressed districts throughout the Commonwealth.

All interested districts are invited to apply for the SASMD by accessing the application at http://video.paiunet.org/ or http://www.pdesas.org/ and submit a completed application by August 30, 2011. In addition to the application, this site includes a podcast, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and other supportive materials that provide details on the SASMD.
 
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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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