Press Releases

Friday, February 1, 2013 6:13 PM
The Pennsylvania Senate amended and passed Senate Resolution 6, which directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the issue of violence prevention, to establish an advisory committee to conduct a thorough review and comprehensive analysis of the underlying causes of violent crime, including mass shootings.

The final report, due Dec. 31, 2013, would include recommendations regarding mental health laws and procedures, necessary changes in state laws and practices, policies relating to violent crime. The report also would include recommendations on ways to make schools safer, and to develop awareness, education and other strategies to address issues relating to violent crime. Prior to adoption, the resolution was amended to specify that the laws in which changes may be recommended include the Mental Health Procedures Act, and 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 Subch. A (relating to Uniform Firearms Act).

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, Jan. 31, 2013.
 
Friday, February 1, 2013 6:12 PM

Gov. Tom Corbett recently unveiled his plan for the privatization of liquor and wine sales, with the revenue from the auction of liquor licenses to be used for a proposed a new "Passport for Learning" block grant that would provide $1 billion to public schools over the next four years. The grant will focus on four priority areas: school safety, enhanced early education programs, individualized learning and science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and programs.

The announcement was made at a news conference in Pittsburgh; details are still forthcoming.Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis was with the governor and several members of the House of Representatives supporting the plan. The governor intends to have a follow-up news conference next week to announce the sponsors of the legislation that is expected to be introduced in the House.

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, Jan. 31, 2013.

 
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:32 PM
While there has been great progress made with the implementation of the Pennsylvania Common Core in the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has also received feedback from educators who have communicated the challenges and demands in developing and implementing the curriculum as well as concerns about providing instruction that supports the rigor of the revised assessments.

Another area of concern expressed is the implementation of the new teacher evaluation system and the start of the collection of data for the PVAAS three-year average for teacher ratings.  

As a result, implementation of the Pennsylvania Common Core-aligned PSSAs for grades 3-5 has been delayed for one year.

Below is the revised roll-out plan for the Pennsylvania Common Core-aligned PSSAs:
  • Embedded field-test items will be included for grades 3-5 in 2013 and 2014, and grades 6-8 in 2014, which will add an additional year for field testing to permit greater curricular alignment to the Pennsylvania Common Core standards.
  • Operational English Language Arts and Mathematics assessments will be administered to grades 3-8 in 2015.
While the revised operational PSSA for grades 3-5 has been delayed for one year, LEAs should continue with the Pennsylvania Common Core implementation. PDE will continue to provide detailed resources to guide LEAs in this process. Grade-by-grade alignment documents in both English Language Arts and Mathematics will detail the similarities and differences in the Eligible Content for the current PSSAs and the revised Pennsylvania Common Core-aligned PSSAs. Direction on content that will prepare students for the current PSSAs, yet focus on Pennsylvania Common Core will be included. Future notice will announce a SAS posting of this resource.
 
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 4:20 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) will conduct training sessions on the administration of the 2013 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) on February 11, 13 and 14, at the Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and King of Prussia PaTTAN office locations. The information being presented is critical to the administration of the 2013 PSSAs, and it is required that every LEA send at least one representative to a training session. These are train-the-trainer sessions, and it is expected that the representatives deliver the information to their coordinators and test administrators.

The training sessions will be presented live at each of the PaTTAN sites listed below. The live presentations will simultaneously be broadcasted to additional PaTTAN locations and intermediate units for individuals who cannot make it to the live sessions. To register for a live session and view a list of available locations that will be broadcasting the event, visit PaTTAN's web site at: http://www.pattan.net/category/Training/Calendar/2013/February.  

Live Sessions
Feb. 11, 2013

PaTTAN Pittsburgh (two live sessions)
9 a.m.  - 11 a.m.
1 p.m.  - 3 p.m.

Feb. 13, 2013
PaTTAN Harrisburg (two live sessions)
9 a.m.  - 11 a.m.
1 p.m.  - 3 p.m.

Feb. 14, 2013
PaTTAN King of Prussia (two live sessions)
9 a.m.  - 11 a.m.
1 p.m.  - 3 p.m.

For more information, please contact Judith Roseborough, PDE, Bureau of Assessment and Accountability, at 717-265-7655.

 
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 2:21 PM

Available via the United States Department of Education'ss web site is a set of materials that provide a substantive overview of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility process—also known as ESEA waivers—by which 34 states and the District of Columbia have applied for and received flexibility regarding certain provisions of ESEA. The intent of these materials—a brochure and five companion fact sheets—is to explain the rationale and intent of ESEA flexibility, as well as address its key components and highlight plan elements for a number of states approved for flexibility.  For the ease of your members and affiliates, all of the documents can be easily printed and produced as front-to-back copies; the fact sheets are two-pagers, and the brochure is a tri-fold.

The brochure and fact sheets can be found on the Department's updated ESEA flexibility web page: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/esea-flexibility/.  Individual links to the documents are below:

 
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 2:16 PM

The number of charter schools hitting testing benchmarks plummeted after the federal government said the state Education Department graded them too leniently.

At first, nearly half of the state's 156 charter schools whose students took the 2012 PSSA math and reading tests made so-called Adequate Yearly Progress under a new grading system Education Secretary Ron Tomalis implemented last summer.

The new system, which Tomalis initiated without federal approval and at the behest of a charter school lobbying group, made it easier for charter schools to reach federal standards than traditional public schools. It classified charters, no matter their size, as school districts, which are measured on a broader scale than individual schools.

Click here for the full story.

Source: Article by Steve Esack and Eugene Tauber, The Morning Call, January 22, 2013.

 
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 2:14 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Education'ss (PDE) Division of Performance Analysis and Reporting, along with the PSSA testing contractor, Data Recognition Corporation, are offering an important webinar for LEAs via GoToMeeting concerning the process, procedures, and attribution rules of the Graduation Attribution System that is used in determining the four-year and five-year cohort graduation rate, also an AYP measure. The Graduation Attribution System will be open to LEAs January 30  - February 8, 2013.  

Each session covers the same material.  To register, go to the link provided for each session:

January 29, 2013, 10:00  - 11:30 a.m. - https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/783561738    REVISED LINK

January 30, 2013, 2:00  - 3:30 p.m. - https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/795784162

January 31, 2013, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. - https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/558396226


PLEASE NOTE:  One session will be recorded and placed on the PDE website for viewing at a later date.

For more information, please contact Judith Roseborough, Department of Education|Bureau of Assessment and Accountability, PDE, at (717) 265-7655.

 
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 7:23 PM
Your retirement may be affected if you are retiring after July 1, 2013. By law, the Pennsylvania Employees Retirement System (PSERS) has an actuarial review completed every five years on the mortality rates of future retirees. As a result of that study, adjustments on benefit amounts of beneficiaries are determined. Because people are living longer, the amount you or your beneficiary, in event of your death, receives is adjusted based on these mortality tables. If you are retiring and plan on taking Option 2 or 3, there is a likelihood your benefits will be reduced if retiring after July 1, 2013. How much will depend on your age and the age(s) of your beneficiary. Because PA Principals Association staff members are not financial planners, we suggest you contact your school district business office, your financial planner and/or PSERS to determine the impact on your personal finances.

PA Principals Association will continue to work with PSERS and other education associations to better determine the impact of this change on school employees.

THIS CHANGE HAS NO EFFECT ON CURRENT RETIREES.

PSERS has added information to its web site to assist in helping members to understand this a little better. This information will also be shared with PSERS' contacts within each of the school districts. You may find the information by following the link under Hot News on the PSERS web site, or directly at: http://www.psers.state.pa.us/factorchanges.htm.

 
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:18 PM

Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis has announced that 31 grants, totaling $1.64 million, have been awarded to 25 career and technical education programs through the Career and Technical Education Equipment Grant program.

Through a competitive grant process, the Department of Education administers the Equipment Grant program to provide funding for the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment to better prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.

This grant program provides funding that must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the school for the purchase of equipment that meets industry standards, which will be used to train students in approved career and technical education programs in Pennsylvania's high-priority jobs.

The department received 63 applications from school districts and career and technical centers requesting more than $2.94 million in grants. Each application was reviewed and scored based on the program's plan to integrate the new equipment into its curriculum and a professional development plan to ensure instructors know how to use the new equipment.

Below is the list of schools that have been awarded a grant, the county and the amount of the grant.

AW Beattie Career Center, Allegheny County, $43,953
Bedford County Technical Center, Bedford County, $10,000
Berks Career and Technology Center #2, Berks County, $50,000
Berks Career and Technology Center #3, Berks County, $50,000
Bucks County Technical High School #2, Bucks County, $50,000
Central PA Institute of Science and Technology, Centre County, $50,000
Delaware County Technical High School #2, Delaware County, $48,584
Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, Westmoreland County, $34,112
Fayette County Career and Technical Institute, Fayette County, $41,182
Greater Altoona Career and Technical Center #1, Blair County, $46,375
Greater Altoona Career and Technical Center #2, Blair County, $37,240
Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center, Cambria County, $3,920
Jersey Shore Area School District, Lycoming County, $5,625
Lancaster County Career and Technology Center #2, Lancaster County, $50,000
Lancaster County Career and Technology Center #3, Lancaster County, $50,000
Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, Lehigh County, $200,000
Lenape Technical School, Armstrong County, $50,000
Middle Bucks Institute of Technology #1, Bucks County, $50,000
Middle Bucks Institute of Technology #2, Bucks County, $50,000
Monroe Career and Technical Institute, Monroe County, $32,728
North Montco Technical Career Center #1, Montgomery County, $50,000
North Montco Technical Career Center #2, Montgomery County, $49,500
Northern Tier Career Center, Bradford County, $32,000
Philadelphia City School District, Philadelphia County, $250,000
Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center, Berks County, $100,000
Schuylkill Technology Centers, Schuylkill County, $28,193
SUN Area Technical Institute, Union County, $23,878
Upper Bucks County Technical School, Bucks County, $50,000
Upper Dauphin Area School District, Dauphin County, $12,000
York County School of Technology #2, $50,000
York County School of Technology #3, $50,000

Source: PDE Press Release, http://www.education.state.pa.us, Jan. 15, 2013.

 
Thursday, January 10, 2013 1:40 PM

As a shocked nation struggles to come to terms with the recent school shootings in Newtown, Conn., policymakers, school leaders and the public alike have renewed their attention to the need to ensure a safe and secure environment in which students can grow and learn, and in which educators can teach. At the same time, policymakers and school leaders are focusing intently on the full range of factors that contribute to an academically successful school climate—strong peer and student-teacher relationships, effective and positive ways to address student misbehavior, supports for social and emotional development, and the involvement of parents and community groups. These issues are at the heart of the 2013 edition of Education Week's Quality Counts report: Code of Conduct: Safety, Discipline and School Climate.

A collaboration between the Education Week newsroom and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Quality Counts 2013 investigates the impact of a school's social and disciplinary environment on students' ability to learn and on the teachers and administrators tasked with guiding them. The report's journalism takes an in-depth look at a range of school-climate factors—including strong and positive peer interactions, a sense of safety and security, and school disciplinary policies and practices—that help to lay the groundwork for student achievement.

THE STATE OF THE STATES
Against this backdrop, the annual Quality Counts report card—the most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education—also chronicles the challenges the nation and many states continue to face in delivering a high-quality education to all students. For 2013, the nation receives a C-plus when graded across the six distinct areas of policy and performance tracked by the report, marking a slight improvement since last year. For the fifth year in a row, Maryland earns honors as the top-ranked state, posting the nation's highest overall grade, the only B-plus awarded.

New findings from the report's annual Chance-for-Success Index—which captures the role of education in a person's life, from cradle to career—show the country struggling to provide opportunities to succeed and many states lagging far behind the national leaders. The U.S. as a whole receives a C-plus on the index.

The national grade for school finance held nearly constant at a C for 2013, with little change in either of the dimensions of educational finance tracked by Quality Counts—spending and equity. Wyoming, a longtime leader in this category, has gained almost four points since last year and earns the only grade of A awarded for school finance in 2013.

This year's report also updates progress in the area of transitions and alignment, which tracks state-policy efforts to better coordinate the connections between K-12 schooling and early-childhood education, postsecondary schooling, and the workforce. The nation as a whole earns a B-minus in this category for Quality Counts 2013, up from a C-plus two years ago, when the analysis was last updated. Eight states earn grades of A for transitions and alignment, with Georgia posting the first perfect score in this category for enacting all 14 policies tracked by the report.

The full Quality Counts 2013 report and interactive state report cards: www.edweek.org/go/qc13.


Source: Quality Counts 2013 Press Release, http://www.edweek.org, Jan. 10, 2013.

 
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