Press Releases

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 1:55 PM

To raise the academic bar and ensure students achieve future success, the State Board of Education adopted cut scores [on July 20, 2011] for the Keystone Exams, which are designed to increase academic rigor for students across Pennsylvania, said Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis.

"After speaking with business leaders, college presidents and workforce development organizations, it has become apparent that Pennsylvania's students are not adequately prepared for the demands and expectations of the 21st century global economy," Tomalis said.

"Today's youth are not just competing with their peers at the national level; they are also competing internationally for both academic excellence and employment opportunities. When challenged, Pennsylvania's students can and will achieve academic excellence. We owe them a world-class education, which will provide them with opportunities to be successful in any future path they choose," Tomalis said.

The board adopted the scores, which range from 1200 to 1800, for the Algebra I, Biology and Literature exams. The scores were distributed among performance levels as follows:

Algebra I

  • Below Basic  - 1200 to 1438
  • Basic  - 1439 to 1499
  • Proficient  - 1500 to 1545
  • Advanced  - 1546 to 1800
Biology
  • Below Basic  - 1200 to 1259
  • Basic  - 1460 to 1499
  • Proficient  - 1500 to 1548
  • Advanced  - 1549 to 1800
Literature
  • Below Basic  - 1200 to 1443
  • Basic  - 1444 to 1499
  • Proficient  - 1500 to 1583
  • Advanced  - 1584 to 1800

This past spring, more than 94,000 students completed the Algebra I Exam, 46,000 completed the Biology Exam and 42,000 completed the Literature Exam statewide. Based upon the scores adopted by the board, of the students tested in Algebra I, 39 percent scored proficient or advanced; in Biology, 36 percent scored proficient or advanced; and in Literature, 50 percent scored proficient or advanced.

When the overall scores of the Keystone Exams are compared to the 2010 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) results, Tomalis noted, the rigor of the Keystone Exams were clearly evident. Statewide, 73.5 percent of students scored proficient or advanced on the PSSA while 41.8 percent of students who completed a Keystone Exam scored proficient or advanced. For comparison purposes, 40 percent of Pennsylvania's eighth-grade students scored proficient or advanced in both math and reading on the National Assessment of Education Progress.  

"These results indicate the stark contrast between what students need to know for post-secondary success versus what is actually being taught in the classroom,"Tomalis said.

  The Keystone Exams' cut scores were the result of lengthy review and discussion among a panel of diverse individuals who represented education professionals from secondary and post-secondary entities. These experts were chosen for their unique perspective and understanding for the need to increasingly challenge high school students in order to meet the demands of the post high school experience.

   "These are exciting times in education," State Board of Education Chairman Larry Wittig said. "The Keystone Exams will ensure continuity throughout the state for end-of-course exams. These cut scores are rigorous and reflect a high level of expectation for our students."?  

In 2009, the State Board of Education set new high school graduation requirements that can be met through a combination of several options, one of which is successful course completion with a Keystone Exam as the final exam. School districts that chose to use the Keystone Exams must require all of their students to participate beginning with the graduating class of 2015.

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, Civics and Government, English Composition, Geometry, Literature, U.S. History and World History. These exams will help school districts guide students toward meeting state standards, which are aligned with the expectations for success in college and the workplace.

 
Thursday, July 7, 2011 6:56 PM

The State Budget, HB 1485, now Act 1A of 2011, contains the appropriations for the 2011-12 state budget. Here are important links from PDE concerning the education budget:  Summary of state appropriations for education; Explanation for the distribution of the basic subsidy; District basic subsidy allocations; Special education funding; Pennsylvania Accountability Grants.

 
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 7:00 PM
For the first time in nine years, the Commonwealth has a budget signed by the Governor before July 1, as required by the state constitution. That is the good news. Schools will receive nearly $900 million fewer subsidy dollars than in the previous year. With passage of SB 330, now Act 25, school districts will find it increasingly difficult to exceed the Act 1 index. Only three exceptions to using the referendum will now be available: pre-exiting construction, special education and employee pensions. That is the bad news. Proposed legislation that did not pass on vouchers and economic furloughs is expected to be on the Governor's and legislators' agenda in the fall.
 
Thursday, June 30, 2011 12:36 PM
According to a Patriot-News article (from Pennlive.com, June 30, 2011): Pennsylvania soon will have a state budget that cuts spending more deeply than most folks have seen in a generation. Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign a $27.15 billion budget today that includes no tax increases or new taxes. The new fiscal year begins Friday. The 2011-12 budget cuts spending by 4.1 percent. It dramatically reduces aid for schools, colleges, economic development and welfare programs. It contains about $300 million in tax cuts and credits for business interests. Click here to read the full article.

 
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:59 PM
According to a Patriot-News article (from Pennlive.com, June 29, 2011): As the state budget nears passage, a largely unnoticed provision tied to the budget's school funding section could put a new spin on the issue of student-athlete transfers in high school athletics. Click here to read the full story.
 
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:44 PM

Highlights of Major Education Programs and Funding Levels

State legislative leaders and Governor Tom Corbett agreed on a 2011-12 state budget deal this week. On Tuesday, the PA Senate approved it on a 30-20 party-line vote. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. The bill would spend just $27.2 billion, down $962 million, or 3.4%, from the 2010-11 budget.

The biggest cuts, in both dollars and percentages, are in education programs, including PreK-12 and higher education.   While the budget makes some funding restorations from the Governor's original budget proposal, the cuts are still significant:

    Basic education funding, at $5.35 billion, is cut $421.5 million, or 7.3%, from the current year.
    Funding for Accountability Block Grants, at $100 million, is cut by $159 million, or 61%.
    Special education is flat-funded for the third year at just over $1 billion.
    Charter School reimbursements are fully eliminated (a loss of $224 million).
    Funding was also eliminated for Educational Assistance (a tutoring program) and school improvement
     grants.
    Both Head Start and PreK Counts were cut by about 3%.

The cuts in major education programs total $863 million.

Higher education fared much better under the final budget but still sustained cuts of about 18%, or $160 million. Penn State University received a cut of 19%, or $50 million, in basic support. Community colleges will see a 10% cut, or $23.6 million.

 

 
Monday, June 20, 2011 5:40 PM
Click here to access Section 1124 - Causes for Suspension and Section 1125 - Suspensions and Reinstatements (Under Article XI, Professional Employes, of the Pennsylvania School Code of 1949).
 
Monday, June 13, 2011 5:28 PM
According to a June 2, 2011 PDE Press Release: A new study shows Pennsylvania'ss ongoing executive development program for school principals is producing significant gains in student achievement, Secretary of Education Tomalis announced today [June 2]. Click here to read the full press release.
 
Thursday, June 9, 2011 2:06 PM
For anyone who was unable to participate in one of the sessions titled "Understanding AYP 2011," presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Education'ss Bureau of Assessment and Accountability, a session was recorded and can be found at: http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/2011_ayp/20278.

The handout to accompany this presentation can also be accessed at: http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/2011_ayp/20278.
 
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 5:15 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has recently released a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) concerning the use of project-based assessments that are part of the new graduation requirements under the Chapter 4 regulations. Students who do not score proficient or above on a Keystone Exam module after two attempts may choose to complete a project-based assessment for that module. Points earned through satisfactory performance on one or more project modules related to the Keystone Exam module or modules on which the student did not pass will be added to the student's highest Keystone Exam score. The FAQ includes information for districts regarding the development and implementation of the projects, scoring, projects for IEP and ESL students and more. The information is posted on its SAS section of its web site (www.pdesas.org).
 
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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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