Press Releases

Thursday, February 15, 2018 8:43 AM

Overall, 59% of rural high school grads — white and nonwhite, at every income level — go to college the subsequent fall. That's a lower proportion than the 62% of urban and 67% of suburban graduates, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks this.
NPR, Feb. 15, 2018
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Thursday, February 15, 2018 8:41 AM

Thursday is the final day for Governor Tom Wolf to submit a redrawn congressional map to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If any map is submitted, it almost certainly won't be a compromise; talks between Wolf and the Republican-controlled legislature have largely disintegrated.
WITF, Feb. 15, 2018
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018 12:54 PM

On June 21, 2017, Governor Wolf signed Act 6 of 2017 (“Act 6”) into law. Act 6, which amended section 121 of the Pennsylvania School Code, 24 P.S. § 1-121, sets forth alternative pathways to graduation for students who are career and technical education (CTE) concentrators. Act 55 of 2017, enacted on November 6, 2017, also impacts statewide high school graduation requirements by further delaying implementation of statewide graduation requirements until the 2019-20 school year.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) continues to work with the General Assembly to develop additional changes to the commonwealth’s current statewide graduation requirements. Pursuant to Act 1 of 2016, PDE provided a report of findings and recommendations to the General Assembly, which included four suggested pathways to graduation; the provisions of Act 6 reflected one of those four recommended pathways. PDE concluded that current graduation requirements too narrowly define postsecondary success. In order to more accurately recognize the varied pathways to postsecondary success, PDE recommended alterations that reflect those pathways by offering options for students to demonstrate readiness. PDE continues to advocate for additional changes that will benefit all commonwealth students.

This document addresses the most frequently asked questions related to the implementation of Act 6. Questions may be directed to

1. When do the provisions of Act 6 go into effect?

Unless further legislative action is taken, beginning with the graduating class of 2020, CTE concentrators may take advantage of the graduation pathways set forth in Act 6.

2. Does Act 6 excuse CTE concentrators from taking the Keystone Exams?

No. All states are required to administer statewide high school assessments in math, English language arts and science for the purposes of federal accountability. The Keystone Exams are Pennsylvania's statewide high school assessments, and Act 6 does not change assessment participation requirements for any students. All students, including students enrolled in CTE programs are required to take the Algebra I, Literature and Biology Keystone Exams. Act 6 decouples these exams from the statewide graduation requirement for CTE concentrators.

3. Does successful completion of the graduation pathways set forth in Act 6 satisfy statewide graduation requirements, regardless of proficiency on all three Keystone Exams or corresponding Project Based Assessments (PBA)?

Yes, although all students are required to take the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams for purposes of federal accountability and reporting, CTE concentrators who successfully complete the graduation pathways set forth in Act 6 are deemed to have achieved statewide graduation requirements. However, all students must also satisfy the graduation requirements adopted by the Local Education Agency’s (LEA) governing board in order to graduate.

4. Who is a CTE concentrator?

Act 6 defines a CTE concentrator as a student who, by the end of a reporting year, will be reported as successfully completing at least 50 percent of the minimum technical instructional hours required under 22 Pa. Code Ch. 339 (relating to vocational education). The student must be enrolled in a PDE-approved CTE program to be considered a CTE concentrator.

For 1- and 2-year programs that provide a minimum total of 720 hours of vocational program instruction, a CTE student achieves concentrator status after completing 360 hours of vocational program instruction. Most students enrolled in a 1-year program should reach concentrator status during the middle of their senior year. Most students in a 2-year program should reach concentrator status at the end of their junior year.

For a 3-year program that provides a minimum of 1,080 hours of vocational program instruction, a CTE student achieves concentrator status after completing 540 hours of vocational program instruction. Most students enrolled in a 3-year program should reach concentrator status at the middle of their junior year.

For a 4-year program that provides a minimum of 1,320 hours of vocational program instruction, a CTE student achieves concentrator status after completing 660 hours of vocational program instruction. Most students enrolled in a 4-year program should reach concentrator status at the end of the sophomore year.

5. Often, it cannot be determined that a student is a CTE concentrator until late in high school. Given that context, do the supplemental instruction, retesting, and project-based assessment requirements found in Chapter 4 apply to students in CTE programs who may be on track to be a CTE concentrator but have not yet been identified as such?

It is required that vocational education be made available to all students in a high school program and students should not be denied enrollment in a CTE program based solely on reasons related to academic preparation. Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that students who are on a pathway to becoming a CTE concentrator should receive academic coursework and assessments consistent with the students’ career goals. Students should not be removed from CTE programs for purposes of supplemental instruction as this may impede their ability to become a CTE concentrator.

All remediation efforts (e.g., supplemental instruction, retesting, participation in the project-based assessment support) required under 22 Pa. Code Chapter 4 remain applicable to all students. These requirements in no way mandate intrusion into CTE instructional time and LEA’s are strongly encouraged to allow students every opportunity including all available instructional time to gain competence in their CTE concentration area and “demonstrate a high likelihood of success on an approved industry-based competency assessment.” Therefore, the need for remediation should not serve as rational for denying access to a CTE program. Further, it is recommended that LEAs strongly consider waiting to administer the PBA to a student enrolled in a CTE program until the student is in 12th grade, so the student has every opportunity to “demonstrate a high likelihood of success on an approved industry-based competency assessment.” If the student is a CTE concentrator who can satisfy the graduation pathways, the PBA does not need to be administered to the student.

6. Who establishes grade-based requirements for academic content areas related to each Keystone Exam on which a CTE concentrator was not proficient?

Each LEA determines the minimum grade requirement for each course related to the academic content area.

7. What qualifies as an “industry-based competency certification”?

The Industry-Recognized Credentials for Career and Technical Education Programs includes a list of industry-based certifications.

8. What qualifies as an “approved industry-based competency assessment”?

The industry-based competency assessments to which the law refers are NOCTI exams, NIMS assessments or other industry-based competency assessments that may be identified by the Secretary of Education and approved by the State Board of Education.

9. How are “demonstrates a high likelihood of success on an approved industry-based competency assessment” and “readiness for continued meaningful engagement” defined?

LEAs, via a chief school administrator, in consultation with a CTC director or a principal of a comprehensive high school (whichever is applicable), must make individual determinations related to each student, by the end of 11th grade or if the student is enrolled in a one-year program the determination should be made as soon as possible during the 12th grade year. LEAs should consider a student’s performance on benchmark assessments, course grades and other factors consistent with the student’s goals and career plan.

10. What is PDE’s role in determining whether LEAs appropriately implement Act 6?

Each LEA determines whether its students, including CTE concentrators, have satisfied all graduation requirements; PDE plays no role in that determination. However, LEA records related to each student are subject to review by auditors, who may review whether LEAs are properly implementing the laws related to graduation requirements.

11. Does Act 6 affect PIMS reporting related to graduation data?

No. Consistent with past practice, LEAs retain individual student records to determine which students will graduate and report in PIMS each student’s graduation status.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 9:02 AM

Back in 1975, more than one-fifth (22%) of college students majored in education — a higher share than any other major. By 2015 though, fewer than one in 10 Americans pursuing higher education devote their studies to education, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau compiled by career website Zippia.
Market Watch, Feb. 14, 2018
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018 9:01 AM

On a February afternoon in a Brooklyn classroom, 16-year-old Taylor Engler came face to face with a cow. But it was all in her head. A virtual reality headset had transported the Berkeley Carroll School junior and eight classmates to an upstate New York farm 250 miles (402 kilometers) away. 
Associated Press, Feb. 14, 2018
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018 9:00 AM

Gov. Tom Wolf will not submit a new Republican-drawn map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts to the state’s high court, saying Tuesday that it uses the same unconstitutionally partisan tactics as the six-year-old boundaries struck down in a gerrymandering case.
Associated Press, Feb. 13, 2018
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018 9:12 AM

Do transgender boys or girls have the right to use the restroom at school that corresponds with their gender identity? The U.S. Education Department said Monday that it won't hear complaints about or take action on this question.
NPR, Feb. 12, 2018
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018 9:11 AM

In announcing a budget plan that included more money for Pennsylvania schools, Gov. Tom Wolf this week trumpeted the growth in state education spending during his tenure. But the tide of expenses continues to wash over that line, school officials say.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Feb. 9, 2018
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018 9:09 AM

The proposed congressional district map from Pennsylvania GOP leaders seems to meet some of the key criteria laid out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It’s geographically more compact and divides significantly fewer counties and municipalities than the 2011 map. It also adheres to the Voting Rights Act and preserves the state’s two minority-majority congressional districts. But some political analysts have raised red flags about partisanship within the proposed map.
WHYY, Feb. 12, 2018
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Monday, February 12, 2018 10:21 AM

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards selects 102 student volunteers to earn $1,000 awards, silver medallions and trip to nation’s capital.

Many are fighting hunger in their local communities. Some created programs that encourage young women to consider STEM careers. Others are leading initiatives to support people with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Those are just some stories of the 102 youth volunteers – two from each state and the District of Columbia – who today were named State Honorees by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring students in grades 5-12 for outstanding volunteer service. Read the names and stories of this year’s honorees at

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Each of the 102 State Honorees will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid

trip in late April to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2018. In addition to the State Honorees, the program’s judges recognized 234 students nationwide as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion. Nearly 500 other applicants were awarded Certificates of Excellence for their volunteer work.

Many of this year’s State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists were recognized for their work supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of their peers. Several are serving as first responders with volunteer fire and EMT departments, and a few collected stuffed animals to comfort children in traumatic situations. A number of these top youth volunteers led large-scale campaigns to collect and distribute food for people in need,
and a few raised money for hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

“Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same.”
“These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they’ve served – they also set an important example for their peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “These honorees prove that you’re never too young to make a difference.”

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