EPLC Education Notebook – Friday, July 22, 2011

Content in this edition:
State Board of Education


Education Policy Fellowship Program

The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at https://www.eplc.org/category/education-notebook/.


The State Board of Education met in Harrisburg on July 19 and 20.

On Wednesday, the Council for Basic Education heard reports on school and university safety.  Pursuant to Act 104 of 2010 the Department of Education presented its draft of the Model Dating Violence Policy and the Student Complaint Form – Dating Violence.  The policy draft will be vetted within the Department and, when finalized, it will be sent to the Secretary for his approval.

The Council also heard a report from the newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on School Libraries.  The Board has contracted with the University of Pittsburgh to analyze the responses to a survey completed by more than 2,700 school librarians. The analysis will be completed and a report presented to the Board this fall. The Ad Hoc Library Committee will be holding three roundtable discussions on school libraries on September 13 (Allentown), September 15 (Harrisburg) and September 20 (Erie.)

The Council received an update from Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Carolyn Dumaresq, on the Common Core and PA Standards.  Six “train the trainers” workshops have been completed to familiarize IU curriculum advisors with the available transition resources to facilitate their training of their member districts.  Work will continue on aligning PA’s academic standards with the Common Core.  The end result will be a clear set of PA Common Core Standards and grade 3 through 8 Assessment Anchors and Eligible Content reflecting the content and rigor of the Common Core Standards.

The Council was also updated on the Principals Induction Program (PIL). Research has shown that students in elementary, middle and high schools led by PIL trained principals, performed at higher levels in both reading/ELA and mathematics than students with similar demographics where the principals had not received PIL training.

The Council heard a presentation on the Keystone Exams: Algebra I, Biology and Literature.  The process used in establishing the Performance–Level Descriptors and the Cut Scores was explained.

The Council of Higher Education heard a report from the Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education, Sandra Edmunds, which provided an update to the new Chapter 49 certificate and educational leadership programs.  Full review of certification programs begins in September aided by the implementation of a new electronic application tool which will be completed soon.  Recently enacted legislation provides for new pathways for individuals without the traditional administrator preparation background to become superintendents and assistant superintendents.  Changes were also made to ease the process for out-of-state teachers to become certified in Pennsylvania.

The English as a Second Language (ELS) Program Specialist Guidelines have been released.  The ELS Program Specialist certificate is issued to eligible individuals who demonstrated competency in language, culture, observing, planning, implementing and managing instruction, assessment, and professionalism.

Teacher and principal evaluation data have been compiled as part of the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The collection and reporting of this information supports efforts in achieving equity in teacher distribution.

Deputy Secretary Edmunds also announced that beginning in the 2011-2012 school year the Act 101 (1971) Program which has been administered by the Department of Education since 1971 will be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).  The Act 101 Program awards grants to higher education institutions to provide intensive tutoring, counseling, and academic skills development activities to educationally and economically disadvantaged undergraduate students.

The Deputy Secretary also shared with the Board the new organization chart for the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education. The Office has recently undergone a reorganization that resulted in the consolidation of Bureaus and Divisions.

The State Board for Vocational Education was provided a report on the activities of the Bureau of Career and Technical Education.  The impact of the 2011-12 budget on student enrollment in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs was discussed.  The Bureau is experiencing higher than normal calls from parents concerned about their child’s placement in a CTE program this fall.  Currently, 12 percent of high school students are enrolled in CTE programs. 

On Thursday, the State Board of Education heard a report from Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis.  The Secretary introduced Barbara Minzenberg who will serve as the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Child Development and Early Learning.This position will report to the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Public Welfare.  The Secretary also reported to the Board about the questions raised concerning the 2009 PSSA scores.  The school districts which were flagged for unusual results have all been notified by PDE and are reviewing their submissions.  The Secretary assured the Board that checks are in place to review and notify the Department of any irregularities in the 2011 PSSA results.  The Secretary also spoke about Pennsylvania being eligible to apply for the third round of Federal Race to the Top Funds.  Altogether, nine states that were finalists in the earlier round are eligible to compete for an available $200 million, and Pennsylvania is one of those states.

The State Board of Education voted on three action items. The Board voted unanimously to adopt the Performance–Level Descriptors and Cut Scores for the Keystone Exams for Algebra I, Biology and Literature. The Board adopted a Resolution honoring John Tarka, President of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, on the occasion of his retirement.  The Board also adopted a Resolution honoring Adam Schott for his commitment in support of the State Board of Education during his tenure as Executive Director.

To view the action items approved by the Board at its July 20 meeting, click here.


EPLC is recruiting for a current undergraduate or graduate student to serve as a part-time intern during the fall 2011 semester, beginning in early September in the downtown Harrisburg offices.  The internship will support the culminating events of year one of the Arts and Education Initiative, and preparations for the public policy advocacy campaign of 2012.  Ideal candidates have a demonstrable background in the arts and education, strong skills in research, writing, and speaking, as well as a commitment to grassroots advocacy organizing.  The internship is unpaid, but free parking is available.  Weekly hours of the internship are negotiable and may fluctuate due to special events.  To apply or to suggest a candidate, please email AEI Director Jordie Crosby for further information: crosby@eplc.org


  • Education Week will host a webinar “Engaging Girls and other Underrepresented Populations in STEM” on July 26 at 2:00 PM.  For more information, click here.
  • Two weeks after the passage of the 2011-2012 state budget, PA Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander cut $4.8 million of state funding for T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps), a scholarship program that enables child care workers to earn early childhood education credentials. The Administration has also decided to not apply for available  federal funding that was used to supplement the state funding for T.E.A.C.H.  The elimination of T.E.A.C.H. scholarships may halt the progress of nearly 2,000 early childhood professionals scheduled to take college courses this fall.  The coursework is aimed at improving the quality of care for the children they serve.  If you would like to sign a petition urging the Governor to restore the cuts to this program, click here.


On July 14, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) released a new report that profiles U.S. employment in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.  The report, STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future, finds that:

  • In 2010, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the United States, representing about 1 in 18 workers.
  • STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17.0 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.
  • STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts.
  • More than two-thirds of STEM workers have at least a college degree, compared to less than one-third of non-STEM workers.
  • STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations.

Earlier this week, the Keystone Research Center and Demos, a national policy center, released Under Attack:  Pennsylvania’s Middle Class and the Job Crisis report which examines the state of Pennsylvania’s middle class.  Pennsylvanians are facing extreme budget cuts, declining access to benefits, higher costs to raise children, and decreasing access to post-secondary credentials.  Trends for young Pennsylvanians looking to build and maintain a middle class life are cause for concern.  According to the report, “the returns from a four year college degree are evident in the form of higher earnings versus those who lack such a degree.  Yet college tuition costs have soared and students are accumulating greater amounts of debt.”  Pennsylvania graduates have an average debt of $27,000 which is seventh highest in the nation.  For more information and to read the full text of the report, click here.

On July 19, the National Center for Education Statistics released results for the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress in geography. It found that 4th graders scored the highest since the test started in 1994, but the rising scores have not translated to more students moving from basic to proficient performance on the test and the percentage of students achieving the advanced level has gone down in every grade.  Average scores for 8th grade have shown no growth or decline and in 12th grade average scores have significantly declined.  To view the results, click here.  

On July 19, the National Research Council released a report presenting the new framework for K-12 science education that identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high schoolThis framework represents the first step in a process that will inform state level decisions and provide research backed knowledge for improving science instruction and learning.  In addition, it will also serve as the foundation for new K-12 science education standards. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org.


The new class is filling quickly, but applications are still being accepted for the 2011-2012 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) which is sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 8-9, 2011 and continues through June 2012.  Applications are being accepted now.  For schedule and more information or to download an application, please click here.


  • The House Education Committee will hold two informational meetings on school choice and charter schools on Wednesday, July 27 and Thursday, July 28 at 10:00 AM in Philadelphia.  For more information, call the office of House Education Chairman Paul Clymer at (717) 783-3154
  • The House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on the impact of state budget cuts on July 28 at 10:00 AM in Philadelphia.  For a complete list of hearing dates and to read testimony from past hearings, click here.
  • The House has announced it will be in session on the following dates:      
    September 26, 27, 28
    October 3, 4, 5, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, and 31
    November 1, 2, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23
    December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14

For information on upcoming events, please visit www.eplc.org and click on “Events Calendar”.


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