EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, January 14, 2005

  • The Pennsylvania General Assembly swore-in new members for the 2005-2006 legislative session on January 4 and will commence its voting session on January 24. New members are:

    Patricia Vance (R-31)
    Bob Regola (R-39)

    Curt Sonney (R-4)
    Brian Ellis (R-11)
    Sean Ramaley (D-16)
    Jeff Pyle (R-60)
    Kathy Rapp (R-65)
    Mark Keller (R-86)
    Glen Grell (R-87)
    Bob Kauffman (R-89)
    Thomas Quigley (R-146)
    Mike Gerber (D-148)
    Josh Shapiro (D-153)
    Thomas Blackwell (D-190)

    The Senate currently has three vacancies created by the election of members to higher offices; the House has one vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Kelly Lewis.

  • New Committee Chairs appointed for the 2005-2006 Legislative Session are:

    Education Committee: James Rhoades, Majority Chair; Raphael Musto, (New) Minority Chair
    Appropriations Committee: Robert Thompson, Majority Chair; Vincent Fumo, Minority Chair

    Education Committee: Jess Stairs, Majority Chair; James Roebuck, Minority Chair
    Appropriations Committee: Brett Feese, (NEW) Majority Chair; Dwight Evans, Minority Chair

  • The General Assembly has released its schedule of 2005-2006 state budget hearings. Education-related hearings are scheduled as follows:

    State-Related Universities: Tuesday, March 1, 2:45 p.m.
    State System of Higher Education: Wednesday, March 2, 9:00 a.m.
    Department of Education: Tuesday, March 8, 9:00 a.m.
    * All hearings will be held in the Senate Majority Caucus Room.

    Lincoln University: Wednesday, March 2, 9:00 a.m.
    University of Pittsburgh: Wednesday, March 2, 10:00 a.m.
    Temple University: Wednesday, March 2, 11:30 a.m.
    State System of Higher Education: Wednesday, March 2, 1:30 p.m.
    University of Pennsylvania: Wednesday, March 2, 3:00 p.m.
    Department of Education: Tuesday, March 8, 2:00 p.m.
    * All hearings will be held in Room 140, Main Capitol Building

    For a complete list of state legislators and their contact information, and a comprehensive legislative hearings schedule, see www.legis.state.pa.us".

  • Education Week released its annual Quality Counts report, a look at where the 50 states stand on a number of education indicators. This year's report, titled "No Small Change: Targeting Money Toward Student Performance," focuses on education funding.

    Pennsylvania improved its grade for School Finance Equity from a "D-" last year to a "C-" in this year's Quality Counts (due largely to changed criteria). Despite some improvement, the state continues to rank poorly on indicators of equity between districts. Nationally, Pennsylvania ranks 43rd on an indicator of whether wealthier districts receive more state and local f unding than property-poor districts and 40th on an indicator of how much it would cost to bring all districts up to the state's median per pupil spending level. Quality Counts also notes that "Pennsylvania is one of the few states that do not use a foundation formula to pay for education." The state spent an average $8,328 per pupil in 2002 (the 16th highest in the nation), more than the national average of $7,734, but lower than most neighboring states.

    Average per-pupil spending (2002):
    Pennsylvania: $8,328
    Delaware: $9,072
    Maryland: $8,517
    New Jersey: $10,235
    New York: $10,002
    Ohio: 8,165
    West Virginia: $8,756
    National average: $7,734

    Pennsylvania improved its grade for Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality from a "C-" to a "C," however, scores dropped for Standards and Accountability (from a "B" to a "B-") and no improvement was made in School Climate with a grade of "C" for the second year. The report applauds the state's beginning teacher licensure requirements and the requirement that districts provide mentoring for new teachers and says the state can improve its grade for Teacher Quality by providing state funding for mentoring programs and requiring performance-based assessments for teachers to earn advanced licenses.

    Quality Counts also compares student achievement data on the nationwide NAEP assessments compared to achievement on state assessments in the same grade levels and looks at high school achievement in terms of students taking upper-level courses, dropout rate, and graduation rate. In 2001, Pennsylvania had a 3.6% dropout rate. In 2002, the Commonwealth had an aggregate 80% graduation rate, however, the graduation rate for African American students was only 58% compared to 86% for Caucasian students.

    Access Quality Counts 2005: No Small Change: Targeting Money Toward Student Performance at www.edweek.org.

  • Looking for information about teaching English Language Learners or ELL assessment practices? Check out EPLC's new Education Policy Information Clearinghouse section on English Language Learners at www.eplc.org/clearinghouse_ell.html.

  • The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) will sponsor three School Board Candidate Workshops in the Lehigh Valley (Saturday, January 15), Western Pennsylvania (Saturday, February 26), and the Philadelphia Region (Saturday, March 5). The full-day Workshops will focus on the Legal and Leadership Roles of School Directors and School Boards, State and Federal Policies, and Candidates and the Law. For program details and a registration form, see www.eplc.org/schoolboardworkshop.html.

  • Next week... On Wednesday, January 19, Dr. Gerald Zahorchak, Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education, will discuss "The Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System" at EPLC's Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum in Harrisburg. The PA State Board of Education meets January 19-20.

To return to the EPLC Education Notebook homepage, click here.

To return to The Education Policy and Leadership Center homepage, click here.