EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, July 29, 2005

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • Commonwealth Court has overturned part of a state law that barred adjudicated students in the Philadelphia School District from returning to regular classrooms without a hearing because the law violated students' due process rights. The Court ruled that adjudicated delinquent students who have completed a transitional program should have the right to an informal hearing at which they may request return to a regular classroom rather than being placed in an alternative disciplinary school following their period of incarceration. The law requiring adjudicated students to be placed in alternative schools was passed by the state legislature in June 2002 (as part of omnibus changes to the School Code made by Act 88) to address school safety concerns that such students were re-entering regular classrooms and causing disruption. The law was later amended (by Act 187 of 2002) to exclude students on probation and create some latitude for students in transitional programs to return to regular classrooms. However, attorneys for the plaintiffs felt the changes were insufficient because some students would still receive automatic alternative education placements. Read the Court's July 20 opinion in D.C., K.C. and K.J. v. School District of Philadelphia at www.courts.state.pa.us/OpPosting/CWealth/out/444CD04_7-20-05.pdf.

  • The House Appropriations Committee has hired the Curtis Financial Group, of Philadelphia, to conduct an audit of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). The study is intended to provide the Committee with information about PHEAA's assets.

  • From the PENNSYLVANIA BULLETIN (July 23, 2005):

    The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is currently accepting applications for career and technical education curriculum grants and for career and technical education equipment grants. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to career and technical education centers, school districts with eight or more approved career and technical programs (two of which must be trade and industrial), and school districts with approved career and technical education agriculture programs. Curriculum grants will be awarded up to $15,000 per project; equipment grants will be awarded up to $50,000 per project. Applications for grants to support projects during the 2005-2006 school year are due by August 31, 2005 and should be submitted through the Department's online E-grant system. To submit an application for a curriculum grant, visit www.pde.state.pa.us/career_edu/cwp/view.asp?A=113&Q=114068. To submit an application for an equipment grant, visit www.pde.state.pa.us/career_edu/cwp/view.asp?A=113&Q=114096. For more information about either grant, contact John Bonchalk, General Vocational Education Advisor, PDE, at (717) 772-4177 or jbonchalk@state.pa.us.

    The weekly PENNSYLVANIA BULLETIN is available online at http://www.pabulletin.com.

  • PDE Government Relations Director Eileen Flinn has left the Department to become Legislative, Program and Policy Coordinator for the Portland Public School District. Flinn follows former PA Secretary of Education Vicki Phillips who now serves as Superintendent of Schools in Portland, Oregon.

  • Research and Reports

  • The National Center for Education Statistics recently released results from the 2004 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), a report of long-term trends in reading and math achievement since the exams were first administered in 1971 and 1973, respectively. The NAEP long-term trend assessment is a national exam given to a representative sample of 9, 13, and 17-year-old students. Among the highlights, 9-year-olds scored higher on both reading and math assessments in 2004 than in any previous year. Likewise, 13-year-olds scored higher in math than in any previous year, while their reading scores remained steady at the same level recorded since 1999 (the long-term trend assessment was last administered in 1999). Assessment scores for 17-year-olds remained unchanged as well. Additionally, data show that the achievement gap in both subjects has steadily narrowed between whites and minorities over the past three decades. To view the complete results, visit http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/. State-by-state data will be released in the fall.

  • "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2005", an annual report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, presents a comprehensive look at critical areas of child well-being, including statistical indicators of trends in education, children's health, behavior and social environment, and economic security. Among the significant education findings, the study reports that fourth and eighth graders are scoring better in math and that reading scores of twelfth graders have declined slightly. Statistics also show that the percentage of Black, non-Hispanic youths not enrolled in school or working was down 2 percent from 2003, while the amount of school-enrolled, non-working Black youths rose slightly in the past year. Furthermore, Caucasian students aged 25 to 29 were found to be 32 percent more likely to obtain a bachelor's degree than African American students, although the percentage of Black, non-Hispanic persons with at least a bachelor's degree has increased to 18 percent from 12 percent since 1980. Additionally, the percentage of Hispanic persons with at least a bachelor's degree has increased since 1980 as well, from 8 to 12 percent. To access education data and other statistics related to children, view the full report at http://childstats.gov/pubs.asp.

  • A new publication from Jobs For The Future's (JFF) Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count initiative examines state performance accountability systems in higher education, with a special focus on community college systems. In the report, JFF concludes that "these systems have had moderate impact on community colleges, but the ultimate impact on student outcomes is still unclear". Additionally, JFF cites some unintended impacts of performance accountability systems that can be challenging for community colleges, such as encouraging institutions to restrict their broader missions. To read "State Systems of Performance Accountability for Community Colleges: Impacts and Lessons for State Policymakers", visit www.jff.org/jff/kc/library/0256.

  • Other

  • The Education Policy and Leadership Center continues to accept applications for the 2005-2006 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). For more information about the Fellowship Program and an application, see www.eplc.org/fellows.html.

  • Next week...The U.S. Department of Education hosts a Teacher-to-Teacher Workshop in San Jose, CA on August 1-3. The PA State Board of Education Early Childhood Committee holds a public roundtable discussion on Chapters 4, 11, 12, 23, and 49 as they pertain to early childhood education on Wednesday, August 3, in Erie. The Office of Child Development and the PA Child Care Campaign co-host a conference on new subsidized child care regulations and related issues on Thursday, August 4, in Harrisburg. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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