EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, October 15, 2004

  • The results of the Pennsylvania Public Education Issues Survey of candidates for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and a new web site for voter information were released this week. The survey was conducted by the Pennsylvania Education Funding Advocacy Group, a coalition of 17 regional and statewide non-partisan organizations. It is the only statewide education issues survey of legislative candidates with responses publicly posted for voter information. The Group surveyed all 2004 general election candidates for the PA Senate and PA House of Representatives about their visions for the state's education funding system, the No Child Left Behind Act, closing the achievement gap, early childhood education, and the educational opportunities they feel should be available to every Pennsylvania child. Voters can determine whether their candidate(s) responded to the survey and read the complete responses from all candidates online at www.eplc.org/survey2004.html.

  • The confirmation hearing for Education Secretary Designee Francis Barnes has been rescheduled for Tuesday, November 9 in Harrisburg. This hearing scheduled for October 12 of this week was cancelled.

  • The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory released a report from the National Study Group for the Affirmative Development of Academic Ability titled "All Students Reaching the Top: Strategies for Closing the Academic Achievement Gaps." The report discusses the difference in achievement between majority and minority students, and makes recommendations to improve the situation. The National Study Group recommends improving psychological relationships, especially that of trust between teachers and the students whose lives they are trying to improve, rather than simply trying to improve numerical quotas. The Group also recommends changing the environmental support system that is necessary for character development and growth, which includes support from the schools, teachers and community. Access the report at www.ncrel.org/gap/studies/allstudents.pdf.

  • The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report titled "Improvements Needed in Education's Process for Tracking States' Implementation of Key Provisions." The report focuses on how methods by which states determine proficiency for the No Child Left Behind Act may affect how schools meet their goals over time. The GAO found that many schools reported having data accuracy issues which will harm their long-term outlook and goals. The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Education approve all state proficiency methods by the 2005-06 school year as only half of the states are currently approved. The report can be found at www.gao.gov/new.items/d04734.pdf.

  • A new paper from the Education Commission of the States provides a status report on K-12 science and math achievement and makes recommendations for how higher education can improve math and science teacher preparation and, in concert, improve student achievement in those subjects. Read the recommendations included in "No Time to Waste: The Vital Role of College and University Leaders in Improving Science and Mathematics Education" at www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/54/80/5480.doc.

  • Next week... The House Education Committee will meet in Harrisburg on Wednesday to discuss House Bills 2573, 2588, 2627 & 1914 and House Resolution 752. The House Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the Commonwealth Caucus' tax reform proposal Thursday in Harrisburg.

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