EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, September 9, 2005

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • The Commonwealth brought in $1.6 billion in General Fund revenue during the month of August, $1.2 million (0.1 percent) less than anticipated. August sales tax revenues totaled $685.5 million ($12.2 million below estimates); sales tax revenue for the 2005-06 fiscal year-to-date totaled $1.5 billion, $2.7 million (0.2 percent) less than anticipated. Personal Income Tax collections for August totaled $594 million ($1.7 million above estimates); PIT collections for the current fiscal year-to-date total $1.2 billion, $1.7 million (0.1 percent) above estimates.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, is conducting a survey about the induction experiences of new teachers. Recently certified teachers who have completed their first, second or third year of teaching in Pennsylvania are invited to participate in the anonymous, online survey at www.pde.state.pa.us/stateboard_ed/cwp/view.asp?Q=114355&A=3.

  • The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has extended the deadline to apply for the Nursing Loan Forgiveness for Healthier Futures program from August 31 to December 31, 2005 for students who graduate in 2005. Nursing school graduates are eligible to receive forgiveness for up to 25 percent, or $12,500, of student loan debt over three years of qualified employment. To quality, a student must have graduated from an approved nursing education program and be employed with a participating Pennsylvania health care provider. The nursing loan forgiveness program is self-funded by PHEAA without taxpayer dollars. For complete eligibility requirements, see www.FuturesInNursing.org.

  • Research and Reports

    Demographic Projections

  • The latest policy brief from IssuesPA looks at demographic trends in the Commonwealth. Based on Census Bureau data, "Pennsylvania's Future Demographics: Warning Signs for Policymakers" projects that the state will continue to have slow growth and, by 2030, will exceed the nation in its proportion of elderly to the total population. IssuesPA discusses the impact of an aging population on Medicaid, transportation, education, corrections and state revenue. Access the issue brief at www.issuespa.net/articles/14391/.

  • Teacher Quality and Supply

  • "Every school day, nearly a thousand teachers leave the field of teaching. Another thousand teachers change schools, many in pursuit of better working conditions. And these figures do not include the teachers who retire," says a new policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Alliance projects that replacing public school teachers who have left the profession costs $2.2 billion a year. Take into account the cost of replacing public school teachers who transfer schools and that figure jumps to $4.9 billion a year. In "Teacher Attrition: A Costly Loss to the Nation and to the States," the Alliance reviews causes of teacher turnover and reports that the rate of attrition in poor schools is almost 50 percent higher than in wealthier schools and that new teachers are much more likely to leave the profession than experienced teachers. The paper discusses elements of comprehensive induction programs that can be effective in keeping teachers in the classroom. For more information, including projected costs of teacher turnover for each state, see www.all4ed.org/publications/TeacherAttrition.pdf.

  • A new paper from the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) also stresses the importance of comprehensive induction experiences. NCTAF says "data shows that there is a strong relationship between induction and teacher turnover." The Commission advocates for the development of induction programs that go beyond mentoring and also include opportunities to observe and to be observed by other teachers, common planning time to work with colleagues, participation in external networks of teachers, and reduced class preparations and assignment of non-teaching duties. NCTAF stresses to policy leaders that induction is a good investment that can help lower the cost of teacher turnover and makes policy recommendation for state and school districts leaders in developing comprehensive induction programs. Read "Induction Into Learning Communities" at www.nctaf.org/documents/nctaf/NCTAF_Induction_Paper_2005.pdf.

  • The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a report on "Elementary/Secondary Teaching Among Recent College Graduates: 1994 to 2001." The report "examines whether graduates who differed in demographic characteristics and undergraduate academic characteristics, college entrance examination scores, undergraduate grade point averages, and major fields of study also differed in terms of teaching and teaching-related behaviors." Access the report at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005161.

  • The National Center for Education Statistics also recently released a report on "Characteristics of Public School Teachers' Professional Development Activities: 1999-2000." Based on data from the 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey, the report provides information on how many teachers participated in professional development in the previous twelve months, the content of professional development, the length of participation, and the format in which professional development was delivered. To learn more, see http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005030.

  • A national survey of K-12 public school teachers conducted by the National Center for Education Information found that the nation's teaching force is getting older, more female, and more racially diverse. NCEI's "Profile of Teachers in the U.S. 2005" reports that eight of 10 public school teachers (82%) are female, up from 74% in 1996. The survey also found that the proportion of teachers age 50 or older has increased to 42% (up from 24% in 1996), however the percentage of teachers in their 30s and 40s has declined. Moreover, of the 1,082 teachers surveyed, one in five (22%) expect to be retired five years from now and half of current high school teachers said they expect not to be teaching in K-12 schools in 2010; 34% of these high school teachers expect to be retired by then. The survey also revealed that the teaching force is getting slightly more racially diverse. The proportion of white K-12 teachers has decreased to 85% from 89% in 1996, and the faster growing group of non-white teachers are Hispanic. The nation's teaching force also is growing more experienced. In 2005, 27% of teachers had 25 or more years of experience, compared to only 20 percent with equivalent experience in 1996. The survey also examined teachers' opinions on standardized testing, teacher preparation, job satisfaction, and more. The report is available for purchase from the National Center for Education Information.

  • Other

  • Susan Sclafani resigned as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education, effective September 6. Deputy Assistant Secretary for OVAE Beto Gonzalez will serve as Acting Assistant Secretary until a successor is appointed. Gonzalez joined the Department in August.

  • EPLC will host the second annual Edward Donley Education Policy Leadership Award Dinner on Wednesday, September 28. The Center will honor Dr. Paula Hess, Senior Advisor to the Speaker and Majority Leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with the Edward Donley Education Policy Leadership Award. The 2005 Dinner also will give recognition with the EPLC Partner Award to the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. In addition, the Center will present its EPLC Leadership Program Alumni Award to Sylvester Pace and Jean Dexheimer. For details about the 2005 Donley Dinner, including information about program advertising and a reservation form, see www.eplc.org/donleydinner.html.

  • The Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center, commenced its seventh year in the Commonwealth this week. The EPFP class of 2005-2006 gathered for its opening retreat in Harrisburg on Thursday and, on Friday, traveled to Carlisle for a lesson in Strategic Leadership from staff of the U.S. Army War College, a seminar unique to the Pennsylvania affiliate of this national professional development program. For more information about the EPFP and other leadership development opportunities available through The Education Policy and Leadership Center, see www.eplc.org/leadership.html.

  • Next week...The Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence hosts its annual conference in Philadelphia on September 11-14. The House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee holds an informational meeting on school openings before Labor Day on Tuesday in Harrisburg. The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee meets to consider House Bill 609, regarding loans for dormitory sprinklers, on Tuesday in Harrisburg. The House Children and Youth Committee meets in Harrisburg on Tuesday to consider House Bill 1617, regarding child abuse training courses for school employees. The Center on Education Policy holds a Forum on NCLB Teacher Recruitment and Retention and Professional Development on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education meets in Harrisburg on September 12-15. The Governor's Institute for Parental Involvement takes place in Harrisburg on September 16-18. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

  • Pennsylvania Policymakers Schedule...The General Assembly is scheduled to return to session from its summer hiatus later this month. The Pennsylvania Senate is scheduled to be back in action on September 19; the Pennsylvania House has marked September 26 as its start of the fall session.

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