EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, August 16, 2006

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • The August 5, 2006 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin included notice of several career and technical education grant opportunities for the 2006-07 school year. Grants are available in the following four areas:

    Child Care Curriculum Grants - www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol36/36-31/1498.html

    Curriculum Grants - www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol36/36-31/1499.html

    Equipment Grants - www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol36/36-31/1500.html

    High Schools That Work Grants - www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol36/36-31/1501.html

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education is seeking applications from higher education institutions to serve as candidate support centers for teachers seeking certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Four geographically strategic higher education institutions will be awarded grants to establish these Centers for Teaching Excellence. The Centers will be "responsible for guiding NBPTS candidates through the certification process by providing resources and materials needed in the portfolio development, opportunities for mentoring and peer collaboration and other strategies recommended by the official National Board Resource Centers" and also will "provide administrative support to NBPTS candidates by means of establishing cohort groups, recruiting mentor teachers and minimizing the paperwork process". For additional details and information about how to obtain an application, see the August 5 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin at www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol36/36-31/1502.html.

  • Federal Education Policy Activity

  • The U.S. Department of Education has released new final regulations for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For a fact sheet about the new regulations, see www.ed.gov/admins/lead/speced/ideafactsheet.html. For an unofficial copy of the final regulations, see www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/idea2004.html. The new IDEA regulations will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

  • Research and Reports

    Teacher Quality & Supply

  • The Governor's Commission on Training American's Teachers - appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in August 2005 - has released its final report which includes recommendations for improving initial teacher preparation, induction and professional development; responding to shortages of highly qualified teachers; increasing the economic competitiveness of teacher education; and improving data for state policy purposes. The report calls for redefining "teacher education from a 4- or 5-year collegiate experience to a 7-year collegiate and practice experience featuring increased quality of preservice programs, induction, and continuing professional education, as well as improved linkages among them". The suggested changes emphasize the value of learning through clinical experiences in the classroom and recognize that recent education school graduates require additional guidance to become master teachers. Additionally, the report says it is critical for teacher education faculty to spend time in PK-12 school settings in order to understand the modern schools in which their graduates will be employed.

    The report identifies Pennsylvania's three most pressing needs as: 1) A need for certain types of teachers - mathematics, science, world languages, and special education teachers, as well as teacher of color generally; 2) A need for more high-quality teachers for hard-to-staff schools, particularly in urban and rural schools districts; and 3) A need for new teachers with skills demanded by today's more complex and diverse classrooms that are under both federal and state accountability microscopes. Extensive recommendations are made identifying actions policymakers, colleges/universities and school districts should take to meet these needs.

    The report also provides information on promising practices in teacher preparation, induction and professional development, and filling teacher shortages, as well as a synthesis of current research related to teacher quality and information about the current teacher certification system in Pennsylvania. Access the full report, "Investing in Great Teachers for All Students", at www.pateach.org/documents.htm.

  • For more information about issues related to teacher quality and supply, including links to informational resources and additional research and reports, see EPLC's Education Policy Information Clearinghouse at www.eplc.org/clearinghouse_teacherqs.html.

    Early Childhood Education

  • Results of a comparative study conducted by The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), "Is More Better? The Effects of Full-Day vs. Half-Day Preschool on Early School Achievement", indicate that, in fact, duration does matter and that full-day preschool programs can significantly close the achievement gap between urban children and their more advantaged peers. The NIEER examination provides evidence that quality extended-day preschool programs warrant investment by policymakers because not only do such programs develop literacy, math, and vocabulary skills but they also affect long-term student learning. The study analyzed students from a low-income, urban school district in New Jersey whose residents were 50% Hispanic or Latino and 21% African-American and with over 20% of families with young children living in poverty. Researchers found that students enrolled in the extended day preschool demonstrated increased comprehension across multiple disciplines in addition to continually achieving higher than the control group of students enrolled in the half-day program. Access the full paper at http://nieer.org/resources/research/IsMoreBetter.pdf.

  • NIEER also recently released a report that discusses issues related to "How Much Does Quality Preschool Cost?" The report says that enrollment in state-funded preschool programs grew by more than 100,000 students from 2002 to 2005. However, trends show that state spending on preschool programs per student remains quite low in comparison to K-12 and Head Start state expenditures. The report says this rapid enrollment growth must be supported by increased state funding in order to ensure educational quality and program access. NIEER also identifies significant contributors to program costs such as hours of operation, teacher qualifications, funding models, and cost of K-12 education, which it says are critical components in the overall success of preschool programs and are largely under-met. NIEER estimates that providing preschool for all 4-year-olds in Pennsylvania at the current spending level would require just over $250 million; providing preschool to all 4-year-olds at a level on par with the resources provided to K-12 students would require a Commonwealth investment of just under $500 million. For the full report visit, http://nieer.org/resources/research/CostOfEffectivePreschool.pdf.

  • A recent Brookings Institution policy brief, "The Effects of Investing in Early Education on Economic Growth", further emphasizes that investments in preschool will have a positive economic impact on the future economy. Using a statistical model that looks at how educational attainment impacts economic growth, Brookings' experts predict investing in universal preschool for three and four-year-olds could add $2 trillion to the annual U.S. GDP by the year 2080. Experts believe investments in early childhood education will help the United States become more competitive in the changing world marketplace and prove to be an important source of economic growth. The Brookings Institution estimates that by 2080 a national, high-quality universal preschool program would cost the federal government approximately $59 billion, however, the investment would "generate enough additional growth in federal revenue to cover the costs of the program several times over". For more information, access the report at www.brookings.edu/views/papers/200604dickenssawhill.pdf.

  • A new report from the Committee for Economic Development (CED) reinforces support for investments in universal preschool programs expressed by the Brookings' policy brief. In "The Economic Promise of Investing in High Quality Preschool", CED says that preschool is more cost effective than programs that attempt to correct educational and social problems in later years. The report highlights the long-term economic benefits of a universal preschool program and estimates that state preschool programs will return between $1.18 to $2.25 for every dollar a state invests through savings to future education and corrections budgets. However, like Brookings, CED stresses the necessity for programs to meet quality standards and the importance of hiring qualified educators in order to maximize the economic return on investment. The report also makes recommendations for policymakers surrounding preschool access, quality and financing. To view a copy of the full paper visit, www.ced.org/docs/report/report_prek_econpromise.pdf.

  • Datebook

  • This Week...The House Education Committee held an informational meeting on the American College Test (ACT) on Tuesday in State College. The National Conference of State Legislatures hosts its annual meeting August 15-18 in Nashville, TN. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

  • The Pennsylvania House and Senate have published their session schedules for fall 2006.

    The Pennsylvania House will be in session on the following days (nv=non-voting):
    September 25, 26, and 27
    October 2 (nv), 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, and 24
    November 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, and 27 (nv)

    The Pennsylvania Senate will be in session on the following days:
    September 19, 20, 25, 26, and 27
    October 3, 4, 16, 17, and 18
    November (session days may be added later)

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