EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, May 12, 2006

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • Tuesday is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania. Where do the candidates stand on critical issues like education funding, early childhood education and closing the achievement gap? The Education Funding Advocacy Group recently surveyed all 2006 candidates for the State Senate and State House about these and other critical education issues. Responses to the Pennsylvania Public Education Issues Survey are posted online for voter information. Read what the candidates had to say about education issues at www.eplc.org/2006primary.html.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education held a public hearing in Monroeville on Monday on proposed changes to the state's teacher certification system. For details on the changes proposed by the Department of Education to Chapter 49 (Certification of Professional Personnel), see www.pde.state.pa.us/stateboard_ed/site/default.asp?g=0&pde_internetNav=|.

  • This week, the Commonwealth unveiled a web site to assist communities and government entities with pandemic preparedness. The site includes information on emergency planning for schools. Learn more at www.pandemicflu.state.pa.us/pandemicflu/site/default.asp.

  • The Commonwealth also unveiled a new web site designed to help parents determine if their children quality for free or low-cost medical insurance through the state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Access the site at www.chipcoverspakids.com/.

  • Research and Reports

  • The Public Education Network released a new report in which parents, students and community leaders from across the country speak out on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). These public opinions were gathered during the second of three sets of national hearings on NCLB that are "designed to gain grassroots and civic input on the law from groups often left out of the policy debate, yet profoundly impacted by its implementation." At the hearings, the public expressed concern with using a single assessment to measure school improvement and felt that additional accountability measures should be developed with community input. Reflecting feedback in PEN's first community report on NCLB, parents again said they are not receiving timely information about the law and do not feel involved in decision-making provided for in the law's parental involvement provisions. Students said they are feeling the stress of standardized testing and "that they experience enormous pressure passed along from teachers and administrators worried about school performance." Positively, both parents and students said they are willing to work to improve their local schools and that school improvement cannot be attained in isolation without community support. To learn more about how the public feels about NCLB and what the public thinks needs to be changed, read "Open to the Public: The Public Speaks Out on No Child Left Behind" at www.publiceducation.org/2006_NCLB/main/2006_NCLB_National_Report.pdf.

    As part of this public engagement project, PEN conducted nine public hearings across the country, including one in Pittsburgh. PEN also has published a report of Pennsylvania student voices on No Child Left Behind, which summarizes testimony from PEN's hearing in Pittsburgh at which students from across the state discussed the impact of NCLB in their schools; standardized testing; teacher quality; and other issues that affect their futures. Read what the students had to say at www.publiceducation.org/2006_NCLB/state/PA_Main.asp.

  • Education Week has published its annual "Technology Counts" report with a special focus on "using data to accelerate achievement". The report discusses developing data systems that are structured to inform classroom instruction and education policy decisions, and the appropriate roles for states and local districts in implementing and maintaining such data systems. It also reviews the types of student and teacher data systems currently in place across the country and discusses technology tools being developed in this emerging market. Finally, the report highlights a new data collection and assessment system that is helping to improve student achievement in the Philadelphia School District. Access the report at www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2006/05/04/index.html.

    For the first time in Technology Counts' nine-year history, Education Week graded states on technology access, use and capacity. Pennsylvania received a "C" for access, a "D+" for use, and a "B-" for capacity, compared to the "C+" (access), "C+" (use) and "C" (capacity) awarded to the average state. The Commonwealth is on par nationally in terms of the number of instructional computers available and computers with high-speed Internet connections. However, Pennsylvania received a low score for technology use because it does not test students on technology, offer computer-based assessments, or have a virtual school established by the state. Education Week also reports on data tools provided by the state and the type of data collected at the state level. For Technology Counts' Pennsylvania state report, see www.edweek.org/media/ew/tc/2006/35tr.pa.h25.pdf.

  • Other

  • EPLC is now accepting applications for the 2006-2007 class of the Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The eighth cohort of the Pennsylvania Program will begin to meet in September. The EPFP is a nationally recognized professional development program established by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership more than 40 years ago. The program has a strong track record of attracting participants who have a record of accomplishment in research, policy development and effective practices in education, child development and human services. Fellows participate in ten full-day seminars and two national conferences over a ten-month period. This in-depth study of education policy is enhanced by a unique partnership with the U.S. Army War College, whose faculty provide EPFP Fellows with training in strategic leadership concepts. For more information and an application, see www.eplc.org/fellows.html.

  • Ann Weaver Hart will take the helm at Temple University following the retirement of President David Adamany on July 1. Hart currently serves as President of the University of New Hampshire. She holds a master's degree in history and a doctorate in education administration from the University of Utah.

  • Dr. Susan Fuhrman, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named president of Teachers College at Columbia University. Fuhrman, a graduate of Teachers College, will succeed Arthur Levine who left TC to head the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She will assume her new role on August 1.

  • Datebook

  • Next Week...Tuesday is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania. The PA State Board of Education meets May 17-18 in Harrisburg. The Media Area Branch of the NAACP holds its Annual Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania on Saturday at Cheyney University. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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