EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, May 22 2006

    Primary Election 2006

  • The face of the Pennsylvania General Assembly will look very different in 2007, as 17 incumbents lost bids for re-election in Tuesday's primary. Coupled with 31 legislators who either retired or were ruled ineligible to run in the primary, a minimum of 48 new members will be joining the General Assembly come January. Republican voters across the state rejected 13 incumbents (2 Senators and 11 House members), while Democrats gave the axe to 4 incumbent House members.

    A number of the incumbents who lost on Tuesday hold positions important to the development of state education policy. They are: Rep. Patrick Fleagle (Member of the House Education Committee and Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee), Rep. Tom Stevenson (Chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education), Rep. Peter Zug (Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education) and Rep. Dennis Leh (Chair of the House Finance Committee).

    The following incumbents lost bids for their party's nomination to the individuals below:

    Senator Robert Jubelirer (R-30) - John Eichelberger
    Senator David Brightbill (R-48) - Mike Folmer
    Rep. Dennis Leh (R-130) - Billy Reed
    Rep. Bob Allen (R-125) - Gary Hornberger
    Rep. Susan Cornell (R-152) - Thomas Murt
    Rep. Peter Zug (R-102) - Rosemarie Swanger
    Rep. Roy Baldwin (R-97) - John Bear
    Rep. Tom Stevenson (R-42) - Mark Harris
    Rep. Steven Maitland (R-91) - Dan Moul
    Rep. Patrick Fleagle (R-90) - Todd Rock
    Rep. Gibson Armstrong (R-100) - Bryan Cutler
    Rep. Paul Semmel (R-187) - Carl Mantz
    Rep. Teresa Forcier (R-6) - Brad Roae
    Rep. Kenneth Ruffing (D-38) - Bill Kortz
    Rep. Frank Pistella (D-21) - Lisa Bennington
    Rep. Fred Belardi (D-112) - Ken Smith
    Rep. Frank LaGrotta (D-10) - Jaret Gibbons


  • Democrats gained a seat in the Senate on Tuesday in what had been a Republican stronghold in Chester County. Andrew Dinniman (D) defeated Carol Aichele (R) in a special election to fill the remainder of the term of the late Republican Senator Robert Thompson.



  • Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • On Thursday, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education adopted two resolutions creating new paths through which certain teachers can attain highly qualified status as required by federal law. The resolutions address elementary teachers certified prior to 1988 and secondary level teachers of multiple core academic subjects. The new programs were needed because the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) cited parts of Pennsylvania's plan to implement the highly qualified teacher provisions of NCLB and IDEA as not in compliance with federal law.

    The USDE said Pennsylvania has not demonstrated that its elementary teachers certified prior to the state's implementation of PRAXIS testing (in 1988) are highly qualified. In response, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) established a State-level high objective uniform state standard of evaluation (State-level HOUSSE). The State-level HOUSSE says these teachers are highly qualified based on evidence that they "have demonstrated subject matter competency through the completion of approved teacher preparation programs, regular performance assessments, and rigorous professional development requirements". The State Board adopted a resolution supporting the State-level HOUSSE developed by PDE. All elementary teachers certified prior to 1988 would automatically be deemed highly qualified under the program. For a summary of PDE's response to the federal citation, which includes details on the State-level HOUSSE, see www.teaching.state.pa.us/teaching/lib/teaching/SummaryPDEResponsetoUSDERpt04-05-06.pdf.

    The Board adopted a second resolution establishing a high objective uniform state standard of evaluation (HOUSSE) to replace the Bridge II program. (Bridge II was an alternative path through which secondary special education, ESL, and alternative education teachers in self-contained classrooms could obtain highly qualified status without gaining full certification in each of the core subject areas they teach. The program was approved by the Board but never implemented by PDE. The USDE cited the Bridge II program as not rigorous enough.) The new HOUSSE program allows secondary teachers of multiple subjects to demonstrate subject matter competency and attain highly qualified status by obtaining 100 points through the following: 1) satisfactory teaching experience in the core academic subject; 2) college and graduate coursework in the core academic subject; 3) professional education courses in the core academic subject; 4) advanced degree in teaching, curriculum, instruction, or assessment related to the core academic subject; 5) academic scholarship and awards related to the core academic subject; and 6) Pennsylvania Instructional II Special Education certification. Verification that a teacher obtained the required 100 points would be documented by the school district superintendent. For details on the proposed HOUSSE, including breakdowns of how many points can be earned in each category, see www.teaching.state.pa.us/teaching/lib/teaching/AttachmentCHOUSSEApril52006.pdf.

    Both new HOUSSE programs await the approval of the federal Department of Education.



  • Research and Reports

    Early Childhood Education

  • Governors in 24 states cited pre-school education as a priority issue for 2007, according to the latest report from Pre-K Now. The report identifies Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell as one of four governors "whose enduring commitments, bold policies, and records of success in building and growing high-quality programs set the gold standard in pre-K leadership." To learn more about how state leaders are approaching pre-K, read "Leadership Matters: Governors' Pre-K Proposals for Fiscal Year 2007" at www.preknow.org/documents/LeadershipReport_May2006.pdf.


  • The National Center for Education Statistics recently released the following reports:

    "Initial Results from the 2005 NHES Early Childhood Program Participation Survey" at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006075

    "The Early Reading and Mathematics Achievement of Children Who Repeated Kindergarten or Who Began School a Year Late" at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006064



  • Middle School Education

  • "Success in the Middle: A Policymaker's Guide to Achieving Quality Middle Level Education", a new report from the National Middle School Association, identifies five policy goals as well as specific action steps for federal, state and local policymakers to improve education for the nation's 10 to 15-year-olds. Access the report at www.nmsa.org/Advocacy/PolicyGuide/tabid/784/Default.aspx.



  • High School Reform

  • The Education Commission of the States recently published a policy paper on the "Alignment of High School Graduation Requirements and State-Set College Admissions Requirements". The paper reviews what is currently in place among the 42 states that have high school graduation requirements and the 25 states that have statewide college admissions requirements for public colleges and universities. For more information, see www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/68/60/6860.pdf.



  • School Facilities

  • A new publication from the Education Commission of the States reviews recent literature on how school facilities' design impacts student learning. To learn more, see www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/68/78/6878.pdf.



  • Special Education

  • The U.S Department of Education has released a new "Tool Kit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilities". For resources related to assessment, instructional practices, behavior and accommodations, see www.osepideasthatwork.org/toolkit/index.asp.



  • Charter Schools

  • The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a new report that looks at "Trends in Charter School Authorizing". Analysts found that: charter school authorizers are becoming more selective when deciding whether to grant a charter; more charter schools are being closed because of poor academic performance rather than for financial or organizational reasons; and that school districts remain the most common charter school sponsor despite moves by some states to expand the list of approved authorizers. For more information, access the report at www.edexcellence.net/doc/Gau%20Charter%20AuthorizerV2%20(2).pdf.


  • The Fordham Institute released a second report that looks at the diversity of charter schools and categorizes charter schools in terms of a school's curricular approach (traditional, progressive, vocational, general or alternative) and student population (open enrollment or targeted population). The study also compared student achievement by type of charter school. Based on limited data, the reports draws preliminary conclusions that charter schools that use traditional, general or progressive curriculum and have open enrollment outperform charters that use alternative or vocational curriculum and cater to a targeted student population. Access "Playing to Type: Mapping the Charter School Landscape" at www.edexcellence.net/doc/Carpenter%20ProjectV2.pdf.



  • Student Health

  • The National Center for Education Statistics recently released the following report:

    "Calories In, Calories Out: Food and Exercise in Public Elementary Schools, 2005" at http://nces.ed.gov/Pubs2006/nutrition/



  • Other

  • Dr. Maravene Loeschke will become the next president of Mansfield University on July 1. Loeschke currently serves as provost of Wilkes University. Previously, she served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at her alma mater - Townson University - where she held various positions in the theatre department for more than 30 years.


  • The U.S. Department of Education has established a National Mathematics Advisory Panel comprised of 17 experts and six ex-officio members who will advise the administration "on the best use of scientifically based research to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics", with a special focus on learning algebra. Modeled after the National Reading Panel, the advisory group will be chaired by president of the Houston Endowment and former president of the University of Texas at Austin Dr. Larry Faulkner. The group is charged with issuing an interim report with policy recommendations by January 31, 2007 and a final report by February 28, 2008. For more information about the panel and for a list of panel members, see www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/index.html.



  • Datebook

  • Next Week...The Pennsylvania Department of Education hosts an invitational symposium on "Supporting Students to Success" on Monday in Hershey. The House Tourism Committee holds an informational meeting Tuesday to release the results of a Mansfield University poll on the start of school terms. The Special Session House Finance Committee holds an informational meeting on the School District Real Property Tax Relief Act on Tuesday in Harrisburg. The House State Government Committee meets Tuesday to consider House Bill 2562, related to PSERS contribution rates. The House Education Committee meets at the Hershey Medical Center on Wednesday for an informational meeting on assessing flu pandemic preparedness. EPLC hosts two Pennsylvania Education Policy Forums in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Wednesday's Capital Breakfast Series will address "Financial Costing-Out and Adequacy Studies Related to the Accomplishment of Student Academic Proficiency Goals". Thursday's Western Pennsylvania Breakfast Series will address "Property Tax Relief, Back-End Referendum and Education Funding Issues - The Legislature's Special Session Conference Committee Agreement". For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.


  • The Pennsylvania House and Senate will return to session on Monday, June 5.



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