EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, October 16, 2006

Last Day to Apply for a Civilian Absentee Ballot is Tuesday, October 31
Election Day is Tuesday, November 7
    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • The PA Department of General Services has released a request for proposals (RFP) to conduct a comprehensive statewide costing-out study to determine "the basic cost per pupil to provide an education that will permit students to meet the state's academic standards and assessments". Act 114 of 2006 requires the Pennsylvania State Board of Education to provide for such a study, which must take into account both the adequacy and equity of state and local funding. The RFP requires a committee of four State Board members to provide oversight and guidance to the consultant chosen to conduct the costing-out study. This State Board advisory committee would collaborate with the selected consultant through monthly conference calls and meetings at the project's inception, mid-way and end points. The RFP also requires the State Board to convene a stakeholder group consisting of educators and interested parties to provide input at the beginning of the project. Any recommendations made by the stakeholder group will be for informational purposes only.

    The analysis will cover Pennsylvania's kindergarten through grade 12 public education system. Specifically, the study must:

    1. Determine the educational resources and related expenditures needed to provide a quality primary and secondary education (including an examination of exemplary school districts that are high-performing and low-spending, as well as a review of school district tax efforts, including both local and state support);


    2. Examine the potential use of geographic cost-of-education indexing in the Commonwealth;


    3. Investigate additional funding that may be necessary to meet needs unique to schools and students including: poverty; limited English proficiency; students with disabilities; scarcity and density of population; issues related to the rural, urban or suburban nature of the school district; and, gifted students;


    4. Address the cost impact of student population growth and decline;


    5. Address the effect of student transportation costs on school district expenditures, and;


    6. Address the effect of other variables, such as school district size, that impact educational expenditures.


    The consultant selected to conduct the costing-out study must employ at least the following three methodologies in its evaluation: professional judgment, successful school districts and evidence-based. Using the professional judgment method, panels composed of educators and "others such as parents, legislators and representatives of business selected by the contractor" will design model schools, identify the schools' essential instructional and support service programs, analyze the difficulty of the educational task, and determine the costs associated with these models. At least nine professional judgment panels must be convened in the geographic regions identified in the RFP. The successful school districts method will use statistical data from "the best school districts" to determine resources needed to achieve similar results in all schools. The "best schools districts" will be determined by test scores, attendance, graduation rates and related data. Finally, using the evidence-based method, the consultant will "develop models based on research-proven instructional and support services practices that have demonstrated success in assisting students to attain proficiency" and then determine the cost to implement such models.

    An interim report will be delivered five months into the project, with a final costing-out report due eleven months after a contract is awarded. The release of each report will be coupled with a presentation to the full State Board of Education. The RFP also provides for 6 regional public briefings to be conducted upon release of the final report, as well as a briefing for the House and Senate Education Committees. The information gleaned from this analysis will be important in informing discussions about education funding in Pennsylvania.

    Questions related to the RFP should be submitted to Cathy Anderson (cathanders@state.pa.us) at the Department of General Services by October 16. Proposals are due by November 8, 2006. An electronic version of the RFP is available online at www.dgsweb.state.pa.us/comod/ASP/details.asp?BidNo=CN00022214.


  • The House Education Committee met Tuesday in Philadelphia for an informational meeting on House Bill 2857. HB 2587 requires school districts to maintain, by the 2009-2010 school year, at least one optional advanced placement course in the core subject areas of English, math and science. For more information about the meeting, contact the office of Committee Chair Jess Stairs at (717) 783-9311.


  • On Thursday, the House Democratic Policy Committee met in Shawnee on Delaware for a public hearing on the funding of growing school districts. Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak and EPLC president Ron Cowell presented testimony along with several school officials from area districts. For more information, contact the office of Policy Committee Vice Chair Mike Sturla at (717) 787-3555.


  • Lois Rebich, an instructional support teacher at Ross Elementary School in the North Hills School District, has been selected 2007 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. In her current position, she provides support to students who have academic, behavioral or organization issues through individual assistance and one-on-one peer tutoring. Rebich began her career in the financial field and initially earned her teaching certification to operate a state-licensed day care center. She holds a master's degree in business administration, as well as two bachelor's degrees in mathematics and economics. Rebich will go on to represent Pennsylvania in the National Teacher of the Year competition.


  • Information about the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including details on contacting your local state representatives and locating bills cited in this Notebook, is available at www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm.


    Federal Education Policy Activity

  • In response to the recent rash of school violence across the nation, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice last week invited teachers, parents, administrators, law enforcement officials and crisis experts to a Conference on School Safety. President Bush discussed the importance of every school having access to best practices in preventing and responding to school violence. Conference participants called for better coordination between schools and police, more character education and better counseling services for suicidal children. The Department of Education has compiled resources related to violence prevention and crisis planning on its web site. For more information, see www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/schoolsafety/index.html.



  • Research and Reports

  • "Should Sixth Grade be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior" expands on an earlier study that demonstrated reduced on-time graduation rates for districts that included sixth grade in their middle school. This report, released by the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, provides evidence supporting this claim and examines increased behavioral infractions as a contributing factor. The study found 47 recorded behavioral infractions for every 100 sixth grade students in middle school and only 16 infractions per 100 sixth graders in elementary school. The report also holds that the negative impact of middle school on sixth grade students tends to persist through the beginning of high school. The study contends that behavioral infractions could lead to increased retention in grade or dropouts. For a copy of the report, go to www-pps.aas.duke.edu/workingpapers/SAN06-03.pdf.



  • Datebook

  • Next Week...Pennsylvania Events...The Philadelphia Bar Association will host a forum in Philadelphia on Monday on "How Pennsylvania School Funding Jeopardizes Philadelphia's Future". The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee meets Tuesday to discuss awarding a contract for Senate Resolution 208 (related to school district consolidation). The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee meets Wednesday to consider Senate Bill 1209, which establishes the Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Program. The Education Policy and Leadership Center holds it 2006 Education Policy Leadership Awards Dinner on Wednesday. The School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania holds its annual conference October 16-19 in Valley Forge. The Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania hosts its fall conference October 17-19 in State College. The Pennsylvania Child Care Association holds its annual conference in Harrisburg on October 19-20. The Governor's Commission on College and Career Success meets Friday.

    National Events...The Education Commission of the States hosts a web seminar on financing charter schools on Tuesday. The 2006 National Value-Added Conference will be held October 15-17 in Columbus, OH. The 2006 Phi Delta Kappa Summit on Public Education will take place October 19-21 in Washington, D.C. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.


  • The 2006 Education Policy Leadership Awards Dinner, hosted by The Education Policy and Leadership Center, will take place Wednesday, October 18. EPLC will present Karl Girton, Chair of the PA State Board of Education, with the Edward Donley Education Policy Leadership Award. The EPLC Partner Award will be presented to the Laboratory for Student Success at Temple University Center for Research in Human Development and Education and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. EPLC also will honor three alumni of our leadership development programs with the EPLC Leadership Program Alumni Award. Alumni Diane Castelbuono (1999-2000 EPFP), William R. Adams, Jr. (2001-2002 Pittsburgh ICLE) and Daniel Fogarty (2002-2003 Lehigh Valley ICLE) will be recognized for their contributions to education. For more information about the dinner, see www.eplc.org/donleydinner.html.


  • Save the Dates...EPLC will host the 2006 Pennsylvania Education Finance Symposium on Thursday and Friday, November 16-17, 2006 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harrisburg.



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