EPLC Education Notebook
Monday, September 25, 2006
Tuesday, October 10
Last Day to Register to Vote before the November Election
Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity
- The Senate Appropriations Committee moved
forwarded amended versions of the following legislation on Tuesday.
Both bills await further consideration by the full Senate.
Senate Bill 592: Allows the Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) to keep some investment information confidential for certain periods of time.
Senate Bill 1209: Establishes a program to make grants
available for kindergarten classrooms in Pennsylvania's public and
private schools to offer nutritional and agriculture education programs. The
Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Program also
is designed to benefit Pennsylvania's farmers by exposing students
and their families to locally grown nutritional foods.
- On Monday, the House Children and Youth Committee
held an informational meeting on the National Character
Education Foundation (NCEF). The foundation's mission
is to promote good character through continuous positive messaging.
NCEF has developed a curriculum for grades pre-K-12 that challenges
negative cultural influences through the integration of character
development programs in the public education curriculum. The
foundation also provides speakers for student assemblies, parental
symposiums and educator staff development programs. For more
information about NCEF, visit
- The House Education Committee met with
representatives of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and
Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) to discuss concerns related to
teacher certification issues. Also appearing
before the Committee at Monday's informational meeting in Pittsburgh
were Sharon Brumbaugh, Special Assistant to the Pennsylvania
Secretary of Education, and Robert Feir, Executive Director of the
Governor's Commission on Training America's Teachers, both of whom
have been involved in developing recommendations to overhaul
Pennsylvania's teacher certification system.
Currently, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education is considering
revamping the state's certification system to include new certificates
for early childhood education, middle level education and secondary
education that would require all special education teachers to be dually
certified in the area that they teach. The proposal under consideration
by the Board also would add new requirements for teacher preparation
programs to provide coursework and practice in teaching students
with disabilities and English language learners. The new certificates
under consideration would be issued beginning January 1, 2012.
For more information about the meeting, contact the office of
Committee Chair Jess Stairs at (717) 783-9311.
- On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee
met in West Chester for an informational meeting on
Individual Education Plan (IEP) due process hearings.
For more information, contact the office of Committee Chair Dennis O'Brien at (717) 787-5689.
- On Wednesday, the House Urban Affairs Committee
met in Philadelphia for an informational meeting on school
violence. For more information, contact the office of
Committee Chair John Taylor at (717) 787-3179.
Other Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity
- The Pennsylvania State Board of Education adopted final
form regulations governing prekindergarten programs at
its meeting Wednesday, the first-ever guidelines for operating
state-funded pre-K programs. School districts are not required
to provide prekindergarten and attendance by students also is
optional. Under the state's Accountability Block Grant program,
currently funded at $250 million, districts may choose to use
block grant funds to support pre-K programs. The regulations now
go before the Governor's office, the Education Committees of the
State House and State Senate and the Independent Regulatory Review
Commission for their approval. A copy of the regulations is
- Governor Ed Rendell this week announced 103
schools that will receive Classrooms for the Future
grants to purchase laptop computers for their high schools' English,
math, science and social studies classrooms. The initiative also
includes a multimedia workstation for teachers and teacher training
in integrating technology into instruction. For a list of grantees, see
- The Governor also announced recipients of other high school
reform grants. An additional 32 schools will receive funding through
Project 720 - the state's high school reform
initiative - through the $8 million invested in the program this
year, brining the total number of schools involved in the
initiative to 107. Additionally, 19 school districts will receive
grants to improve College and Career Counseling
through the $3 million appropriated for the program this year.
Finally, the Governor announced that nearly 30,000 students in 313
school districts will benefit from dual enrollment grants
that allow them to earn college credit during high school. Currently,
77 postsecondary education institutions are participating in the
dual enrollment program, including 13 of the state's 14 community
colleges and 12 of the 14 State System of Higher Education universities.
Dual enrollment is currently funded by the state at $8 million.
For more information about grant recipients, see
Information about the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including
details on contacting your local state representatives and locating
bills cited in this Notebook, is available at
Research and Reports
- Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools is expected
to grow by 6 percent nationally between 2003 and 2015. Pennsylvania,
however, is expected to lose almost 6 percent of its PK-12 student
population, mirroring the overall 5 percent decline projected for
the northeastern United States. Nationally, college enrollments
are expected to spike by 15 percent during the same time period,
according to the new "Projection of Education Statistics
to 2015" from the National Center for Education
Statistics. In addition to student enrollment forecasts,
the publication includes projections for graduates, teachers, and
expenditures in elementary and secondary schools. Find the report at
- Major changes are needed to improve teacher education
programs that are "inadequately preparing their students to meet
the realities of today's standards-based, accountability-driven
classrooms," according to a new report from Arthur Levine,
president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and
former president of Teachers College, Columbia University. In
"Educating School Teachers", Levine says education schools suffer from a host of problems ranging from low admission and graduation standards to curriculums and faculty that are disconnected from classroom practice. Levine also criticizes state quality control mechanisms as ineffective because they are more focused on process than substance. The report "provides an examination of the successes and failures of university-based teacher education programs, offers "criteria for excellence" on which to judge the quality of programs, and sets forth a comprehensive five-point plan for improving programs and changing teacher-education policy."
The study is based on national surveys of education school alumni, principals, education school deans and faculty, as well as visits to 28 various education schools across the country and an examination of the relationship between student achievement gains and teacher preparation. According to the report, 62% of teacher education alumni surveyed felt they were unprepared "to cope with the realities of today's classrooms". Principals gave teacher education programs low marks and said improvements are needed in preparing teachers to integrate technology into instruction, use student performance assessment techniques, implement curriculum and performance standards, manage classrooms, and address the needs of a diverse study body.
In his action plan for reforming teacher education, Levine calls for the transformation of education schools into professional schools focused on school practice. He also suggests that programs should be evaluated primarily based on student achievement, that quality control should be strengthened by redesigning accreditation and state licensure requirements, and that a five-year teacher education programs that include enriched academic content work should become the norm.
Levine's study of teacher education programs is one piece of a
four-part series - The Education Schools Project - that
began with a report on educating school leaders. Download the
"Educating School Teachers" report at
For more information about teacher quality issues, including links
to informational resources and additional research and repots, see
EPLC's Education Policy Information Clearinghouse at
- Education Sector, a Washington, D.C.-based
nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, recently published a paper that
explains how states set passing scores on standardized tests.
The organization says setting cut scores is the least discussed
of the three key steps in the development of states' academic
standards and assessments. Building public awareness about how
"cut scores" are set is important "because trying to interpret
student performance on a test without understanding the passing
score is like reading a map without a scale". The paper presents
the various score-setting methods in a format that avoids education
jargon and can be clearly understood by the general public. Read
the "Explainer" paper at
For more information about assessment issues including links to
informational resources and additional research and repots, see
EPLC's Education Policy Information Clearinghouse at
Appointments & Resignations
- Dr. James Gearity, Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, will retire from the Department effective September 29.
- Adam Schott has resigned as Director of Government
Relations in the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Deb Wynn will assume this position on October 9.
- Dr. Kathleen Shaw has joined the staff of the Pennsylvania Department of Education as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Education. Shaw's portfolio will include work with the Governor's Commission on College and Career Success and the Transfer and Articulation Oversight Committee.
- The Pennsylvania Association of Vocational Administrators will no longer be recognized by the acronym PAVA. The organization is transitioning to the moniker Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators.
- This Week...The Senate Education Committee
holds a public hearing Wednesday on Senate Bill 307, which would
establish the Independent Higher Education and Community Financing
Program. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee
meets Wednesday in Harrisburg to discuss the cost of beginning
school before Labor Day. The Transfer and Articulation
Oversight Committee, established by Act 114 of 2006,
meets Wednesday. The Education Policy and Leadership Center hosts
a Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum - Western Pennsylvania
Breakfast Series on Thursday, September 28. The
Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials
hosts its annual trade show on Friday, September 29 in Scranton.
The National College Access Network hosts its
annual conference September 25-27 in Orlando. The Council
of Urban Boards of Education holds its annual conference
September 28-October 1 in Phoenix. For information on these and other upcoming
- The Education Policy and Leadership Center will honor
Karl Girton, Chair of the Pennsylvania State Board
of Education, with the Edward Donley Education Policy
Leadership Award on Wednesday, October 18. The Center's
annual awards dinner also will recognize with the EPLC
Partner Award 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 recognize alumni of its
leadership development programs. The EPLC Leadership
Program Alumni Award will be presented to Diane
Castelbuono (1999-2000 Education Policy Fellowship Program),
William R. Adams, Jr. (2001-2002 Pittsburgh ICLE) and
Daniel Fogarty (2002-2003 Lehigh Valley ICLE).
For more information about the 2006 Education Policy
Leadership Awards Dinner, see
- 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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