EPLC Education Notebook

Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC News
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - PA Department of Education
    - State House
    Research and Reports

    The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.


  • EPLC's regional Policy Forum Breakfast Series will continue with fall programs beginning in September. These free programs are held several times per year at sites in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia area. An invitation and RSVP are needed to attend. If you wish to receive an invitation to the Policy Forum programs in your area, and you were not on the invitation list previously, please e-mail your name, affiliation, mailing address and e-mail address to Ron Cowell at cowell@eplc.org.


    PA Department of Education

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education released 2006-07 PSSA scores and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results this week, which include results from the 4th, 6th and 7th grade assessments which were added in 2006. Statewide, 92 percent of school districts and 77 percent of schools made AYP or were making progress, down from last year. Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said the decline resulted from schools needing to meet targets for more student subgroups due to the addition of grades 4, 6 and 7 in the state's accountability system. In other words, given a greater number of subgroups, there were more opportunities to fail to meet AYP. The state now tests all children in grades 3 through 8 and 11 in math and reading. Schools with 40 students in a subgroup - identified by race/ethnicity, low-income, special education and English language learners - must meet academic proficiency targets for every subgroup.

    Although 2007 saw a drop in the number of schools and districts making AYP compared to last year, results over time paint a positive statewide picture moving forward. Aggregated statewide results show that achievement has risen in all grades and for all student subgroups since 2002. Additionally, all grades tested surpassed the 2007 proficiency goals of 45 percent for math and 54 percent for reading, and six of the seven grades tested already have exceeded next year's proficiency targets, which will increase in 2008. No Child Left Behind requires all students to attain proficiency in reading and math by 2014. Pennsylvania has set gradually increasing targets to reach 100 percent student proficiency by 2014.

    Access state, school district and school level PSSA and AYP data at www.pde.state.pa.us/a_and_t/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=129181.

  • Pennsylvania House

  • Over the past two weeks, the House Finance Committee traveled to Fairless Hills, Oley, Stroudsburg and Pottsville to gather public input on a plan ( House Bill 1600) that would increase state sales and income taxes in order to deliver property tax relief. The Committee heard from representatives of school districts, senior citizen service agencies, local government leaders and taxpayers. HB 1600 would add a 0.5% surtax to the state sales tax and a 0.22% surtax to the state personal income tax (PIT). Revenues generated by the PIT surtax would be placed in a new Personal Income Tax Surcharge Fund; revenues generated by the sales tax surcharge would be placed in the state's existing Property Tax Relief Fund, which houses state gaming revenue for property tax relief. Dollars in the Personal Income Tax Surcharge Fund would be distributed to school districts for the purpose of providing property tax relief based on a proposed formula considering each district's average daily membership (enrollment) and local tax effort.

  • 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.


  • The Center on Education Policy (CEP) has released a new paper, "Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965: Recommendations from the Center on Education Policy." CEP has monitored the effects of the of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) since it was signed into law in 2002, This paper presents CEP's recommendations for changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) as amended by NCLB. These recommendations grow out of the main findings of CEP's research on the effects of NCLB. You will find the report on CEP's website at http://www.cep-dc.org.

  • The Center for American Progress has released a new report, "Choosing More Time for Students: The What, Why, and How of Expanded Learning." You can read the report at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/08/extended_learning_report.html.


    Next Week...

  • The Task Force on School Cost Reduction meets Wednesday.

  • The Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program, sponsored by EPLC, holds its opening retreat for the 2007-2008 class Thursday and Friday.

  • For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

    EPLC Education Notebook is published by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Permission to reprint or electronically redistribute the Notebook in whole or in part is granted provided attribution to EPLC is provided.

    The Education Policy and Leadership Center is an independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit organization. The Mission of EPLC is to encourage and support the enactment and implementation of effective state-level education policies in order to improve student learning in grades P-12, increase the effective operation of schools, and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.

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