EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, February 23, 2007

Register now for EPLC'S 5th Annual Education Policy and Leadership Conference that will be held March 29-30 at the Radisson Hotel in Camp Hill (near Harrisburg). Discounted rates are available for school district teams of 3 or more. Registration materials and a preliminary agenda are available at www.eplc.org/conference.html.

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Chancellor Judy Hample urged the House Appropriations Committee to support the 14-university system with the full 6% funding increase it requested for FY 2007-08 when she appeared before the Committee on Wednesday. Gov. Rendell has proposed a 3.5% increase for PASSHE, about $12 million less than requested. Chancellor Hample said PASSHE is experiencing budget pressures from employee salaries and benefits, utilities, building maintenance and repair, and burgeoning student enrollment which has increased every year for the past decade. State appropriations account for approximately 38% of the system's $1.3 billion proposed budget; student tuition and fees make up most of the balance. The system anticipates a 1% tuition increase even if it receives the full $28.1 million (6%) increase it requested; however, the ultimate size of the tuition hike will be influenced by yet-to-be decided factors including the state appropriation.

    PASSHE's Board of Governors will set the 07-08 tuition rate after passage of the state budget. If the final state budget does not provide a 6% funding increase, tuition could rise beyond 1% to fill the gap. Additionally, PASSHE does not know how much it will cost next year to implement the multiple labor contracts it is currently negotiating, including a new contract with faculty. Funding to support changes made by pending contract resolutions was not included in the system's budget request. Based on the contract the state recently settled with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), if all of PASSHE's outstanding contracts are resolved with a similar 3% salary bump, it would cost the system $35 million in first year of the contract. Hample said the system likely would consider asking universities to do additional cost cutting to deflect some of the impact of new contract provisions in order to keep tuition as low as possible.

    For additional information about Governor Rendell's proposed 2007-08 education budget, see EPLC's Education Policy Information Clearinghouse at www.eplc.org/clearinghouse_2007-2008budget.html.

  • 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.

    Research and Reports

  • A new report from the Aspen Institute looks at what we can learn from other countries to improve our teaching policies. Rather than influencing who enters the profession through training and licensing exams, many countries "are focusing on who's attracted to teaching, how to support and develop them as long as they are there, and how to provide opportunities and rewards that encourage the best teachers to stay in the profession." The report highlights practices from Australia, Canada, England, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and Sweden aimed at recruiting and retaining effective teachers through systems of supports and rewards and calls for the development of teacher career systems that progress in stages from novice to experienced to expert, with different expectations, roles, responsibilities, and compensation at each phase.

    The report says teacher career and compensation systems should recognize the specific struggles faced by new teachers and provide mentoring and extensive supports during this period. To encourage good teachers to stay in the profession, it suggests hiring new teachers on a probationary basis and providing a significant increase in pay and status for successfully completing the probationary period. As an incentive to continue to grow in the field, the report says mid-career teachers should have access to professional development, the ability to move up the salary scale based on demonstrated experience, and opportunities to assume additional responsibilities, such as mentoring, with a reduced teaching load for those that take on these duties. Additionally, the system could incorporate performance bonuses to reward both individuals and teams of teachers. Further, the system should provide flexibility for career changers to enter the profession at higher levels if they meet certain criteria and for teachers to advance up the career ladder more rapidly if they meet certain criteria. Finally, the report advances the idea of providing salary bonuses or increments for teachers in hard-to-staff schools or positions. Read "Teaching Policy to Improve Student Learning: Lessons from Abroad" at www.aspeninstitute.org/atf/cf/%7BDEB6F227-659B-4EC8-8F84-8DF23CA704F5%7D/Ed_Lessons_from_Abroad.pdf.

  • The Alliance for Excellent Education explores "The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools" in a recent issue brief. According to the paper, if Pennsylvania had graduated all its students who dropped out last year, those individuals would earn an additional $8,339,233,760 over their lifetime. The paper discusses the negative impacts of dropping out both personally and to society in terms of reduced wages, lower tax revenues, difficulty attracting business to local economies, and increased spending on social programs. It also identifies reasons students leave school as indicated by a recent survey of high school dropouts. To learn more, see www.all4ed.org/publications/HighCost.pdf.

  • The National Center for Education Statistics this week released results from the 2005 NAEP Twelfth-Grade Reading and Mathematics Assessments and the 2005 High School Transcript Study. The publications report on the performance of high school seniors on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and provide information about the type of courses 2005 high school graduates completed, how many credits they earned, and the grades they received, as well at the relationship between high school academics and NAEP performance.

    Results show that in 2005 the percentages of students Proficient or above and Basic or above in reading declined compared to 1992 and showed no significant change since 2002. Additionally, no significant change was seen in the white-black or white-Hispanic achievement gap. In mathematics, 61% of twelfth graders scored Basic or above and 23% scored Proficient or above. Math scores cannot be compared to previous years because of changes made to the exam in 2005.

    A review of nationally representative transcripts of high school graduates from 640 public and 80 private schools found that students are completing more rigorous courses and that GPAs have been rising since 1990. Additionally, high school graduates with stronger academic records scored higher on NAEP assessments. Graduates whose highest level math course was geometry or below on average scored below the Basic level, while students who took calculus on average scored Proficient. Full results of the twelfth grade NAEP, including breakdowns by race/ethnicity and gender, are available online at http://nationsreportcard.gov/.

  • Datebook

  • Following this week's (February 24) Workshop in Mechanicsburg, two day-long Workshops for 2007 school board candidates remain in the series of regional programs offered by EPLC for the Primary Election season. EPLC will offer Workshops in Allentown on March 3 and Monroeville on March 10. The Workshops are being offered with the cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). Workshops are intended for incumbent board members and new candidates, as well as all citizens who plan to be actively involved in school board elections as campaign volunteers or community leaders. Registration is $30 which includes lunch, break refreshments, and materials. For more information and a registration form, please see www.eplc.org/schoolboardworkshop.html. March 6 is the last day to file nominating petitions for the May 15 Primary Election.

  • Next Week...The Pennsylvania School Boards Association holds its annual legislative conference February 25-26 in Hershey. The Task Force on School Cost Reduction meets Monday in conjunction with PSBA's legislative conference. The Pennsylvania Association of Vocational Administrators holds its annual symposium February 27-28 in Hershey. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center hosts its 3rd annual budget summit on Thursday in Harrisburg. Good Schools Pennsylvania holds a town forum on public education on Thursday in West Lawn. The American Association of School Administrators meets for its annual conference in New Orleans on March 1-4. EPLC hosts a Workshop for 2007 School Board Candidates on Saturday in Allentown.

    State Budget Hearings...The House Appropriations Committee continues its FY 07-08 budget hearings next week, meeting with PHEAA and the University of Pennsylvania on Monday, State-related universities on Tuesday, and the Department of Education on Thursday. The Senate Appropriations Committee meets with the PA State System of Higher Education on Monday, State-related universities on Tuesday, and community colleges on Thursday.

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

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