EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, April 25, 2008

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign
    Pennsylvania Department of Education
    - Pennsylvania STEM Initiative
    - Summit on Civics Education
    No Child Left Behind
    Election 2008
    Other News

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

    The Pennsylvania State Senate returns to session on Monday, April 28 and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives returns to session on Monday, May 5.

    There is no more important state education policy priority this spring than for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to enact a permanent school funding formula and fully fund it in no more than six years.

    For more information on the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign and additional tools and resources for citizen advocacy, please go to http://www.paschoolfunding.org.

    Pennsylvania STEM Initiative

    On Wednesday, April 23, the Pennsylvania Department of Education hosted a “Briefing on Pennsylvania’s STEM Initiative: Providing Information in Organizing Regional STEM Networks." The Harrisburg event attracted more than 250 participants from across the state including teams who are already working on the development of regional networks.

    The STEM Initiative is intended to develop and deploy statewide strategies and resources designed to enhance the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development efforts targeted at the development of a globally competitive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce.

    PDE says the proposed STEM Initiative for Pennsylvania “will create an infrastructure and statewide coordination to dramatically increase P-20 students (especially females, minorities and the underrepresented) in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers while continuing the development of effective strategies to retain, recruit and retrain our incumbent workforce in these critical fields.”

    Last year, the National Governors Association made Pennsylvania one of six states to receive a $500,000 grant to support the initial statewide work of the Stem Initiative. More information about the Pennsylvania Stem Initiative can be found at www.pasteminitiative.org.

    Summit on Civics Education

    On Friday, April 18, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Office of the First Lady of Pennsylvania convened a Summit on Civics Education at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg. It was attended by educators, civics minded community organizations and state and national leaders in civics engagement. At the summit, PDE unveiled for the first time the voluntary model curriculum for civics education for grades K through 12. This educational resource is available for educators, community organizations and others interested in civics education to view on the department’s website at www.pde.state.pa.us/sas (click on SAS Applied to Civics).

    Civics education and engagement for students is a subject that attracts enthusiastic and passionate partnerships with schools from many organizations across Pennsylvania including the Pennsylvania Bar Association, county bar associations, the Constitution Center, the Freedoms Foundation, PennCORD, PennSERVE and others. At the Summit, PDE showed these partners how their programs and activities could be part of a standards aligned system of civics education.

    The voluntary model curriculum and curriculum framework that is available on the PDE website is a work in progress. PDE invites others to contribute thoughts and ideas to the final product through this e-mail address: ra-sas@state.pa.us. Comments will be taken through May 31.

    PDE and the Office of the First Lady also are planning to hold a number of activities following the summit including regional mini-summits on civics education across the state. Other organizations are invited to partner with the Pennsylvania Bar Association and PDE to help to organize this effort. Those interested in participating in convening these mini-summits should contact PDE by e-mail at ra-sas@state.pa.us.

    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 U.S. Department of Education (USDE) this week proposed new regulations for No Child Left Behind which Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said are designed to strengthen and clarify elements of the law related to accountability and transparency, uniform and disaggregated graduation rates, and improved parental notification for supplemental education services and public school choice.

    The proposal would require all states to use the same formula to calculate high school graduation and drop out rates, beginning in 2013. In the interim, states must set a graduation rate goal and must disaggregate data by student subgroup for accountability purposes. Beginning in 2008-2009, schools and school districts would be required to either meet the graduation goal or demonstrate “continuous and substantial improvement from the prior year” in order to make adequate yearly progress (AYP).

    Among the recommendations, the proposal also would: establish criteria states must meet in order to incorporate individual student growth when determining AYP; require states to report performance on national assessments (NAEP) on the same report card they use to report state performance data; clarify that assessments of student achievement may include multiple measures; require schools in restructuring to implement more rigorous and comprehensive interventions that address the reasons the school is in restructuring; and require states to ensure that the minimum number of students included in a subgroup for accountability purposes is appropriate.

    Spellings also called for the formation of a National Technical Advisory Council – a panel of experts who would advise the USDE on complex technical issues related to state standards, assessments and accountability systems.

    To address the needs of parents, the proposal would require school districts to provide timely notifications to parents about the availability of public school choice and supplemental education services (SES) and to post information about SES providers and public schools available for choice on their web sites. States would be required to report on how they monitor districts’ implementation of SES programs, consider certain criteria when approving SES providers, and consider certain measures of program effectiveness when renewing or withdrawing approved SES providers. Finally, the proposal would allow school districts to count costs associated with parent outreach toward the 20% of Title I funds they are obligated to spend on SES and transportation for public school choice (up to 0.2% of a district’s Title I, Part A allocation), and would require districts to demonstrate that certain efforts have been taken related to SES and public school choice before reallocating unused funds for these programs to other purposes.

    The proposal also includes information about the differentiated accountability pilot program announced by the USDE in March, which is designed to distinguish between schools in need of dramatic improvement and those close to meeting their achievement goals.

    For details on the proposed regulations, see www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/reg/proposal/index.html.

    ELECTION 2008
    Results from Tuesday’s Primary Election are available on the Department of State’s web site at: www.electionreturns.state.pa.us.

    Returns to date show that most incumbent members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly retained their seats. Rep. Harold James (D-Philadelphia) was defeated by opponent Kenyatta Johnson, a former staffer for state Senator Anthony Hardy Williams. Rep. Thomas Blackwell (D-Philadelphia) lost a write-in campaign to get his name back on the November ballot, while Rep. Frank Andrews Shimkus (D-Lackawanna) lost a write-in campaign to place his name back on the Democratic ballot, but was successful in a write-in campaign to appear on the Republican ticket in November. Rep. Stephen Cappelli (R-Lycoming) lost his bid for the Republican nomination for the 23rd Senatorial District being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Roger Madigan.

  • Participants in the 2007-2008 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) sponsored by EPLC, were in Washington D.C. last week attending the Washington Policy Seminar. The Fellows joined more than 200 other Fellows from state programs across the nation to hear from nationally prominent education and policy leaders. The Pennsylvania Fellows also met in the Capitol with several members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation and staff.

  • Barbara Bolas, a school board member from the Upper St. Clair School District in Allegheny County, was elected president of the National School Boards Association at the group’s recent annual meeting. She has been a member of her local school board since 1985 and was elected to serve as president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association in 2001.

  • This week marks the 25th anniversary of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, a report from the National Commission on Excellence in Education. The report triggered much of the education reform enacted by states and the federal government since 1983. Read the report at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/title.html.

    Next Week...

  • The House Education Committee holds a public hearing on the Governor’s proposed basic education funding initiative in Brodheadsville on Tuesday.

  • The Coalition for Community Schools holds its national forum on April 30-May 2 in Portland, OR.

  • The Pennsylvania Head Start Association holds its annual conference May 1-2 in Harrisburg.

  • The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association holds its annual conference May 1-3 in Hershey.

  • 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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