EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, March 21, 2008

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - Pennsylvania State Board of Education
    Pennsylvania Bulletin
    Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign
    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.

    The Pennsylvania House and Senate are in recess until Monday, March 31.

    Pennsylvania State Board of Education

    The State Board of Education this week approved final changes to Chapter 16, which governs gifted education in the Commonwealth. Among the changes, the regulations: establish a compliance monitoring process for school districts’ provision of gifted services; reduce the caseload of students assigned to a gifted education teacher from 75 to 65 (beginning July 1, 2010) and the class roster from 25 to 20 students; require a single IEP for special education students who also are identified as gifted; require the results of student evaluations for gifted services to be provided to parents within 60 calendar days, rather than 60 school days; and also require re-evaluation of students to occur within 60 calendar days (however, this calendar requirement would not apply during a school’s summer break). Finally, the changes require PDE to annually provide the Board a statewide summary report on impartial due process hearings filed regarding gifted education issues.

    The Board also approved final changes to Chapter 339 regulations, which oversee Vocational Education. These regulations were adopted by the State Board of Vocational Education in January 2008; however a technical need arose to have the State Board of Education also approve the regulatory changes. Changes to Chapter 339 have been submitted for review by the House and Senate Education Committees and IRRC.

    The Pennsylvania State Board of Vocational Education this week approved the Commonwealth’s Perkins IV State Plan
    . The state previously submitted a one-year Perkins transition plan, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) in June 2007. The new 5-year plan responds to questions raised by the USDE regarding program administration, the provision of services for special populations (including non-traditional students), and the relation of tech prep programs to title I funds. While the plan includes new items in these administrative areas, no policy changes were made since the previously-approved one-year transition plan.

    Finally, on Wednesday the State Board of Education held a study session on Governor Rendell’s proposal to change the way the state funds basic education. The new funding formula proposed by Rendell as part of his 2008-09 budget is based on an education costing-out study commissioned by the State Board at the request of the PA General Assembly. Click here for details on the Governor’s proposed funding formula.

  • The deadline for submitting public comments on proposed Department of Health regulations that would make changes to the immunization requirements for school attendance has been extended through March 24, 2008. For more information, see the March 8 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

  • The State Board of Education submitted a http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol38/38-10/392.html that took effect upon their publication in the February 16, 2008 Pennsylvania Bulletin. The amendment includes regulatory language related to strategic plans that was inadvertently omitted from the version of Chapter 4 published in the February 16 PA Bulletin. Click here for more information.

    An expanding coalition of individuals and organizations representing parents, advocates, school board members, administrators, teachers and the faith community continue to advocate for legislative action to fix Pennsylvania’s broken and unfair school funding system.

    The goals of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign are:
    1. 1) To implement and fully finance by 2013 a comprehensive, systemic and sustainable education funding plan based on the core principles of adequacy, equity, efficiency, accountability and predictability, and
    2. 2) To allocate sufficient funds in the FY 2008-2009 budget to make a significant start toward implementation of a new school funding formula based on the state’s costing-out-study.

    Visit www.paschoolfunding.org to learn more about the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, and to become a partner in these efforts.

    The National Mathematics Advisory Panel has released a report outlining what needs to be done to help students succeed in math. Experts on the panel appointed by President Bush in 2006 spent two years reviewing more than 16,000 research studies on the teaching and learning of math and gathering testimony from more than 200 individuals and nearly 150 organizations. The panel’s report offers a timeline of when students must master critical topics, rather than defining methods for teaching a given concept or skill. The report says schools must teach number and math concepts early, help students believe they can improve their math skills, and ensure that students fully comprehend algebra concepts by the time they graduate from high school.

    According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the panel’s findings affirm Pennsylvania’s approach to teaching math. PA Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak said the report should serve as a call to action for schools to continue reinvigorating math curriculum and for communities to embrace as we prepare our children for the challenges of the new global economy.

  • The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) board of directors has selected James Preston to serve as the Agency’s next president and CEO. Preston most recently was tapped from his position as vice president of client relations and loan operations at PHEAA to serve as interim CEO following the resignation of former PHEAA chief Dick Willey. Preston joined PHEAA in 2003.

  • Senator Vincent Fumo (D-1) has announced he will not seek re-election in November. A current member and former chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Fumo’s career in the Pennsylvania Senate has spanned 30 years. The Philadelphia lawmaker has been a prominent leader in the Legislature throughout his career and a key ally for many of Governor Rendell’s initiatives. Fumo currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

    Next Week...

  • The House Education Committee holds a public hearing on the Governor’s basic education initiatives in Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 26.

  • The American Education Research Association hosts its annual meeting in New York City on March 24-28.

  • Cabrini College hosts a symposium on “Opportunities and Challenges in 21st Century Education” on March 28-29 in Radnor, PA.

  • The National School Boards Association holds its annual conference March 29-April 1 in Orlando, FL.

    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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