EPLC Education Notebook
Friday, September 19, 2008
Content in this edition:
The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.
REMINDER: The deadline for voter registration to participate in the November 4 Election is October 6. Information about registering to vote is available at http://www.votespa.com/.
Governor Ed Rendell signed two executive orders this week creating state panels to expand Pennsylvania’s early childhood education initiatives by increasing awareness and involvement from business and civic leaders, as well as the general public.
The dual panels – the Pennsylvania Early Learning Council and the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission – will help plan and make recommendations for the expansion of early learning and development services for young children and their families while enlisting the support of the Commonwealth’s business leaders for continued investments in early childhood education.
The Early Learning Council will be composed of representatives of educational and business entities, higher education, Head Start agencies, local governments, law enforcement agencies, the media and others. The Investment Commission will be made up of business leaders as well as the secretaries of Education, Public Welfare, Community and Economic Development, Budget, and Planning and Policy.
Among other duties, the commission will recommend strategies for the Commonwealth to engage business and civic leaders in education planning and advocacy, host an economic summit on early childhood investment, and increase business, civic, and public awareness of the importance early childhood education. The National Governor’s Association provided a grant to Pennsylvania to complete this work.
Pennsylvania State Board of Education
School District Merger: The Board approved an application for the first-ever voluntary merger of two Pennsylvania school districts. Board members praised the effort to combine the Center Area and Monaca School Districts as in the best interest of the educational needs of students. The Board hopes this consolidation undertaken in Southwestern Pennsylvania will serve as a template for other districts to evaluate whether their communities also may benefit from a merger. The Center Area-Monaca merger is slated to take effect on July 1, 2009, reducing the number of school districts in Pennsylvania to 500.
PSSA Science Assessment: The Board approved performance level descriptors and performance level cut scores for the state’s new science assessment. Descriptors narratively explain the academic expectations associated with the exam’s four performance levels – advanced, proficient, basic and below basic. Cut scores identify the range of points associated with each performance level. Pennsylvania’s science assessment was administered for the first time this past spring in grades 4, 8 and 11, as required by state law and the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Results of the assessment should be available in mid-October.
Revisions to Academic Standards: The Board approved proposed revisions to state academic standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening and Mathematics. A review of the standards was led by Intermediate Unit 15 with the intent of clarifying the state’s current standards.
Special Education Regulations: The Board approved a technical correction to changes recently enacted to the state’s special education regulations (Chapter 14). The Board will use an expedited regulatory procedure to remove a federal citation adopted into state regulations that conflicts with current practice related to the disciplinary placement of students with mental retardation under the PARC Consent Decree. This technical change will continue to extend protections currently available to students, which was always the Board’s intent. Click here for details on the technical correction to Chapter 14.
Higher Education Regulations: The Board approved final form regulatory changes to Chapter 42 (Program Approval) for higher education institutions. Click here for more information.
Student Representation on the Board: Two Pennsylvania high school students have been chosen to serve as advisors to the State Board of Education. Elizabeth Williams, a senior at Pocono Mountain West High School, will serve as the high school student member. Gardiner Kreglow, a junior from Bethlehem Area School District, will serve as the high school student-elect and will succeed Williams next year. The Board is in the process of selecting two postsecondary students to serve on the Board and anticipates they will join in November. New student representatives will serve one-year terms in a non-voting capacity.
Independent Regulatory Review Commission
On Thursday, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved final form changes to the state’s gifted education regulations (Chapter 16). 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). Click here for a copy of the regulations, which will take effect upon their publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Children’s advocates gathered in the Capitol on Tuesday to call on candidates for office to “Step Up for Kids.” Representatives of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, the PA State Council of the Service Employees International Union, PA State Education Association and Public Citizens for Children and Youth joined in this national effort to draw public attention to issues affecting America’s children, and to support investments in programs that impact their health, education and well-being. Click here to learn how you can get involved in making children a priority in public policy debates in Harrisburg and Washington.
For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.