EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, January 16, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    School Board Candidate Workshops
    Pennsylvania Budget
    U.S. Department of Education
    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 will return to voting session on Monday, January 26.

    The Governor’s Budget Message is scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday, February 3.



    EPLC will sponsor a series of regional full-day workshops for 2009 School Board Candidates.  Workshops will be held in the Philadelphia region (Saturday, February 7), Pittsburgh region (Saturday, February 14), Harrisburg region (Saturday, February 21) and the Lehigh Valley (Saturday, March 7).  Conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, the Workshops are intended for those considering a run for school board (incumbents and non-incumbents), anyone interested in helping others run for school board, or those who just want to know more about the work of school boards and school directors.  Click here for details and to register online.

    EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association will also be participating in a Candidate Workshop for School Board positions sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Indiana County on Friday, January 30.  Click on Additional Information and Registration Form.



    As the date approaches for Governor Rendell’s 2009-2010 Budget Message, the picture for the current year, and likely next, gets gloomier and gloomier.  This week the Governor told a Pennsylvania Farm Show audience that the projected revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year which ends on June 30 has grown to as much as $1.9 billion, a $300 million increase from just weeks ago. 

    Looking to the Governor’s Budget Message and the subsequent budget debate for 2009-2010, the Governor and Legislature will be challenged to honor the state’s obligation to increase the basic education subsidy by $430 million next fiscal year in order to keep the state on track and on schedule to fulfill the promise of the recently enacted six-year plan to close the funding adequacy gap for Pennsylvania’s 501 school districts.



    • Pennsylvania received conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to use a growth-based accountability model, known as the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS), as part of its student assessment system.  Growth models or value-added approaches track individual student achievement from one year to the next, giving schools credit for improvement over time.  Data collected through PVAAS will allow the Department of Education to recognize student achievement in schools where students have not yet reached academic proficiency targets, but have made significant gains towards proficiency.  The USDOE, using the Growth Model Pilot which began in 2006, has approved 15 states’ growth models for school improvement.

    • The U.S Department of Education (USDOE) has issued letters to every state indicating their status of meeting certain No Child Left Behind (NCLB) cornerstones.  Pennsylvania’s letter contains detailed information on the state’s assessment and accountability system.  The state received recognition for meeting all statutory and regulatory provisions required for reading/language arts and mathematics as of 2006-2007.  It also noted Pennsylvania’s participation in several USDOE “flexibilities” such as: growth model pilot, teacher incentive fund grants, statewide longitudinal data systems grant, and enhanced assessment grant.  In addition to the state letter, a state status chart and a fact sheet on standards and assessment are available.  



    School Leadership

    The Education Commission of the States has released a new publication that identifies core principals for improving educational leadership and provides the research to support them.  Strong Leaders, Strong Achievement: Model Policy for Producing the Leaders to Drive Student Success examines what elements are likely to compel student achievement and makes policy recommendations in the following areas: preparation, pre-service and licensure, professional development, program and principal evaluation and strengthening the role of school boards.

    Early Literacy

    The National Institute for Literacy has released findings from the National Early Literacy Panel's (NELP) report, Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel, A Scientific Synthesis of Early Literacy Development and Implications for Intervention”.  According to the NELP report, skills such as alphabet knowledge, understanding the sounds associated with letters, vocabulary, and the ability to write letters and remember information are the best predictors of literacy.  The National Early Literacy Panel was convened in 2002 by the National Institute for Literacy with the support of the National Center for Family Literacy and the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.



    Pennsylvania PTA – Keystone PTA Unit

    Pennsylvania PTA has established a statewide, free-standing, comprehensive PTA, the Keystone PTA.  The Keystone PTA is now accepting members, and is for individuals who are currently not affiliated with a school-based PTA unit, or who may want to show support for all children and schools in the Commonwealth.  Membership is $20 per year.  Membership privileges include a one-year subscription to the PTA in Pennsylvania magazine, legislative email alerts, and an invitation to the annual Pennsylvania PTA convention.  The annual meeting of the Keystone PTA will be held during the time of the Pennsylvania PTA convention.  Click here to download the Keystone PTA brochure and learn more.


    More Community Colleges Offer Free Tuition for Laid-Off Workers

    The Community College of Allegheny County will offer free tuition to local laid-off workers to pursue education in five high-demand areas: information technology support, basic electronics, phlebotomy, emergency medical technicians, and certified nurse aide training.  Special courses in these areas will commence with a later spring term start date in March.  The College will absorb the cost of tuition and fees not covered by a student’s financial aid.  Tuition waivers may be offered for other programs in the future.  Click here for more information.

    Bucks County Community College will offer free tuition to Bucks County residents who have been laid-off from full-time positions within the past year.  Those eligible could earn up to 30 credits within one academic year.  The program will be available from the January 2009 to January 2010 semesters on a space-available basis.  For more information, visit www.bucks.edu/releases/FreeTuitionforUnemployed.Dec.08.html.



    Next week…

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education meets Wednesday and Thursday in Harrisburg.

  • 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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