EPLC Education Notebook

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC – Policy Position Available
    Update on State Budget
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State Senate
    - State House

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



    The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) is accepting applications for the position of Manager of Policy Information and Programs in our Harrisburg office.  The position requires excellent writing skills and an understanding of the state government policymaking processes in Pennsylvania.  Some experience with state-level education policy issues is also very desirable.  The successful applicant must be dependable, well-organized, and detail-oriented.  The successful applicant also will demonstrate an enthusiasm for continuous learning, collaborating with others, and accepting increased responsibilities.

    This position is primarily responsible for a broad range of EPLC activities pertaining to the monitoring, analysis and reporting about current and proposed state-level education policy as well as other emerging education policy issues.  The position also supports leadership development and advocacy activities of EPLC.  Frequent interaction with education policymakers and other education policy leaders is a major component of all of this work.

    A bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement.  Salary is negotiable.  Health benefits and parking are also provided.  EPLC intends to fill this position no later than June 15 with a start date shortly thereafter.  Applicants should submit by email a letter of interest and a resume, including at least three professional/academic references.  These should be sent to Ron Cowell at cowell@eplc.org with a subject line:  EPLC Policy Position.  Any questions should be directed to cowell@eplc.org.  Please, no phone calls.



    When the General Assembly returns to Harrisburg on June 7, it will be facing tough decisions on the 2010-11 budget, which it is required to adopt by June 30.  This is the second consecutive year in which the state finds itself with a large deficit – too large to eliminate by cuts alone if we want to preserve critically important state programs.  The Legislature needs to adopt a state budget that continues to distribute funds through the school funding formula adopted in 2008 and that appropriates $354 million more in state money to restore the 2008-09 state funding level.

    The need for additional state support is increasingly clear as school districts across the state complete their own budgets – many of which include program cuts.  School districts must approve their budgets by June 30, and without some certainty about additional state funding, many districts will have to make additional cuts in programs, services and staff.

    For more information on the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, please visit www.paschoolfunding.org.



    State Senate

    On May 26, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1011, which makes several changes to the state’s School Code.  SB 1011:

  • Would require the state report card published by PDE to include a list of schools that scored in “the lowest measured group of five percent” on state math and reading tests.  With the exception of cyber charter schools, the list must “exclude all schools that are part of or located within the Philadelphia School District.”

  • Within 30 days of being identified on the state report card’s list, a school’s governing body must post a school report card on its web site and provide a paper copy of the report card to district residents, upon request.  The school’s report card must include: all value-added assessment data for the school and school district and instructions for interpreting the data; a statement that the school scored in the lowest measured five percent in either math or reading; notice that students attending the school may request a transfer to another school in the district consistent with NCLB, a list of schools in the district to which a student may transfer (if any are available), and instructions for exercising the transfer option; and, contact information for a school employee who can answer questions about the report card.  Schools may fulfill this requirement by including the information on the report card already required for compliance with No Child Left Behind.

  • Requires PDE to publish value-added assessment data for schools and school districts on its web site (in a manner consistent with federal privacy laws), along with instructions to help the public understand and interpret the data.

  • Includes provisions to establish two alternative certification programs for teachers – the Intern Certificate and Residency Certificate – and makes changes to earning administrative certificates the same as provided for in Senate Bill 441 (see SB 441 summary below for details).

  • Extends the Board of Control governing the Harrisburg School District and gradually phases-in power of the district’s elected school board.  Without legislation to extend the Board of Control, governance of the district would revert to the elected school board when the state’s Education Empowerment Act expires on June 30, 2010.  Click here for more information on this provision from Sen. Jeff Piccola’s office.

    SB 1011 awaits referral to a House Committee.

    State House

  • The House last week for the second time approved legislation (Senate Bill 441) that creates alternative routes for entering the teaching profession in Pennsylvania.  The Senate also had approved SB 441 earlier last week, however the Senate inserted amendments into the bill, making it different from what the House previously approved.  But the latest version of the bill passed by the House does not include those Senate amendments, and SB 441 now returns to the Senate for reconsideration.

    The latest version of SB 441 (Printer’s Number 1949): 1) establishes a new alternative certification program (Residency Certificate); 2) codifies Pennsylvania’s current Intern alternative certification program; 3) creates a new path for earning administrative certificates; and 4) makes it easier for teachers from other states to transfer their teaching license to Pennsylvania.

    Residency Certificates: Residency certificates would be issued in areas where there are statewide or regional shortages of qualified teachers as identified by the Secretary of Education.  Certificates would be available to candidates who: hold a doctoral degree in the shortage area, hold a master’s degree in the shortage area and have at least two year of related work experience, or hold a bachelor’s degree in the shortage area and have at least five years of related work experience.  Candidates also must demonstrate satisfactory achievement on the appropriate subject area content test and must remain continuously enrolled in a residency program.  The residency certificate would be valid for three years of teaching and may be issued to an individual only once.  It could be converted into an Instructional I teaching certificate upon completion of all program requirements and three years of satisfactory teaching in Pennsylvania public schools.

    In addition to identifying shortage areas, the Secretary of Education also would be responsible for developing guidelines for residency programs, issuing certificates to qualified applicants and annually reporting on the number of residency certificates issued.

    Intern Certificates: SB 441 also addresses post-baccalaureate intern certificate programs.  The legislation requires these programs to provide flexible and accelerated pedagogical training to individuals who have demonstrated subject matter competency in an area related to their certification, as long as the individual’s first year of teaching includes at least one classroom observation per month by an approved post-baccalaureate certification program provider.  An Intern Certificate would be issued only one time to teach in a specific instructional area to candidates who already hold a bachelor’s degree and who demonstrate satisfactory achievement on PDE’s prescribed subject matter assessment.  Intern certificate holders must remain continually enrolled in an approved intern certification program.  The Intern certificate would be valid for three years of teaching in Pennsylvania public schools and cannot be renewed.  Upon successful completion of the Intern program, an individual would be issued an Instructional I teaching certificate.

    SB 441 also prohibits PDE from issuing Administrative Certificates unless a candidate holds a bachelor’s degree, has at least three years of relevant professional experience, and has completed a graduate program in education approved by PDE or provides evidence that they have successfully completed a leadership development program that meets the state’s Pennsylvania School Leadership Standards.

    To qualify for a Residency Certificate, Intern Certificates and Administrative Certificate, a candidate also must be of good moral character, not engage in the illegal use of drugs or alcohol, and submit documentation from a physician, certified registered nurse practitioner or physician assistant that they are not disqualified to teach because of mental or physical disability or a communicable disease.

    Under SB 441, persons holding a teaching certificate from another state may be eligible for a comparable Pennsylvania certificate if the individual holds a bachelor’s degree, has at least three years of successful professional experience, and demonstrates subject matter competency in the area of certification.

    Finally, SB 441 grants the Secretary of Education certain powers and duties over post-baccalaureate certificate programs.  The Secretary would: evaluate and approve programs, evaluate and approve providers of such programs (which may include providers other than higher education institutions); develop guidelines for the approval of post-baccalaureate instructional certificate programs; and issue certificates to qualified candidates.

    Guidelines for post-baccalaureate certification programs must include instruction and training in: educational strategies for the designated subject area, child development related to the level of certificate sought, professional ethics and responsibilities, state academic standards, assessment knowledge and skills, accommodations and adaptations for students with disabilities in an inclusive setting, and strategies for meeting the instructional needs of English language learners.  The program guidelines also must include requirements for teaching candidate oversight and mentoring, including field placement, student teaching, classroom observations and ongoing support for novice educators in partnerships with local school districts during their induction period that includes observation, consultation and assessment closely supervised by a professional employee.

  • On May 24, the House Appropriations Committee approved House Bill 704, which creates a new formula for funding special education that mirrors the new basic education funding formula enacted by the General Assembly in 2008.  Under HB 704, special education would be funded based on the number of students receiving services, rather than the current system that distributes funding based on the assumption that 16% of every school district’s students receive special education services.  The bill also creates a financial incentive for educating special needs students in the least restrictive environment.  HB 704 awaits further consideration by the full House.

  • On May 26, members of the House Education Committee received feedback at a public hearing on a proposal that would establish fees and co-payments for families participating in the state’s Pre-K Counts program (House Bill 2205).  Under the proposal, a fee schedule would be established for persons enrolling in the program based on the findings and recommendations of a study to be conducted by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

    Todd Klunk, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), provided lawmakers with an overview of the Pre-K Counts program and shared results showing that children who graduate from Pre-K Counts are better prepared for kindergarten than their peers who did not have access to such a program.  Klunk also raised concerns with HB 2205.  Imposing fees and forcing co-pays from parents whose children are enrolled in Pre-K Counts is contrary to the purpose and mission of the program said Klunk.  Pre-K Counts is part of the public education continuum.  Secondly, Pre-K Counts serves children whose families are within 300% of the federal poverty level and these families do not have the resources to afford a fee.

    Klunk’s testimony addressed another area of concern with the proposed legislation.  HB 2205 allows providers with any accreditation to be eligible for the program regardless of whether they meet program standards set by the state.  OCDEL believes this could threaten program quality.  Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program requirements meet or exceed nearly every benchmark set by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

    Following Klunk’s presentation, three panelists representing pre-kindergarten providers  expressed similar concerns with HB 2205: Kirsten Wolfe, Special Education Supervisor for Early Childhood Programs in the Smethport Area School District; Amber Straub, Partnership Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Program; and, Joan Benso, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.  To read their testimony, click here.

    The PA Pre-K Counts program provides access to high-quality pre-K to over 11,000 children throughout the state with a priority in at-risk communities.  For more information, click here.



    Pennsylvania will receive $14.3 million in federal stimulus funds to expand its data systems to include early and higher education students and track progress throughout the entire education system.  Click here for more information.



    The Pennsylvania House and Senate are in recess and will return to session on Monday, June 7.

    This week…

  • The 2010 Pennsylvania Family Engagement Conference takes place on Thursday in Harrisburg.

  • The Pennsylvania State Interagency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention meets Thursday in Harrisburg.

  • The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and the Center on Race and Social Problems host a program on Race in America: Restructuring Inequality on June 3-6 in Harrisburg.

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

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

To return to the EPLC Education Notebook homepage, click here.

To return to The Education Policy and Leadership Center homepage, click here.