EPLC Education Notebook
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
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.
ELECTION DAY AND EDUCATION PLANS OF CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR
STATE BUDGET UPDATE (as of 4:00 p.m. 9/29)
SB 1155: Senate Bill 1155 establishes a natural gas severance tax levied on producers who sever natural gas for sale and profit from commercial use, beginning January 1, 2011. The base rate of tax imposed by this amendment is 39 cents per unit severed at the wellhead. The rate will never be less than the base rate.
Changes to the bill last night (September 28) paved the way for final House action today. Changes were agreed to when the House approved 154-45 an amendment to the bill offered by Rep. Kate Harper (R-61). This amendment provides that more of the anticipated new tax revenues will go to an environmental fund instead of the General Fund in contrast to the language of the bill when it came from the Appropriations Committee.
As provided in the amended version of SB 1155, transfers and distributions of the new revenue are as follows:
House of Representatives
House Bill 1572 introduced by Rep. Michael Gerber (D-148) would encourage healthier food choices for students during school hours by prohibiting the sale of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods. Additionally, HB 1572 would require schools to offer students the choice of at least two fruits and / or non-fried vegetables each day in the cafeteria. HB 1572 passed the House (116-83) on September 29 and is awaiting action by the Senate.
House Bill 2540 introduced by Rep. Pat Harkins (D-1) would expand the eligibility for paid leave for professional school or temporary professional school employees in the case of death of a near relative to include grandchild. Currently, “near relative” includes first cousin, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-law or sister-in-law. HB 2540 passed the House (187-3) on September 27 and is awaiting action by the Senate.
House Bill 2728 introduced by Rep. Tim Briggs (D-149) establishes standards for managing head injuries and concussions that occur among student athletes. HB 2728 also provides for a higher level of accountability from the coaches in dealing with concussion management. HB 2728 passed the House (169-29) on September 28 and is awaiting further action by the Senate.
House Resolution 917 introduced by Rep. James R. Roebuck, Jr. (D-188) designates the month of October 2010 as “Parent Involvement Month” in Pennsylvania. HR 917 was adopted in the House on September 20 by a vote of 193-0.
House Bill 101 originally introduced by Rep. Mark Longietti (D-7) has been amended so that it now includes language from several education-related bills that passed at least one chamber. This “omnibus” school code bill contains language that would establish the Science Technology Partnership Program, add requirements to PDE’s Office of Safe Schools, allow school property owned or leased by certain entities for school purposes to be tax exempt, create the Higher Education College Textbook Affordability, Accountability Accessibility Act, and would require PDE to report graduation and dropout rates as well as develop a model dating violence policy. HB 101 has passed the Senate (47-0) on September 29 and awaits consideration in the House.
Senate Bill 890 introduced by Sen. Mary Jo White (R-21) would require any public or private school entity that provides interscholastic athletic opportunities for students in grades 7 through 12 to submit annual reports to the state Department of Education demonstrating progress toward meeting the requirements of Title IX, the federal statute mandating equal education opportunities for students. The report would be made available to the public and posted online. SB 890 passed the Senate (48-0) on September 28 and has been sent to the House Education Committee.
On September 15, the State Board of Education held a public roundtable on implementation of the recently (July 1, 2010) adopted Common Core State Standards in Pittsburgh. The standards (English language arts and mathematics) will be phased in beginning the 2010-11 school year, with full implementation by June 30, 2013. For more information on the Common Core State Standards roundtables, click here.
In addition to the roundtable, the Board conducted a regularly scheduled meeting in which it approved the following items:
• Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) Cut Scores and Performance Level Descriptors (PDL). The PASA is the state’s accountability system for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The PASA for Reading, Math and Science was developed in response to federal laws that require all students, including those with the most significant disabilities, participate in the state accountability process. These revisions were a result of the PDE’s Bureau of Special Education and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education conducting standard setting workshops for the PASA during the 2009-2010 school year.
• Assessment Anchors and eligible Content for the Keystone Exams for Algebra I, Biology and Literature. Assessment anchors are just one of many tools created by PDE to assist educators in better aligning curriculum, instruction and assessment practices with those standards assessed on the Keystone Exams.
• Statement of Policy on Local Assessment Validation, which clarifies existing Chapter 4 regulations relating to the use of Keystone Exams in meeting high school graduation requirements. A district choosing to use Keystone Exams as part of its local assessment system, but not count the exams toward one-third of the course grade, would be required to meet independent validation requirements. Districts that separate Keystone scores from course grades for the purpose of meeting state graduation requirements would be in compliance with state regulations as long as they require proficiency or above on the Keystone Exams. Districts that use Keystone Exams to meet state graduation requirements in a given content area would be deemed approved for validation requirements in that content area. Once state graduation requirements are met, school districts could then determine how the Keystone score is factored into the local course grade.
• A new schedule of board meetings was approved. Beginning in January 2011, the board will hold meetings on Tuesday afternoons, allowing for earlier starts to Council meetings on Wednesdays. Full board sessions will be held on Wednesday afternoons rather than Thursday mornings.
The next meeting of the State Board of Education is scheduled for November 17-18 in Harrisburg.
PA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Overall, three quarters of Pennsylvania students are now achieving at grade level, and the smallest percentage of students ever scored at the lowest level since the inception of the PSSAs. This marks the 8th straight year that student achievement has risen in Pennsylvania. Click here for the 2010 Student Achievement Fast Facts produced by PDE.
For school districts with a market value/income aid ratio greater than .4000, an adjusted index will be posted on the Department's web site at www.education.state.pa.us by September 30.
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