Monday, July 30, 2012

Update on the status of PSSA cheating investigations

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

The Chester Community Charter School is on the short list of 10 school entities still under inverstigation.  It is the state’s largest brick and mortar charter and is operated by Vahan Gureghian, who was Governor Corbett’s largest individual campaign donor
Update on the status of PSSA cheating investigations
Philadelphia Inquirer July 29, 2012
The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced last year that it was investigating 48 districts or charters for possible cheating on state exams.
Here are the statuses of those investigations:

Posted: Sun, Jul. 29, 2012, 5:24 AM
PSSA-cheating reforms yield lower scores across Pa.
By Kristen A. Graham and Dylan Purcell Inquirer Staff Writers
After authorities imposed unprecedented security measures on the 2012 statewide exams, test scores tumbled across Pennsylvania, The Inquirer has learned.
At some schools, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis said, the drops are "noticeable" - 25 percent or more.
In some school systems, investigators have found evidence of outright doctoring of previous years' tests - and systemic fraud that took place across multiple grades and subjects.

Pottstown High School named ‘low-achieving school’ on new state list
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt Posted: 07/28/12 08:34 pm
POTTSTOWN — Pottstown High School is among the four schools in Montgomery County named to the state’s new list of low-achieving schools.
The list was created to determine which Pennsylvania students are eligible for the newly expanded state tax credit scholarship program designed to help pay for poor children to be sent to alternative schools. The other three Montgomery County schools on the list are in Norristown. There are no Chester County schools on the list and all 15 of those on the list in Berks County are located in Reading. Called “vouchers lite” in some political circles, the scholarships are only available to students from low-income families who live in the attendance area of schools determined to be low-performing, a designation determined by the scores on annual standardized reading and math tests.

Local Olympians reinforce importance of high school sports

Published: Saturday, July 28, 2012, 12:55 AM
…..With this great wealth of talent from central Pennsylvania competing on the world stage, it’s worth remembering the role that high school athletics have had in molding their success. As more local schools consider reducing their extracurricular activities, these athletes remind us of the value of sports — and not just football and basketball.
The programs that some view as nonessential have brought the best out of these individuals and propelled them to the highest arenas of their fields. Through the remaining 15 days, be sure to tune in and not only cheer on your country, but also support all midstate athletes in their quest for Olympic gold.

Olympics: Bronze finish makes Hansen's comeback even sweeter
Published: Sunday, July 29, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN LOHN
LONDON — He’s talked about his journey a great deal over the past several months, discussing its improbable — and uncertain — beginning. He’s talked about its various turns, most of which led to positive destinations. Whether or not he earned an individual medal in his third Olympic appearance, Brendan Hansen maintained he was going to be satisfied. Of course, he’s not going to argue with the bronze medal that was draped around his neck Sunday night.
…..The Haverford High School product, who will turn 31 years old next month, was the oldest athlete in the field by more than a year. He became just the 13th swimmer in Olympic history to win an individual medal after turning 30.

Feds charge charter school founder with fraud

July 29, 2012 11:53 pm
Post Gazatte By Saranac Hale Spencer / The Legal Intelligencer
Within five months of securing a charter from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the Agora Cyber Charter School, Dorothy June Brown and a second person created The Cynwyd Group in order to defraud the school of more than $5 million over the course of two years, a federal indictment filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleges.  According to the indictment, Ms. Brown used The Cynwyd Group to bill the charter schools for management services she never actually performed.

Critical Investment Advice From Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
Huffingtom Post by Marian Wright Edelman Posted: 07/27/2012 6:43 pm
On July 24th, Dr. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, gave a video keynote speech to 3,200 community and youth leaders attending the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati -- not on the details of national fiscal policy, but on the crucial importance of effective early childhood supports and public education to the success of our economy.

To Earn Classroom Certification, More Teaching and Less Testing
New York Times By AL BAKER Published: July 29, 2012
New York and up to 25 other states are moving toward changing the way they grant licenses to teachers, de-emphasizing tests and written essays in favor of a more demanding approach that requires aspiring teachers to prove themselves through lesson plans, homework assignments and videotaped instruction sessions.
….The change is an attempt to ensure that those who become teachers not only know education theories, but also can show the ability to lead classrooms and handle students of differing abilities and needs, often amid limited resources.
….. “We don’t want to know if you can pass multiple-choice tests,” said Stephanie Wood-Garnett, an assistant commissioner in the New York State Education Department’s office of higher education. “We want to know if you can drive.”

A Serious Design Flaw Is Suspected in Texas State Tests

Published: July 28, 2012
New studies suggest that TAKS, the state standardized tests in Texas, may contain a serious flaw that makes them virtually useless in measuring the effects of classroom instruction.


EPLC’s 2012 Arts and Education Symposium: Save the Date, Thursday, October 11

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Please mark your calendars and plan on joining EPLC, our partners, and guests on October 11 in Harrisburg for a full day of events.  Stay tuned to for information about our 2nd Arts and Education Symposium.  Scholarships and Act 48 Credit will be available.  Outstanding speakers and panelists from Pennsylvania and beyond will once again come together to address key topics in the arts and arts education and related public policy advocacy initiatives.  This is a networking and learning opportunity not to be missed!

Who’s Failing?
One third of the 415 schools on Pennsylvania’s “Failing Schools” List made AYP (105) or were making progress (33) on the 2011 PSSAs
PSBA has concerns with EITC 2.0 program 7/27/2012
The Pennsylvania Department of Education yesterday published the list of low-achieving elementary and secondary schools to be used in determining eligibility for scholarships through the EITC 2.0 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program under the new Act 85 of 2012.
This proposal would broaden the current EITC program to create a school voucher-type system making students who live in the attendance boundary of one of the schools on the list potentially eligible for scholarship under the program.
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association remains concerned of the effects this voucher-lite program will have on school districts. While PSBA continues to review Act 85 and its implementation, including the list of low-achieving schools, we raise several concerns which include:
  • Despite being categorized as a low-achieving schools, several schools on the list, which was prepared using 2010-11 PSSA results, actually reached their student achievement targets and achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2010-11. Labeling these schools as low-achieving when they have met the student achievement standards set by the state and federal government functions to create two separate and conflicting measurements for student achievement. (Download PSBA's enhanced list of 15% lowest-performing schools (XL file).)


Details on Act 85 of 2012, PA’s new EITC 2.0 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit “Supervoucher” Program.

Pennsylvania’s "Failing Schools" List For the 2012-2013 school year.
Here the list of low achieving schools released by PDE this week

PSBA 2013 Officer Candidates Slated
If you are not planning to attend the October Leadership Conference and would like to vote for any of these candidates please see the absentee ballot information below and note the August 15 deadline for absentee ballot requests
At its May 19 meeting at PSBA Conference Center, the PSBA Nominating Committee interviewed and selected a slate of candidates for officers of the association in 2013.
They are:
Marcela Diaz Myers, Lower Dauphin SD, Dauphin County
President (automatically assumes the office of president)
Jody Sperry, Conneaut SD, Crawford County
Richard Frerichs, Penn Manor SD, Lancaster County
Mark B. Miller, Centennial SD, Bucks County
First Vice President
Larry Breech, Millville Area SD, Columbia County
Second Vice President
Edward J. Cardow, Chichester SD, Delaware County
Second Vice President

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
Absentee ballot requests must be received no later than August 15
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and home mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

NSBA Federal Relations Network seeking new members for 2013-14
School directors are invited to advocate for public education at the federal level through the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network. The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in serving on the Federal Relations Network (FRN), its grass roots advocacy program that brings local board members on the front line of pending issues before Congress. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start. 
Click here for more information.

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