Monday, April 22, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 22, 2013: A few more on the McCommon Core……..

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for April 22, 2013:
A few more on the McCommon Core……..

NAACP 2013 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania
A Call for Equitable and Adequate Funding for Pennsylvania's Schools
Media Area Branch NAACP Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:00 am2:30 pm (8:30 am registration)
Marcus Foster Student Union 2nd floor, Cheyney University of PA, Delaware County Campus

Here’s our weekend posting in case you missed it…..

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for Saturday April 20, 2013:

IDEA: It’s the law, but nobody wants to fund it…….

Are high-stakes tests counterproductive?
Extensive RAND research shows it all depends on how they are used
Post-Gazette Opinion By Laura Hamilton and Gabriella C. Gonzalez April 21, 2013 12:02 am
Laura Hamilton is a senior behavioral scientist and Gabriella C. Gonzalez is a social scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corp.
A group of parents across the country are rejecting the idea of high-stakes testing as a means of judging both schools and educators, choosing to have their children opt out of standardized high-stakes tests like the PSSAs that public school children in Pennsylvania are taking right now.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, these tests became a means for states to assess educational performance. The opt-out movement argues that such high-stakes testing can narrow curriculum, saddle both teachers and students with excessive stress and threaten the jobs of educators.
While the opt-out movement's concerns are valid and have sparked an important conversation, the use of high-stakes tests is a complex issue. A decade of research on testing and accountability conducted at RAND indicates that these tests can have both positive and negative consequences depending on how policymakers, school districts and teachers use and implement them.

Pittsburgh Promise scholarship campaign plans to raise additional $90 million
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 22, 2013 12:02 am
The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is stepping up its fundraising efforts, setting a goal of raising an additional $90 million in two years instead of taking until 2018 as planned.
Martin McGuinn, retired chairman and CEO of Mellon Financial Corp., said the campaign will build on the momentum of the Promise, which began offering scholarships to city public school students beginning with the high school graduation class of 2008.

Pa. Senate backs stricter rules on reporting campaign funds
WHYY Newsworks By Mary Wilson, @marywilson April 21, 2013
State Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, during a news conference in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)
A proposal intended to provide more transparency to campaign finance data has passed in the Pennsylvania Senate.  Candidates for statewide office and the General Assembly would have to file their campaign finance reports electronically under the plan.  Candidates, as well as political action committees, also could trigger more frequent filing deadlines if they raise $10,000 or more in a month.

Senators to Arne Duncan: Stop Flat-Funding Key K-12 Programs
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Alyson Klein on April 17, 2013 1:35 PM
The Obama administration has been a big fan of using competitive grants to drive its agenda on everything from teacher quality to standards to "personalized learning,"much to the chagrin of some advocates for school districts.  So far, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have resisted that strategy. But Democrats in the U.S. Senate have continued to finance the administration's favorite competitive-grant programs, such as Race to the Top, although not always at the level the administration has sought.
Meanwhile, formula grants that go out to just about every school district—Title I grants to districts and special education—have been virtually flat-funded in Senate appropriations bills. 

Insiders continue to believe that ESEA reauthorization will not take place until after January 2015.
Whiteboard Advisors April 2013
When asked “about when do you believe that a final ESEA bill will be singed into law?” 77% responded “after January 2015” according to an April 2013 Whiteboard Advisors poll

The basic business principles school reformers ignore
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on April 21, 2013 at 10:10 am
…..But that is precisely what we are doing with the new Common Core State Standards, high-stakes tests, and teacher evaluation systems being rolled out around the country. We’ve had 10 years of failed mandatory state standards, high-stakes tests, and evaluations of educators based on test scores, of an accountability policy that has turned our K-12 schools into test prep factories. In schools across the nation, now, a third of each school year is spent doing test prep, taking practice tests, and taking high-stakes tests. That’s failed. It has clearly, utterly failed. And so we’ve decided to do a lot more of that.

Moving Ahead With Common Core
New York Times Editorial By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Published: April 20, 2013
New York City parents are understandably nervous about tough new state tests that were rolled out last week. And some parents whose children have already taken the tests are outraged. They shouldn’t be: the tests, which measure math and English skills, are an essential part of rigorous education reforms known as Common Core that seek to improve reasoning skills and have been adopted by 45 states.

Some Ask: What’s the Value of Common Core State Standards?
KQED By Claudio Sanchez, NPR April 15, 2013 | 10:35 AM | By MindShift
At 2 p.m., it’s crunchtime for students who write for the Harbinger Online, the award-winning, student news site at Shawnee Mission East High just outside Kansas City, Kan. They’ve been investigating an initiative to develop common curriculum and test guidelines for states.

“The development of common standards and shared assessments radically alters the market for innovation in curriculum development, professional development, and formative assessments. Previously, these markets operated on a state-by-state basis, and often on a district-by-district basis. But the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale.”
Time for Teacher Unions to Hop Off the Common Core Train
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on April 22, 2013 12:35 AM
The two largest teacher unions in the US have positioned themselves as active supporters of the Common Core (wanted to be national) Standards. A visit to the NEA web site reveals President Dennis Van Roekel's column praising the project.

Wikipedia on Common Core State Standards Initiative
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a U.S. education initiative that seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles ofstandards-based education reform. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Common Core State Standards Initiative Website
Mission Statement: The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

Anthony Cody tweeted a link to a column he penned in July 2009…..
Have you heard that Common Core was a grassroots project w/teachers involved: Take a look at reality:
 “So who makes up the two Work Groups? Of the 25 individuals on the two teams, (four people are on both) six are associated with the test-makers from the College Board, five are with fellow test-publishers ACT, and four are with Achieve. Zero teachers are on either Work Group. The Feedback Groups have 35 participants, almost all of whom are university professors. There appears to be exactly one classroom teacher involved in the entire process, on one of the Feedback Groups.”
The Secret Sixty Prepare to Write Standards for 50 Million
Education Week Living in Dialogue Blog By Anthony Cody on July 6, 2009 12:13 PM | 26 Comments
Sixty individuals, ONE teacher among them, will write national education standards in the next five months, in a secret process that excludes effective input from students, parents or teachers.
As teachers we spend a lot of time thinking about what we teach our students, and how to engage them in learning. When the National Governor’s Association (NGA) called for national education standards a few months back, some educators optimistically believed that we might be consulted in the process. After all, didn’t the entire No Child Left Behind fiasco teach us what happens when policies are enacted without the active engagement of the professionals expected to carry them out?  However, I had a sinking feeling history might repeat itself, when I wrote this entry a few weeks back.  Now the other shoe has dropped. On Wednesday, the NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released their plan for developing national standards for Mathematics and English.

“Testing companies are in the business of making a profit, but let’s not confuse their mission — their mission is to create as many tests as they can and then grade them at as little cost as possible,”
Seeking to Pare Standardized Tests, Legislators Take Aim at Testing Firm
New York Times/Texas Tribune By MORGAN SMITH  APRIL 20, 2013
As the Texas Legislature moves to uproot the state’s standardized testing program amid an outcry from parents and school leaders, state lawmakers have focused their criticism on Pearson, the publishing and testing company that develops the tests.  Pearson holds a five-year, $468 million contract through 2015 to provide the state assessment tests that students begin taking in third grade. While policies that led to the contract won unanimous approval four years ago, some lawmakers now say Pearson exerted excessive influence in the policy-making process.
“Testing companies are in the business of making a profit, but let’s not confuse their mission — their mission is to create as many tests as they can and then grade them at as little cost as possible,” the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Dan Patrick, Republican of Houston, said Tuesday at a hearing on a comprehensive education bill that would reduce the number of high-stakes tests students must pass to graduate.

The First Race to the Top
New York Times Opinion By WILLIAM J. REESE  APRIL 20, 2013
FOR the nearly 50 million students enrolled in America’s public schools, tests are everywhere, whether prepared by classroom teachers or by the ubiquitous testing industry. Central to school accountability, they assume familiar shapes and forms. Multiple choice. Essay. Aptitude. Achievement. NAEP, ACT, SAT.  To teachers everywhere, the message is clear: Raise test scores. No excuses. The stakes are very high, as the many cheating scandals unfolding nationally reveal, including most spectacularly the recent indictment of 35 educators in Atlanta.
But we should also be wondering, where did all this begin? It turns out that the race to the top has a lot of history behind it.
Members of the Boston School Committee fired the first shots in the testing wars in the summer of 1845.

Is This Why National PTA Showed “Superman” at Its National Convention?
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianerav April 21, 2013 //
A reader sends this information:
SEATTLE (AP) – December 1, 2009 (WPVI) — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving the National PTA $1 million to teach parents about education reform. [Common Core]
ALEXANDRIA, VA, Feb 15, 2013 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — National PTA announced today that it received a one-year $240,000 grant from the GE Foundation [General Electric] to further its efforts on the Common Core State Standards.

Superintendents, Business Managers, School Board Members, Union Leaders, Any Others interested in PSERS and wanting to learn more about Pension Reform . . .
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 Registration: 6:30 p.m.  Presentation: 7:00 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit  475 East Waterfront Drive  Homestead, PA  15120  McGuffey/Sullivan Rooms
Jeffery B. Clay, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Schools Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) will present on the topic of pension reform.  Mr. Clay’s presentation will review the increases in retirement contributions and the Governor’s proposal on pension reform.  As one concerned about public education, we are sure that you will find this meeting enlightening and a valuable investment of your time.
In order to accommodate those attending and prepare the necessary materials for the meeting, please register using the following link:  by May 7, 2013.
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, please contact Janet Galaski at 412.394.5753 or

Sign Up Today for PILCOP Special Ed CLE Trainings
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Spots are filling up for the final three trainings in our 2012-2013 Know Your Child’s Rights series with seminars on ADAAA, Pro Se Parents and Settlement Agreements.
April 30, 2013: ADAAA, 504 and Chapter 15: Services Needed, Discrimination Avoided
May 29, 2013: PRO SE Parents: Doing It on Your Own
May 30, 2013: Settlements: Signing on the Dotted Line (OR NOT)

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny; Proposed statewide authorization and direct payment would further diminish accountability and oversight for public tax dollars

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