Friday, December 13, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 13, 2013: PISA: American students in schools where less than 10% of the population is on free lunch are first in the world in reading and science, and fifth in the world in math

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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for December 13, 2013:
PISA: American students in schools where less than 10% of the population is on free lunch are first in the world in reading and science, and fifth in the world in math

“When (PISA) scores are aggregated to reflect poverty, American students in schools where less than 10% of the population is on free lunch are first in the world in reading and science, and fifth in the world in math, indicating that the strongest implications of PISA data are not about American achievement as a whole, but about the adverse effects of poverty on student achievement.”

Downingtown school ranks first in state performance scores
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, December 13, 2013, 2:01 AM  POSTED: Thursday, December 12, 2013, 5:11 PM
Downingtown STEM High School is the top-scoring public high school on the state's new School Performance Profiles, beating traditional academic powerhouses such as Masterman in Philadelphia and Lower Merion.  Students in the three-year-old magnet school, which focuses on science and technology, scored 100 percent proficiency in algebra I and language arts, and 97.8 percent on biology, in the new state Keystone Exams.
The exams are just one measure - student improvement and graduation rates are others - used to come up with a profile number, which replaces the state's Adequate Yearly Progress measure. Many educators have assailed the tests as costly and unreliable measures of academic performance that will lead to higher dropout rates.
The average score for traditional public schools statewide was 77.1. Brick-and-mortar charter schools averaged 66.4 and cyber charters 46.8.

How PA school performance grades were calculated
By Jan Murphy |  on December 11, 2013 at 6:42 PM
The state Department of Education was the grader and it used a 100-point scale to grade each school. The grade was calculated this way:  
• 40 percent based on percentages of students who scored at or above grade level on standardized tests;
• 10 percent on a school’s progress in closing the achievement gap between white and historically under-performing groups (poor, minority, non-English speaking, and special needs students).
• 40 percent on academic growth as determined by the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System, which tracks academic progress of groups of students from year to year in tested subjects.
• 10 percent on other academic indicators that assess factors that contribute to student achievement such as graduation rate, grade promotion rate, attendance rate, among others.
Schools also can get extra credit for high-level performance on state and industry assessments as well as the percentage of students earning scores on Advanced Placement tests that qualify for college credit.

State releases school performance scores
Scranton Times Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL (STAFF WRITER) December 12, 2013
The results are finally complete.
In what the state calls a major overhaul in the way student achievement is assessed, the Department of Education released its 2012-13 School Performance Profile scores on Wednesday.  View them HERE
Scores had initially been released in October, but data glitches made scores from about 600 of 3,000 schools unavailable. With all of the scores finally posted, a more accurate view of achievement is finally possible.  Of the 189 schools in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties, 48 schools fall under the level that the acting secretary of education considers acceptable. The rest, 74 percent, scored at a 70 or higher in the new system.  The results mirror the statewide results, which show that 73 percent of public schools received a 70 or higher.

“Based on a scale of 100, the average SPP score for traditional public schools was 77.1, brick and mortar charter schools was 66.4 and cyber charters was 46.8.”
PSBA says results of School Performance Profiles illustrate need for consistent accountability
PSBA website 12/12/2013
The release of yesterday's School Performance Profile (SPP) results further illustrates the need for all schools to be held to the same financial and academic accountability requirements as their traditional public school counterparts especially as the General Assembly discusses the need for charter school reform.  Based on a scale of 100, the average SPP score for traditional public schools was 77.1, brick and mortar charter schools was 66.4 and cyber charters was 46.8. According to Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq, a 70-point score or higher is the mark of moving toward success. While there is room for improvement for all schools, it is clear charter schools, especially cyber charter schools, need to be held to the same accountability standards as traditional public schools so all students receive a quality education.

Contract reflects ed-reform group's rise to power in Philly
Philadelphia Citypaper By Daniel Denvir  Published: 12/12/2013
When Mayor Michael Nutter appointed Sylvia Simms to the School Reform Commission (SRC) in January, he lauded her as a “community leader, parent, former School District employee and graduate” who “understands from a grass-roots level how important it is to educate our children.”
What wasn’t disclosed was that the organization she founded, Parent Power, had been offered a $7,500 contract last summer from the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), a group that advocates the growth of charter schools and curbs on the teachers’ union. It is unclear whether the contract, a copy of which was obtained by City Paper, was ever executed. The document is not signed — though a knowledgeable source says that it ultimately was — and neither PSP nor Simms would discuss it.

SB1085: Not all charter school groups want to kill pending charter bill: PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor  by EMILY YAGER, regional press secretary, StudentsFirst, on behalf of Philadelphia Black Alliance for Educational Options, PennCAN, Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools and Students First PA.
on December 12, 2013 at 3:14 PM, updated December 12, 2013 at 4:34 PM
We feel compelled to respond to a few of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the commentary from Dr. James Hanak regarding Senate Bill (SB) 1085. ("State Senate should reject misnamed 'charter school reform,'" Dec. 3).
No one believes that SB 1085 is perfect, but it is misleading to imply that education reform organizations do not support this bill. We do not agree with the arbitrary five percent cut to cyber schools, but that does not mean that we reject the entire bill. All of the Pennsylvania reform organizations signing this letter are committed to improving the current bill and getting it passed as opposed to “scrapping” all of the difficult work that has been done and starting over, as proposed by Dr. Hanak.

Senate Bill 1085: The word “reform” + disgruntled special interest groups does not = good policy
Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley December 13, 2013
Politicians who support SB 1085 are sending voters a message that anything labeled charter school “reform” will be beneficial to Pennsylvanians. They also say that SB 1085 must be good, because a diverse group of organizations opposes the bill—including teachers’ unions, cyber schools, school boards, and superintendents.   By their logic, “none got all and all got some,” so it must be great legislation.
The real truth is that the policy is just so damaging, so costly, and so far-reaching that every Pennsylvanian ought to be alarmed.  As another saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  To be clear, SB 1085 will not strengthen the public education system in PA, will not improve the performance of public schools (charter or traditional), and it will not create efficiencies for taxpayers.

Allentown School District facing $10.6 million shortfall
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times  on December 12, 2013 at 10:16 PM
The Allentown School District's proposed preliminary budget has a $10.6 million shortfall and the district's savings account is almost tapped out.  Superintendent Russell Mayo gave the school board a glimpse of the 2014-15 tentative spending plan tonight. But he cautioned it is a fluid document that will change many times before the June final adoption.
The numbers are all projections and don't rely on any increase in state education funding. The tentative plan would hike taxes to the maximum 3.2 percent Allentown is allowed per state law.
It does depend on the $9.6 million boost in state aid the district got at the last minute

House Roll Call vote on Budget Bill
New York Times December 12, 2013

“The budget deal appeared to mark a significant shift by House Republicans away from the uncompromising confrontation of recent years fueled by tea party-aligned politicians and outside conservative advocacy groups. After multiple standoffs and threatened defaults and one actual shutdown, polls show that the Republican brand has been badly damaged among voters, and even some of the most conservative Republicans said they were ready for a breather.”
House passes 2-year bipartisan budget deal
Washington Post By Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery, Thursday, December 12, 2:17 PM
The House passed an 2-year bipartisan budget deal Thursday evening, possibly signaling a truce in the spending showdowns that have paralyzed Washington for the past three years.
Approval of the budget was the House’s final action of 2013. Earlier Thursday, lawmakers agreed unanimously to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets military pay and policy, and to extend current agricultural policy after negotiators failed to complete a new Farm Bill.  The Senate is poised to pass the budget and defense bills next week. House and Senate leaders say that votes on a new Farm Bill will be held after Congress returns to Washington in early January. 

GOP and conservative groups: The breakup begins
Politico By ANNA PALMER and JAKE SHERMAN | 12/12/13 7:10 PM EST
House Republicans and big money conservative groups are going through a breakup.
Groups like FreedomWorks and Heritage Action demanded Republicans reject Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget deal — or else.  But 169 Republicans approved it anyway Thursday night.
And even though the deal itself was relatively small, it’s still a big moment for House Republicans.
For the first time since they took back the House in 2010, a strong majority of Republicans have rejected the political absolutism encouraged by the professional right that mired Congress in gridlock for years and culminated in a government shutdown this fall.

“But not in the United States.  Instead, in some kind of parallel universe, we are locked in education wars over policies none of which are likely to make any difference at all.”
Top-performing PISA countries:” They all got there the old-fashioned way. 
·         They invested more in their harder-to-educate students than their easier-to-educate students. 
·         They worked hard to make sure that young children and their families had a lot of support before the kids arrived at the school door. 
·         They started recruiting their teachers from their most talented high school graduates rather than their least talented graduates. 
·         They insisted that all their teachers really master the subjects they would teach and spend at least a year mastering the craft of teaching. 
·         They provided an extended period of mentoring for new teachers under the supervision of master teachers. 
·         They provided strong support for the continuing development of their existing teaching force. 
·         They constructed real career ladders for teachers and paid them well. 
·         They wrote very demanding standards for the achievement of their students, incorporating the kinds of skills needed to succeed in the world's most advanced economies, developed a strong curriculum to match those standards and invested in very high quality assessments based on that curriculum. 
·         They strengthened their vocational and technical education systems and developed their applied learning systems to provide expanded opportunities for students to enter the adult world with confidence, skill, experiences and connections that would enable them to become productive and fulfilled. 
  • Not least important, they provided their ministries of education with the authority and resources they needed to lead and implement this extraordinarily complicated dance.”
The Meaning of PISA
Education Week Top Performers Blog By Marc Tucker on December 5, 2013 12:27 PM
So the top-performing countries move a little further ahead of us and the gap widens.  In most OECD countries this news would be a call to arms.  Their education leaders would be combing the PISA data on the top-performers to see what they could learn that might enable to them to improve their own performance.  But not in the United States.  Instead, in some kind of parallel universe, we are locked in education wars over policies none of which are likely to make any difference at all.

“When scores are aggregated to reflect poverty, American students in schools where less than 10% of the population is on free lunch are first in the world in reading and science, and fifth in the world in math, indicating that the strongest implications of PISA data are not about American achievement as a whole, but about the adverse effects of poverty on student achievement.”
Poverty and the PISA: Aggregating for Economics
Education Week View from the Bronx Blog By Ilana Garon on December 13, 2013 12:32 AM
I got a lot of email after last week's post, in which I talked about the results of the Program for International Student Assessment--PISA--and how American 15-year-olds were falling behind their international peers (with whom they had previously been comparable or surpassing) in math, science, and reading. Readers made some interesting points, some of which I'd like to reiterate here:

 “The only reasonable conclusion is this: officials in Shanghai are only counting children with Shanghai hukous as its population of 15 year-olds, about 108,000. And the OECD is accepting those numbers. It is as if the other children, numbering 120,000 or more, do not exist. This is not a sampling problem. PISA can sample all it wants from the official population. Migrant children have been filtered out. Professor Chan of Washington agrees with this hypothesis, saying in an email to me: “By the time PISA is given at age 15, almost all migrant children have been purged from the public schools. The data are clear.”
Attention OECD-PISA: Your Silence on China is Wrong
Education Next By Tom Loveless 12/12/2013
On December 3, scores were released from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test given every three years to 15 year-olds around the globe. Shanghai led the world in all three subjects—math, science, and reading. But that ranking is misleading. Shanghai has a school system that excludes most migrant students, the children of families that have moved to the city from rural areas of China. And now for three years running, the OECD and PISA continue to promote a distorted picture of Shanghai’s school system by remaining silent on the plight of Chinese migrant children and what is one of the greatest human rights calamities of our time.

Schools Use Web Tools, and Data Is Seen at Risk
New York Times By NATASHA SINGER Published: December 12, 2013
Public schools around the country are adopting web-based services that collect and analyze personal details about students without adequately safeguarding the information from potential misuse by service providers, according to new research.  A study, which is expected to be released on Friday, by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School in New York, found weaknesses in the protection of student information in the contracts that school districts sign when outsourcing web-based tasks to service companies.
Many contracts, the study found, failed to list the type of information collected while others did not prohibit vendors from selling personal details — like names, contact information or health status — or using that information for marketing purposes.

Educational Publisher’s Charity, Accused of Seeking Profits, Will Pay Millions
New York Times By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ Published: December 12, 2013
The Pearson Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the nation’s largest educational publishers, will pay $7.7 million to settle accusations that it repeatedly broke New York State law by assisting in for-profit ventures.  An inquiry by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, found that the foundation had helped develop products for its corporate parent, including course materials and software. The investigation also showed that the foundation had helped woo clients to Pearson’s business side by paying their way to education conferences that were attended by its employees.

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

The DCIU Google Symposium is an opportunity for teachers, administrators, technology directors, and other school stakeholders to come together and explore the power of Google Apps for Education.  The Symposium will be held at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.  The Delaware County Intermediate Unit is one of Pennsylvania’s 29 regional educational agencies.  The day will consist of an opening keynote conducted by Rich Kiker followed by 4 concurrent sessions. 

NPE National Conference 2014

The Network for Public Education November 24, 2013
The Network for Public Education is pleased to announce our first National Conference. The event will take place on March 1 & 2, 2014 (the weekend prior to the world-famous South by Southwest Festival) at The University of Texas at Austin.  At the NPE National Conference 2014, there will be panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote address by Diane Ravitch. NPE Board members – including Anthony Cody, Leonie Haimson, and Julian Vasquez Heilig – will lead discussions along with some of the important voices of our movement.
In the coming weeks, we will release more details. In the meantime, make your travel plans and click this link and submit your email address to receive updates about the NPE National Conference 2014.

Congratulations! Getting elected to the school board was the easy part…..
PSBA New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
November 2013-April 2014 Register Online » Print Form »
Announcing School Board Academy’s New Board Member Training: Great Governance, Great Schools!
You will need a wealth of information quickly as you jump out of the starting block and hit the ground running as a newly elected member of the board of school directors. New board members, as well as veterans who might like a refresher, will want to make the most of the opportunity to attend PSBA's New Board Member Training Program: Great Governance, Great Schools! .

EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns 
EPLC is recruiting current undergraduate or graduate students to serve as part-time interns beginning January or May of 2014 in the downtown Harrisburg offices. One intern will support education policy work including the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign. The second intern position will support the work of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network. Ideal candidates have an interest/course work in political science/public policy, social studies, the arts or education and also have strong research, communications, and critical thinking skills. The internship is unpaid, but free parking is available. Weekly hours of the internship are negotiable. To apply or to suggest a candidate, please email Mattie Robinson for further information at

The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition April 5-7, 2014 New Orleans
The National School Boards Association 74th Annual Conference & Exposition will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.  Our first time back in New Orleans since the spring of 2002!
General Session speakers include education advocates Thomas L. Friedman, Sir Ken Robinson, as well as education innovators Nikhil Goyal and Angela Maiers.
We have more than 200 sessions planned! Colleagues from across the country will present workshops on key topics with strategies and ideas to help your district. View our Conference Brochure for highlights on sessions and focus presentations.
·                             Register now! – Register for both the conference and housing using our online system.
·                            Conference Information– Visit the NSBA conference website for up-to-date information
·                             Hotel List and Map - Official NSBA Housing Block
·                             Exposition Campus – View new products and services and interactive trade show floor
Questions? Contact NSBA at 800-950-6722 (NSBA) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

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