Tuesday, November 18, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 18: Even when you compare cyber charters to high-poverty traditional schools & high-poverty charter schools, they still underperform

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for November 18, 2014:
Even when you compare cyber charters to high-poverty traditional schools & high-poverty charter schools, they still underperform

PA Basic Education Funding Commission Hearing Tuesday 1:00 pm and Wednesday 10 am Phila. City Hall Courtroom 676

Philadelphia City Council Hearings on High-stakes Testing and the Opt-Out Movement, Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM
Education Committee of Philadelphia City Council
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM, Room 400 City Hall

"Even when you compare the cyber charters to high-poverty traditional schools and high-poverty charter schools, they still underperform," said Kate Shaw, RFA's executive director.
Pa cyber charters again get low marks on state tests
new study by Research for Action has found that Pennsylvania's cyber-charter sector continues to yield subpar results on the state's standardized tests.
Using the state's recently released school performance profile data for 2013-14, RFA found the average School Performance Profile score for the cyber-charter sector was 48.9 – well below the averages for the state's brick and mortar charters and traditional public schools.
To date, no cyber charter has earned a SPP of 70 or higher, the state Department of Education's quality threshold.  The department is now reviewing three applications for new cyber charters. Last year the department, which hasn't approved a new cyber charter since 2013, rejected eight applicants.  While the report says the school performance profile system is "suspect due to its heavy reliance on test scores that are highly correlated with socioeconomic characteristics," it notes that cybers perform poorly even when compared with the state's most impoverished public schools.

RFA Updates Analysis on Cyber Charter Performance
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is considering three new applications for cyber charter schools. With the release earlier this month of the state’s new School Performance Profile (SPP) scores, RFA has updated our November 2013 analysis of the performance and oversight of the cyber charter sector.
With regard to performance, much remains the same. Cyber schools continue to lag far behind both traditional public and charter schools on the state’s performance measure. Average cyber performance also trails behind the average performance for the state’s highest poverty school buildings, which tend to face the greatest challenges in meeting state performance standards. Importantly, we could not replicate the intra-year enrollment analysis for 2013-14, as this information is no longer available in the annual reports for any Pennsylvania cyber charter schools.  The consistently poor performance by cyber charters on state assessments deserves attention, especially in light of the enrollment growth (36,000 and counting) in the sector. Policymakers and stakeholders should review these analyses carefully as consideration is given to expanding this sector."

Policy Brief: Revisiting Cyber Charter Performance
Research for Action by John Sludden and Lucas Westmass Novermber 2014
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is currently reviewing applications for three
new cyber charter schools. This development, along with the state’s release of new School
Performance Profile (SPP) scores, makes this a fitting time to update Research for Action’s
(RFA’s) November 2013 analysis of the performance and oversight of the sector.
Our 2013 review found:
 Cyber charters were consistently among the very lowest performing schools, as
measured by the state’s SPP scores.
 Just five of 16 Pennsylvania cyber charter schools operating at that point publicly
reported annual student enrollment and withdrawal data. These five schools had higher
student transfer rates than any brick and mortar charters with comparable available
data (87 schools).
Our findings in Pennsylvania reflect national trends. A 2014 report on virtual schools in the U.S.
by the National Education Policy Center noted that despite growth in online education
nationally, “there is little high-quality research to support the practice or call for expanding
virtual schools.”i
This updated analysis shows that cyber schools continue to lag far behind both traditional public
and charter schools on the state’s performance measure, and average cyber performance trails
behind the average performance for the state’s highest poverty school buildings, which tend to
face the greatest challenges in meeting state performance standards. Importantly, we could not
replicate the intra-year enrollment analysis for 2013-14, as this information is no longer
available in the annual reports for any Pennsylvania cyber charter schools.

Pennsylvania Department of Education Cyber Charter School Performance Profile Scores for 2013 and 2014
A score of 70 is considered passing.  No cyber charter achieved a score of 70 in either year.  Additionally, most cybers never made AYP under No Child Left Behind during the period 2005 thru 2012.

Here are the 2013 and 2014 SPP scores for Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools:
School                                                               2013     2014
21st Century Cyber CS                                      66.5      66.0
Achievement House CS                                    39.7      37.5
ACT Academy Cyber CS                                   30.6      28.9
Agora Cyber CS                                                 48.3      42.4
ASPIRA Bilingual CS                                        29.0      39.0
Central PA Digital Lrng Foundation CS          31.7      48.8
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS    54.6      52.2
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS                59.0      50.0
Esperanza Cyber CS                                         32.7      47.7
Pennsylvania Cyber CS                                    59.4      55.5
Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS               54.7      50.9
Pennsylvania Leadership CS                           64.7      59.3
Pennsylvania Virtual CS                                   67.9      63.4
Solomon Charter School Inc.                           36.9
Susq-Cyber CS                                                  46.4      42.4

Most cybers never made AYP…..
PA Cyber Charter PSSA AYP 2005 - 2012 from PDE
Keystone State Education Coalition Updated September 26, 2012
Of 12 PA cyber charters -only 1 made AYP for 2012 only 2 made AYP for 2011 while 8 were in corrective action status.

Testing: How Much Is Too Much?
NPR.org by ANYA KAMENETZ November 17, 2014 8:03 AM ET
"In some places, tests – and preparation for them – are dominating the calendar and culture of schools and causing undue stress for students and educators."
The quote comes not from an angry parent or firebrand school leader but from Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Of course, he's the guy currently in charge of a big chunk of those tests: the No Child Left Behind requirement of annual standardized testing in grades 3-8, plus once in grades 10-12.  And those tests are just the start. Lately everyone from the president on down has been weighing in on the question: Are kids really being tested too much? And their answer, mostly, is a big "Yes."  President Obama said last month that he "welcomes" a pledge from state and big-city school leaders to work together to "cut back on unnecessary testing and test preparation."  The groups, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools, announced the initial results of an attempt to quantify the current state of testing in America.  Their survey of large districts showed students taking an average of 113 standardized tests between pre-K and grade 12, with 11th grade the most tested.

"Johnson pointed to a study by Shippensburg University professor Winston Cleland that compares individual schools' academic scores with the percentage of kids in the school who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches, an indication of poverty.  The study finds that low school scores are "very highly correlated" with poverty – with smaller schools faring slightly better even with higher poverty rates, Johnson said."
Central Dauphin superintendent blasts 'report card' approach to School Performance Profiles
Penn Live By Marijon Shearer | Special to PennLive  on November 17, 2014 at 11:45 PM, updated November 17, 2014 at 11:46 PM
Addressing the Central Dauphin School Board Monday, Superintendent Carol Johnson followed a Pennsylvania Department of Education slideshow outlining 2013-2014 school performance scores with her own assessment of the shortfalls of the scoring system.
The assessment system was supposed to improve on a prior test-based system, she said, but, "The lion's share of the school performance profile is still based on one high-stakes test."
Johnson pointed to a study by Shippensburg University professor Winston Cleland that compares individual schools' academic scores with the percentage of kids in the school who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches, an indication of poverty.  The study finds that low school scores are "very highly correlated" with poverty – with smaller schools faring slightly better even with higher poverty rates, Johnson said.

Newsmaker: Shauna D'Alessandro received the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
By Megan Harris Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, 12:01 a.m. Updated 7 hours ago
 Noteworthy: D'Alessandro received the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education.
Age: 58             Residence: Jefferson Hills
Background: D'Alessandro joined the West Jefferson Hills School Board in 2003 and serves as president for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Board of Directors. From 2007 to 2010, she was a member of the South Hills Area School District Association. She served as president of the association's board from 2009 to 2010. She also is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh Class XXVI.
Education: Bachelor's degree in business management/accounting from Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Quote: “I am honored and privileged to receive this award, especially because Mr. Allwein was a mentor to me. He taught many of us how to advocate for children. And whenever he entered a room, whether he was an ally or an adversary on an issue, he was respected and liked.”
Pottstown Mercury EDITORIAL: Pa. school funding formula denies equal education
POSTED: 11/14/14, 5:27 PM EST | UPDATED: 3 DAYS AGO
The William Penn School District in Delaware County let the rest of the state in on something their students, teachers and parents already know.  Pennsylvania’s formula for doling out education funding is unfair.  Every day when kids make the hike to school in William Penn, it’s a decidedly uphill trudge, due in no small part to an education funding formula that penalizes them merely by virtue of their zip code.  It is an unfair, unlevel playing field. That’s not especially new. Even outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett, who became the poster boy for an out-of-whack education funding system courtesy of brutal cuts enacted in his first years in office, agrees.
That’s why earlier this year he asked the Legislature to set up a commission to study education funding in the state and come up with recommendations. They’ve been criss-crossing the state talking to residents, teachers, and administrators. Their conclusions are due next year.
William Penn and five other school districts decided not to wait for their recommendations. They went to court this week and slapped the state Department of Education with a lawsuit, claiming the state’s current funding allocations are “unconstitutional.”

Pottstown Mercury EDITORIAL: Pa. voters sent message on education
POSTED: 11/16/14, 11:02 AM EST |
If there is one clear message from this year’s race for governor in Pennsylvania, it’s this: The way the state funds K-12 schools is neither fair nor adequate.  From the Delaware River to Lake Erie, voters saw class sizes swelling, school programs being slashed, and teachers getting pink slips, while school districts imposed painful property tax increases. Education was THE issue in the race and it cost Republican Tom Corbett his job — all in a year when his party romped to victories nationwide by running against President Obama and a disappointing economy.
While the state underfunds schools in general, some districts suffer a lot worse than others.
The key variable driving Pennsylvania’s school funding decisions is not what students need to get a good education — it’s politics. Communities with a friend in the Legislature or Governor’s office do better. Pennsylvania is one of only three states that has no set formula for sending money to schools.  That ad hoc, politically-driven system is grossly unfair, and there’s now evidence to suggest it may be racially biased as well.

Tom Wolf on work, reforms and driving his Jeep
AFTER TOM WOLF got his doctorate from MIT, he worked at his family-owned cabinet company - driving a forklift.  That experience could soon come in handy.  Estimates just released by the state's Independent Fiscal Office say the incoming governor's first budget faces a shortfall of nearly $2 billion.  Heavy lifting clearly is called for.
And the first question? Does digging out of a fiscal fissure hurt or help his top priorities of seeking more money for schools and getting more money, via a severance tax, from natural-gas drillers?
"I'm not sure it helps or hinders," Wolf says in an interview. "I think what they [the numbers] do is promote a shared sense of crisis" with legislative leaders.

With Tom Wolf, schools have a second chance: Michael Crossey
PennLive Op-Ed  By Michael Crossey  on November 17, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Michael Crossey is the elected president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association in Harrisburg.
I'm not one to put a lot of stock in opinion polls.
I'd rather talk with people, look in their eyes, and feel the emotion in their voices.
For the past three years, I've traveled across Pennsylvania, and I've heard thousands of people talk about the funding crisis in their public schools.  They talk about class sizes that are too big, libraries that are closed, programs that have been cut, and good teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and classroom aides who have lost their jobs.  I've been struck by those conversations, because they almost always end the same way. The person I'm talking with asks me, "Can't we do better?"   And I always say the same thing.  What's better: Crisis, cuts, and consequences on our kids? Or investments that help our kids learn and succeed in life?
"Yes, we can."

Charter Schools USA could earn contract extensions by meeting York city schools performance goals
If more money comes in, it could go to things like staffing and salaries, but not to CSUSA as a fee
York Daily Record By Angie Mason amason@ydr.com @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   11/15/2014 04:05:05 PM EST
Charter Schools USA would run district York City schools for at least five years, and maybe longer depending on schools' performance, under a proposed contract that could be voted on next week.  The proposed agreement, presented to the York City School Board last week, would begin Jan. 1, 2015 with a six-month planning phase and run through July 1, 2020. It would run a minimum of five years, unless both parties saw fit to end it earlier, according to David Meckley, the district's state-appointed recovery officer.  The agreement includes a tiered performance measurement system that runs from red, which means unacceptable, to blue, which means high performing, based on student growth measured by a national assessment. The schools' performance would determine whether the agreement ran beyond the initial five years.

Philadelphia’s Poverty Rate Declined in 2013, But Not By Much
CBS By Kim Glovas November 17, 2014 1:00 PM
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The latest figures on Philadelphia’s poverty rate show the number going down. But it still accounts for more than one quarter of the city’s population.
The city’s first progress report on its fight against poverty shows the rate was 26 percent in 2013, compared to 28 percent in 2011.  But Eva Gladstein, head of the city’s Office of Community Empowerment, says Philadelphia is the poorest of the nation’s ten biggest cities.
“Right now the single biggest predictor of how a child will do in life is the zip code in which they are born,” she notes. “So there are communities with high need and less opportunity as compared to other neighborhoods.”

District will review applications for 40 new charter schools
the notebook November 17, 2014
The School District said Monday that it has received applications for 40 new charter schools.
In Philadelphia, applications for new charter schools haven't been considered by the School Reform Commission in seven years.  But in passing the law approving Philadelphia's $2-per-pack cigarette tax, state legislators included a provision that requires the School District of Philadelphia to open itself to new charter applications annually, while giving rejected applicants the chance to appeal decisions through a state board.  Now that the deadline for submitting applications has passed, the District's Charter Schools Office will start its process for reviewing each of the applications.  According to a District release, that process will consist of three phases.
·         Review of Applications – Review teams comprised of reviewers with expertise in educational leadership, school operations, curriculum, school finance, support for English language learners, and support for students in special education will review applications. Each review team will have a mix of School District employees and outside experts.
·         Public hearings – Each applicant will have an opportunity to present their proposals and answer questions from the School District. The public hearings will include time for public comment on the charter applications.
·         Public vote by the SRC – After the public hearings, the SRC will vote on the charter applications at a public action meeting.
Public hearings will be held within 45 days of the Nov. 15 application deadline, as required by state charter school law, the District said. And the SRC will vote on each application no later than 75 days after the hearing.  All applications will be posted publicly on the District's website, along with the schedule of the hearings. 
Here is the list of new charter school applicants.

Phila. schools see 40 applications for new charters
Talk about pent-up demand.
After the Philadelphia School District announced that it would accept applications for new charter schools for the first time in seven years, it received 40, the district said Monday.
If the School Reform Commission approves them all, the schools eventually could add 40,341 more seats in charter schools in a district that already has 67,000 - or more than one-third - of its students enrolled in charters.  The vast majority of the proposals - 29 - were from operators of existing charters in the city, including KIPP Philadelphia, Freire, Mastery, MAST, Global Leadership, Franklin Towne, Independence, and Green Woods.

District receives applications for 40 new charter schools
AN ALL-GIRLS school, a career-and-technical academy and several performing-arts institutions are among the 40 applications for new charter schools submitted to the district, officials said.
The applications, submitted by last Saturday's deadline, mark the first time since 2008 that the district has accepted new charter proposals, a requirement of the $2 cigarette tax passed in September to provide additional district funding.  Each application will go through a rigorous review, including public hearings and a public-comment period, the district said. After the public hearings, the School Reform Commission will vote publicly on the applications.

Report shows vast differences among Pittsburgh public schools
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 17, 2014 10:10 AM
A+ Schools today released its annual report to the community on public school progress in Pittsburgh, showing wide differences among public schools in Pittsburgh.   The report includes schools operated by Pittsburgh Public Schools as well as bricks-and-mortar charter schools located in the city.  The report shows wide variations in teacher turnover, the percentage of teachers on staff who are rated distinguished, the achievement of students, student absenteeism rates and parent satisfaction.

Annual schools report shows academic achievement down locally, across state
Trib Live By Megan Harris Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, 9:03 a.m.
An annual report on the state of Pittsburgh Public Schools showed academic achievement declined in the district and across the state.  District watchdog group A+ Schools released its 10th “Report to the Community” early Monday, which highlights trends and progress at each school.
“We know readers are as curious as we are about what contributes to gains as well as persistent low achievement in our schools,” the report said. “There is no single answer.”  Schools vary widely in academic performance, and the achievement gap between black and white students decreased slightly since 2006.  Graduation rates increased between 2011 and 2013 by 8 percentage points. The percentage of students enrolled in advanced courses increased 26 percentage points between 2012 and 2014.
YDR Editorial: No more stalling on York city school reform (YDR opinion)
York Daily Record editorial UPDATED:   11/14/2014 08:35:41 AM EST
It's late in the fourth quarter. The score is tied 0-0. York city school district teachers have the ball in the red zone. And they're running out the clock?!  That strategy would outrage football fans, and it should anger parents of city students. But there's an endgame here that doesn't appear to involve putting the ball in the end zone or through the uprights.  York teachers and others, such as Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York, want to stall movement on the district recovery process until a new referee — Tom Wolf — takes the field. But current referee David Meckley is still in charge, and he's calling delay of game.

Bethlehem school board plans to reject charter expansion over religious concerns
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on November 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM, updated November 17, 2014 at 4:46 PM
The Bethlehem Area School Board is expected to deny a charter school's request to open a second location in a shuttered Catholic School over concerns about the separation of church and state.  Bethlehem's objections largely center on language in Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School's lease with Saints Simon and Jude Parish, the Catholic church that owns the school building.  The South Bethlehem charter school already operates out of a closed Catholic school on Thomas Street but it has outgrown the space as it has added grades. The school applied this summer to open a second building in the former Seton Academy.

Auditor General: Fairfield schools will undergo audit in 2015
A news release cites 'significant outcry from concerned residents' as a contributing factor in looking into the district.
Chambersburg Public Opinion Online By Jennifer Wentz jwentz@eveningsun.com @jenni_wentz on Twitter 11/14/2014 08:27:08 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General will examine Fairfield Area School District's operations in early 2015.  While the district was due to be audited in 2015, the auditor general's office decided to push the audit to the beginning of the year in light of "significant outcry" from concerned residents, according to a news release.  "I take citizens' concerns very seriously, and we will review all of the facts during the audit," Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in the release.  Auditor General Press Secretary Barry Ciccocioppo could not elaborate on the exact nature of those concerns but said several residents called the office or posted comments to the auditor general's Facebook and Twitter pages to ask the office to investigate the district.
During the examination, which could take several months, auditors will examine the district's finances, school board minutes and other documents to check if the district is spending state funding in the most efficient way possible, Ciccocioppo said.

Grand jury recommends resignations of three Easton Area School Board members
Lehigh Valley Live By Rudy Miller | The Express-Times on November 17, 2014 at 10:55 AM, updated November 17, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Northampton County's district attorney released a grand jury report Mondaycalling for the resignation of three Easton Area School Board members who created an atmosphere of "paranoia" in the district.  The grand jury report calls for the resignation of board members Kerri Leonard Ellison, Frank Pintabone and Robert Fehnel because their testimony before the grand jury was deemed not credible, according to District Attorney John Morganelli.
Circumstantial evidence suggests former district technology director Thomas Drago fed confidential information to Leonard Ellison and former board member Janet Matthews, the jurors found. Both denied receiving information.  The jurors said Pintabone and Fehnel weren't credible when they said they couldn't recall whether former Superintendent Susan McGinley wanted to go to authorities over Drago spying on other employees.

Unionville, Kennett schools rank among elite in the nation
By Fran Maye, Daily Local News POSTED: 11/17/14, 5:14 PM EST |
EAST MARLBOROUGH>>The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District is the 15th best school district in the nation, and Kennett Consolidated the 42nd best, according to a national ranking agency that rates both hard data and student surveys. In Pennsylvania, only Lower Merion School District, which placed fourth out of more than 13,000 public school districts, bested Unionville and Kennett.  The rankings were compiled by Niche.com. The website, founded in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University students, has grown into one of the largest contest startups in the country to evaluate, among other things, colleges and school districts.  “By using multiple measures to evaluate our program, Niche has offered ratings that reflect the values of the U-CF community as a whole,” said John Sanville, superintendent of Unionville-Chadds Ford schools. “Since our students, staff, and families focus energies on productive endeavors of all kinds - this honor embodies the wisdom of Henry Ford who said If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Keeping score: Local school scores show ups and downs
Pottstown Mercury By Evan Brandt and Frank Otto, ebrandt@pottsmerc.com, fotto@pottsmerc.com ,@PottstownNews, fottojourno on Twitter POSTED: 11/15/14, 9:49 AM EST
More than half the schools in the Pottstown tri-county area saw their state profile scores decline over the past year, according to The Mercury’s analysis of results recently released by the state.
Only one district — Pottsgrove — saw more schools’ scores increase than decline.
From a percentage standpoint, Pottstown’s Lincoln Elementary School saw the greatest year-over-year improvement (28.08 percent) and Franklin Elementary School, also in the Pottstown School District, saw the greatest year-over-year decline (17.27 percent).
The Boyertown Area School District’s Gilbertsville Elementary School and Spring-Ford’s Seventh Grade Center tied as the highest scoring schools in the region with 97.9
The scores are from the Pennsylvania School Performance Profiles, the commonwealth’s year-old school assessment system which replaced the Annual Yearly Progress standards set up under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

PA Cyber reviewing its relationship with NNDS
Ellwood City Ledger Novembeer 17, 2014 By J.D. Prose Calkins Media Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 11:45 pm
MIDLAND -- The Rochester-based nonprofit National Network of Digital Schools relies almost entirely on the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School for its revenue, but that lucrative 10-year relationship is now under review against a messy backdrop.  In September, PA Cyber’s board of trustees approved an agreement to have the consulting company Clarus Group, based in Massachusetts, “review and evaluate” the Midland-based charter school’s management agreement with NNDS, which has received more than $50 million annually from PA Cyber in recent years.  Michael Conti, PA Cyber’s chief executive officer, said in a recent email that he expects a report in December or January. He said Clarus’ task is “to review service levels provided by NNDS in relation to the fees being paid.”  PA Cyber founder Nick Trombetta, who now faces 11 federal criminal charges, created NNDS -- one of several spinoffs from the cyber school -- in 2005 to provide management services and curriculum to PA Cyber and other online schools.
Two years later, Trombetta had PA Cyber convey its own Lincoln Interactive online curriculum to NNDS, which, in turn, has leased it back to PA Cyber under a contract that pays NNDS a 12 percent fee based on PA Cyber revenue.  As PA Cyber’s revenues have mushroomed over the past decade, the deal has netted NNDS hundreds of millions of dollars. According to the latest available Form 990 filed by NNDS for 2012, it received nearly $51 million from PA Cyber for curriculum and management services, nearly 88 percent of NNDS’ total reported support of $58 million that year.  For 2011, NNDS collected $52.2 million from PA Cyber, which has annual revenue exceeding $100 million. Last school year, PA Cyber paid NNDS $53 million, Conti said.
Conti said the 2013-14 payment for curriculum accounted for about $38.2 million, with managed services coming in at $14.8 million, which included a handful of NNDS employees working in PA Cyber’s business office.

F.C.C. Chief Aims to Bolster Internet for Schools
New York Times By EDWARD WYATT NOV. 17, 2014
WASHINGTON — With a goal of fiber-optic lines reaching to every school and a Wi-Fi connection in every classroom, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is expected on Monday to propose a 62 percent increase in the amount of money the agency spends annually to wire schools and libraries with high-speed Internet connections.
Mr. Wheeler will propose that the annual cap on spending for school Internet needs be raised by $1.5 billion, to $3.9 billion, according to an F.C.C. official who spoke on condition of anonymity but was authorized to release details of the proposal. The initiative is part of a continuing overhaul of the Universal Service Fund and its educational component, known as E-Rate.
The new spending would lead to an increase of roughly 16 percent in the monthly fee on consumers’ phone bills. The fee is used to finance the Universal Service Fund, an $8.7 billion effort that provides phone and broadband connections for low-income populations, rural areas, and schools and libraries.

"According to cut scores approved Friday night by the 22-state consortium, 41 percent of 11th graders will show proficiency in English/language arts, and 33 percent will do so in math. In elementary and middle school, 38 percent to 44 percent will meet the proficiency mark in English/language arts, and 32 percent to 39 percent will do so in math."
Cutoff Scores Set for Common-Core Tests
Education Week By Catherine Gewertz Published Online: November 17, 2014
In a move likely to cause political and academic stress in many states, a consortium that is designing assessments for the Common Core State Standards released data Monday projecting that more than half of students will fall short of the marks that connote grade-level skills on its tests of English/language arts and mathematics.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test has four achievement categories. Students must score at Level 3 or higher to be considered proficient in the skills and knowledge for their grades. 

Public Issues Forums of Centre County | What should be the goal of public schools?
BY DAVID HUTCHINSON State College - Centre Daily Times November 8, 2014 
What: “What is the 21st-century Mission for our Public Schools?”
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 20
Where: Fairmount Building, 411 S. Fraser St., State College
The articles linked on this page offer several perspectives on one of the most important issues we have to wrestle with as residents: What is the goal of a public education?
To prepare students for the workforce?
To prepare them as residents, as Ben Franklin initially proposed? Or to help students discover and develop their individual talents?
What is the experience of our students? What do they think we should do differently? This is your invitation to join that conversation.

Join the Listening Tour hosted by PSBA as it follows the Basic Ed Funding Commission to each location this fall
The next tour stop will be on Thursday, Nov 20, 2014 from 6-8 p.m., at Hambright Elementary School in Lancaster. Click here to register for the FREE event. Other tour dates will be announced as the BEF Commission finalizes the dates and locations for its hearings. The comments and suggestions from the Listening Tour will be compiled and submitted to the Commission early next year. Members also are encouraged to complete a form online allowing you to "Tell your story" if you are not able to attend one of the BEF Listening Tours.

Philadelphia City Council Hearings on High-stakes Testing and the Opt-Out Movement, Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM
Education Committee of Philadelphia City Council
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM, Room 400 City Hall
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Councilman Mark Squilla and The Opt-Out Committee of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools urge all who care about the future of education to attend:  Parents, students and educators will testify on the effects of over-testing on students and teaching, including the crisis of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.
Information:  Alison McDowell or Lisa Haver at:  philaapps@gmail.com

DelCo Rising: Winning for Education Nov 18 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Delaware County students and taxpayers have sacrificed enough. The state is not paying its fair share.  Rising property taxes and school budget cuts are not acceptable–help us change that.
Join your neighbors for a community workshop: Delco Rising:  Winning for Education
·         Learn about Pre-K for PA and the Statewide Campaign for Fair Education Funding and how they can  help your community
·         Practice winning strategies to advocate for your community
·         Create an advocacy plan that works for you—whether you have 5 minutes or 5 days per month
This non-partisan event is free and open to the public.
Click here to download a PDF flyer to share.

Children with Autism - Who’s Eligible? How to get ABA services?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join us on November 19th, 2014 to discuss eligibility services for children with Autism. This session will teach parents, teachers, social workers and attorneys how to obtain Applied Behavioral Analysis services for children on the autism spectrum. Presenters include Sonja Kerr (Law Center), Rachel Mann (Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania), Dr. Lisa Blaskey (The Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania), and David Gates (PA Health Law Project).
Registration: bit.ly/1sOY6jX

Register Now – 2014 PASCD Annual Conference – November 23 – 25, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PASCD Annual Conference, “Leading an Innovative Culture for Learning – Powered by Blendedschools Network” to be held November 23-25 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA.  Featuring Keynote Speakers: David Burgess -  - Author of "Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator", Dr. Bart Rocco, Bill Sterrett - ASCD author, "Short on Time: How do I Make Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal?" and Ron Cowell. 
This annual conference features small group sessions (focused on curriculum, instructional, assessment, blended learning and middle level education) is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches for cultural change in your school or district.  Join us for PASCD 2014!  Online registration is available by visiting www.pascd.org

January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

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