Tuesday, January 27, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 27: One of the last acts of the Corbett Administration was to renew three cyber charters

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3525 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 27, 2015:
One of the last acts of the Corbett Administration was to renew three cyber charters



Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission hearings scheduled in Mercer County, Montgomery County and Dauphin County
PA Basic Education Funding Commission website
Thursday, January 29, 2015, 10 am Greenville Junior/Senior High School 9 Donation Road, Greenville, PA 16125
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10 am Montgomery County, location TBA
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 11 am Dauphin County, location TBA




House Majority Leader Dave Reed talks beer, bipartisanship and governor's growing pains at Pa. Press Club: five takeaways
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 26, 2015 at 4:52 PM, updated January 26, 2015 at 4:53 PM
Roughly 140 people piled into the room inside the Hilton Harrisburg Hilton to hear House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, speak to the Pennsylvania Press Club on Monday.
Tables and chairs were hauled in at the last minute to accommodate the larger than expected crowd. Reed quipped that it may not have been a strong desire to hear his first-ever speech to the press club that drew them there for the luncheon.

Blogger's note: None of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts authorized cyber charters but every district is required to send tax dollars to them, even if the district has it's own cyber or blended program, and regardless of the cyber's academic performance or lack thereof…
One of the last acts of the Corbett Administration was to renew three cyber charters
None of these cyber charters achieved a passing score of 70 on Pennsylvania's School Performance Profile in either 2013 or 2014.  Two of these reauthorized cybers never made adequate yearly progress from 2005 through 2012 under No Child Left Behind.

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 Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind…..
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.

"Dumaresq made the cyber decisions on Jan. 15, five days before Gov. Tom Wolf's inauguration.  Unlike past years, her rulings were not announced publicly. Instead, they were posted late last week on the department's website."…. "A spokeswoman for the Education Department said that a decision would be made by Thursday on the third applicant: Insight PA Cyber Charter School, which wants to operate a K-12 cyber based in Newtown Square."
Pa. rejects two applications for new cyber charters
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2015, 4:39 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has turned down two of the three applications for new cyber charter schools and will decide the fate of the third later this week, a department spokeswoman said Monday.  And despite the lackluster academic performance of the state's existing 14 cybers, the department has approved three that were up for renewal, but directed them to make improvements.

"This legislation will eliminate the development and implementation of the seven pending Keystone Exams. In addition, this legislation will allow individual school districts to determine whether Keystone Exams will be used as a graduation requirement if they believe it is in the best interests of their students and education plan; adhering to Pennsylvania’s proud tradition of local control."
House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda From: Representative Mike Tobash
January 16, 2015 10:26 AM  Subject: Keystone Exams Introduced as HB168
Please find attached legislation that I plan to introduce in the near future regarding the Keystone Exams.  The Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires state testing to be done in order to evaluate the performance of schools and their students. Pennsylvania meets this requirement through the PSSA Exams and the Keystone Exams. Currently, three Keystone Exams – Algebra I, Literature and Biology – are being administered to meet the requirements of NCLB. Under current state law, the Department of Education is required to develop seven more exams in different subject matters; however, they are not necessary to meet the requirements of NCLB. In addition, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education recently approved Chapter 4 Regulations to Title 22 of the Pa Code requiring students to demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra I, Biology, and Literature examinations to meet graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2017.
After hearing feedback from school administrators, parents, teachers, students, businesses and higher education professionals, I believe legislation is needed to address their concerns.

Pa. house speaker blasts City Council on PGW, warns of repercussions to Philly schools
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY JANUARY 26, 2015
One of Pennsylvania's most powerful state lawmakers says the actions of Philadelphia City Council may put additional funding in jeopardy for the cash-strapped city school district.
Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) criticized City Council's decision to not hold a hearing on Mayor Michael Nutter's plan to sell the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works.

Philly school district investigating Philly school with 20% opt-out rate
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF JANUARY 26, 2015
Parents of about 100 students at North Philadelphia's Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences have signed letters withdrawing their children from standardized tests.  Now, the Philadelphia School District is investigating whether or not those have parents "have been fully informed," according to District spokesman Fernando Gallard.
Who's opting-out
The parents at Feltonville are a part of a growing regional and national "opt-out" movement, with footholds in suburban New Jersey as well as big city districts like Chicago and Los Angeles.
Last year, members of Philadelphia City Council held a hearing on standardized testing and councilmembers Mark Squilla, Jannie Blackwell and Maria Quinones-Sanchez all signed a letter in support of Feltonville's opting-out parents last week.  These and other supporters of the opt-out movement highlight the fact that all students – regardless of whether they are English language learners (ELL) or have special education needs – take the same tests. That means that students known to perform at below grade level are still evaluated in their grade.

"After teachers at one Philadelphia public school let parents know they had a legal right to opt their children out of standardized exams, a remarkable thing happened:  One in five wrote letters telling the principal their child would not take the tests this year."
Time out for teachers who counseled to opt out of tests?
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2015, 3:34 PM
After teachers at one Philadelphia public school let parents know they had a legal right to opt their children out of standardized exams, a remarkable thing happened:  One in five wrote letters telling the principal their child would not take the tests this year.  Now, several teachers at the Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences face possible disciplinary action.  Earlier this school year, the teachers held informational pickets before the school day and meetings at a local public library, handing out fliers and discussing with parents their right to have their children skip the state exams, the single biggest metric for judging schools.

Some Feltonville middle-schoolers 'opt out' of standardized testing
REGINA MEDINA, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER MEDINAR@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 3:01 AM
ADMINISTRATORS at the Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences are investigating six teachers who have informed parents about the option to "opt out" of standardized testing.
Since the teachers' efforts began last fall, 17 percent of the school's parents have opted their children out of testing, said Kelley Collings, one of the six teachers who will meet Thursday with principal Michael Reid.

DN Editorial: CHOKING ON CHARTERS: More want in, but their numbers - and pols'  ignorance - doom the District
Philly DaIly News Editorial POSTED: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 3:01 AM
WHO GETS to make key decisions regarding the future of public education? Those who send their kids to schools? The taxpayers who pay for it? Lawmakers who provide school funding? Experts who study academic data and performance?  The good news is that everyone has a stake in education. The bad news is that the most critical decisions related to how schools function are in the hands of a few: lawmakers who decide on how much money the schools get. In this state, those decisions are too often made in the absence of thoughtful analysis or a basic grasp of the facts.

Pittsburgh schools that work
Trib Live Opinion By Esther L. Bush & Jonathan Cetel Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Esther L. Bush is president of the Urban League of Pittsburgh and chairs the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School board of directors. Jonathan Cetel is executive director of PennCAN
Although it remains plagued by a racial divide that leads to disparate outcomes for its young people, Pittsburgh is a resilient city filled with little gems that undermine the myth that race and poverty are overwhelming barriers to success.  One such gem is the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School, where over 80 percent of the school is low income and 100 percent of the student body is black. Recent results show that the school had a negative achievement gap, which means black students performed better, on average, than their white counterparts in district schools.
Schools need your help, Gov. Wolf (letter)
York Daily Record Letter by Stephen Queenan, William Penn special education teacher, York Township  UPDATED:   01/26/2015 01:56:11 PM EST
Governor Wolf, can you save our city schools like you saved your company? Your official website, tom.wolfforpa.com, boasts, “Both Sarah and Katie attended York County public schools before going to college.” I hope that translates into your taking pride in and helping save public education in Pennsylvania. You stated in a campaign ad, “The money we need to fund our schools lies right under your feet. … I'll make the gas companies pay up to help fund our schools for a change.” What lessons did you learn from selling then saving Wolf Cabinets from the “brink of bankruptcy?” Can you do the same for York schools? 

"Until the state can actually come up with an idea on how much it costs to educate a child in Pennsylvania and fund districts equally and come up with a funding stream for education, our problems will never be solved," Bender said.
Shippensburg School District Facing $1 Million Budget Deficit
Your4state.com by Brittany Marshall 01/22/2015 05:54 PM
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - A $1 million budget deficit is looming over the Shippensburg Area School District for next year, and officials said they have already cut about $6 million since 2009.
"Since 2009, we have had to make the decision to cut 100.4 full time equivalence, which is the equivalent of 104 people to support the education of this district," said superintendent Beth Bender.  Next school year, the cuts will run even deeper.  "We have not cut any programs, but now the programs are moving up to the top of allowable cuts, and the cuts today and moving forward are going to be harder than what we have had in the past," said board president Herb Cassidy.


What the New Senate Education Chair Thinks About No Child Left Behind
Time Magazine by Haley Sweetland Edwards Jan. 25, 2015
Sen. Lamar Alexander, the new chairman of the Senate committee on education, walked into Congress this month with guns a-blazin’.
Twelve years after the passage of George W. Bush’s signature education bill, No Child Left Behind, and eight years after that troubled law was supposed to be revised and updated, the Tennessee Republican says now is the time for its long-neglected makeover.
He plans to take a revised version of the law to the Senate floor by the end of February, with hopes of pushing it through Congress “in the first half of this year.”
What exactly that makeover will look like is now the subject of hot debate on Capitol Hill.

Throw More Money at Education
Bloomberg View By Noah Smith 101 JAN 23, 2015 9:39 AM EST
It’s become almost conventional wisdom that throwing more money at public education doesn’t produce results. But what if conventional wisdom is wrong?
new paper from economists C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker Johnson and Claudia Persico suggests that it is. To disentangle correlation from causation, they look at periods from 1955 through 1985 when courts ordered governments to spend more on schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade. They then track how students in those areas did, up through 2011. The result is a very detailed long-term picture of the effect of spending more money on education.
The economists find that spending works. Specifically, they find that a 10 percent increase in spending, on average, leads children to complete 0.27 more years of school, to make wages that are 7.25 percent higher and to have a substantially reduced chance of falling into poverty. These are long-term, durable results. Conclusion: throwing money at the problem works.

TFA-Like Corps Sends College Advisers to High Schools
Education Week By Caralee J. Adams Published Online: January 13, 2015
The message is simple, yet powerful: "If I can do it, you can do it, too."
That's what graduates fresh out of college working in the College Advising Corps often tell high school students. Similar to Teach For America, the national program that recruits newly minted college graduates to teach in classrooms, the corps advisers commit to working full time for two years. They work alongside high school counselors with the goal of improving the number of first-generation college-going, low-income, underrepresented students who apply to, enter, and complete college.  Because most of the advisers were the first in their families to go to college, or are members of minority groups (one-third are African-American and another third Latino), they can relate to the students they serve.  "The advisers feel an absolute obligation. ... Before they advance, they feel they need to turn back and pull somebody through that door as well," said Nicole F. Hurd, the founder and chief executive officer of the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based nonprofit organization. "They have credibility because they are so close in age and circumstance to the students."

NEPC Analysis Gives a Failing Grade to School Report Cards
Statewide school accountability systems that measure school performance on an
A-F scale are invalid, inaccurate, and undemocratic, a new policy brief concludes
National Education Policy Center BOULDER, CO (January 26, 2015)
Sixteen states purport to measure how effective schools are by assigning “report cards” that grade individual public schools on a scale of “A” to “F”.
Such systems deserve a failing grade, according to a new policy brief published today by the National Education Policy Center. The authors of the brief set forth three overarching reasons for this failure: The report card systems don’t validly measure school quality; they don’t fulfill their stated policy objective; and they don’t contribute to two fundamental goals of public education. These two goals are to educate students for democratic citizenship, and to incorporate parents and community members in the democratic deliberation about their public schools’ policies.

PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL DISTRICT TAKES DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST TEACHERS FOR INFORMING PARENTS OF THEIR OPT OUT RIGHTS AROUND HIGH STAKES TESTING
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch January 26, 2015 //
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Philadelphia, PA January 26, 2015
Parents at Feltonville and across the district stand in support of teachers
Dissatisfied with how standardized testing is eclipsing their children’s education, 20% of parents at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences — with the support of teachers — have opted their children out of standardized testing. And that number is growing despite disciplinary actions taken last week against teachers involved in informing parents of their rights.


Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 21, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA  15120
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

INVITATION: Twitter Chat on Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.
The first monthly Twitter chat of 2015 with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. The January chat will focus on a fair, predictable public school funding formula and the ongoing work of the state’s basic education funding commission. Use hashtag#PAEdFunding to participate and follow the conversation.
On the last Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m., the following organizations go to Twitter to discuss timely topics, ask questions and listen to the public’s responses:
·         The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA);
·         The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA);
·         The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO);
·         The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS); and
·         The Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units

PILCOP: Children with Emotional Problems: Avoiding the Juvenile Justice System, and What Does Real Help Look Like?
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
This session will help you navigate special education in order to assist children at home not receiving services, those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system. CLE and Act 48 credit is available.  This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers.  Click here to purchase tickets  

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

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