Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 30: Wolf Vetos Stopgap; PSSA Scores released

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 30, 2015:
Wolf Vetos Stopgap; PSSA Scores released


"We hope that this Supreme Court will step up because the disparities between wealthy and poor school districts in Pennsylvania are the greatest in the country, with the wealthiest school districts spending 33 percent more per pupil than the poorest," said Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center,  in a statement."
School-funding advocates appeal to Supreme Court
The lawsuit involving School District of Lancaster was thrown out by Commonwealth Court in April
LANCASTERONLINE | Staff Septeember 29, 2015
The School District of Lancaster and five other Pennsylvania school districts are seeking a full trial with the state Supreme Court in a lawsuit that contends the state's school-funding system is broken and needs to be fixed to comply with the state constitution.  A brief was filed Friday in the state Supreme Court after the Commonwealth Court dismissed the lawsuit against the governor, the secretary of education, the State Board of Education and legislative leaders.  When dismissing the case in April, the Commonwealth Court said that a legal challenge to the state's system of funding public schools involves political questions that were outside the jurisdiction of courts. Judge Dan Pellegrini had said it is up to the Legislature to determine how much money each district needs.  The lawsuit is seeking a school-funding model that is not over-dependent on local property taxes and complies with the state constitution, which guarantees a "thorough and efficient system of public education" for all children.

Stalemate's cost to Pa. schools: $11 million and rising
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
For more than a dozen school districts in Pennsylvania, the state budget impasse already has a cost: $11 million in interest payments just to stay open.  State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale trumpeted the debtors' names Tuesday as part of his mission to deliver regular updates on how schools are faring as Harrisburg's gridlock stretches on. DePasquale said his office has already heard from more than half of the state's 500 school districts.  "One school district official told us that dipping into the district's reserves and taking out loans to deal with the lack of the state's subsidy payments is 'like we're essentially being forced to borrow our own money,'" said DePasquale during a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda.  According to state auditors, 16 school districts and two regional intermediate units have reported taking out loans for $10 million or less. The Philadelphia City School District has borrowed $275 million.  The sum of school loans is expected to creep toward $500 million next month if there's no state budget in place.

Budget impasse could cost schools $11.2M in interest, fees
By Kate Giammarise and Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau September 29, 2015 11:02 PM
HARRISBURGPennsylvania school districts have borrowed more than $346 million so far to get through the state budget impasse, the auditor general said Tuesday, as Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a short-term spending measure proposed by Republicans.  Borrowing costs such as interest and fees for the districts could reach as high as $11.2 million, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said.  State payments to school districts that normally would have been distributed have been halted because Democratic Gov. Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature have been unable to reach a final budget agreement. Mr. Wolf vetoed a Republican-crafted spending plan June 30; the two sides have been negotiating since then but appear to have made little progress in the three months since.  “The cost is going to keep going up each and every month,” Mr. DePasquale said, as more districts are forced to borrow money.

Governor Wolf Vetoes Republican Stopgap, Calls on Republican Leaders to get Serious about Pennsylvania's Future
Governor's Office Press Release September 29, 2015
HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Wolf today vetoed the Republican stopgap budget and called on Republican leadership to get serious about negotiating a final budget that moves the commonwealth forward. Governor Wolf released the following statement:
"Instead of seriously negotiating a final budget that funds education with a commonsense severance tax, fixes our deficit without gimmicks and provides property tax relief for middle-class families and seniors, Republican leaders passed a stopgap budget that once again sells out the people of Pennsylvania to oil and gas companies and Harrisburg special interests. Republican leaders are intent on Harrisburg politics as usual and embracing a failed status quo that is holding Pennsylvania back. Just like their sham budget in June, this stopgap budget makes it clear that Republican leaders not only want to do nothing to move the commonwealth forward, but they are intent on taking us backwards. If the Republican budget became law, our deficit would balloon to $3 billion, and instead of restoring education funding, even further cuts would become necessary, and our credit rating would become junk status – that's unacceptable.
"Throughout negotiations, I have tried hard to compromise, and recently, I offered historic reforms to the liquor and pension systems, two areas Republicans say are priorities, and in return, I have received nothing on education, a severance tax or fixing the deficit. Despite the political posturing and blatant obstruction by Republican leaders, I know there are rank and file Republican legislators who understand the importance of investing in education and there are rank and file Republican legislators who support a commonsense severance tax. Now is the time to come together to accomplish that goal – Pennsylvania cannot wait any longer.
"At every turn, Republican leaders have prevented serious negotiations because they are unwilling to take on oil and gas companies and Harrisburg special interests to make the long-term investments in education and the changes needed to help Pennsylvania families."
For a copy of Governor Wolf's veto message, click here.

With stopgap budget vetoed, negotiators resume pointing fingers for failed budget agreement
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf didn’t offer any surprises Tuesday as he followed through on his promise to veto the stopgap budget plan passed by the Republican controlled General Assembly.
Gov. Wolf said he vetoed the bills as soon as they were delivered to him on Tuesday.
“All of us want a budget, we don’t want stopgaps, we don’t want continuing resolutions, Pennsylvanians deserve a budget and one that actually works and funds schools,” he told a small gaggle of reporters awaiting his exit from the Capitol Tuesday afternoon.
“If we don’t do this right, we’re going to have a $3 billion deficit next year and we’re not going to be able to fund schools, we’re going to have huge cuts, and that’s not going to work.”
The veto of the stopgap came on the same day as Auditor General Eugene DePasquale provided an update on the progress of his look into how the budget impasse is negatively impacting the finances of Pennsylvania’s public schools.

Surprising no one, Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed GOP-crafted stopgap budget
Penn Live By Christian Alexandersen | calexandersen@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on September 29, 2015 at 12:29 PM, updated September 29, 2015 at 1:09 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf has said over and over again that he would veto the Republican-crafted stopgap budget unless significant movement was made to finalize a complete budget. On Tuesday, he kept his word.  Wolf vetoed the $11 billion stopgap budget that originated with Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate. In a fiery statement on Tuesday, Wolf called on Republicans leaders to get serious about negotiating a final budget that moves the state forward.  

Republican leaders say Gov. Tom Wolf's veto holds 'vital services hostage'
Penn Live By Christian Alexandersen | calexandersen@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on September 29, 2015 at 1:05 PM
Senate Republican leaders criticized Gov. Tom Wolf's decision to veto the GOP-crafted stopgap budget, saying that it leaves struggling school districts and social service providers without emergency funding.  Wolf announced Tuesday that he vetoed the $11 billion stopgap budget proposal, something he has said he would do if significant movement was not made in finalizing a complete budget.  Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said in a statement that Wolf's veto was him saying "no to vital funding for schools and community organizations."

Let's call Tuesday's budget collapse what it is - an embarrassment: John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on September 29, 2015 at 3:48 PM, updated September 29, 2015 at 3:50 PM
About an hour after Gov. Tom Wolf surprised exactly no one by vetoing a Republican-authored stopgap funding plan, Rep. Seth Grove had just one word to describe the state of affairs under the Capitol dome.  "Catastrophe," the winded York County Republican said as he raced toward the state House chamber on Tuesday afternoon.  Why Grove was in such a hurry is anyone's guess.  Nothing's going to be solved any time soon. Never mind the fact nonprofits are borrowing money to stay afloat. And the already cash-strapped Steelton-Highspire School District is among dozens on the verge of running out of cash.  In fact, the slow-motion car crash that passes for a budget debate in Pennsylvania is now such a tangled mess of smoking wreckage and such a crossfire of recriminations that it does a disservice to honest, hardworking slow-motion car crashes across this great land of ours.

Department of Education Releases Results From New PA Core-Aligned Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)
PDE Press Release 09/29/2015
Harrisburg, PA - State Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera announced today that the department has released the results of the 2015 administration of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).  The PSSA is administered in grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and mathematics. The spring administration of the assessment marked the first time the test was aligned to the new, more rigorous Pennsylvania Core Standards. The PSSA science assessments administered in grades 4 and 8 were unchanged.
The results on the new assessment show fewer students are scoring advanced or proficient, particularly in mathematics. However, Pennsylvania student performance on the new test is similar to what many other states experienced when transitioning to more rigorous standards.  “Since preliminary results were discussed at the State Board of Education’s meeting in July, the Department has been consistent in explaining to stakeholders that the 2015 PSSA is fundamentally different than previous assessments,” Rivera said. “It’s crucial that people understand comparing old scores to new scores isn’t a reliable indicator of student growth or academic achievement. This year’s results are truly the new benchmark.”


PA: Ugly Cut Scores Coming
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Thursday, July 9, 2015
Brace yourself, Pennsylvania teachers. The cut scores for last years tests have been set, and they are not pretty.   Yesterday the State Board's Council of  Basic Education met to settle their recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding cut scores for the 2014-2015 test results. Because, yes-- cut scores are set after test results are in, not before. You'll see why shortly.  My source at the meeting (don't laugh-- I do actually have sources of information here and there) passed along some of the results, as well as an analysis of the impact of the new scores and the Board's own explanation of how these scores are set. The worst news is further down the stage, but first I have to explain how we get there.

PSSA Scores Tank; Researchers from the National Center for Educational Statistics rank PA students as among the best in the nation.
PA Ed Policy Roundup September 27, 2015:

As scores plummet, Lehigh Valley educators decry 'overrated' PSSA tests
By Jacqueline PalochkoSarah M. WojcikChristina Tatu and Eugene Tauber Of The Morning Call contact the reporters September 29, 2015
As expected, scores on the state's standardized tests plummeted across the state and in the Lehigh Valley, leaving school leaders frustrated over what they see as an overrated measure of student achievement.  The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores, released Tuesday, saw an average 35 percent dip in math and a 9 percent drop in English/language arts scores across the state.  Lehigh Valley school districts followed that trend, with the urban school districts posting particularly low scores in math.
This was the first time tests were aligned with the Pennsylvania Core Standards, the state's version of Common Core. The Core Standards were adopted by the state in 2013.
State officials told districts in the summer to brace for sagging scores, so the results Tuesdaywere not shocking. Still, school leaders are not masking their dissatisfaction.  "State test results are not the sum and substance of our students' knowledge," Parkland Superintendent Richard Sniscak said. "Our students did not change in their ability level, our teachers haven't changed in their dedication or commitment to their craft, but the assessment has changed."

How Lehigh Valley schools scored on the new PSSAs
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on September 29, 2015 at 7:38 PM, updated September 29, 2015 at 8:01 PM
After weeks of cautions about falling standardized test scores, the Pennsylvania Department of Education Tuesday released the 2015 scores for elementary and middle schools.
On average, Pennsylvania saw the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced on the reading PSSA dropped by 9.4 percent and in math by 35.4 percent.  Students in third through eighth grade are tested annually in math and reading. The science tests given to students in fourth and eighth grade were unchanged.  Sixty percent of Pennsylvania students who took the PSSAs scored proficient or advanced on the tests. Only 40 percent scored at or above grade level for the math tests.  The department held off on releasing Keystone Exams for high schools or issuing report cards for the high schools as it is checking the scores, said Matthew Stem, deputy secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

State education department: PSSA scores reflect new start
Education department attributes low scores to new exam, increased difficulty
York Daily Record By Angie Mason amason@ydr.com @angiemason1 on Twitter UPDATED:   09/29/2015 05:42:32 PM EDT
New, more difficult PSSA tests translated to 2015 scores that are lower than most schools are accustomed to seeing, but state education officials said results released Tuesday should be seen as a new starting point.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education released 2015 PSSA results on Tuesday. Students in grades 3 through 8 take the tests in English language arts and math.  In 2015, about 60 percent of students statewide scored proficient or better on the English language arts test, and about 40 percent did so on the math test.  Those are significant decreases — about 9 percent points for English language arts and about 33 percentage points for math — from the tests given in 2014. But the state education department has repeatedly cautioned that comparisons aren't fair this time around.

State PSSA test scores released
With new standards put in place for exams, fewer students are scoring in proficient range
By Eleanor Chute, Mary Niederberger and Clarece Polke / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 29, 2015 11:05 PM
With new academic standards in place and new tests reflecting them, many expected lower scores on state tests given in math and English language arts in spring 2015.  But the overall numbers from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests — coupled with school-by-school results released by the stateTuesday — paint a fuller picture of the difficult task ahead to move students toward the new standard.

State test scores take a dip, blame is placed on core standards
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on September 29, 2015 at 7:12 PM, updated September 30, 2015 at 6:03 AM
The results of the 2015 state math and reading exams come with a warning this year: Don't compare them to the prior year's scores or you likely will come away disappointed.
State Department of Education officials said the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments math and English language tests administered in the spring were different tests than the ones given in previous years.  They say that is what led to the decline in statewide scores for last year's third-through-eighth graders.  

In Pa., test scores, egos take hits
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 3:52 PM
Marcie Lichtman says her 14-year-old daughter had always scored in the "advanced" range on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests, administered to third through eighth graders.  But when last year's scores in English/Language Arts and math arrived in the mail last week, the now-ninth grader was surprised to see she scored only "proficient."  "I needed to administer a little first aid to her self-esteem by showing her an article and video explaining what is going on," said Lichtman, who lives in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.  A lot of parents are getting out the psychic Band-Aids as the state Department of Education releases drastically lower scores in Pennsylvania's main school-achievement exam.  Under new, more rigorous guidelines, only 42.5 percent of students in the state scored "proficient" in English/Language Arts, and in math, 26.1 percent, the department said Tuesday.  Overall, the state reported that math scores were 35 percent lower, and English scores 9 percent lower, than last year's.

State officials announce drop in PSSA scores, plans for improvement
the notebook By Fabiola Cineas on Sep 29, 2015 07:53 PM
As the state’s Department of Education released statewide and school-by-school PSSAresults today, officials reiterated their view that the plunge in scores is a direct result of a new test that demands more high-order thinking than before.  Statewide, 40 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in mathematics, and 60 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in English language arts.  These numbers are down from 2014 results of 72 percent proficient or advanced in math and 70 percent proficient or advanced in English language arts.  Responding to the results, the state's largest teachers' union is calling for a three-year pause in the use of test scores in teacher evaluations and school performance ratings – beyond the one-year pause that is already in place.

PSSA scores for District, charter schools: Philly students struggled in math
the notebook By Paul Socolar on Sep 29, 2015 06:02 PM
As has happened across the state, math scores in grades 3-8 for both District and charter schools in Philadelphia sank this year on the new, tougher PSSA exam, which was aligned for the first time with Pennsylvania's more rigorous core standards.  The School District released test score results for each school weeks ago, but charter school results on the 2015 PSSA were released for the first time today by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Both statewide and in Philadelphia, English language arts proficiency rates were also down this year, though not nearly as low as rates on the math PSSA. Officials have advised not to compare this year's results to previous years because of the new exam.  School-by-school results show that only 10 public schools in the city, seven of them District schools, managed to have a majority of their students score proficient on last spring's PSSA math test. In six of those 10 schools, economically disadvantaged students are in the minority.

"While the PSSA has been one measure of assessing student progress in PA since 1999. I believe the number of tests and the time we are devoting to them is excessive, and the manner in which the state is using them is often not helpful or fair. We need to continue to work with our legislators to make changes. I am working to do that and will continue to send our school community communications about those efforts."
Letter to Parents - PSSA Scores
West Chester Area School District Superintendent Letter July 23, 2015
Dear Parents,  Earlier this month, the PA Department of Education announced that the number of students passing the Pennsylvania System of Student Assessment (PSSA) test is significantly lower than last year. That is because the test was changed last year to reflect assessment of the new academic standards implemented in 2013 (PA’s version of Common Core). To read the letter from the PA Secretary of Education, Pedro Rivera, please click here.  I am writing to inform you that we anticipate West Chester scores to be significantly lower than last year, as well. Typically our scores are among the highest in the state, and I expect them to remain high relative to state averages. However, the state anticipates that 70% of its 8th grade students will not be considered proficient in math and 41% of its 4th grade students will not be proficient in Reading. Here is a table summarizing information released by the PA Department of Education

"multiple measures, “not just how our children performed one day, on one test.”
Haverford prepares for release of PSSA scores
Delco Times By Lois Puglionesi, Times Correspondent POSTED: 09/30/15, 5:02 AM EDT
HAVERFORD >> Superintendent Maureen Reusche paved the way for upcoming release of 2015 PSSA results with a presentation at a recent school board meeting.  Reusche said she was addressing the subject earlier than usual due to articles that appeared in the press over the summer, anticipating sharp declines in test scores.  The district was notified over the summer of the statewide drop in scores, and on Sept. 8 received a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Education “cautioning us that it’s not a valid comparison to look at a 2014 score and compare it with scores for 2015 because the assessments are two very different tests,” Reusche said.  She further noted that the U.S. Department of Education approved a waiver allowing for a one-year pause in use of the state’s School Performance Profiles for elementary and middle schools because of these developments. PSSA results are used to calculate SPP and teacher effectiveness ratings.  Reusch has issued a message to parents explaining that Haverford students, like those across the state, “saw a decrease in some test scores. The test changed. Our students did not change,” she said.  Reusche went on to explain to school directors that 2015 PSSA content was based on Pennsylvania Common Core standards approved in late 2013. School districts have begun aligning instruction to the new Common Core content. However, “that alignment process does take time,” she said.  Additionally, the 2015 PSSAs were “more rigorous” in terms of a transition to more complex, multi-step questions. And, different cut scores were used to determine basic, proficient and advanced levels.

Among the 10 largest cities, Phila. has highest deep-poverty rate
ALFRED LUBRANO, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 1:08 AM
Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty among America's 10 biggest cities, an examination of federal data by The Inquirer shows.  The city is already the poorest in that group.  Deep poverty is measured as income of 50 percent or less of the poverty rate. A family of four living in deep poverty takes in $12,000 or less annually, half the poverty rate of $24,000 for a family that size.  Philadelphia's deep-poverty rate is 12.3 percent, or around 186,000 people - 60,000 of whom are children, an examination of the newly released U.S. Census 2014 American Community Survey shows.  The U.S. deep-poverty rate is 6.8 percent. In Camden, the rate of deep poverty is around three times that, at 20 percent, but its total population of about 72,000 is a fraction of Philadelphia's.  Philadelphia's overall poverty rate stands at 26 percent, figures show.

School District lawyers argue against seniority in counselor rehires
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 7:42 PM
Requiring the Philadelphia School District to restore its laid-off counselors based on seniority would constitute "a tragedy" for the city's schoolchildren, lawyers said in court Tuesday.
Craig D. Mills, arguing for the district, said the system was under no obligation to recall laid-off counselors in seniority order after it let them go in the severe budget crunch of 2013.
Many of the nearly 300 counselors were ultimately recalled to their jobs, but not in seniority order. Principals were allowed to choose the counselors they wanted in their schools, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers swiftly filed a grievance.

Blended Learning Report
The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium Blended Learning Phase II  September 2015
Lessons from Best Practice Sites and the Philadelphia Context
The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium’s (PERC’s) inaugural project is centered on the emerging concept of Blended Learning. The first brief, published in September 2014, examines the research base, identifies a definition of this emerging concept, and presents a set of literature-based conditions for implementation that can be used to successfully integrate blended learning approaches into instructional improvement strategies. The second brief, published in September 2015, builds on the initial study to examine on-the-ground perspectives about blended learning implementation.  These briefs were developed, written, and refined in consultation with partners from the School District of Philadelphia and the city’s charter sector. Prior to dissemination, they were thoroughly reviewed by an anonymous, nationally-known education technology expert unaffiliated with PERC or the School District of Philadelphia. The contents of this brief reflect the work of the authors alone, and are independent of the views or opinions of School District of Philadelphia and charter school PERC members, as well as those of the William Penn Foundation.

PEEK INSIDE A CLASSROOM: JOSE
Jose was one of the calmest, quietest, most peaceful boys in the classroom.  The kind of boy everybody loves.
Jose had thick, coal-black hair and matching black-marble eyes.  He was always in an immaculate, crisp school uniform, often with a warm sweater around his sturdy frame. Jose’s family never adjusted to the cool northeastern temperatures in winter.  They were from a small town in Panama, emigrated here shortly before Jose’s birth and now live in a quiet, clean, working class neighborhood.  Jose lived with two cousins, an uncle, an aunt, Mom, baby brother and sometimes Dad. He had been an only child until October of second grade, when his brother was born.  Jose is very proud of “his country”, Panama.  His passion is soccer.  He loved everything about soccer.  If there was a televised soccer game involving Panama, Jose knew all about it.  Jose’s strong academic performance had begun in first grade.  His reading level in September, at the start of second grade, was about half-year ahead, in the top 10% of the class and his math results were in the top quarter of the class.
Looks great so far, right ?

Brewster's state Senate legislation would keep charter schools in line
Trib Live By Patrick Cloonan Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, 3:21 a.m.
State Sen. James R. Brewster wants to know more about McKeesport's second charter school.  
“The local taxpayer who pays the bills for (Young Scholars of McKeesport) should be able to examine the financial records and determine if their tax dollars are being used wisely,” Brewster, the city's former mayor, said in a statement issued Monday morning.  Brewster said he will file a formal request within two weeks with the state Department of Education for full disclosure of financial information, including bank loans, debt arrangements, lease payments, consultant contracts, curriculum-vendor relationships, management fees, a list of board members and minutes of meetings.  “Local taxpayers need protection from the proliferation of charter schools that sap resources and deprive public schools,” Brewster said. “I support charter schools provided there is a finite number and they are providing excellent education opportunities.”


Why do more than half of principals quit after five years?
New principal struggles to find balance in ever-changing role
Hechinger Report by PEG TYRE September 26, 2015
Principal Krystal Hardy talks to students during a ‘community meeting’ at Sylvanie Williams College Prep elementary school, on January 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hardy spends most of her time out of her office mentoring teachers and staff and spending time with the children. She is the face of the new type of principal. Fifty percent of the children here started the year below grade level in reading and math. The goal is to help them catch up and keep making progress. No reproduction. Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
NEW ORLEANS — It’s a few minutes before 8 a.m. and Krystal Hardy, the principal of Sylvanie Williams College Prep elementary, a charter school in New Orleans, is greeting a line of third-graders as they shuffle down the hall.  “I like the way you keep your eyes forward and your voice turned off,” she says to a student with a green bow in her hair who has been ignoring a whispered conversation behind her. The girl shoots Hardy a cautious smile.
“Tuck in that shirt,” Hardy says to another. The young boy hastily shoves his green polo shirt into his khaki pants. “We need you to be ready to learn, so you need to look like you’re ready to learn,” says Hardy.  It’s the second full week of instruction at the start of the second year of Hardy’s tenure as principal. The administrator, a wiry, intense young woman, is cautiously optimistic. This time last year, she and thousands of other public school principals around the country began their first year in the front office and stepped directly into what many consider one of the toughest jobs in America.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: September 23-29, 2015
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on September 29, 2015 - 11:27am 
Though pundits are already predicting many more victories for assessment reformers, activists know that winning will not be automatic. The keys to success are grassroots organizing, public education and building coalitions with political clout. That is how we will end test misuse and overuse.


PSBA launches an alumni network
Are you a former school director or in your final term? Stay connected through the PSBA Alumni Network. Your interest in public education continues beyond your term of service as a school director. And as a PSBA alumnus, you have years of experience and insight into the workings of public education and school boards. Legislators value your opinions as a former elected official. Take that knowledge and put it to work as a member of the PSBA Alumni Network.
For a nominal yearly fee of $25 a year or $100 for a lifetime membership, you will receive:
  • Electronic access to the PSBA Bulletin, the leading public education magazine in Pennsylvania
  • Access to legislative information pertaining to public education and periodic updates via email.
To join, complete the registration below. For more details or questions, contact Member Engagement Director Karen Devine at Karen.devine@psba.org or (800) 932-0588, ext. 3322.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:  School Play is going on tour!  Click below for more information about tour dates in your county.  All performances are FREE!
School Play, a documentary-based live theatre piece, is here to put school funding center stage. Compiled from a series of interviews, the play premiered in Philadelphia in April, 2015 and is now available for free for performances around the Commonwealth.

"This will be an opportunity for the community to discuss its collective aspirations for our next superintendent. We hope you'll join us for an evening of learning and discussion about how we as a community can support our Board in its search for our schools next leader."
Getting a Great Superintendent
Pittsburgh, PA Wednesday, October 7, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT)
A+ Schools and its partners are hosting a community discussion about innovative talent search models that have attracted high quality leadership to key roles in the City of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Public Schools.  Come hear from Valerie Dixon, Executive Director and Founder of the PACT Initiative, Leigh Halverson, Strategic Project Advisor to the President, Heinz Endowments, Patrick Dowd, former school board member and Executive Director of Allies for Children, Robert Cavalier, Director, Program for Deliberative Democracy at Carnegie Mellon University, and Alex Matthews, former school board member discuss the key lessons they've learned from being part of selection processes for key leaders in our City.  

The John Stoops Lecture Series: Dr. Pasi Sahlberg "Education Around the World: Past, Present & Future" Lehigh University October 8, 2015 6:00 p.m.
Baker Hall | Zoellner Arts Center | 420 E. Packer Avenue | Bethlehem, PA 18015
Free and open to the public!  Ticketing is general admission - no preseating will be assigned. Arrive early for the best seats.  Please plan to stay post-lecture for an open reception where you will have an opportunity to meet with students from all of our programs to learn about the latest innovations in education and human services.

School Leadership Conference online registration closes Sept. 25
Register Now for PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 14-16, 2015 Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Save the date for the professional development event of the year. Be inspired at more than four exciting venues and invest in professional development for top administrators and school board members. Online registration is live at:

Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno).  Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:

Registration is open for the 19th Annual Eastern Pennsylvania Special Education Administrators’ Conference on October 21-23rd in Hershey. 
Educators in the field of special education from public, charter and nonpublic schools are invited to attend.  The conference offers rich professional development sessions and exceptional networking opportunities.  Keynote speakers are Shane Burcaw and Jodee Blanco.  Register at https://www.paiu.org/epaseac/conf_registration.php

Register Now for the Fifth Annual Arts and Education Symposium Oct. 29th Harrisburg
Thursday, October 29, 2015 Radisson Hotel Harrisburg Convention Center 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Act 48 Credit is available. The event will be a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about important policy issues and the latest news from the field. The symposium is hosted by EPLC and the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network, and supported by a generous grant from The Heinz Endowments.

Register now for the 2015 PASCD 65th Annual Conference, Leading and Achieving in an Interconnected World, to be held November 15-17, 2015 at Pittsburgh Monroeville Convention Center.
The Conference will Feature Keynote Speakers: Meenoo Rami – Teacher and Author “Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching,”  Mr. Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Heidi Hayes-Jacobs – Founder and President of Curriculum Design, Inc. and David Griffith – ASCD Senior Director of Public Policy.  This annual conference features small group sessions focused on: Curriculum and Supervision, Personalized and Individualized Learning, Innovation, and Blended and Online Learning. The PASCD Conference is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches for innovative change in your school or district.  Join us forPASCD 2015!  Online registration is available by visiting www.pascd.org <http://www.pascd.org/>

Interested in letting our elected leadership know your thoughts on education funding, a severance tax, property taxes and the budget?
Governor Tom Wolf, (717) 787-2500

Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377

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