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Professional Learning Exchange Publications

December 05, 2016

Diabetes Medical Management Legislation

Act 86 of 2016 permits identified non-licensed school employees to perform diabetes care and management, including administering glucagon and insulin to students with diabetes.

In each school building attended by a student with diabetes, the school nurse, in consultation with the chief school administrator or a designee, may identify at least one school employee to manage diabetes care, including monitoring blood glucose and administering diabetes medication. (login required)

November 18, 2016

Act 48 Update

Two amendments affect the continuing professional education requirements of Pennsylvania’s school professionals. The first allows for the carryover of Act 48 hours from one compliance period to another. The second extends every certificate holder’s compliance period by one year.

August 23, 2016

Certification Update

The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced two important certification changes for 2016-17.

March 01, 2016

ESSA: Special Education Requirements

ESSA establishes specific opportunities for students with disabilities and the educators who work with them. In particular, ESSA makes some changes in the areas of standards and assessments, accommodations, reporting of assessment results, accountability and educator qualifications for students with disabilities.  

March 01, 2016

ESSA: “Highly Qualified Teacher” Requirements

One of the key areas where states have regained decision-making authority from the federal government is over teacher qualifications. Over the last 15 years, NCLB required states to adopt specific criteria related to teacher qualifications; those requirements have been removed from ESSA and determinations of appropriate teacher qualifications are now made at the sole discretion of the state.

February 08, 2016

ESSA: State and Local Education Agency Report Card Requirements

Beginning in 2017-18, Pennsylvania’s ESSA State Report Card must include information about: 1) the statewide accountability system; 2) statewide student outcomes; 3) statewide teacher qualifications; and 4) other information to help parents and members of the public have an understanding of the condition of public schools in the Commonwealth. Local education agencies (LEA) also must publish a report card that includes similar information for the LEA and for individual schools.

February 08, 2016

ESSA: Educator Evaluation

In general, ESSA reduces federal intervention in state education policymaking and allows states more authority to design their own education, assessment, and accountability systems. The move away from federal to state and local authority in the new law is particularly apparent in the area of educator evaluation.  

January 22, 2016

ESSA: Educator Involvement in Decision‐Making

ESSA delineates the role of educators in decision-making at the federal, state, and local level by ensuring that their voices are included in important policy discussions around student achievement, school improvement, and professional support and working conditions in schools. In many cases, ESSA reiterates educator involvement in decision?making that was established in earlier iterations of the law; in other cases, ESSA expands educator involvement. Specifically, educators are assigned specific roles in planning, review, and approval of policies, programs, and regulations related to ESSA implementation.  

January 15, 2016

ESSA: Student Assessment

Although student assessment provisions in ESSA provide somewhat broader authority for states than under NCLB, several general requirements from NCLB still apply. For example, ESSA continues to require that assessment results only be applied to purposes for which they are valid and reliable. ESSA also continues to require states to participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress in grades 4 and 8. In several other areas of assessment policy, however, ESSA broadens state discretion over decision-making; in some cases, ESSA establishes new programs to encourage states to develop more innovative and efficient assessment systems.

January 15, 2016

ESSA: State Accountability System Requirements

In lieu of AYP, which was required under NCLB, ESSA requires each state to establish long-term goals and measures of interim progress toward the goals. ESSA does not place any restrictions on a state’s goals except that the goals must apply to all students and every subgroup and must address, at a minimum, proficiency on state tests and high school graduation rates. State goals must reflect the improvement necessary to close math and reading proficiency rates and graduation gaps for student subgroups that lag behind state averages on these measures.

December 21, 2015

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for four years and enacts significant changes from the previous iteration of the law, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In general, ESSA reduces federal intervention in state education policies and programs and assigns substantial decision-making authority to individual states. The law includes an implementation schedule that requires states to be ESSA-compliant by 2017-18.

October 19, 2015

PDE Adjusts SLO Requirements for All Classroom Teachers Beginning in 2015‐16

Although classroom teachers can still use both “mastery” and “growth” measures in an SLO, beginning in 2015-16, every classroom teacher must include at least one growth measure on the SLO(s).

August 12, 2015

Understanding the 2015 PSSA and Cut Score Changes

In July 2015, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education adopted cut scores for the newly redesigned PSSA that will result in significant changes to the percent of students in grades 3 to 8 scoring at each of the four performance levels1 on the mathematics and English language arts (ELA) assessments. The new PSSAs and related cut scores are explicitly designed to be more rigorous, making it noticeably harder for students to achieve advanced and proficient scores on the new PSSA in 2015 than on the previous test administered in 2014.

July 17, 2015

Administration of Epinephrine Auto-Injectors in the Schools

School employees often have questions when employers direct staff to administer medication to students. One medication frequently prescribed for students who may have an anaphylactic allergic reaction in school is epinephrine, which is administered through an pinephrine autoinjector to treat anaphylactic allergic reactions. There have been some recent developments in Pennsylvania which provide guidance to school employees with regard to administration of epinephrine auto-injectors. (login required)

September 26, 2014

Parents as Paraprofessionals for Their Own Children

Occasionally a Local Education Agency (LEA) and a parent agree to allow the parent to take an additional role in the education environment as a paraprofessional or personal care assistant (paid or unpaid) for his or her own child. There are pros and cons to such an arrangement. This advisory was developed to help members navigate the new relationship between professional staff and parents created by such assignments. 

August 11, 2014

Evaluation of Non-Teaching Professionals

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has released regulations governing the implementation of the new Educator Effectiveness System for “non-teaching professionals.” 

September 03, 2014

The Use of Student Achievement Data in the Evaluation of Classroom Teachers

Pennsylvania’s new Educator Effectiveness System requires the use of multiple measures of student achievement that fall into three categories: 1) building level data; 2) teacher specific data; and 3) elective data. These three kinds of student achievement measures account for 50 percent of a classroom teacher’s summative rating. The Department of Education (PDE) has issued regulations to ensure employers use the appropriate measures in the evaluation of classroom teachers.

July 15, 2013

Analysis of Teacher Evaluation Regulations

On June 22, 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) published regulations pertaining to the new teacher evaluation system. The regulations clarify several issues related to the new system, including the implementation timeline and the weights of specific data elements. These regulations apply to all non-charter public school classroom teachers working on Instructional I and II certificates. Regulations pertaining to the evaluation of education specialists must be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin by June 30, 2014.

December 05, 2012

Teacher Evaluation: Applying the New System to Specific Categories of Educators

PDE is working with educators from across the Commonwealth to adapt the new rubric to reflect the different work of several categories of professional assignment. As described below, specific elements of the new system will reflect the professional assignments of special educators, licensed professionals, education specialists, and educators assigned to positions in ESL, gifted, and library sciences. 

August 20, 2012

Act 85 and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program gives corporations significant tax credits for contributing to an “opportunity scholarship” program that provides grants to students who reside within the attendance boundaries of a “low achieving school.” The “opportunity scholarship” can be used to pay for a student from a low achieving school to attend a participating nonpublic school or a participating public school outside of the student’s home district.

September 01, 2010

Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching

In 1996, Charlotte Danielson wrote Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching. This book is a research-based examination of teachers’ practices and responsibilities presented in the form of a “road map” to help novices understand their work, guide individual improvement among experienced professionals and encourage professional conversations among teachers. Danielson imagined that the Framework would be used as a basis for encouraging “structured dialogue about teaching.”

October 02, 2009

Understanding and Challenging the Gifted

Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) and Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) have partnered to develop this booklet as a helpful tool for you to teach and encourage growth of every student’s advanced cognitive abilities

September 02, 2009

Alternative Scheduling

As the pressure to reform schools to focus on improving student achievement grows, more and more schools are experimenting with new kinds of scheduling. Generally, schools are examining several different kinds of course schedules that assign students fewer classes a day for a longer period of time. This new scheduling system is most common in secondary schools, but some elementary schools have also experimented with innovative scheduling.

September 02, 2009

Class Size Reduction

More than a decade of research has consistently confirmed the impact of small class size on student achievement.

September 02, 2009

Literacy and Math Coaching

Coaching is school-based professional development that assigns educators with specific knowledge and skills to work with teacher colleagues to improve classroom practice. An effective coach makes teachers' jobs easier by demonstrating how and why certain strategies will make a difference in student learning, and then working alongside teachers to develop the knowledge and skills they need to put those strategies into practice.