PSEA Publications

In Brief

Facts About Learning Disabilities

A learning disability is a permanent disorder that affects the way individuals with normal or above normal intelligence receive, store, organize, retrieve and use information.


In Brief: Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD is a biologically based disorder affecting approximately two million students in America’s schools. This figure represents four percent (4%) of our current student population. Individuals with ADD tend to be easily distracted, impulsive and often hyperactive. These behavioral tendencies may significantly interfere with a student’s ability to learn. In fact, it is estimated that ten to thirty-three percent (10%-33%) of students with ADD also have learning disabilities.


In Brief: Gaskin Settlement Implementation

PDE has not yet adopted a “formula” for calculating the LRE Index as is required by the Gaskin Settlement; PDE decided to adopt the OSEP guidelines for LRE Monitoring.

In Brief

Reliability and Validity on Inferences about Teachers Based on Student Test Scores

This document contains comments prepared for a public lecture by Dr. Edward Haertel, Stanford University Emeritus Professor of Education, Developmental and Psychological Sciences. These comments describe, in non-technical terms, current research on the use of value added assessment measures (VAM) to evaluate teachers.


Student Achievement is More than Academic

Public school accountability proposals often confuse symptoms with diagnosis. There is considerable evidence to suggest that student low achievement is a symptom of deeper issues related to student health and well-being. In other words, policymakers may need to consider the idea that the “root cause” of academic achievement problems may not be in the academic content instruction. For more information about children's health care in PA, visit

In Brief

Student Achievement is More than Academic: Racial Segregation Across Schools

Racial Segregation Impedes Achievement. The Supreme Court knew that in 1954, when they found that racially segregated schools inherently deprive specific students the best opportunities to learn. Today, however, almost two-thirds of African-American children still go to schools that are “majority minority,” and about 4 of ten sit in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent minority. Latino students are the most segregated students of color in the country, with more than three-quarters attending majority-minority schools; many Latino students live and go to school in such highly-segregated communities that they have very little exposure to English.

In Brief

Using Value-Added or Growth Measures for Teacher Evaluation: What are the Issues?

Value-added measurement (VAM) is a valuable tool for educational research purposes. However, there are many reasons to exercise great caution in including VAMs as a key factor in teacher evaluation. Evaluation decisions are high-stakes; as a result, data used in evaluation should meet high standards of validity, reliability, precision and fairness, including holding teachers accountable only for those aspects of teaching and learning that they control (Harris, 2011). For many reasons, VAMs fail to meet acceptable standards of validity, reliability, precision, and fairness. Several shortcomings of VAMs that challenge their suitability for high-stakes evaluation systems are outlined below;

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