Friday, January 3, 2014

School Pension Costs Rise 42 Percent in Bucks County

School pension costs rise 42 percent in Bucks County

The cost of school pension plans increased 42 percent last year with most local school districts forking over millions of dollars more for retirement plans, according to a new report by Temple University’s Center on Regional Politics.An analysis conducted by the university found that the overall cost of school retirement plans increased by a combined $12 million in a single year for the 13 districts in Bucks County.A similar increase was reported in Montgomery County and across the Philadelphia region. The amount paid out by all 62 southeast Pennsylvania school districts was found to be up $61 million over the prior year, according to the report, which forecasts even higher payments to sustain retirement plans in the future.
According to the study, Central Bucks paid out nearly $8.3 million in pension contributions for the 2012-13 school year, as compared to just $5.7 million during the prior school year. Officials in Central Bucks said a tax hike was avoided this school year by refinancing debt and eliminating or outsourcing more than 600 positions from its $290 million budget.
In the Neshaminy School District, pension costs rose 40 percent, or $1.2 million, in a single year, according to the report. Neshaminy said it kept taxes stable this school year after drawing about $5.8 million from its savings.
Bensalem’s school district also drew from savings − taking nearly $7 million from its reserves – to avoid a tax hike. Pension costs there rose 44 percent with the district paying $989,699 more than it paid the previous year.
The greatest increase, percentage-wise, was in the New Hope-Solebury School District. Pension costs there nearly doubled, from $686,123 in 2012 to just more than $1 million in 2013.
New Hope-Solebury homeowners paid $82 more in school taxes on the average assessed home in 2013, officials said. At the same time, the school board also drew $1.7 million out of reserves to balance the fiscal year 2012-13 budget.
Pennsylvania’s school pension plans are funded through a mix of employer and employee contributions. Currently, the plans cover an estimated 267,428 active members while another 209,420 former employees collect an annuity, according to the state.
Active employees typically contribute between 7.5 percent and 10.03 percent of their paychecks toward retirement. As the employers, the state government and local districts also make regular contributions to keep the plans afloat.
In the 2012-13 fiscal year, the Temple University study found that local districts covered about 44 percent of the employer contributions to the pension funds. The state covered the remaining 56 percent.
Those funds were once flush with cash 15 years ago before the state and local school districts drew back on contributions. Reducing the amount in government contributions over the past decade freed up more money for schools and helped balance budgets, officials said.
The recession caused the market value of pension funds to drop from a height of $67.2 billion in 2007 to a low of $43.1 billion by 2009, according to the latest actuarial analysis reported by the state in June.
At the same time, the number of retirees on the plans is growing. So is the annual pension benefit for retirees.
In 2004, an estimated 151,122 retirees received payments of $18,646 annually, according to the actuarial analysis. Nine years later, the system is serving some 209,240 beneficiaries who each receive payments of $24,603 per year.
It’s a recipe for disaster, notes Joseph McLaughlin, director of the Center on Regional Politics at Temple.
“Modest increases in the state basic education subsidy in the wake of the recession have been overtaken,” McLaughlin warned. “Even steeper pension funding increases loom in the future for the commonwealth, school districts and municipalities, all supported by the same taxpayers.”

Potluck #98

Morrisville School District Tackles 2014-15 Budget

Morrisville School District tackles 2014-15 budget
Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2014 3:08 pm | Updated: 10:16 pm, Thu Jan 2, 2014.
Morrisville School District officials are busy at their calculators, working on a 2014-2015 budget that currently has a gap of more than a half-million dollars.As of Thursday, the district was looking to balance a $770,000 difference between its revenues and expenditures, business administrator Paul DeAngelo said. That’s $82,361 more than the $687,639 figure reported to the council in mid-December.
“As always at this time and until June, we are reviewing all items within the preliminary 2014-15 budget,” DeAngelo said.
Under state law, school district budgets have to be finalized by June 30.
At the board’s next meeting on Jan. 15, school directors will vote on how to move forward with the spending plan.
The board will have two options.
“The first is to adopt a resolution to stay within the 2014-15 Act 1 Index, our Act 1 index is 2.5 percent. This would be the max(imum) percent increase to our millage rate. The second option is to approve a preliminary 2014-15 proposed budget, which would need to be approved in February,” DeAngelo said.
School board President Damon Miller said the administration is working to present the board with detail figures regarding the two options; the board will work from those numbers.
“Everything is on the table at this point in time,” he said.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Upcoming School District Events

From the Morrisville School District Calendar.  Please click on the links below for details like time and location.


Education Committee Meeting



Keystone Exams, Construction Two Hot Education Issues for 2014


Keystone exams, construction two hot education issues for 2014

Pennsylvania's new Keystone Exams and ongoing construction will be two of the major issues confronting local education officials in 2014.Officials of the Bristol Township, Central Bucks, Council Rock and Pennsbury school districts are among those expressing concerns about the Keystone Exams. Starting with this year's freshman class, Pennsylvania students will be required to pass Algebra 1, literature and biology Keystone Exams to graduate from high school.
"Our superintendent, Dr. Kevin McHugh, recently joined more than 50 school leaders from Southeastern Pennsylvania in endorsing a letter to state legislators about shared concerns with regard to the Keystone Exams," said Pennsbury spokeswoman Ann Langtry.
"Primary among those concerns are the excessive costs and inordinate amount of lost instructional time associated with the Keystone implementation and the fact that these high-stakes exams could potentially preclude students from graduating, even after they pass rigorous courses and common assessments given by the local high schools," she continued. "Finally, there is the concern that the Keystones are likely to cause an increased dropout rate among a disproportionate number of low-income and at-risk students."
Paul Beltz, supervisor of reading, federal programs and elementary technology for the Central Bucks School District, expressed many of the same concerns.
"While Keystone Exams more closely align to course content than the previous grade 11 PSSA tests, we remain concerned about the overall impact of state testing," he said. "Administering the three Keystone Exams has increased the number of hours of testing time for many students. Student testing, and re-testing to demonstrate proficiency, results in additional hours taken away from classroom instruction."
"Also of concern is the overlap in the timing of Keystone Exams, AP (advanced placement) testing and College Board exams for many of our students," Beltz continued. "The state Department of Education has planned to add Keystone Exams in other subject areas. We view this as just increasing the time that would be spent away from classroom instruction."
Joan Benso, president of a group called Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, praised the approval of Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement as a positive move that will boost student education levels statewide.
"For too long, Pennsylvania has been graduating tens of thousands of students each year who received their diplomas despite failing to demonstrate proficiency in reading and math," she said.
That reasoning is not alleviating concerns among many school district officials.
Council Rock Superintendent Mark Klein said the Keystone Exams will cost the school district well over $200,000 this school year and said the new requirement is another unfunded mandate from the state.
"It's unreasonable to connect the results of one single exam to the award of a Council Rock diploma," Klein said at a recent school board meeting. "We don't want to teach to the test. There is no clear line between what we're teaching and what the state is testing for. The Keystone Exams, along with a lot of other things coming from the state, treat all 501 school districts the same, and that is not the right way to do things. We don't have confidence that these exams are viable and reliable."
In addition to the three Keystone Exams members of the Class of 2017 will be required to pass, tests may be added in areas such as composition, civics and government in future years.
"I'm OK with the transparency and accountability concepts of the Keystones and glad these high-stakes exams are tied to course content," said Bristol Township School District Superintendent Samuel Lee. "However, we have been challenged by the transition process from PSSA to Keystones and concerned that the remediation process connected with the Keystones requires significant resources, both financial and human. I am fairly sure that these resources would better serve our students elsewhere."
He continued: "On a more global level, I am concerned that the high-stakes testing culture borne by the No Child Left Behind Act and continued through Race To The Top has not improved student outcomes and opportunities and diminishes and minimizes the possibility of a more holistic, rounded educational experience for our students."
While continuing to grapple with Keystone issues, Superintendents Lee and Klein said they're also keeping track of major construction in their school districts.
After finishing major renovation/addition projects at Churchville and Holland Elementary schools, Council Rock is in the middle of another one at Goodnoe Elementary. Council Rock officials are also taking some initial steps toward major work at Newtown Middle School.
Bristol Township is well on the way to building three new elementary schools estimated to cost about $41 million each. Other construction work planned in the school district adds up to a total estimated package of about $150 million, officials said.
Both Lee and Klein said they hope the state loosens up its moratorium on reimbursements for school construction. Lee said he hopes the state will reimburse Bristol Township about 13 percent of construction costs there.
"We're fortunate in that our Southeastern Pennsylvania legislative delegation seems to be proponents of getting the PlanCon (state construction reimbursement) pipeline flowing again," said Lee. "It's confusing to me why Pennsylvania would disincentivize such economically feasible and responsible construction programs."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pa. Lawmaker Renews Push to Arm Teachers

Pa. lawmaker renews push to arm teachers
Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013 2:30 pm | Updated: 6:12 pm, Mon Dec 23, 2013.

HARRISBURG — As a Colorado community mourns a school shooting victim who died Saturday, a Pennsylvania lawmaker is reviving a push to let teachers bring guns to work.
Senate Bill 1193, by Indiana County Sen. Don White, would allow school boards to decide whether administrators, teachers and staff members could carry guns on school property. The armed school officials would have to obtain concealed firearm licenses and meet training requirements.“As we weigh our options, I believe we need to consider providing school employees with more choices than just locking a door, hiding in a closet or diving in front of bullets to protect students,” White said in the memo seeking support for the bill. “With the legal authority, licensing and proper training, I believe allowing school administrators, teachers or other staff to carry firearms on the school premises is an option worth exploring.”
Five co-sponsors have signed onto White’s bill: Sen. Elder Vogel Jr. of Beaver County; Sen. Randy Vulakovich of Allegheny County; Sen. John Rafferty Jr. of Montgomery County; Sen. Bob Robbins of Mercer County; and Sen. Michael Waugh of York County. Last year, state Rep. Greg Lucas, a former teacher who represents parts of Erie and Crawford counties, pitched a similar proposal with House Bill 122.
The concept of arming teachers goes against recommendations made in a report released last month by the House Select Committee for School Safety. The committee based its findings on input from school officials, state agencies, law enforcement, mental health specialists, students and parents following four public hearings.
“A number of testifiers noted that carrying firearms falls outside of the professional roles of school personnel,” the report states. “Other testifiers pointed to the potential dangers in placing in school's individuals, who have not been properly and thoroughly trained to handle firearms, with one law enforcement professional noting that approximately six months of dedicated training is required in order to become a police officer in the Commonwealth.”
Locally, Centennial School Board President Jane Schrader Lynch and Vice President Mark B. Miller each said they oppose the legislation.
"I would not want to have any weapon in our buildings that is not under the control of our local partners in law enforcement," said Miller, who's also vice president of the Pennsylvania School Board Association. "At present, we have a school policy that would prohibit weapons on our campuses or property, including our Administration Building and Transportation Center. I would oppose any change."
At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said he wouldn’t support arming teachers and faculty as a means to curb school shootings.
“If someone has a right to carry a weapon, then that is their right, and it is certainly part of our legal system and a part of our culture, but I don’t think arming teachers is the answer,” Casey said during a news conference Monday. “We have to figure out more and better ways to protect our schools.”
The push to arm teachers gained some legislative momentum nationally in the aftermath of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December, when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
Following that, lawmakers in 34 states introduced bills related to arming school staff members or hiring armed guards for schools. Six other states have enacted such laws, starting with South Dakota in March, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports. Recent news reports show similar efforts continuing in several states, including Florida, Nebraska and South Carolina. A Missouri bill now under consideration would arm teachers with pepper spray instead of guns.
The latest victim of a school shooting, 17-year-old Claire Davis, died in the hospital Saturday. Reportedly a random target, she was shot at point-blank range inside Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Col., on Dec. 13 -- one day before the one-year anniversary of the Newtown massacre.
“Because time is a critical element in responding to a school shooting, the faster someone stops a gunman, the more lives will be saved,” White stated in his co-sponsorship memo. “As the dynamics of school shootings are studied, it is becoming clear that we have to look at a line of first defense in stopping these tragedies.”
That notion fits into a larger shift in thinking about school safety, with some schools taking an interest in training and policies that go beyond lock-down norms, such as training teachers and students to flee and even fight back under certain scenarios.
Arming teachers was the only one of eight gun-related proposals that didn’t win public support in the aftermath of Newtown, according to some surveys, with 57 percent of Americans opposed to more teachers and school officials with guns in a January poll by the Pew Research Center. The most popular proposals in that poll involved expanding background checks and preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns, with more than 80 percent of people surveyed favoring those efforts.
In Pennsylvania, 56 percent of registered voters opposed arming teachers in a poll conducted in February 2013 by Mercyhurst University's Center for Applied Politics. Those who owned guns in their households were more likely to support the idea, while 76 percent of respondents who didn’t own a gun opposed it.
White’s bill to arm school officials has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Morrisville Council Members Seek to Oust Manager

Morrisville council members seek to oust manager
Before her last day as a Morrisville councilwoman, Eileen Dreisbach wants to accomplish one more thing: get rid of the current borough manager.Dreisbach, who didn’t run for re-election and whose last day on council is Dec. 31, made a motion at last week’s council meeting to advertise for a new manager.The current part-time position has been filled by Tom Bates since 2010. In 2011, the position was changed from being an employee of the borough to a contractor — a move pushed by Bates for “personal financial reasons.” His salary is $32,000.
Council members Debbie Smith and Todd Sanford supported Dreisbach’s motion. But the other five council members didn’t, so Bates’ job is safe.
It’s not the first time Dreisbach took a swing at Bates.
In October, she made the motion to replace Bates and begin the process of selecting a full-time manager.
After some discussion, the impending budget season pushed the motion to the side as Bates was needed to prepare the 2014 spending plan. Now with the budget season over, Dreisbach has brought the issue back.
Dreisbach said Bates has signed contracts without the knowledge of council and signing contracts is the responsibility of the council president, she said citing a borough ordinance.
“I know (Bates) is allowed to approve certain expenditures, which I can understand, but (council) should still be made aware of what is being purchased ... I wish we were more informed,” Dreisbach told the newspaper.
What has frustrated Dreisbach, Smith and Sanford is that Bates “has refused” to give council copies of the bids on a capital improvement project to upgrade borough hall, the library and the borough’s public works department. The project was awarded to consulting firm Johnson Controls. In addition, Dreisbach argues Bates signed the contract with Johnson Controls without keeping council in the loop.
That project is now on hold because Mayor Rita Ledger vetoed it. However, the borough runs the risk of getting sued, because contracts have been signed to contractors, officials have said. That can change come January with a new council and mayor, if it comes up for a vote again.
In August, Dreisbach submitted two Right-To-Know requests for bid contracts and job descriptions for the project. The borough responded “no such documents” to both requests, according Dreisbach’s copies of her requests.
“This has to do with him signing contracts with Johnson Control when the president of council is supposed to sign contracts and other things that (Bates) has done that he is not authorized to do,” she said.
In 2011, a resolution was passed by council allowing the borough manager to have authority to sign contracts, solicitor James Downey said during the October meeting. Bates was delegated by council on a contract-to-contract basis, he added.
Dreisbach submitted yet another Right-To-Know request in September for a copy of the resolution. The borough responded “no such documents found,” according to reply dated Oct. 7. The newspaper also submitted the same Right-To-Know and also received the same response in October.
Council President Nancy Sherlock told the newspaper that Dreisbach’s motions are a personal attack against Bates.
“I believe this is a long time coming,” she said. “I think (certain council members) have had an issue with Tom for a long time now and I don’t really think it’s warranted. I think Tom does a fine job, I really do.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Wins $51.7M Grant for Early Childhood Education

Pennsylvania wins $51.7M grant for early childhood education
Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:17 pm | Updated: 1:03 am, Fri Dec 20, 2013.
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania is getting a $51.7 million boost for early childhood education programs, Gov. Tom Corbett announced Thursday.It’s the largest federal grant the state has ever received to spend on programs for early learning, and reflects the state’s commitment to strengthening and increasing programs that help prevent students from falling too far behind by the time they reach third grade, Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said.
“This is actually the next evolution,” Dumaresq said on a conference call with reporters. “This is where Pennsylvanians need to go.”
Pennsylvania is one of six states to win an award this year through the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant program. Sixteen states had applied for a share of $280 million. The Obama administration has doled out about $1 billion in similar early learning grants over the past several years.
The state Department of Education has not yet decided which schools will benefit from the cash infusion.
The department will spend the next few months developing the requirements schools must meet to be eligible for the grants, with plans to put out a request for proposals from interested schools over the summer, department spokesman Tim Eller said. The money will be disbursed over four years, starting in January 2015.
“What the department will look for is engaging local communities, increasing parental involvement and, most importantly, a high-quality program being offered,” Eller said.
The lowest-achieving schools with the greatest need for early childhood education resources will be eligible to compete for a share of the federal money. Fifty schools will be chosen as recipients, and deemed Early Childhood Education Community Innovation Zones. Those 50 schools will work with community organizations such as the YMCA or Boys and Girls’ Club to increase access to programs for young students, Eller said.
The state will judge which schools are lowest-achieving based on the newly unveiled School Performance Profiles, an accountability system that rates schools on a 100-point scale. State officials haven’t yet determined the cut-off score for grant eligibility, though Dumaresq said it was fair to say the competition will probably apply to schools scoring in the 30- to 40-point range.
The nearly $52 million will also fund related initiatives, such as so-called Governor’s Institutes, week-long events to allow preschool through third-grade teachers to share best practices. The state also plans to make available to schools a free kindergarten assessment template, called Kindergarten Entry Inventory, to help teachers determine the individual needs and abilities of students as they begin the school year.
“High-quality early learning programs are known to improve student achievement and prepare students to enter kindergarten,” Corbett said in a statement. “As a national leader, Pennsylvania offers early education opportunities to our youngest citizens and this investment will help us to further improve and expand our existing quality programs.”
The federal early learning grant program is a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It fits into President Barack Obama’s goal to implement universal preschool nationwide, with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., among the federal lawmakers championing proposed legislation that would do so at a press conference last month.
Pennsylvania already offers subsidized preschool for some children who come from low-income households or have special needs, with the state’s Pre-K Counts program serving 11,380 children in 62 counties in 2011-12.
The Pennsbury School District in Bucks County is one of the newest participants in Pre-K Counts, having launched its program in late August. The district has 102 slots for young students, with 4-year-olds at Walt Disney and Eleanor Roosevelt elementary schools and 3-year-olds at the Morrisville YMCA. Walt Disney Elementary School Principal Laurie Ruffing said the district is eligible to continue getting the funds for five years, and noted the preschool classes would be scrapped if the state stopped providing the money.
“I would be shocked to see that go away,” Eller said. “That is a very beneficial program. It’s a high-quality program and it has actually been receiving increases from year to year.”
For more information on the federal Race to the Top early learning grants, visit

Morrisville Adopts 2014 $5.99-million Budget; Police Line Item Includes Police Chief, Nine Full-timers and Four Part-timers

Morrisville adopts 2014 $5.99-million budget; Police line item includes police chief, nine full-timers and four part-timers

By Petra Chesner Schlatter

MORRISVILLE BOROUGH – In a unanimous vote, borough council adopted the 2014 budget with a $73 tax increase for homeowners with the average property assessment.

The $73 increase translates to 3.65 mills, bringing the total millage to 44.56.

Borough Manager Tom Bates said the budget is balanced, but explained that the total revenues ($5,993,931) are slightly higher than the expenditures ($5,954,271) because police radios have not yet been purchased.

The biggest increase in the budget is in the line item for the police department, according to Bates. Most of the police department expenditures increased, Bates said, because of increased workmen’s compensation, insurance stipend and salaries. Salaries for the department rose three percent.

“Even though we did not get a new police car this year, the overall increase for police expenditures is $239,794,” Bates said. “The police department only has seven full-time officers because two guys retired and the chief is gone. They have part-timers manning their schedules.” He noted that one full-time officer is out sick.

Bates said there will be “a full-force” once a police chief and two full-time officers are hired.

“I put it in the budget that they would have the exact same thing they have always had -- 10 full-timers and four part-timers as backup,” he said.

“Right now, they have seven [full-timers] working and probably six - eight [part-timers] to man all the shifts,” Bates said.

He also allowed for two corporals because the officer in charge said the police department needs shift supervisors.

There were 11 applicants for three full-time police officer openings, according to council member Eileen Dreisbach, who added that eight recently passed the written and agility tests. They were scheduled to complete the oral portion of the test on Thursday, Dec. 19. 
Council member Debbie Smith said people want more full-time police officers and the approved budget does not include enough of them. She said they would have more of a vested interest in the police department. Smith noted that it was a difficult budget to do “to balance what everyone wants”.

Borough Council President Nancy Sherlock does not like the budget that was adopted.

“I don’t think it’s responsible enough,” she said. “It’s definitely a skeleton budget. Think about the challenges we’re going to have next year, the year after that and the year after that.”

Former Council President Jane Burger, a critic of the majority on the board, thanked the council for posting the preliminary budget on the website.

She noted that one of the borough manager’s three budgets that he presented called for an 18-mill increase.

“There was a lot of work on the budget,” she said, noting that the council and she agreed that an 18-mill increase was out of the question.

She thanked council for bringing down the tax millage rate and maintaining a full police department.

Former Council Vice President Kathryn Panzitta said the borough’s part-time police officers make less than a clerk at Home Depot.

“I really think the budget is a disgrace,” she said, noting that she is concerned whether standard services will continue to be provided.

She called for council to rethink about the budget.  

“In good conscious,” she said, “I think this budget stinks.”

In other budget matters, people’s trash bills will not increase and have not for three years, according to Bates, despite the borough being contractually obligated to pay the trash company $43,440 more.

There is a 3.5-percent increase for all non-uniformed union employees per the AFSCME contract. Also included in the new budget are increases for salaried employees.    

Monday, December 16, 2013

Updated School Performance Profile Info

December 11, 2013

Acting Secretary of Education Announces Updates to School Performance Profile

Harrisburg – Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq today announced that the School Performance Profile website has been updated to include scores for the more than 620 schools that had their information suppressed in October.
In addition, the data used to calculate the profile scores as well as federal accountability reports for public schools, local education agencies and the state are available.
“Today’s update completes the School Performance Profile for the 2012-13 school year,” Dumaresq said. “Students, parents, educators and the general public can now view academic performance of all Pennsylvania public schools as well as compare results to neighboring schools and schools across the state.”
The results indicate that 2,181, or nearly 73 percent, of public schools received a 70 or higher.
“The majority of public schools across the commonwealth are doing well and preparing their students to be successful adults,” Dumaresq said. “I am confident that we will see schools improving year after year now that a new educator effectiveness system and meaningful academic standards and assessments are in place.”
Released in October, the School Performance Profile serves many purposes: to provide the public with detailed information of the academic performance of public schools; to satisfy requirements of Pennsylvania’s approved federal No Child Left Behind waiver; and to be used as part of the state’s new educator evaluation system.
The profile does not only rely on results of the statewide assessments but it also incorporates other measures of student achievement, such as student academic growth from year to year; graduation rate; attendance rate; promotion rate; and increasing the achievement of all students, including historically underperforming students, such as English language learners and economically disadvantaged students.
“The results are promising and, at the same, demonstrate the continuing need for improvement and innovation,” Dumaresq said, noting that the Corbett administration has put into place policies and improved upon existing programs to increase student achievement.
The new educator evaluation system, signed into law last year by Governor Tom Corbett, assesses educators on multiple measures of student achievement, provides schools with resources to improve classroom instruction; and makes available information for schools to target resources for educator professional development.
Under the Governor’s direction, the department has developed and implemented new and expanded existing resources and support systems for voluntary use by all public schools.
The Standards Aligned System (SAS), accessible by visiting, is a comprehensive resource developed to assist schools in improving student achievement. This web-based system identifies six components that impact student success: standards, assessments, curriculum framework, instruction, materials and resources, and safe and supportive schools.
To date, more than 168,000 users have registered to access the site with a total of more than 34.8 million visits.
Available on SAS is a Classroom Diagnostic Tool, which is a voluntary online assessment, designed to provide classroom teachers with information about student performance in reading, math and science in grades 3 to 12. Results are used by educators to guide classroom instruction, remediation and enrichment.
The department will deploy Academic Recovery Liaisons to federally designated “Priority” schools in an effort to improve education in Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing schools.
School improvement strategies will focus on implementing college- and career-ready standards through alignment of curriculum and assessments, effectively using data, employing educator effectiveness protocols, improving school climate and increasing family involvement.
In partnership with First Lady Susan Corbett, the department has developed an Opening Doors Early Warning System to be used by schools to assist in identifying students at risk for dropping out of school.
This voluntary system will analyze three key indicators that may indicate a student is at risk for dropping out: attendance, behavior and academic record.
The important component of the system is a catalog of school- and community-based intervention resources that schools can direct students to in order to remain on track to graduate.
The Early Warning System is expected to be available to all Pennsylvania public schools in the 2014-15 school year.
“Governor Corbett remains committed to ensuring that Pennsylvania’s students have access to the best public education system across the nation,” Dumaresq said. “Over the last three years, the Governor has worked to put in place new accountability systems that will make certain the significant financial investments of state taxpayers are being used to put students first.”
To access the School Performance Profile, visit Data that was used to calculate profile scores can be accessed by clicking on the “Data Files” link on the bottom right side of the home page.
Federal accountability reports are available by visiting
Media contact: Tim Eller, 717-783-9802