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Accountability and the ESEA reauthorization deal: Your cheat sheet

By Alyson Klein for Education Week on Nov 24, 2015 01:53 PM

The newest proposed version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act—is almost over the congressional finish line, with votes in both chambers of Congress imminent.

So how would accountability work under the ESSA, if approved? And how does it compare to the No Child Left Behind Act, Classic Edition, and the Obama administration's waivers?

Your cheat sheet here. Top-line stuff on accountability first, then some early reaction. Scroll down further if you want the nitty-gritty details on accountability.

Mayor-elect Kenney pushes plan to create 25 community schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 23, 2015 06:48 PM

In his first major policy announcement since winning election, Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney formalized a campaign promise to create 25 "community schools" over the next four years.

Before a sea of schoolchildren and TV cameras in the gymnasium of North Philadelphia's Tanner Duckrey Elementary, Kenney told students Monday that the initiative would help give them "the ability to reach your potential in your life."

Wolf: Budget framework in 'deep peril'

By Mary Wilson for NewsWorks on Nov 23, 2015 04:47 PM

A tentative outline for a Pennsylvania budget looks like it could crumble this week, dealing a bitter reality check to Gov. Wolf and the top lawmakers who said they could deliver a spending plan by Thanksgiving.

Waiting for sorely needed pre-K expansion

By Shawn Towey on Nov 23, 2015 03:00 PM

Amid lots of distress about the impact of the Pennsylvania budget impasse on pre-K, the most critical budget issue for the city is actually pre-K expansion.

With its enormous unmet need for affordable, quality preschool, Philadelphia had been expecting a huge expansion in pre-K funding. Based on Gov. Wolf’s intention to add 14,000 new seats in the state’s two programs, Head Start Supplemental Assistance and Pre-K Counts, many applicant organizations went ahead and invested in readying classrooms and even hiring new staff, competing for certified teachers with experience in early childhood education. In April, 23 providers in the city applied for more than 3,800 new seats worth more than $30 million.

But nearly five months into the new fiscal year, leases have been dropped and classrooms that were readied for the new seats sit empty or have been repurposed.

5 things to know about the financial cost of testing

By Paul Jablow on Nov 23, 2015 11:09 AM

The Notebook is examining standardized testing this month. The topic is the focus of our upcoming edition due out this week.

1. Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf has requested a total of $58.3 million for testing in the current budget.

Research group calls for revisions to Pa. school quality index

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 23, 2015 09:41 AM

Does Pennsylvania's school rating system make the grade?

In a recent brief, Research for Action argues that the state's School Performance Profile index leaves much to be desired.

Race, class, and standardized tests explained

By Dan Hardy on Nov 20, 2015 12:33 PM

The Notebook is examining standardized testing this month. The topic is the focus of our upcoming December-January edition.

What is the so-called achievement gap?

This gap manifests itself in test scores; in the vast majority of standardized tests, scores for African American and Latino students are, on average, significantly lower than scores for White and Asian students. Many object to calling it an “achievement” gap, citing vastly different resources available to students in different circumstances. The gap has shrunk over the last few decades, but is still wide and persistent, as is the gap in resources.

Marathon SRC meeting revolves around charter conversion proposals, renewals

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 20, 2015 09:30 AM

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission hosted a marathon meeting Thursday night featuring a slate of nearly 70 public speakers. The bulk of the testimony showcased opposition to the District's proposal to convert three of its elementary schools into neighborhood-based charters.

Hite to propose changing, but not canceling Source4Teachers contract

By David Limm on Nov 19, 2015 12:26 PM

In an email to School District employees Thursday, Superintendent William Hite again acknowledged the failure by staffing firm Source4teachers to adequately fill the District's substitute vacancies and described a few planned changes in the Cherry Hill-based firm's contract to be considered at Thursday's School Reform Commission meeting.

"Without a doubt, our efforts this year to ramp up substitute teacher recruitment and hiring by contracting with Source4Teachers (S4T) have not worked as anticipated," Hite said.

Fund for School District kicks off early literacy, classroom library campaign

By Fabiola Cineas on Nov 19, 2015 12:21 PM

The city is fueling its mission to put kids on track to reading on grade level by 4th grade.

On Tuesday, Superintendent William Hite, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, and 30 other city leaders convened at Clara Barton Elementary School to launch the $3.5 million Right Books Campaign that aims to place leveled libraries in classrooms and comprehensive literacy coaches in every public elementary school in Philadelphia.

Changes to substitute teacher plan to be unveiled at SRC meeting

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Nov 19, 2015 09:38 AM

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite intends to present a new plan for covering teacher vacancies after months of dissatisfaction with a New Jersey contractor hired to supply substitutes.

Source4Teachers of Cherry Hill was awarded the District contract to provide 75 percent of the teachers needed by the District on any given day. In September, its fill rate was only 11 percent. That's increased, but only slightly.

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