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Wolf Administration Visits Philadelphia Schools, Details Plan to Raise Dropout Age, Invest in Teachers

Philadelphia, PA - Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Pedro A. Rivera today joined school and local officials at the School District of Philadelphia’s Morton McMichael and Dunbar elementary schools to discuss the district’s initiatives to improve student achievement and the Wolf Administration’s Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP).

Governor Wolf’s SWEAP proposal includes:

  • Lowering the required age to start school from 8 years to 6 years;
  • Raising the dropout age from 17 to 18; and
  • Increasing the minimum teacher salary from $18,500 to $45,000, with the cost funded by the state.

“The foundation for academic success begins at an early age and children who start formal schooling by age 6 benefit by developing language and literacy skills and are less likely to need remedial help in later years,” said Secretary Rivera, who was visiting the school as part of the Schools That Teach Tour. “Programs like we’ve seen today help in this effort by focusing on schools that need additional assistance, so their students stay on track to finish and graduate from high school.”

The school district’s Acceleration Network is a group of schools focused on improving student achievement through a highly structured approach grounded in research. The program uses smaller class sizes at early grades to support literacy and math skills, provides dedicated teams to support social and emotional needs of students, and engages the school community in the turnaround process.

During his visit, Secretary Rivera also discussed the governor’s SWEAP plan, which expands access to early childhood education, encourages students to remain in school, and modernizes the minimum salary for teachers.

Introduced in this year’s budget proposal, the SWEAP plan focuses on recruiting and retaining qualified teachers by raising the minimum salary from the current $18,500 to $45,000; raises the age at which high school students can drop out of school from 17 to 18; and advocates lowering the compulsory age for school attendance from 8 years to 6 years.

It also includes an additional $10 million in funding to build on the success of the PAsmart initiative. Governor Wolf launched PAsmart last year as a groundbreaking approach for science and technical education, job training and apprenticeships. The governor is proposing to expand the $30 million PAsmart investment with an additional $6 million to expand adult career and technical education programs and $4 million to enhance Manufacturing to Career Training Grants.

In February, the School District of Philadelphia received a $500,000 PAsmart advancing grant to expand computer science classes and teacher training.

Combined with the $8.7 million in PAsmart targeted grants, the Wolf administration has awarded nearly $20 million this year to bolster STEM and computer science in schools and nearly $10 million to expand apprenticeships and job training.

Investing in schools and improving education for all students has been the hallmark of Governor Wolf’s vision for Schools That Teach. View a Google map of all tour stops.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rick Levis - 717-783-9802 or

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