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Education Secretary Pedro Rivera Celebrates 2016 Educational Successes, Outlines Recommendations for New Measure of Student Achievement


Hershey, PA - During a keynote speech at the opening of the 2016 SAS Institute, the Department of Education’s (PDE) annual professional development conference, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera shared Pennsylvania’s educational milestones for the year, and outlined the Department’s recommendations for replacing the School Performance Profile (SPP) with a new measure of school success that will be called the Future Ready PA Index.

Among the highlights Rivera noted were the historic investments secured by the Wolf Administration in consecutive budgets – more than $640 million in additional funding -- for the state’s educational programs; the more than three dozen Schools That Teach and other school visits by PDE leaders; collaborating with the General Assembly to investigate and report alternatives to the Keystone Exams as graduation requirements; and the national recognition Pennsylvania garnered as a result of its Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) stakeholder engagement process.

Working with the legislature, the governor has secured historic increases in his first two years:

· $465 million for K through 12 classrooms

· $50 million in special education funding

· $14.6 million for early intervention

· $81.4 million for PASSHE and state-related schools

· $16.4 million for community colleges

“Together, schools, families, communities, and others have worked to improve educational opportunity for all students of the commonwealth,” Rivera said. “Together we’ve worked to move education forward to better serve students and to foster a culture that values teaching and learning.

“Governor Wolf has been a tireless advocate for Pennsylvania’s schools and students, and the record investment that he and the legislature dedicated in this year’s budget – including more than $350 million driven through the new basic education funding formula - is supporting quality programs aimed at ensuring our students, regardless of zip code, have access to the tools they need to grow and to graduate prepared for postsecondary success.”

During his comments Rivera also outlined the Department’s recommendations for replacing the SPP.

“At Governor Wolf’s direction, over the past year the Department of Education had dozens of formal and informal conversations, speaking with thousands of stakeholders across the state about how to replace the existing SPP and create a more useful and holistic measure of how schools and students are performing,” Rivera said.

The Department’s outreach included 30 feedback sessions dedicated exclusively to exploring ideas to replace the SPP. The meetings brought together a wide variety of stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, parents, students, policy makers, advocates, industry and higher education leaders to ensure a broad cross section of perspectives were considered.

The existing SPP, which was first used in 2013, is heavily reliant on standardized test scores, which only mark student performance at a single point in time during the school year.

PDE’s recommendations for replacing the SPP retain several of the indicators from the current SPP, however the weighting of those indicators would be modified. The proposed new measure will be called the Future Ready PA Index and will include the following recommendations:

· Increasing the weighting of value-added measures, which incentivizes a focus on all learners and is less sensitive to demographic variables.

· Measuring English language acquisition among ESL students, not simply performance on a test of grade level ELA standards.

· Incentivizing career awareness instruction beginning at the elementary level.

· Addressing the issue of unequal weighting of content areas in the current SPP.

· Increasing the weighting of rigorous course offerings such as AP, IB, and “dual enrollment.”

· Allowing LEAs to include locally-selected reading assessments (grade 3) and math assessments (grade 7) as additional snapshots of student progress.

· Awarding extra credit to schools graduating students with at least one high-value, industry-recognized credential.

Rivera and other leaders of the Department and the Wolf Administration will continue to engage with education stakeholders over the coming months to discuss the recommendations, and to build support for the Future Ready PA Index.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman - 717-783-9802

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