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12/08/2016

Year in Review: Secretary Pedro Rivera Outlines Pennsylvania Education Department’s 2016 Achievements

Harrisburg, PA - Today, Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera outlined the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s most significant achievements of 2016.

“The Wolf Administration, the Department of Education, stakeholders, and the state’s communities have a lot of be proud of this year,” 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 over $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.”

Take a look at some of the accomplishments below:

Made Historic Investments in Education: Governor Wolf and Secretary Rivera have fought for more education funding since day one and they have made investment in our schools and our children a top priority. Working with the legislature, the governor has secured historic education increases in his first two years:

· $415 million in basic education funding

· $60 million for early childhood education

· $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

Established a Fair Funding Formula: On June 2, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1552 into law, which establishes a fair funding formula to restore equity to Pennsylvania public school districts. Prior to the signing of this bill, Pennsylvania was one of only three states in the nation without a fair funding formula. The Basic Education Funding (BEF) Formula accounts for district based factors including the wealth of the district, the district’s current tax effort, and the ability of the district to raise revenue.

Made Statewide Visits on Schools That Teach Tour: Secretary Rivera made dozens of visits to schools across the state and saw firsthand the innovative programs and personalized learning practices being put into place to better serve students. Secretary Rivera engaged with hundreds of administrators, teachers, and staff who are implementing proven strategies to positively impact the lives of students - from investing in pre-kindergarten programs to expanding postsecondary opportunities.

Broadened Graduation Requirements: With the support and advocacy of stakeholders and in collaboration with lawmakers, PDE took the first steps in exploring the broadening of state graduation requirements in the commonwealth. Today’s students should have a variety of pathways to show they are prepared for postsecondary success. The overwhelming support for Senate Bill 880, which delayed the use of the Keystone Exams as graduation requirements, provided PDE with the vehicle to present findings and recommendations to the General Assembly on expanding options for students to demonstrate readiness for postsecondary success.

Engaged Stakeholders on Development of State ESSA Plan: The passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last year presented a tremendous opportunity to redefine education. Over the last year PDE developed a thoughtful and thorough process to engage stakeholders with varied backgrounds and perspectives from across the commonwealth to ensure the voices of Pennsylvanians are well represented. While PDE continues to involve the public and policymakers on developing our ESSA State Plan, Pennsylvania has already been recognized as a national leader in stakeholder engagement by publications like Education Week and Homeroom, the U.S. Department of Education’s blog, and by professional organizations like the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Our efforts even prompted a visit by U.S. Secretary of Education John King in July to interact with members of Pennsylvania’s ESSA stakeholder work groups.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman - 717-783-9802

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