One of the most important factors influencing the future success of any child is the quality of his or her education. Children who have the advantage of rigorous schooling and who develop knowledge, skills, creativity and determination will carry our state and nation forward as leaders in the global economy.
There are a number of factors that influence the ability to raise student achievement and all deserve our attention and commitment. While financial resources matter in public education, how basic education dollars are distributed by the commonwealth and how school entities choose to spend them are equally important. Pennsylvania is a state of "haves" and "have-nots." Some school districts have the financial resources necessary to provide students with the best instructional strategies and state-of-the-art equipment, while others do not.
Pennsylvania recently improved the way new special education state funds are distributed by creating a new special education funding formula that bases a school district's new special education allocation on three separate weights for three different cost categories that are reflective of special education students' levels of disabilities.
To successfully transition to productive adulthood, young people need to graduate from high school prepared to enter postsecondary education, the workforce or the military without the need for costly and time-consuming remediation.
A high school diploma is not enough anymore. Seventy percent of Pennsylvania's jobs require some education beyond high school. But for too long, Pennsylvania has been graduating tens of thousands of students each year who receive their diplomas despite failing to demonstrate proficiency in reading and math. To be sure students graduate from high school truly prepared for the challenges they will face beyond high school, we need rigorous, internationally benchmarked academic standards (the PA Core Standards), statewide assessments aligned to the standards (including Keystone Exams) to measure student progress, supports for struggling students and enhanced graduation requirements to ensure students have achieved the standards.