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.
To help young people graduate from high schools career-ready, opportunities to explore careers and to gain exposure to the world of work are critically important. Providing career awareness and work-based learning experiences helps students make informed decisions about a career path, understand the education and skill requirements necessary, and help keep young people in school by connecting the relevance of their schoolwork to their future life success. PPC developed the Promising Pathways to Careers Toolkit to help employers, educators, afterschool providers and work-based learning partners create quality work-based learning experiences for young people.
There is also a growing awareness that an effective teacher is a critically important factor that influences student achievement. Teachers - just like their students - need the right resources, clear expectations and constructive feedback to be the most effective in the classroom. Pennsylvania is implementing a new educator effectiveness system which provides this feedback along with targeted professional development to improve effectiveness in the classroom and help students achieve more.
Every child in Pennsylvania should have the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school that provides the education and skills they will need to become successful adults and productive citizens, whether it is through a traditional school district, a charter school or a cyber charter school. The passage of Pennsylvania's charter school law in the late 1990s gave children and families more choices within public education and provided an opportunity to facilitate reforms in the traditional K-12 education system. More than a decade after its implementation, changes are needed to the commonwealth's charter school law to improve educational opportunities for all children, increase academic achievement and provide better accountability for the public dollars that are being invested in charter and cyber charter schools.
For more information, please contact Bill Bartle at firstname.lastname@example.org