K-12 Education

K-12 Education

One of the most important factors influencing the future success of any child is the quality of his or her education. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is a state of “haves” and “have-nots.” Some school districts have the financial resources necessary to ensure all students can meet the state’s rigorous academic standards, while others are ill-equipped to ensure their students learn the skills necessary for success in higher education or a career. Unfortunately, this disparity is not isolated only to our basic education classrooms. Students with special needs and those pursuing career and technical education opportunities at the secondary level are often faced with the same issues including large class sizes, inadequate learning conditions and a lack of instructional materials.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children strives to ensure all students, regardless of the zip code they live in, are afforded a high-quality public education. Equitable and adequate funding as well as consistent and transparent accountability standards can make this goal a reality.

K-12 Education Policy Goals

Ensure all children receive a high-quality public education that is supported by a rational school funding system with sustained multi-year commitments that provide schools with the resources needed to maximize student achievement.

  • Continue driving multiple year investments through the enacted basic education funding formula to ensure adequate and equitable support is provided to school districts.
  • Continue to examine the need for equity in education funding to address historic problems associated with how basic education funding was distributed in the past within the framework of the recently adopted and very sound school funding formula.
  • Preserve the basic education funding formula to meet the funding needs of students in school districts across the state.
  • Ease the burden on local school districts covering special education costs by increasing the state share of funding back to approximately one-third of costs.
  • Revise the per-student basic and special education charter and cyber charter school funding formulas to more accurately reflect the costs assumed by charter school entities to deliver services and incorporate weighted elements that better consider student characteristics.
  • Ensure that state funding for career and technical education is adequate and equitably distributed so that every student who chooses to can pursue the coursework and learning opportunities that allow them to progress towards an industry-based credential in their chosen career.
  • Ensure all children receive a high-quality public education that is supported by a rational school funding system and sustained multi-year commitments that provide schools with the resources needed to maximize student achievement.
  • Continue to develop a comprehensive and transparent accountability framework that effectively evaluates the performance of schools and their personnel, while also providing parents with insight on the quality of education their child is being provided.
  • Ensure the state’s academic standards continually provide a quality benchmark for defining student proficiency across all grade levels, and support an assessment system that measures student growth, identifies adequacy gaps and recognizes curriculum and instruction needs.

Continue to develop a comprehensive and transparent accountability framework that effectively evaluates the performance of schools and their personnel, while also providing parents with insight on the quality of education their child is being provided.

  • Support the educator effectiveness evaluation system that incorporates observation, multiple measures of student performance including value-added student assessment, and encourages school districts to use the evaluations to make appropriately informed decisions regarding retention and remediation policies. Also, explore and advance new proposals that improve public school accountability for student results and more accurately inform the public on how students and schools are performing.
  • Monitor the implementation of the Future Ready Index to ensure that school districts are improving performance and making progress in key areas, including an emphasis on student growth measures.
  • Ensure the state’s academic standards continually provide a quality benchmark for defining student proficiency across all grade levels, and support an assessment system that measures student growth, identifies adequacy gaps, and recognizes curriculum and instruction needs. Preserve high school graduation requirements that ensure students are post-secondary and workforce ready regardless of where they graduate and ensure curriculum is aligned with the state’s proficiency benchmarks.
  • Support efforts to improve charter school governance, performance and accountability (academic and fiscal). Expand the reach of successful charter schools and responsibly address the continued operation of failing charter schools.
  • Continue to oppose efforts to implement vouchers or education savings accounts, as these proposals are likely to further weaken the performance of already struggling schools.
  • Advance policies that offer consistent, uniformed, and rational accountability standards across all public school domains, and/or eliminate any double-standards that may currently be in place.

K-12 Education Publications

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PA Schools Work Campaign

Pennsylvania schools work – for students, communities and the economy – when they have the resources to give all students an equal opportunity to attend a local public school that has adequate resources to ensure that he or she can learn and meet state academic standards.

PPC is partner of the non-partisan grassroots PA Schools Work campaign that is calling on the state to pay its fair share and adequately and equitably fund public education.

To learn more, visit: paschoolswork.org.

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Fast Facts about K-12 Education in PA

  • Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country, with state and local per-pupil spending in the poorest districts 33% lower than in the wealthiest districts.
  • 42% of the K-12 student population attend school districts that are spending below the amount necessary to ensure students can meet the state’s academic standards.
  • 429 commonwealth school districts do not receive their fair state share of basic education funding.
  • The state share of special education funding has declined from 36.5% to 24.6% over the last ten years.
  • Only 61% and 43% of students in grades 3-8 are scoring proficient on the English Language Arts and Mathematics PSSAs, respectively.
  • Only 51% of high school students score proficient or advanced on each of the three Keystone Exams.