State Board of Ed. Makes Terminology Change (August 14, 2018)

On August 1, 2018 Ann Hinkson-Herrmann, Director of the PA Bureau of Special Education sent notice to all LEAs of the change in terminology replacing the term mental retardation with intellectual disability located in 22 PA Code Chapter 14 titled Special Education Services and Programs. To align the Commonwealth’s special education regulations in Chapter 14 to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act regulatory revisions resulting from Rosa’s Law, the State Board of Education through final-omitted rulemaking amended 22 PA Code §§ 14.123, 14.124, 14.125, 14.132, 14.143 and 14.162, by replacing the term mental retardation with the term intellectual disability.  The change in terminology does not affect the meaning or the eligibility determination associated with the term.

The final-omitted rulemaking affects public, private, parochial, or nonpublic schools, including vocational schools, intermediate units, and special education and home education programs and their employees.  The final-omitted rulemaking also affects citizens of the Commonwealth with school-aged children and their children.

In addition to the Chapter 14 terminology changes, documents issued from the Bureau of Special Education (BSE) located on the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) website will be amended.  Local educational agencies are advised to update the forms they currently use to reflect those on the PaTTAN website. BSE intends to have the forms ready for use with the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Use of Keystones as Grad Requirement Delayed (August 14, 2018)

Per Act 39 of 2018, the use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement or as a benchmark for the need for participation in a project-based assessment has been delayed until the 2020-2021 school year. For schools that previously submitted project-based assessments for evaluation, PDE employed evaluators through June 30, 2018 to evaluate all projects submitted through May 31, 2018.  Projects scored as unsatisfactory have been returned to tutors and may be resubmitted once corrections have been made. While a timeline for ongoing evaluation of projects has not been determined, projects submitted will be evaluated as follows:

  • Projects submitted for students graduating in 2019 or 2020 will be evaluated by a single evaluator.
  • Projects submitted for students graduating in 2021 and beyond will be evaluated by at least two evaluators; a third evaluator will be engaged if the two evaluators are not in agreement.

Questions may be directed to

PA Receives Highest Level of Determination Under Part B of IDEA (August 14, 2018)

PA Education Secretary Pedro Rivera has announced that the US Department of Education’s (USDE) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) notified him that Pennsylvania has received the highest level of determination – “Meets Requirements” – that the federal government awards to states under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Pennsylvania was one of only 22 states and territories that received the distinction this year.  This is the 11th out of 12 years that PA has been recognized with the “Meets Requirements” designation since the USDE has been issuing its determinations.

This determination is based on the totality of the state’s special education data and information, including the federal fiscal year 2016 State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR), other state-reported data, and additional publicly available information.  Consistent with the USDE’s Results Driven Accountability, 2018 determinations were based on PA’s compliance with the regulatory requirements of the IDEA as well as the extent to which positive outcomes are being achieved for students.  In making Part B determinations in 2018, the OSEP considered the following results data for students with disabilities: (1) participation on regular statewide assessments; (2) participation and performance on the most recently administered (school year 2016-17) National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); (3) graduation with a regular high school diploma; and (4) dropout rates.

PA’s Part B SPP/APR is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) website or the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network website.  The USDE has developed state profiles as a resource for IDEA-related, state-specific information.  Persons interested in reviewing that information may visit the Office of Special Education Programs GRADS360 website and click on Pennsylvania.

PDE Releases FAQ Guidance on Statewide Graduation Requirements for CTE Students (August 13, 2018)

On August 8, 2018, Director Lee Burkett from PDE’s Bureau of Career and Technical Education sent a memo to All LEAs, Superintendents, IU Executive Directors, and Act 48/45 Providers which furnished information titled Frequently Asked Questions: Statewide High School Graduation Requirement for Career and Technical Education Concentrators. To obtain a copy of this information, please visit the PAPSA website at and go to the heading “Resources” and its drop-down “Downloads”.

SB 1078, Now a Law, Allows Executive Session Safety and Security Discussions (July 27, 2018)

Last month, Senate Bill 1078 was signed into law and was added to the PA School Code. The new law allows school boards to discuss certain security measures as a group in executive session without fear of breaking the law. Although it does not give school boards unrestricted discretion to discuss all safety and security-related issues during an executive session, it does permit discussion in executive session where a public discussion regarding school safety measures would be reasonably likely to impair the effectiveness of measures to be taken and/or would likely jeopardize the school and/or an individual’s safety. The opportunity to discuss such topics in executive session will allow for information sharing between administration and the school board without compromising confidential information.