///FEDERAL LEGISLATION AND REGULATION \\\
K-12 Cuts and School Choice Proposals Nixed by Legislators (9/8/17)
On September 7, legislators in both the House and Senate have shot down Trump administration plans to use federal funds for vouchers or public school choice. Legislation passed by both the House and Senate also bars the administration from making serious cuts to spending at the US Department of Education. In fact, legislation that received bi-partisan support for the full Senate Appropriations committee requires the secretary of ed. to receive congressional approval in order to create a school choice initiative using federal funds. Current plans provide approximately $1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers and $68.3 billion for the USDE, which includes an increase of $29 million and is contrary to administration wishes.
The administration was looking to increase Title I by $1 billion to fund a new program that would use federal funding for school choice. It also wanted to provide an additional $250 million to the Education Innovation and Research program aimed at facilitating private school choice. Current spending proposals provide level funding for special education state grants and eliminate a proposed $165 million Trump administration cut to career and technical education funding.
Secretary of Ed Attacks PA’s Record
Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King, expressed his displeasure with PA’s lack of progress toward closing the achievement gap between white and minority students. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress a gap of 30-40 points exists between the various subgroups. King spoke at a meeting of a work group established by PA Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera to develop a plan for meeting the revised requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act.King is the controversial former Commissioner of Education for the State of New York, appointed by President Obama as an interim replacement for Arne Duncan. King is a strong advocate for High-Stakes Testing and for the Charter School movement. With degrees from Harvard, Yale and Columbia, the former Charter School Executive Director appears committed to carrying on Duncan’s goals. President Obama has no plans to submit King’s nomination to the Senate, but will let him fill out the year as acting secretary. (Updated 7/19/16)
Review of State Tests Scheduled
The federal government has put states on notice that it plans to conduct an extensive peer review of existing state testing programs. This follows a three-year moratorium on such reviews. The review teams will examine six critical elements of state testing programs, including: (1) Coherent and rigorous academic standards given annually to all students, (2) Sound procedures in design and development as well as security, (3) Validity, (4) Additional measures of validity including fairness, reliability and accessibility, (5) Assessment systems that include all students, and (6) Sound practices in setting and reporting cut scores. (Updated 10/8/15)
NCLB Testing Moratorium
The USDOE has granted Pennsylvania a one-year moratorium on the use of the PSSA scores as part of the School Profile or the educator evaluation system. At Governor Wolf’s request, the use of PSSA results will be placed on hold until the 2016-17 school term. This still requires the approval of the General Assembly. The House did approve the move this week. (Updated 11/18/15)