PA Board of Ed Holds 377th Meeting (November 8, 2023)

On November 8, 2023, the PA Board of Education held its bi-monthly meeting. Board Chair Karen Farmer White opened the meeting and, after the meeting minutes for September 13, 2023 were approved, she turned it over to PDE Ed. Sec. Khalid Mumin for a report from him and Deputy Secs. Dr. Kate Shaw and Dr. Carrie Rowe.

Dr. Mumin announced that results for the 2023-24 PSSA and PASA testing are now available online. He stated that, with each passing year, performance and scores will continue to improve. Dr. Mumin also stated that, although Act1A  has been approved for the 2023-24 state budget, negotiations to pass the rest of the budget are ongoing, Those yet-to-be-approved items include a number of important education line items. In addition, Basic Education Funding Committee hearings are underway across the state.

Dep. Sec. Shaw reported that postsecondary sector work groups are now gathering data and information for recommended improvements. She also reported the PA Maslow program is now receiving national recognition.

Dr. Rowe followed up with her report, featuring assessment results that show PA students having a slight increase in performance data. She also pointed out that, due to the Future Ready Index, data are more in-depth and allow for more than just a single summative number score. Results are being released today (11/8/23).

Dr. Rowe then turned over her report to PDE Bureau of Curriculum Director Brian Campbell, who explained the affect of waivers on Keystone Exams scores, which were “banked’ along with the waivers, and many students were not required to take the test, ultimately affecting test results for at least two more years. In fact, Algebra scores will be adversely affected. However, with regard to PSSA test results, data released today show a 3% to 7.5% increase in math scores, but we are still not up to pre-pandemic levels. ELA scores show some gains, but the pre-pandemic gap in these scores is a much smaller one to close.

Campbell also reported that online participation is increasing, but has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. He also highlighted the advantages of online test participation (e.g., more secure, discreet, user friendly, and free of onsite administration issues). With regard to accountability, Campbell said we are still suffering from attendance issues, but the graduation rate is up, the career standards benchmark has increased, and there is an increase in English Language Learners Growth and Attainment from 22% in 2021-22 to 29% in 2022-23.

A report on the Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness Committee was given by Sandra Dungee Glenn. She stated that PDE’s annual report on certifications shows the number of certifications and permits issued by PDE between 2011-12 to the present. There is currently an alarming rise in emergency certifications. Presently, IU 13 researchers are looking into the certification process. She also reported that there is a significant increase in the number of intern programs in the state. There is also a need to reduce the length of time the hiring process takes. Lastly, Glenn reported that there may be recommended revisions to Chapter 13 Section 354 coming in the future.

Dr. Lee Williams reported on behalf of the Academic Standards/Chapter 4 Committee, saying that 2026-27 school year is the targeted time to put revisions into practice.

Chairperson White reported that final omitted amendments with regard to the use of the term Intellectually Disabled to replace the term mentally retarded will now be submitted as a matter of law.

A highlight of the meeting were reports by student Board members, which had those present praising the decision to include students in the makeup of the Board.

The meeting ended with the unanimous approval of a petition by the Delaware County Community College (DCCC) to hold a public hearing on the Springfield School District’s petition to withdraw as a local sponsor of the DCCC.

Immediately following the Board of Ed. Meeting, the Career and Technical Education Committee met. During that meeting, Mr. Judd Pittman discussed the Perkins Act and the Perkins V Four-year State Plan. He stated that PDE has released a revised competitive equipment grant process today (11/8/23). He also reported that 23 schools are up for Perkins monitoring this year and 56 schools have participated in acclaimed professional development activities for vulnerable students. Lastly, he reviewed the goals of the Perkins V plan.

The meeting concluded with the unanimous approval of the application for a five-year re-accreditation of the Schuylkill Technology Center. 

BSE PennLink to LEAs provides Revised Entry Level Credential of Competency Checklist for the 2023-24 School Year (November 4, 2023)

On November 2, 2023, PDE Bureau of Special Education (BSE) Director Carole L. Clancy, sent a PennLink to all LEAs titled Revised Entry Level Credential of Competency Checklist for 2023-2024 School Year. The message states that for the 2023-2024 school year, the BSE is introducing a revised Special Education Paraprofessional Entry Level Credential of Competency Checklist. This revised checklist aligns with the updated Council for Exceptional Children’s seven core competencies for knowledge and skills for pre-service preparation, ongoing professional development, and performance assessment of paraprofessionals.

Per 22 Pa. Code § 14.105, instructional paraprofessionals are required to meet one of the following qualifications:    
(i)       Have completed at least two years of postsecondary study;    
(ii)      Possess an associate degree or higher; or    
(iii)     Meet a rigorous standard of quality as demonstrated through a state or local assessment.

The Entry Level Credential of Competency Checklist serves as the state assessment and satisfies the third pathway under 22 Pa. Code § 14.105. If a paraprofessional in a local education agency chooses this path, their supervising administrator must document the paraprofessional’s attainment of the seven competencies outlined in the Special Education Paraprofessional Entry Level Credential of Competency Checklist and submit the form to the PA Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. Upon review and approval of the submitted documents, the applicant will be issued an Entry Level Credential of Competency.

Additional options, beyond the Entry Level Credential, are currently being developed and will be available prior to the start of the 2024-2025 school year. 

Please note, starting next school year (2024-2025), the Bureau of Special Education will only accept applications using the revised Entry Level Credential of Competency Checklist. The checklist must be completed electronically and emailed to [email protected].

For questions about the revised Entry Level Credential of Competency for Special Education Paraprofessionals, please email [email protected].

PA Nonprofit: Three Ways to Create a Disability-inclusive Curriculum (November 4, 2023)

As interest in disability-inclusive curricula grows, in April 2023 the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced the creation of a Disability Inclusive Curriculum Pilot Program to instruct K-12 students on the political, economic, and social contributions of individuals with disabilities. Under the program, schools can apply for up to $30,000 in grant funding to implement disability inclusive curriculum. In addition, the nonprofit Disability Equality in Education, based in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, has developed a curriculum and lesson plans vetted and evaluated by people with disabilities. The goal is the challenge the stigma of disability in education as well as to help to build empathy and understanding for those with disabilities.

For more from K-12 Dive, click here.

To learn more about the Disability Equality in Education program, click here.

PDE: New Funding to Expand Hands-On Learning Opportunities (November 2, 2023)

On October 30, 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced that Remake Learning Days in Pennsylvania will occur from May 2-22, 2024 to create engaging, hands-

Remake Learning Days celebrates the many learning opportunities in a community with innovative experiences and opportunities for youth to develop their sense of creativity, perseverance, and curiosity.

Since its implementation in southwest Pennsylvania, Remake Learning Days has become one of the world’s largest open houses of family-friendly learning activities. Since 2016, the festival has hosted more than 5,100 events throughout the world for pre-K through high-school learners at libraries, schools, tech centers, museums, play spaces, community centers, and more, reaching more than 225,000 families.

BSE Sends Memo with Special Ed Plan Info for Phase 3 School Districts (November 1, 2023)

Carole L. Clancy, Director of the PDE Bureau of Special Education, sent a PennLink memo to LEAs titled Special Education Plan Information for Phase 3 School Districts. It states that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is responsible for ensuring that all special education programs in public schools are appropriate and effective. To do this, school districts must submit a Special Education Plan every three years to PDE as required under 22 Pa. Code § 14.104. The school district’s Special Education Plan outlines planning generated from district special education data, compliance monitoring, professional development activities, and training necessary to provide appropriate programs to students with disabilities. 

The special education plan will continue to be developed in the Future Ready Comprehensive Planning Portal (FRCPP). The first step to gaining access to the FRCPP is to ensure that you are a registered user on the PDE Portal. If you are not a registered user, please register here: Register a Username and Log In

Your school district’s Local Security Administrator can add/remove users in My PDE Suite. If you need help adding users to the new portal, please use the step-by-step guide for Accessing the Future Ready Comprehensive Planning Portal. If you do not know who your Administrators are, you can find this information by clicking on Find my Security Administrator on the main page in My PDE Suite.

School districts in Phase 3 must submit their plans by May 1, 2024 in the FRCPP.

A mandatory pre-recorded webinar was released on March 16, 2023 for all school districts. It can be accessed at: The purpose of the webinar is to train school districts on the special education plan requirements and the FRCPP system.

Should you have any questions, please contact Sandy Zeleznik in PDE’s Bureau of Special Education at [email protected].