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.

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: https://www.pattan.net/legal/special-education-plans/. 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].

PA to Invest Nearly $10 Million in Transition Services for Students With Disabilities (November 1, 2023)

On October 25, 2023 the Shapiro administration announced a new pilot project that is expected to benefit an estimated 2,200 additional students with disabilities over the next five years.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) recently announced a $9.9 million federal grant to invest in improvements to pre-employment transition services for students with disabilities who are preparing for life after high school. The Pathways to Partnership model demonstration project will improve the collaboration of the many organizations involved in helping high school students achieve their goals as they prepare for post-secondary education and employment.

This grant funding will be used to develop and pilot a new transition model that will provide students with more comprehensive transition planning services. The model will also identify new opportunities for teens to gain valuable work-based learning experiences and support the development of the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their post-graduation goals.

Governor Josh Shapiro has identified workforce development as a top priority of the Administration through an expansion of job training, career and technical education, and apprenticeship to develop and expand career pathways for underserved populations via partnerships between schools, employers, organizations, and the Commonwealth.

The Pathways to Partnership project will be developed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Departments of Labor & Industry, Education, Human Services, and stakeholders including Centers for Independent Living and the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network.

The grant will fund three critical components of the Pathways to Partnership project:Professional -Development, Capacity Building, and Training: This component will provide shared training opportunities for approximately 6,100 youth service professionals, including teachers, counselors, and rehabilitation counselors. The training will focus on best practices for transition planning and service delivery.
-Transition Discoveries: This component will implement a “train the trainer” model at intermediate units (IUs) and local education agencies (LEAs) to support the dissemination of curriculum that helps students with disabilities make transition-related choices from school to work. An estimated 1,914 additional students with disabilities statewide will benefit from this program by the end of the grant.
-Pathways to Partnership Work-Based Learning Experience (PTP-WBLE): This component will develop and pilot PTP-WBLE programs in six LEAs across Pennsylvania in two urban and three rural areas, and one cyber school. The PTP-WBLE programs will provide about 260 students with disabilities with valuable work-based learning experiences.

The Pathways to Partnership project is expected to benefit an estimated 2,200 additional students with disabilities by the time the model demonstration funding ends in 2028. 

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, please visit the website.

PA LEAs Receive Guidance on Military Dependent Children Transfers (October 31, 2023)

On October 16, 2023 Barbara Clemmer, Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission(MIC3) Commissioner, sent a PennLink titled Military Dependent Children Transfers to all LEAs. The message states that the average military student faces transition challenges more than twice during high school and most military children will attend six to nine different school systems from kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12). The Compact seeks to make transition easier for the children of military families, so they are afforded the same opportunities for educational success as other children and are not penalized or delayed in achieving their educational goals. The Compact defines children of military families as children enrolled in grades K-12 within the household of an active-duty member. An active-duty member must be in full-time duty status in the uniformed services and can be a member of the National Guard or Reserves.

While the Compact is not exhaustive in its coverage, it does address the key transition issues encountered by military families: eligibility, enrollment, placement, and graduation.

-Eligibility – Transitioning military children shall have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, if qualified, regardless of application deadlines.

-Enrollment – Special power of attorney or relative with guardianship can enroll a child. The Compact provides that transitioning military children may continue to attend the school in which they were enrolled and/or educational assessments. The receiving school is not barred from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement and continued enrollment.

-Graduation – A school district must waive specific courses required for graduation if similar course work has been satisfactorily completed in another school district or shall provide reasonable justification for denial. If a waiver is not granted to a student who would qualify to graduate from a school of the sending state, the school of the receiving state must provide an alternative means of acquiring the required course work so that graduation may occur on time.

Districts are encouraged to educate school personnel who assist with the transition of military students in and out of school on the Compact rules and regulations. Training (in-person and virtual) is available on request, at no cost, by the Commission. Monthly virtual Compact 101 training webinars are also available.

The Commission also offers free resources, toolkits, and other materials to build awareness on the Compact. For more information on or to schedule a training for your district or schools, email [email protected] or visit mic3.net.

Resources
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Letter of SupportU.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Letter of Support
Webinars

• Compact 101 Webinars on:
            -11/14 at 2:00pm ET, Registration link: https://csg-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUlcuitpzkrEtdT3AHrOy0n7HMvu_TR-0tj#/registration
            -12/12 at 2:00pm ET, Registration link: https://csg-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMof-2rqzouG9DLwnmE4ggznNmhGiw2ByVi#/registrati

MIC3 Training Toolkit for Schools

Additional information on the Compact can be found at: https://mic3.net/.