2017 School Board Candidate Questionnaire

Once again this year, in lieu of a Meet the Candidates night for school board directors, WCASD PTOC voted to compile a candidate questionnaire.   The questionnaire was sent to all school board director candidates on September 29 with a deadline to complete by October 11 (late responses will be posted as received).

The guidelines of PTOC , as well as the by-laws of all  WCASD PTOs/HSAs, prohibit partisan activity.  Thus, we respectfully requested of all candidates that they refrain from  identifying themselves as a  candidate from a particular party or slate.  Just as our Meet the Candidates forums did in the past,  this questionnaire  serves to educate our school communities on all candidates in the upcoming election, NOT endorse.

Responses are published as received:  nothing, including typos, was altered.

To all of our candidates, we thank you for your willingness to serve the WCASD as school board director and wish you the best of luck on November 7!

What region am I? 

Region 1

Joyce Chester

Region 2

Brian Gallen

Region 3

Chuck Linn

Chris McCune

Randell Spackman

To find your polling place and view sample ballots, visit Chester County Voter Services: http://www.chesco.org/election

PA Department of Education Releases 2017 PSSA and Keystone scores

From PDE:

2017 PSSA: Scores in English Language Arts and mathematics saw slight increases over last year, with consistent gains in English Language Arts for each of the past three years among 3rd grade scores across all subgroups.

2017 Keystone Exams: For first-time test-takers, scores  remained relatively flat over last year’s scores, but there was a noticeable reduction in retests administered. In Algebra I, this equates to nearly 7,000 fewer retests, nearly 6,000 fewer in Biology, and nearly 3,000 fewer in Literature. Students’ best scores are “banked” and reported in statewide data when the student is in 11th grade. Banked grade 11 scores showed a decrease in all three subject areas.

PSSA and Keystone Exams school and state level data available here

A report and analysis of WCASD scores was presented at September’s WCASD School Board Education Committee meeting: WCASD 2017 PSSA Keystone

PDE Submits Final Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan to US Department of Education

On September 18, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) submitted the completed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan to the US Department of Education.   The plan, along with the over 400 public comments submitted, can be viewed  here.

While the state claims a victory by reducing the amount of time for PSSA testing in grades 3-8, the state’s system of standardized assessments does not change under ESSA.  The PSSAs and Keystone Exams remain in use for federal accountability.  In addition, the state has not sought an exemption to eliminate the double-testing in 8th grade (Keystone Algebra 1 and PSSA).

From PDE: “Based on feedback from stakeholders as well as consultation with national content experts, Pennsylvania proposes to continue using the PSSAs and Keystones for purposes of federal accountability. These assessments are well-aligned with the state’s college and career ready standards, and ensure consistent learning targets for Pennsylvania students. Under the plan, PDE has identified ways to reduce the testing time for PSSAs in English language arts and Mathematics.”

While most major education organizations (such as PSEA and PSBA) are applauding the plan, some legislators, including chairs of both House and Senate Education Committees, do not feel the plan has explored all possibilities for truly reforming education in the state.  Read more at:

Education Committee Lawmakers Unhappy with ESSA Plan

Improving Struggling Schools is Education Department’s Highest Priority





PDE Recommends Options to Replace Keystone Exams Graduation Requirement

Per provisions of Act 1 of 2016 (SB 880), the PA Department of Education released its report regarding high school graduation requirements. PDE recommends four options to replace the mandate for students to pass Keystone Exams:
Option 1: Achieve an identified composite score, based on the combined performance across all three Keystone exams
Option 2: Achieve equivalent score(s) in standards-based subject matter content area(s) on one of the alternate assessments approved by PDE (such as an SAT, PSAT, ACT, AP and/or IB exam)
Option 3: For students who are identified as Career and Technical Education Concentrators, demonstrate evidence of readiness for postsecondary success through National Occupancy Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI)/National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) Skills assessments or Competency Certificates
Option 4: Demonstrate competency in standards-based subject matter content through course grades or assessments plus evidence related to postsecondary plans that demonstrate readiness to meaningfully engage in those plans.

Further, the Department recommends the discontinuance of project-based assessments and the ability for schools to decide if they want to include Keystone Exam scores on student transcripts.

View full report: PDE Act 1 Report

PA Department of Education Releases Implementation Guidelines for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

On April 12, PA Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera provided testimony to both House and Senate Education Committees on the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in PA (highlights of Secretary Rivera’s ESSATestimony)

The April hearing was the second joint Education Committee hearing concerning ESSA. The first, held on March 14, featured Lee Posey, Education Federal Affairs Counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), who provided an overview of Pennsylvania’s responsibilities under the new federal law.

For a list of individuals participating in workgroups, view: ESSA Work Group Rosters

Governor Wolf Allows 15-16 Budget to Pass, Will Veto Fiscal Code

This week, Governor Tom Wolf announced that he would let the Republican-sponsored 2015-2016 budget, House Bill 1801, become law without his signature, stating  “This will allow for funding to go out to schools and other services in the short term, but we still face enormous problems that this budget does not even pretend to address.”

The bill will become effective on March 27.  The governor also indicated his intention to veto House Bill 1327, companion legislation to amend the Fiscal Code to provide for distribution of the 2015-16 basic education subsidy funds under a new funding formula and address PlanCon reimbursement for school construction projects.  With no Fiscal code,  the money appropriated under House Bill 1801 will be directed out in a manner and time determined by the administration. It is reported that schools will begin receiving funds in the coming weeks.

The PA House and Senate reconvene on Monday, April 4th.

For more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/wolf-to-allow-republican-budget-to-become-law-warns-of-looming-crisis/



2016-17 Proposed PA Education Budget

Below are some education highlights from Governor Wolf’s  2016-17 budget address (click  here for details):

Basic Education

  • $200 million (3.28%) increase above the assumed $377 million increase in 2015-16, for a total of $6.3 billion to be distributed using the funding formula created by the Basic Education Funding Commission.

Special Education

  • $50 million (4.56%) increase in addition to the assumed $50 million increase in 2015-16, for a total of $1.146 billion (details on Special Education Funding formula and district allotments here).

Career and Technical Education

  • $15 million in additional support for the establishment and expansion of high-quality CTE programs. Includes $5 million for CTE equipment grants to support updating or purchasing new equipment used in the training of students.

Career Counselors

  • $8 million to help school districts offer college and career counseling in middle and high schools.


  • Funding for state and federal testing programs receives a 1.8% increase for a total of $59.3 million.

Teacher Professional Development

  • Level funded at $7.46 million.

Early Childhood

  • $60 million (30.5%) increase for early childhood programs.
  • Additional $50 million for Pre-K Counts for a total of $197.2 million.
  • $10 million more for a total of $59.1 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.

The budget also proposes the following accountability initiatives:

  • Current School Performance Profile (SPP) system will be revised to take into account student growth, opportunities for advanced study, industry benchmarks, and student behaviors, like attendance, that impact school success and will show less reliance on test scores.
  • PA Department of Education (PDE) will devote full-time resources and supports to address the needs of the state’s persistently low-performing schools and establish an Office of School Improvement (OSI).
  • Implements the recommendations of the Special Education Funding Commission by adjusting charter school reimbursements to better reflect actual costs of educating students with special needs. This change will be phased in over the next three years and result in more than $180 million in savings to school districts.
  • Implements funding changes for cyber charter schools that would save $50 million annually for school districts across the state.
  • Eliminates the state portion of the reimbursement to charter schools for employer retirement contribution costs (makes no changes to the requirement for school districts to pay 100% of these costs for charters).
  • Includes a requirement for an annual reconciliation where charter and cyber charter schools will refund money to their sending school districts if the charter school’s audited expenditures are less than its tuition revenue.

All components of 2016-17 budget can be viewed at: http://www.budget.pa.gov/PublicationsAndReports/CommonwealthBudget/Pages/2016-17-Proposed-Budget-Legislation.aspx#.VrqTB1grJ1g

Act 1 of 2016: Two-Year Delay of Keystone Exams as Graduation Requirements

On February 3,  Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 880, now officially Act 1 of 2016.   The law delays the graduation requirement associated with the Keystone Exams for two years until the 2018-19 school year.In addition to delaying the use of Keystone exams as a graduation requirement, the legislation also requires the Department of Education to investigate alternative methods for students to demonstrate proficiency for graduation beyond just the use of the Keystone Exams and present a report of its findings within six months to the majority and minority chairmen of the House and Senate Education Committees.
Press Release: http://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/education-Details.aspx?newsid=209

Keystone Delay Legislation To Be Signed By Governor

On January 20, SB 880 once again passed the Senate on concurrence.   Thanks to everyone for writing letters and making phone calls!!! The bill,which delays the use of Keystone Exams as graduation requirements for two years also tasks the PA Department of Education (within 6 months) with re-evaluating the use of the assessments going forward. The bill now goes to Governor Wolf, who has committed to signing into law.

Also of note this week,  Senator Ryan Aument officially replaced former Senator Dominic Pileggi (and now Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge) on the Senate Education Committee.


January 2016 Update on SB 880, Legislation to Delay Keystone Exams as Graduation Requirements

SB 880,  legislation to delay the Keystone Exams as graduation requirements for 2 years, is finally on the agenda for a Senate Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday, 1/19 (the meeting is “off the floor” so will most likely not be available for viewing). The bill has been in that Committee since an amended version passed the House late last year. And since it was amended by the House, it will need to go back to the Senate for “concurrence” after coming out of the Rules Committee (most are confident the bill will leave Committee on Tuesday). The Senate is scheduled to be in voting session Tuesday 1/19 and Wednesday 1/20 so be sure to encourage Senator Corman (Majority Chair of Senate Rules/Majority Leader responsible for calling the bill for a Senate vote) to finally move this bill out of the hands of the Legislature and send to the Governor for signing. Links to contact Senator Corman and information on SB 880’s journey can be found at: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/cteeInfo/Index.cfm?Code=17&CteeBody=S