School accountability bill clears committee hurdle

    Pennsylvania lawmakers want to set up benchmarks for low performing schools to try to reach. The state Senate Education Committee has OK’d a bill renewing and expanding Pennsylvania’s school accountability law.

    Pennsylvania lawmakers want to set up benchmarks for low performing schools to try to reach. The state Senate Education Committee has OK’d a bill renewing and expanding Pennsylvania’s school accountability law.

    The panel voted 10-1 to set up a four-tier system for underperforming school districts, with gradually increasing oversight levels.

    Chairman Jeffrey Piccola, a Dauphin County Republican, explains districts with poor test scores would need to implement improvement plans.

    “For example, if attendance is a problem, the improvement plan must address the issue of attendance, and how do you improve attendance,” says Piccola. “If parental involvement – the lack of parental involvement – is a problem, the improvement plans must address that.”

    The bill would hand control of “level three” districts – the worst, after “warning status,” and levels one and two – to a state education board appointed by the Governor and Senate.

    Right now, only the Harrisburg and Chester Upland School Districts fall into that category, which is reserved for districts that have failed to meet performance targets for nine or more years.

    Parents in “level three” districts would also have the right to petition the school board to shut down a school, or convert it to a charter.

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