Partners Post: October 2018

High-stakes testing update: no more one-size-fits-all approach

Pennsylvania's students, parents, and educators no longer have to worry about Keystone Exams being the single factor determining high school graduation. Students will have more options to demonstrate their academic achievements.

Governor Wolf recently signed Act 158, a bipartisan effort that provides students with new alternate pathways to demonstrate postsecondary readiness. 

The legislation was sponsored by state Senator Tom McGarrigle, who knew that students need a more thoughtful approach to high-stakes graduation testing and graduation requirements.

"Preparation for 21st century success cannot be measured just by performance on high stakes tests," Gov. Wolf said.

Dolores McCracken, president of PSEA said," We commend Sen. McGarrigle for rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to something as important as a high school diploma. We are grateful that Senator McGarrigle and Governor Wolf have been leaders and champions on this issue."  

The plan gives school districts commonsense options for assessing student performance that don't rely as heavily on standardized tests. The law allows students not scoring proficient on the Keystones to fulfill graduation requirements by:

  • Meeting or exceeding a composite score across Keystone exams in algebra I, biology, and literature, and demonstrating at least "basic" performance on each of the three exams.
  • Meeting or exceeding local grade requirements in subjects tested by the Keystone exams and completing a subject-specific advanced placement, international baccalaureate, or armed services vocational aptitude test, gaining acceptance in a registered apprenticeship program, or attaining a career readiness certificate.
  • Meeting or exceeding local grade requirements in subjects tested by the Keystone exams and presenting at least three pieces of evidence from the student's career portfolio, which is required for federal accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Vote for public education on Nov. 6

On Nov. 6, Pennsylvania voters will choose a governor, a U.S. senator, 18 U.S. House members, 203 state representatives, and 25 state senators.

This is our opportunity to elect pro-public education candidates.

Polls are open from 7-8 p.m. By taking the time to vote, you can help lay the foundation for strong public schools for years to come..

3 Resources to help talk to children after tragedies

Here are some resources to help caring adults who want to talk to their children about tragedies like the mass shooting in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood last weekend:

  • When your child is feeling anxious - Reassure your child but don't deny the feeling. Caring adults should listen and explain that they will help the child work through their anxiety. It's also important to set a routine and stick to it as much as possible. See Partners' anxiety resource for more.
  • Crisis Text Line - Crisis Text Line offers free 24/7 support to people in crisis, helping people with issues ranging from eating disorders to family crises to suicide and depression. Just text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained crisis counselor.
  • The Sandy Hook Promise urges parents and caring adults to teach the children in their lives to be "better bystanders" and to "say something" when they get wind of threats. The group's "Say Something" campaign offers resources to help adults have conversations with the teens and preteens in their lives. These potentially lifesaving conversations can teach young people to:
    • Recognize the signs and signals of potential threats;
    • Take action with that information; and
    • Know that when they "Say Something," they save lives.

Online resource to prevent bullying

Students learn best and achieve their full potential when they feel safe and secure at school, on the bus, and at home. Bullying is not only a threat to the safety and well-being of our children; it's a threat to their education as well. Research shows when school staff, parents, guardians or other adults respond promptly and consistently to bullying behavior that it helps prevent this behavior over time. October is Bullying Prevention Month, a good time to review PA's Bullying Prevention Toolkit.

Despite the growing attention bullying has received, many children remain reluctant to discuss it with adults. Therefore, it's important to recognize the warning signs of bullying and to make sure students have the tools they need to communicate with adults about it.

The Center for Safe Schools and the Highmark Foundation partnered to develop an online tool that will help parents, educators and others working with youth - including health care professionals, coaches and afterschool staff - prevent bullying and support children affected by it. And October happens to be Bullying Prevention Month so a great time to review these resources.


Educators raise funds to lay wreaths on veterans’ graves

Educators in South Central PA are collecting money to pay for wreaths for gravesites of those interred at our national cemeteries, as part of the Wreaths Across America program.

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day (Dec. 15, 2018), PA educators join other volunteers in wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,400 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. PA educators lay wreaths at the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. The mission of Wreaths Across America is to "REMEMBER our fallen U.S. veterans. HONOR those who serve. TEACH your children the value of freedom".

Contribute here, and PSEA educators will lay the wreaths for you. 

Or contribute through the national site

Partner Benefits Spotlight: Save on the family holiday vacation

"Celebrate the Season" Save up to $60.00 on tickets for Walt Disney World®   

It's like stepping right into a dream. The four Walt Disney World® Theme Parks make the real world seem far away, and make-believe as real as the smile on your face.

Experience storybook wonder as favorite Disney classics come to life at Magic Kingdom® Park. Discover big fun and cultures from around the globe at Epcot®. Create your own adventure and explore the realm of creatures who inhabit our world...and our Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. And immerse yourself in the world of movies, music and shows at Disney's Hollywood Studios®.

Wherever you go, the only limit to the fun is your imagination. Prepare to be awed, inspired, thrilled and enchanted. From fantasy and discovery, to spotlights and roaring adventure, the magic of Walt Disney World Theme Parks will come alive all around you.

Disney Fast Pass+ service lets you reserve access to select Disney Fast Pass attractions and entertainment experiences before you even leave home, so you can relax and enjoy every moment.

Learn More

As a part of Partners for Public Education, you can save money on a variety of products and services. Go to the ACCESS website and log in (or create an account using your Partners' membership number). Then click on the "Local" menu tab along the top, enter your home address, and find savings on dining, shopping, and more right in your backyard.


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