Public education in Pennsylvania
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- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Studies and reports
- 9 School districts
- 10 Education ballot measures
- 11 Recent news
- 12 See also
- 13 References
List of school districts in Pennsylvania
Public education in Pennsylvania
School board elections portal
|“||The mission of the department is to academically prepare children and adults to succeed as productive citizens. The department seeks to ensure that the technical support, resources and opportunities are in place for all students, whether children or adults, to receive a high quality education.||”|
The Secretary of Education is the chief administrative official of the state Department of Education. The Secretary of Education is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Senate. The current officeholder is Carolyn Dumaresq.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Education is the state's education policymaking body. The board is composed of 21 members, making it the nation's largest such board. Of the board's 21 members, 17 are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The remaining four members are members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly (the majority and minority chairs of the House and Senate education committees). The Secretary of Education serves as a non-voting member of the board.
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education adopted the standards on July 2, 2010. Full implementation took place during the 2013-2014 academic year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Pennsylvania compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Pennsylvania as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Pennsylvania's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. students||997||0.06%||0.42%|
|Two or more||33,685||1.90%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A plurality of students in Pennsylvania attend suburban schools. Approximately 65 percent of the state's students attend city or suburban schools, compared to approximately 35 percent who attend rural or town schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Maryland, New York, and Ohio), Pennsylvania has the highest share of eighth grade students who scored at or above proficient in math.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Pennsylvania was lower than the national average at 2.2 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 2.8 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Pennsylvania
School choice options in Pennsylvania include: charter schools, school choice tax incentive programs, an intra-district open enrollment policy and online learning programs. In addition, about 13.47 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: Pennsylvania state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 18.4 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down one percentage point, or 5.2 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 19.4 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Pennsylvania totaled approximately $27.2 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Pennsylvania totaled approximately $27.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Pennsylvania, the average salary decreased by 3.8 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Pennsylvania ranked fourth overall, or "strongest," which was in the first of five tiers.
Studies and reports
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Pennsylvania received a score of 82.6, or a B average in the "chance for success" category. This was above the national average. Except for the "chance for success" category, the state's highest score was in "school finance" at 82.0, or a B- average. The lowest score was in "the teaching profession" at 74.6, or a C average. Pennsylvania had the lowest score for "standards, assessments and accountability" when compared to neighboring states. The chart below displays the scores of Pennsylvania and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Pennsylvania||82.6 (B)||75.6 (C)||77.7 (C+)||74.6 (C)||82.0 (B-)||78.6 (C+)|
|Maryland||85.9 (B)||83.1 (B)||88.3 (B+)||83.7 (B)||85.2 (B)||96.4 (A)|
|New York||81.0 (B-)||70.2 (C-)||92.0 (A-)||81.5 (B-)||87.2 (B+)||85.7 (B)|
|Ohio||78.6 (C+)||71.3 (C-)||96.1 (A)||76.4 (C)||77.2 (C+)||78.6 (C+)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
- See also: School board elections portal
Pennsylvania divides its school districts into five classes: first class, first class A, second class, third class and fourth class. These classes are based off of the number of inhabitants in the school district, with the first class containing 1,000,000 inhabitants or more and the fourth class containing less than 5,000 inhabitants.
- See also: List of school districts in Pennsylvania
School board composition
School board members in Pennsylvania can either be elected or appointed. School board members are appointed if the school district they govern has 250,000 or more inhabitants. Those school boards have 15 members. School board members that govern school districts with less than 250,000 inhabitants are elected and have nine members serving four-year terms. Elections are staggered so that four members are up for re-election one election year and five are up for re-election the next. Elections for school board members can be at-large, by region or by a combination of the two.
Pennsylvania does not impose statewide term limits on school boards.
Here are several quick facts about Pennsylvania's school board elections in 2015:
- The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Pittsburgh School District with 26,653 K-12 students.
- The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Parkland School District with 9,285 K-12 students.
- Thirteen districts are tied for the most seats on the ballot in 2015 with five seats up for election in each.
- Scranton School District has the fewest seats on the ballot in 2015 with three seats up for election.
The districts listed below served 241,071 K-12 students during the 2010-2011 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district names for more information on the district and its school board elections.
|2015 Pennsylvania School Board Elections|
|District||Date||Seats up for election||Total board seats||Student enrollment|
|Allentown City School District||11/3/2015||5||9||17,560|
|Bethlehem Area School District||11/3/2015||4||9||14,427|
|Central Bucks School District||11/3/2015||5||9||20,081|
|Central Dauphin School District||11/3/2015||5||9||10,831|
|Council Rock School District||11/3/2015||5||9||11,643|
|Downingtown Area School District||11/3/2015||5||9||11,779|
|Erie City School District||11/3/2015||4||9||12,324|
|Hazleton Area School District||11/3/2015||5||9||10,337|
|Lancaster School District||11/3/2015||5||9||10,851|
|North Penn School District||11/3/2015||5||9||12,649|
|Parkland School District||11/3/2015||5||9||9,285|
|Pennsbury School District||11/3/2015||5||9||10,574|
|Pittsburgh School District||11/3/2015||4||9||26,653|
|Pocono Mountain School District||11/3/2015||4||9||10,176|
|Reading School District||11/3/2015||5||9||18,060|
|Scranton School District||11/3/2015||3||7||9,798|
|Upper Darby School District||11/3/2015||5||9||12,216|
|West Chester Area School District||11/3/2015||5||9||11,827|
Path to the ballot
In order to qualify as a school board candidate in Pennsylvania, an individual must:
- Be a Pennsylvania citizen.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a resident of the school district the candidate seeks to represent for at least one year before the election.
- Not be employed by the school district the candidate seeks to represent.
To get on the ballot, a school board candidate must file a petition signed by qualified voters of the candidate's political party with the county board of election and school board secretary. If a candidate wishes to appear on more than one party's ballot in the primary election, he or she may have a registered member of that party circulate a second petition to collect the signatures. If a candidate does this and wins both primaries, he or she will appear on both party's ballots at the general election.
School board candidates in Pennsylvania must submit a statement of financial interest for the previous calendar year to their local school district, the county board of elections and the school board secretary. Incumbent school board members who are not up for election must also file a statement of financial interest with the school district by May 1 each year. Candidates who intend to receive or spend more than $250 for their campaigns must file expense reports by the second Friday before the primary election with the county board of elections. If candidates do not intend to receive or spend more than $250, they must file an affidavit to that effect with their nominating petitions.
Education ballot measures
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Pennsylvania + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Pennsylvania state budget and finances
- Pennsylvania Department of Education
- List of school districts in Pennsylvania
- School choice in Pennsylvania
- Charter schools in Pennsylvania
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Pennsylvania Department of Education, "About PDE," accessed June 4, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Pennsylvania Department of Education, "About Secretary Dumaresq," accessed June 4, 2014
- Pennsylvania Department of Education, "Pennsylvania State Board of Education," accessed June 4, 2014
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed June 12, 2014
- Pennsylvania Department of Education, "PA Core Standards Implementation," accessed June 17, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- United States Census Bureau, "Pennsylvania," accessed July 10, 2014
- American School & University, "Largest school districts in Pennsylvania, 2011-12," accessed July 10, 2014
- Community Matters, "2014 Pennsylvania School District Rankings based on PSSA scores are in," April 13, 2014
- OpenPAgov.org, "Spending per Student - Adjusted for Inflation, 2012-2013," accessed July 10, 2014
- Pennsylvania School Boards Association, "How to Run for School Board," accessed July 10, 2014
- National School Boards Association, "Survey of the State School Boards Associations on Term Limits for Local Board Members," accessed July 10, 2014
State of Pennsylvania
|State executive offices||
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