Gov. Tom Corbett wants to provide vouchers for low-income students in poor-performing school districts and expand tax credits for businesses that fund scholarships as part of an education agenda he mapped out Tuesday.
Corbett also wants to establish a statewide entity to oversee charter schools in Pennsylvania and overhaul the system for evaluating teachers.
Corbett says poor students attending the worst-performing 5 percent of the state's schools would have access to "opportunity scholarships" to help them attend the public or private school of their choice.
Under the plan Corbett announced at Lincoln Charter School in York, student achievement would count along with classroom observation as part of the rating teachers receive. The current satisfactory/unsatisfactory standard would be replaced with a four-grade system of "distinguished," "proficient," "needs improvement" or "failing."
Here's a quick look at Gov. Tom Corbett's four-pronged education reform
VOUCHERS: Provide "opportunity scholarships" for low-income students who live within the attendance zones of the worst-performing 5 percent of public schools across Pennsylvania. The scholarships would provide tuition assistance for eligible students to attend a public or private school of their choice. The state Department of Education would administer the program.
TAX CREDITS: Expand the state Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, which provides credits to businesses that provide funding for scholarships and educational improvement organizations. Corbett said he wants to broaden the program beyond the nearly 40,000 students from low- and middle-income families that it currently serves.
CHARTER SCHOOLS: Establish a statewide entity to approve license and oversee charter schools in Pennsylvania. Change laws and regulations to make it easier to convert buildings into charter schools and improve the payment mechanism for the schools. Increase charter school accountability by requiring academic quality and compliance with state ethics and financial responsibility laws.
TEACHER EVALUATIONS: Replace the present system for rating teachers and administrators with a system that melds student performance with the traditional observation of classroom practices. Change the rating scale from the current satisfactory/unsatisfactory standard to a more nuanced system and separate rating systems would be developed for teachers, principals and education specialists.