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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 21, 2020 01:04 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman and Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Education Package #2: Online support and learning for identified groups and age-appropriate pandemic instruction
Many of you have already signed onto the first package of bills put together by Senator Langerholc, Majority Chair of Senate Education Committee and Senator Dinniman, Minority Chair to address online learning, assessment and student supports (SB 1250, SB 1251, SB 1252).   

Schools this year are facing the most difficult time in the history of American education. As more and more schools adopt totally online or hybrid approaches, we need to make sure  these approaches result in meaningful learning.  It is pretty clear from the academic research that in-person learning is the best way for the vast majority of students. But when that is not possible, as during the current pandemic, it is important that we do everything possible to improve the learning potential of online learners.   If we do not act, we are on the cusp of losing a whole generation of students, many who are poor, non-English speakers and/or have an IEP.   These students, who are already academically behind, face the prospect of falling even further behind and we appreciate your support of this package.

Document #1

Introduced as SB1327

Description: Family Support Portals and Online Professional Development: Parents and caretakers are now being put into role of teachers and academic coaches. To offer support, LEAs will, with support of PDE and intermediate units, offer the following pathways of communication and online tools to families and teachers:  
  • Instruction techniques and access to resources to assist with online teaching/learning.  The bill will also require professional development in online teaching techniques be included in a district’s professional development plan submitted to PDE.
  • School contact information for teaching teachers and administrators and policy in place for timely feedback to students/families.
  • Encourage academic group discussion and support for families and students via online parent groups, as well as resources for older siblings to assist younger siblings.
  • Guidance for how daily lessons align with curriculum goal of coursework established by teacher.

Document #2

Introduced as SB1328

Description: Online Evaluation for Identified Groups: If district offers online learning to its students and identifies a demographic population of students performing below the average of total students enrolled  in same grade level, whether attending hybrid or online, the district may request PDE to assess and evaluate its online program.   In assessment and review, PDE may collaborate with intermediate units.

Document #3

Introduced as SB1329

Description: Pandemic Instruction:  Beginning with school year 2020-21, all public school students shall receive age-appropriate mandatory instruction in types of pandemics, their impact and aftermath.  Model curriculum instruction to be developed by PDE in conjunction with at least one organization knowledgeable in subject matter within 30 days.  Before age-appropriate curriculum is adopted, school districts should be sensitive and responsive to student fears and anxieties during this time.