Collins updates board on professional development

Joe Collins, St. Marys Area School District Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, presented an update on various school programs at the latest school board meeting.Under professional development, Collins provided board members with a listing of all Act 48 credited activities offered by the district. Act 48 was established in 1999 and requires anyone holding a Pennsylvania professional educator’s certificate to complete continuing education requirements every five years in order to maintain their certificate as active. The requirements include obtaining six college credits, six Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved inservice credits or 180 continuing education hours, or any combination of those, within a five-year span. Each college credit is equal to 30 hours.According to Collins, the district sets up a five-year plan to help teachers meet the criteria.Among the Act 48 credits offered through the district are those pertaining to Promethian Boards and new technology such as the software systems Moodle and Success Maker.Collins and SMAHS vice-principal Joe Schlimm also worked with elementary teachers in learning crisis management.“We had our own in-house experts for many of our Act 80 days. We utilize our expertise because we know where we want to go,” Collins said. “Act 80 days went very well.”He noted that as of the beginning of December, district staff have accumulated 1,744 Act 48 credit hours.Additionally, all educators employed as school and system leaders are required to obtain their Act 48 credits under the Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership (PIL) programs, which must be offered or approved through PDE. This is referred to as Act 45, passed by the state in 2007.Bennetts Valley and Fox Township Elementary schools were chosen to undergo a risk assessment. The schools were randomly chosen. The tests are a way of determining how well the U.S. education system is doing and will be taken by the fourth grade classes.Collins then discussed the standardized testing taking place within the district. In May, 104 eighth graders and one seventh grader took the Algebra I test. The test counts for their graduation requirement testing. Between 40-45 ninth grade students will be taking the biology portion of the Keystone Exams.“This is so we can see what the assessment is like,” Collins said. “The Keystones only start with this year’s eighth grade class.”Ninth grade students will field-test the English composition portion of the tests in order to see what types of questions are being asked of students, the standards covered in the tests and the general make-up of them.“The Algebra I test at the beginning of the year was an eye-opener,” Collins added.For more on this story, see the Dec. 9 edition of The Daily Press.