Governor Wolf Touts Importance of Education for Pennsylvania’s Economy

December 12, 2017

Harrisburg, Pa. – Governor Tom Wolf joined the National Math and Science Initiative today at the state Capitol to recognize the impressive academic gains of several western Pennsylvania schools in the organization’s College Readiness Program, and he touted the state’s significant progress and investments in education to reverse years of cuts and prepare students with the skills for a rewarding career in the 21st century economy.

“My administration is laser-focused on improving Pennsylvania’s public education system by providing Schools That Teach so our children can learn now and earn more with meaningful careers,” said Governor Wolf.  “With historic education funding and an emphasis on STEM training, we are transforming education into the best possible system to ensure our students are college and career ready and can build the best life for themselves as we strengthen our economy.”

Over the past two and a half years, the Wolf Administration has made education the top priority from pre-kindergarten to college and career and technical education, including:

  • Historic investments in education at all level with an increase of nearly $840 million, reversing the devastating cuts made to schools in the past that caused teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and program cuts.
  • Enacted a fair funding formula that provides equitable, fair funding for all school districts.
  • Increased the number of children able to attend Pre-K Counts and Head Start by 48 percent.
  • Expanded enrollment in AP courses by 10 percent.
  • Placed the high school graduation rate above the national average at more than 86 percent.
  • Increased the number of career and technical education (CTE) students earning industry-recognized credentials by 33 percent and increased the number of credentials earned by students enrolled in CTE programs by 49 percent, since 2013-14.
  • Reduced the length of the PSSA tests by 20 percent, condensed the exam timeframe from three weeks to two weeks and shifted it to later in the school year for students in grades three through eight.
  • Emphasized the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in schools and communities. Advanced the state to third in the nation for the number of STEM ecosystems and four emerging ecosystems.
  • Developing a skilled workforce with the 4th largest number of STEM graduates and ranking in the top 10 for STEM jobs.
  • Building support to make computer science education available for all student by urging the state Board of Education to endorse rigorous K-12 computer science education standards in schools.
  • Launched “It’s On Us PA” – the first statewide campaign to address the crisis of sexual assault in schools and on college campuses.

Governor Wolf spoke at a news event where the National Math and Science Initiative announced the results of its College Readiness Program, which dramatically increases the number of students taking and passing Advanced Placement math, science, and English exams, and expands access to traditionally under-represented students.

The program is in 22 western Pennsylvania school districts and more than two dozen schools. All students achieving success in AP courses are three times more likely to graduate from college and African American and Hispanic students are four times more likely to graduate from college.

Among the highlights in the NMSI’s College Readiness Program in Pennsylvania were Trinity Area High School  in the Trinity Area School District which had a 186 percent increase in qualifying math, science and English scores, ranking first among the more than 5,000 U.S. schools with at least 50 qualifying scores in the 2015-16 school year, and Kiski Area High School in the Kiski Area School District which had a 185 percent increase, making it second in the country among those same 5,000 schools.

“Nationally, there is growing demand for educators to prepare students for a 21st Century workforce, and Pennsylvania is no different. We know that we must do everything we can to improve equity in education, and provide all students with the tools and skills they’ll need after graduation,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “This program helps students access the courses necessary for postsecondary success, and increases access to students who may be traditionally underserved.”

The NMSI provides training, support and resources to schools in the College Readiness Program.

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