On November 23,1999 Governor Ridge signed Act 48 of 1999, enacting new requirements for professional education (formerly professional development) plans. The legislation also requires that all certified educators complete six college credits, six credits of continuing professional education courses, 180 clock hours of continuing professional education, or any combination of collegiate studies, continuing professional education courses or learning experiences equivalent to 180 hours every five years.
For the purposes of calculating hours and credits, one credit of collegiate studies or continuing professional education courses is equivalent to 30 hours of continuing professional education. The professional education requirements take effect July 1, 2000 for all certified educators and will support achievement of the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, the Chapter 49 Teacher Certification Standards, and high standards for all educators and student. The information below has been researched directly from the Pennsylvania Department of Educations Act 48-Professional Development Plan.
The Act 48 plan requires that upon expiration of an existing professional development plan, each school entity (district, intermediate unit (Ill), area-vocational-technical school (AVTS), joint school district, charter school, the Scotland School for Veterans Children and the Scranton School for the Deaf) submit a three-year professional education plan to the Department of Education for approval. Approved schools for special education are also required to comply with Act 48 by the Bureau of Special Education. This plan is based on national standards, state standards and the individual needs of the district.
Professional education plans from IUs, approved schools for special education and state-owned schools are submitted by June 30 in two phases. School district and AVTS professional education plans are due with a strategic plan by September 30 in the assigned phase. Private schools may also submit a professional education plan for approval so they can be an approved professional education provider. This, however, is an option to private schools and is not mandated by the state because they do not receive federal funding in the way that public schools do so. Wallenpaupack Area School District is currently in phase one of the strategic plan.
The plan is prepared to help school entities and private schools prepare professional education plans that meet the requirements of Act 48. It also establishes criteria for continuing professional education experiences. Certified professional educators not employed by a school entity that has a professional education plan must independently seek professional education opportunities from approved providers and/or colleges and universities. This would include private schools and certain charter organizations. As a reference and for information on approved providers see the Act 48 Continuing Professional Education Approved Provider Guidelines.
Increasing student achievement and achieving the Pennsylvania academic standards will require professional education for all educators that changes practice, addresses organizational goals, and provides sufficient support over time to master new skills. Therefore, professional education plans must strike a balance between content, pedagogy and other skills needed and include evidence that they meet the following professional education criteria. This content, however, should not be too specific. It must allow for opportunity to grow from within the boundaries, not limited to specific statements, categories and conditions.