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Great Public Schools Criteria for Pennsylvania

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Pennsylvania.

Readiness to Learn


Full-day Kindergarten:

Quality Conditions

Class Size.
Legal Basis: PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 25-2599.2. Enacted 2003.
The state of Pennsylvania offers grants to districts for various allowable uses like the establishment, maintenance or expansion of a class size reduction program. These programs are authorized to appoint or assign a minimum of one teacher for every 17 students or two teachers for every 35 students enrolled in a kindergarten, first, second, or third grade classroom.

Current Average Elementary School Class Size: 22.2

School Safety. The Pennsylvania Department of Education distributes grants for building security, alternative education and violence prevention. On the local level, Quakertown, Pennsylvania, residents agreed to increase property taxes, partially to fund violence prevention programs.


24 P.S. § 25-2595, 24 P.S. § 2-290.1, 24 P.S. § 17-1706-B,
24 P.S. § 17-1716-B
Act 46 of 1998 (1998 Regular Session)
Senate Bill  652 (2000 Regular Session)

Pennsylvania does not reward but it sanctions districts on the basis of performance. State sanctions on districts include written warning, offer of technical assistance and more funding, requirement that either the district or another entity create and implement a plan for improvement, placement on probation, or state take-over of the school district.

Pennsylvania  rewards but does not sanction schools on the basis of performance. Rewards to schools are monetary bonuses for both absolute and improved performance.

Districts in Pennsylvania with a high number of low-performing schools are designated as "education empowerment districts." In these districts, an improvement plan is developed.  Based on this plan, the local school board may do any of the following interventions:

This policy was enacted as part of the state accountability system that was in place prior to the enactment of NCLB and appears to be unrelated to NCLB’s AYP timeline. [17-1701-B to 17-1716-B]

NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps

The Pennsylvania State Education Association plans to use its NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps to convene two PSEA governance committees to develop an action plan based on the recommendations of the 2006 Action Group and provide professional development to PSEA members based on those recommendations. They plan to research and distribute information about locals that have reduced student achievement gaps, and begin discussions with other stakeholders about closing achievement gaps.