Continuing Professional Education Planning
The Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Planner
The Continuing Professional Education Planner (PDF) was developed by PSEA to assist local school entities to engage in effective planning for continuing professional education as required by Act 48 of 1999. PSEA is pleased to provide its members with this resource and encourages its use by all members of the CPE Planning Committee. The Planner includes information on state policy that affects Act 48, PSEA's original analysis, tips and tools for local implementation, as well as additional resources pertinent to professional development.
Professional Education Plan Guidelines
The new Act 48 Professional Education Plan Guidelines are available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website, accompanied by a Question and Answer document. The guidelines are intended to guide the plans developed in school districts. The approved provider guidelines, by which PSEA must abide, are separate. PDE has incorporated PSEA’s suggestions into both sets of guidelines.
The guidelines can be found on PDE’s website.
Below is a list of some of the major changes we were able to obtain:
- Clarification that professional development should meet the education needs of the school district and professional employees, not just student needs.
- Special Education teachers are only encouraged, rather than required, to obtain half of their Act 48 hours in a content area.
- The language that required all teachers certified in early childhood, elementary or secondary education (including special education) to obtain at least half of their Act 48 hours in coursework enhancing their ability to teach diverse learners now states that they should participate in this type of professional development (without a required number of hours).
- New language permitting guidance counselors to receive Act 48 hours for participating in team planning activities with other professional employees when the other employees are receiving Act 48 credit.
- Clarification that a school’s professional development committee can obtain input from, but is not required to give voting status to, early childhood educators, community partners, and representatives from tutoring programs.
- PDE added several examples of “acceptable activities” that were suggested by PSEA.
- Modification of the definition of “program” to indicate that programs are recommended (not required) to be 3.5 hours in length.
- Language indicating that Continuing Educational Units for the purpose of maintaining licensure will satisfy Act 48 requirements.
Acceptable v. Unacceptable Hours
PDE has indicated some very specific activities that will NOT be acceptable for Act 48 hours. The guidelines include a comprehensive list of acceptable and unacceptable activities to guide Act 48 Committees. Some examples of unacceptable activities include:
- union related bargaining behavior studies;
- superintendent meetings;
- equipment expositions;
- undefined off-site retreats;
- tours of school buildings, and;
- career day monitoring.
Do The Hours I’ve Already Accumulated Still Count?
Yes. The new guidelines will not have any impact on an individual's five-year cycle. Once the hours are accumulated under an approved plan, they count. Once the school’s plan is expected to conform to the new guidelines all future activities and programs approved by the school must meet the guidelines. It is possible that during an individual’s five-year Act 48 cycle there will be hours that were accepted during one year that will not be acceptable the next year. For example, the “career day monitoring” that might have been acceptable last year in your school will not be acceptable after your school needs to conform to the new guidelines. You will not lose the hours you accumulated when they were acceptable.
When Do The Changes Take Effect?
School districts in Pennsylvania have been divided into three “phases” for submission of professional development plans so that the department’s review of the plans is manageable. Phase 2 and 3 districts are expected to submit their plans under the new guidelines and as scheduled. Here is what the department says about Phase 1 districts:
“The Professional Education Committee needs to become familiar with the acceptable and unacceptable activities and, when planning the following year’s activities, begin to eliminate or redefine the focus of those activities that are unacceptable. The Committee will use the new Guidelines as guidance until the Phase I new Professional Education Plan is submitted in 2009.”
To protect our members, PSEA recommends that all Act 48 committees adopt the guidelines as soon as possible.
If you have any questions, please contact Bernie Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-944-7732, x7102) in PSEA’s Education Services Division.