Posts by ECMacDonald

Good News Regarding PA Reading Specialist Certification!

Posted by on Feb 14, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

1newsOn February 10, 2015 PDE responded formally to our letters through email notification that stated:

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is continuing to review the policy that permitted adding the Reading Specialist certificate via testing. To ensure that decisions made are in the best interest  
of our students and meet their educational needs, we will immediately implement a moratorium and only accept add-on applications from those who registered for the Reading Specialist Praxis II examination prior to February 12, 2015. PDE will certify individuals who submit a  
complete application in TIMS by June 30,2015.
This means it is no longer necessary to send an email and/or hard copy letter to the incoming Secretary of Education, Pedro A. Rivera. KSRA is grateful for the steps taken by PDE and we are interested in continued collaboration with the incoming Secretary and his team.  KSRA is committed to keeping you informed as further exchanges take place with PDE. If the ultimate resolution is not satisfactory, then mounting additional letter writing campaigns may be warranted.
As always, feel free to call or email with questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued support.
Julie B. Wise, KSRA President,,717-873-3900

Mildred E. Henning, KSRA Governmental Relations,  610-428-9496

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Important Updated Information Regarding Reading Specialist Certification in PA

Posted by on Feb 5, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Important Updated Information Regarding Reading Specialist Certification in PA
In mid-December the KSRA leadership met with Dr. Carolyn Dumaresq, 2014 Acting Secretary of Education, to express our opposition to a Testing Add-On policy for PA Reading Specialist Certificate K -12 that Dr. Dumaresq had approved in November 2014.

On January 14, 2015, PDE responded with an adjustment to the certification policy that restricts the ability to add on the Reading Specialist certificate by testing to those certificates providing considerable preparation in reading.

While this is a step in the right direction, we continue to oppose this policy as it does not include supervised field experiences and a clinical practicum. Today, Thursday, February 5, 2015, KSRA sent an email and a  hard copy letter addressed to the new Secretary of Education, Pedro A. Rivera, requesting a meeting to share our concerns about theaction taken by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) during the recent gubernatorial transition.

We request everyone who opposes this policy to send an email and hard copy letter to the new Secretary of Education, Pedro A. Rivera, For your convenience, and to give a consistent message, we have sample letters for your personal use:
1. KSRA Response to PDE February 5, 2015 click here
2. Teacher/School district sample letter, click here
3. University or college sample letter, click here
4. Memo from PDE to school districts, click here

Our plans for a postcard campaign:

If a positive outcome is not forthcoming, our next step is to launch a postcard campaign during our June Leadership Workshop.  This will provide a visual, no-need-to-open, easy to sign format that will be available to you at the June meeting.

As always, feel free to call or email with questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued support.


Julie B. Wise, M.Ed., KSRA President,, 717-873-3900

Mildred E. Henning, M.Ed., KSRA Chairperson, Government Relations,     610-428-9496

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Families and Reading Materials Now Available

Posted by on Jan 31, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

1bookAs we endure the cold months of winter, the hope of spring may help to get us through. Now is the time to begin to prepare for Families and Reading Month this April. The 2015 materials are now available. Click here to access them!

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Proposed KSRA Bylaws Changes

Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Proposed KSRA Bylaws Changes

When the Board of Directors met in September, Marcie Craig Post, IRA’s Executive Director, made a presentation to the Board about the roles and responsibilities of a Board of Directors. After the presentation, the Board broke into small groups to discuss the implications of this presentation for KSRA. A subsequent vote authorized the work on a new set of Bylaws for the Keystone State Reading Association.

Over the past several months, Jane Helman and I, with consultations from Eleanor Gensemer and others in KSRA and in discussions with Marcie Craig Post and utilizing the template provided by IRA, developed the proposed bylaws which are attached. Our goal was to develop a fiscally responsible organizational structure that will enable KSRA to function effectively and efficiently as we face the challenges of both the present and future, while maintaining what has made our organization a strong and vibrant one. We are especially proud of the close working relationship between our local councils and the state organization and are committed to maintaining this while changing our governing structure.

Though time is short, we hope you will take a few minutes to look at the following documents prior to Saturday’s meeting. On Saturday, January 24, we will present more background information and there will be much time for small group and whole group discussion. Our current bylaws require that proposed changes in the bylaws be approved by a vote of ⅔ of the Board of Directors at two consecutive meetings of the Board. Ideally, if we are to change our current governing structure, it would be helpful to have the new bylaws approved by the start of our next fiscal year, July 1, 2015.

The following documents are included for your study of the proposed new bylaws:

  • An annotated copy of the proposed bylaws providing some explanation and rationale.
  • A document highlighting the major differences between the current bylaws and the proposed bylaws.
  • A document listing the policies and procedures that should be adopted in the coming year to implement the proposed bylaws, if approved.

We look forward to sharing this with you on Saturday. If you should have any questions or comments that you would like to share prior to that meeting, please feel free to contact Eleanor, Jane, Julie, or myself.

Eleanor Gensemer –

Jane Helman –

Eric MacDonald –

Julie Wise –

Click each of the document names below to access that document:


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KSRA Is Looking for Some Great Teaching Ideas

Posted by on Jan 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

origin_7355459380Have you ever visited the website Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is a website that offers free or cheap classroom resources for K-12 teachers such as: PowerPoints, anchor charts, lesson plans, and center activities. Teachers can find resources for any grade and any subject (e.g., math, science, and social studies) but the English Language Arts category is the largest with double the resources.

KSRA is exploring this concept for our Educational Resource Committee for several reasons. First, one of our main goals for KSRA is to offer effective and relevant professional development. TpT can provide a platform for KSRA to support teachers as they look for resources to improve their instruction. Second, KSRA has 1,600 members who could provide innovative ideas for teaching reading, writing, speaking, and listening. If everyone would donate a successful lesson plan, we could populate the account quickly. Third, TpT can serve as an alternative method for providing a service that would generate income that KSRA could use to fund international advocacy campaigns, scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students, fund annual conferences, and help keep membership costs low.

TpT offers KSRA a direct link to support classroom teachers and reading specialists as they plan, teach, and assess students’ literacy! However, we need your ideas and resources. If you have created a successful lesson, PowerPoint, or worksheet that supports authentic reading, writing, speaking, and listening, we need to hear from you. At the same time, if you are a student, substitute teacher, or retired teacher who would be willing to work with other classroom teachers to create materials, we need to hear from you. Please do not pass up this opportunity to support teachers and reading specialists.  Contact Andy Morrison with suggestions and materials.


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