Sometimes, help on a question about schools can be just a click or two away. This list provides Internet links to answers to questions about K-12 schools, higher education and adult education.
The state Department of Education lists public and nonpublic schools in Pennsylvania. In many cases, the site includes links to a school's Web site. The schools are listed by the county in which they are based, but charter schools are open to any resident of Pennsylvania. A full list of cyber charter schools, which serve the entire state, can be found in the statewide list of charter schools on this site.
Charter schools are public schools open to any state resident. The resident's school district pays for each student who attends. More information -- including the laws governing them and their locations -- is available on the state Department of Education Web site.
This law requires states to test students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. It calls for all students to be proficient by 2014. Schools that miss the requirements along the way face sanctions. The full text of the law can be found on the U.S. Department of Education Web site.
Reading and math test scores, graduation rates and student attendance are at the heart of the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Each school must make "adequate yearly progress" or face sanctions. This site provides details on how every public school in Pennsylvania performed in meeting the AYP standards.
More information on student test results can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education Web site. This includes results of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests in math, reading, writing and science. This site shows results on the tests for school, districts and by subgroups, such as race and income. The test results may vary slightly from those on the AYP site because there are some differences in the students counted.
Council of Chief State School Officers has a Web site that provides www.schoolmatters.com information on test scores, school spending and demographics for public schools in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
The state Department of Education provides the information on its website. Search the term "public school SAT".average SAT scores for public high schools throughout the state.
The academic standards are known as Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania Code. long lists of what students should learn at various grade levels in reading, writing, speaking and listening; math; history; science and technology; environment and ecology; arts and humanities; career education and work; civics and government; economics; family and consumer science; geography; and health, safety and physical education.
Pennsylvania requires students to meet state academic standards and will require students to pass certain end-of-course exams for graduation. The graduation requirements are part of Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania Code, which can be found on the Pennsylvania Code page. The graduation test requirements, published in January 2010, can be found on the page of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress -- known as the Nation's Report Card -- compares how students in each state fare on national tests.
One of the best-known yardsticks is the Trends in Math and Science Study, known as TIMSS. The most recent results available are for data collected in 2007.
Another international study is the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, known as PIRLS, which is from 2006.
The state Department of Education has rules governing homeschoolers.
The state Department of Education Web site explains the special education rules, including requirements for an individualized education program, known as an IEP.
The state law pertaining to special education rights -- Title 22, Chapter 14 of the state code -- also can be found on the Web.
Federal laws also govern services to special education students through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. This federal site helps to explain the law.
This site provides a copy of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.
The state Department of Education's rules and resources on gifted children can be found on its Web site.
The state law covering the gifted -- Title 22, Chapter 16 of the state code -- also can be found on the Web.
Enrollment figures can be found on the state Department of Education Web site.
High school sports are governed by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Rules can be found on its Web site.
The state Department of Education provides selected information on expenditures and revenues from school districts' annual financial reports.
The Allegheny County treasurer's office lists millage rates on its Web site. One mill amounts to $1 for each $1,000 of property value taxed.
Each school has its own policies, and some have their own sources of money. Some aid is provided through the state Educational Improvement Tax Credits which provide tax credits to businesses that donate to scholarship organizations. The same page also provides lists of scholarship organizations -- linked from near the bottom of the page.
Teachers strikes are governed by Act 88 of 1992. Among other things, the act ensures public school students receive at least 180 days of instruction.
The state Department of Education periodically publishes lists of educators whose certificates have been revoked or suspended. It does not comment on any that may or may not be under investigation.
There are two main college entrance exams: the SAT, which is the most popular in Pennsylvania, and the ACT. Many colleges will accept the results of either.
Information on the SAT, including an SAT question of the day: www.collegeboard.com
Information on the ACT: www.act.org
Some schools do not require college entrance exams for at least some of their programs. FairTest, a nonprofit advocacy group, keeps a list of these.
The state Department of Education lists all schools by category on its Web site. Many have links to the school's own Web site.
The College Board Web site has a "College Quick Finder" and a "College Matchmaker" which can help you to learn more about a specific two-year or four-year college or find ones with the characteristics you want.
The National Center for Education Statistics has a Web site called the College Navigator -- COOL -- that can help you find or provide information on a school. It covers more than 7,000 schools offering certificates and associate, bachelor's and graduate degrees.
The Princeton Review and Seventeen magazine have "Counselor-O-Matic" which suggests colleges based on a student's input.
This state Department of Education link provides an easy way to compare tuition across schools in Pennsylvania. For schools across the country, the COOL link can provide tuition information. The most up-to-date information usually can be found on each school's Web site.
The Education Trust, a nonprofit group, has a Web site with graduation rates for many colleges and universities. Users also can compare a school with similar schools.
Many free Web sites have information on financial aid. Here's a sampling:
Financial aid forms
Federal financial aid form required by nearly every school.
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE form required by some colleges and universities.
General financial aid information
Comprehensive government site explaining federal student aid.
National Center for Education Statistics site includes information on college costs, aid by school.
American Education Services (PHEAA) site covering range of topics.
Site created by financial aid planner Mark Kantrowitz. Its scholarship search uses FastWeb. www.finaid.com
American Council on Education site explaining costs, choices
Petersons offers financial aid, other information
Princeton Review offers information on finance, calculators, tips on filling out forms.
The site of large lender Sallie Mae includes tips on loans, other financial aid
College Board site with Expected Family Contribution, college cost calculators.
Citibank site includes college budget, family contribution and loan calculators.
This is managed through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.
The Post-Gazette has published several special sections containing higher education advice available online.
The Office of Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education provides campus crime data.
The Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council provides help in a variety of literacy areas, including basic skills and GED preparation.