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PA Charter Schools Get Mixed Reviews in Standford University Study
CYBER CHARTER SCHOOLS DO POORLY
Education is a primary foundation, not just for our children, but for the progress of our state. In April, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) published its “Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania” report. CREDO specifically examined Pennsylvania’s charter schools after having released a 2009 report on charter school performance in 16 states.
Charter schools started in Pennsylvania in 1997 when the charter school law was passed. They are funded by tax-payers and overseen by their own boards. Charter schools are exempt from some state regulations but students must participate in the state’s standardized testing. Currently, there are 135 charter schools, with 74 in Philadelphia.
Cyber charter schools are public, virtual charter schools. There are 12 in Pennsylvania with 3,460 Philadelphia kids enrolled.
LOOKING AT THE DATA
While in the aggregate, charter schools overall appear to be performing on par with traditional schools, there were areas of weakness. Furthermore, students enrolled in cyber charter schools are performing substantially lower than those in traditional schools. The key, overall findings of the study include:
- In reading, 30 of the 99 charter schools (30%) perform significantly better than traditional public schools, while 25 of the charter schools (25%) perform significantly better in math. Both of these results are better than the national average proportion of better-performing charters (17%). Additionally, there were a handful of outstanding schools in each subject.
- However, their standout performance is mitigated by the 39 charter schools (39%) in Pennsylvania that perform at lower levels than traditional public schools in reading and the 46 charter schools (46%) that perform worse in math.
- 30 percent of Pennsylvania charter students performed about the same as traditional public school students in reading and 28 percent in math.
- No matter how long a charter school has been open (be it one year or nine years), it performs on average worse than a traditional public school.
- Charter school students’ academic performance grows at lower rates compared to their traditional public school peers in their first three years in charters schools, though the gap shrinks a lot in math and disappears almost completely in reading by the third year of attendance.
- Performance at cyber charter schools was substantially lower than performance at brick and mortar charters. 100 percent of cyber charters perform significantly worse than traditional schools in both reading and math.
- Additionally, cyber students are more likely repeating a grade than brick and mortar charter students.
For the full report, please visit http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/PA%20State%20Report_20110404_FINAL.pdf
DECISIONS TO BE MADE
As we continue our budget negotiations, and press for increased dollars in the funding of public education, it is important that we continue to have a fact based conversation about the concepts that work in the education of our children. The success of our nation is directly connected to academic achievement. The dollars that we spend must fund the educational practices that have demonstrated success, and proven results.
Read Daily News’ columnist, Elmer Smith’s perspective:
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes