Cyber Academic Performance

MYTH:

Posted on the Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s website:

“The foremost national study of charters conducted by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in April 2011 showed 100% of cyber charters performing significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts in both reading and math.”

TRUTH:

PA Leadership Charter School started in 2004. Below are the increase in Math and Reading performance at Pennsylvania Leadership (Cyber) Charter School over a six-year period (2006-2012). Cyber-Charter opponents seem to judge Cyber Schools based on a snapshot in time. Cyber-Charters prefer to judge their schools based on performance over time.


 

MYTH:

Tom Wolf states on his website:

“The vast majority of Pennsylvania’s charter school students are performing worse than or no better than their peers attending traditional, district-run schools.”

TRUTH: 

On December 20, 2013 Maura Pennington wrote on Watchdog.org:

“Two high schools in South Philadelphia are separated by a mile, but the distance between them seems much wider. South Philadelphia High School scored 36.5 on a 100-point scale on the new statewide school assessments. Just west on Point Breeze Avenue, the Preparatory Charter School of Mathematics, Science, Technology and Careers got a score of 70.6.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education released the complete list of School Performance Profile scores last week. Public schools across 500 districts are graded every fall based on multiple indicators of achievement, including standardized test results, academic growth and promotion rate. This year, the average score for traditional public schools statewide is 77.1; for charter schools it’s 65.7.

However, The state has about 160 brick-and-mortar charter schools, and more than half of them are in Philadelphia. In that city, charter schools outperform their district counterparts — the average score for charter schools is 66.9; 57.5 for district schools.

In Philadelphia, it’s clear–charter schools are having a positive impact.

The comparison of South Philadelphia High School and Prep Charter is a good example.”


MYTH: 

Tom Wolf states on his website:

“Only 43 charter schools — less than 30 percent of the charter school sector — met federally mandated performance requirements during the 2011-2012 school year. This does not include a single cyber charter school.”

TRUTH: 

PA Leadership Charter School (and other Cyber-Charter schools) did in fact meet all federally-assigned performance requirements for the 2011-12 school year as established by the PA Department of Education.

The Federal Department of Education overruled the judgment of the state, and the state applied for a federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind Legislation.

The real problem with the Federal mandates – Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)− is that if a school failed in any one area said school become classified as failing to “meet the federally mandated performance requirements.” The PDE’s waiver was accepted in the summer of 2013, making AYP a thing of the past.

PA Leadership Charter School (PALCS) sent teachers to multiple sites throughout the state during its first year to administer the state-required standardized tests to all of its students. Despite a well-coordinated effort, PALCS missed student participation by two percent (93% vs. 95%). For that reason, it missed AYP the first year. Each year since, PALCS has met AYP in over 90% of all categories, even student growth. The school was judged in 32 categories: Special Education, English-Language Learners, Economically Disadvantaged, and a variety of ethnicity categories.

PA Leadership Charter School could be described as a school that met the Requirements of Federal Mandates 9 out of 10 times each year and 100% two of the years in the last ten years. However, PALCS seems to be described as failing to meet “federally mandated performance requirements.”


MYTH:

Sarah Leitner wrote on mediatrackers.org on July 19, 2013:

“When a recent study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found Pennsylvania charter schools are falling behind their traditional counterparts — even while charter schools are making gains nationally — media outlets across the state declared the inadequacy of the state’s charter schools.

Headlines such as ‘Pa. charter students’ skills fall far short, study reveals’ in The Tribune- Review and ‘Study: Pa. in Bottom Three for Charter School Scores’ in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette appeared in news outlets across the state.”

TRUTH: 

According to charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com, this same (CREDO) report “found several key positive findings regarding the academic performance of students attending charter schools. For students that are low income, charter schools had a larger and more positive effect than for similar students in traditional public schools. English Language Learner students also reported significantly better gains in charter schools while, special education students showed similar results to their traditional public school peers” and “also found that students do better in charter schools over time. While first year charter school students on average experienced a decline in learning, students in their second and third years in charter schools saw a significant reversal, experiencing positive achievement gains.”

MYTH / TRUTH prepared by:

Dr. James Hanak, CEO, PA Leadership (Cyber) Charter School.