ICYMI- New report shows overwhelmingly negative results for PA’s cyber charter students

From Education Voters of PA:
MEMO
To: Interested Parties
From: Susan Spicka, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
Date: June 4, 2019
Re: CREDO’s Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania (2019) report finds overwhelmingly negative results for students in cyber charter schools and mixed results for brick-and-mortar charter schools.
Read the full report here.
A recent study released by The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University highlights the urgent need for state lawmakers to address cyber charter school performance and accountability. This study finds that learning gains for students in cyber schools dramatically lag behind the gains experienced by their peers in school districts and brick-and-mortar charter schools and that, “any potential benefits of online schooling such as student mobility and flexibility in curriculum are drowned out by the negative impacts on academic growth of students enrolled in such schools.”
This report also provides data about brick-and-mortar charter school performance that demonstrates that while there are some encouraging results, Pennsylvania continues to have a substantial number of underperforming charter schools, where students post below average achievement and growth.
Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania (2019) compares the performance of students at cyber charter and brick-and-mortar charter schools with the performance of students in school districts who share similar demographic characteristics and previous testing results. This report measures students’ progress over the course of 180 learning days.
Key conclusions of the report
  1. The report finds that there has been “little to no progress in Pennsylvania charter school performance since CREDO’s 2013 National Charter School Study.”
  2. The report finds overwhelmingly negative results for students in cyber charter schools.
    1. The average cyber charter school student lost the equivalent of 106 days in reading each academic year compared to his/her traditional school counterpart.
    1. In math the average cyber charter school student lost 118 days.
  3. The results for students without disabilities in brick-and-mortar charter schools are mixed.
    1. In English language arts, charter students showed a gain of 24 days over their school district counterparts.
    1. In math, charter school students’ results were not statistically different from results posted by students in school districts
  4. The results for students with disabilities in brick-and-mortar charter schools are negative:
    1. Students with disabilities lost student lost the equivalent of 24 days in reading each academic year compared to their traditional school counterparts.
    1. In math, students with disabilities lost 35 days.
  5. Just 13% of Pennsylvania charter schools included in the study post high achievement and high academic growth in English language arts.
  6. Fewer than 10% of Pennsylvania charter schools post high achievement and high academic growth in math.
  7. More than 32% of PA charter schools post low achievement and low academic growth in English language arts.
  8. Almost 41% of PA charter schools post low achievement and low academic growth in math.
  9. The report concludes that Pennsylvania continues to have a substantial number of underperforming charter schools and that, ”the collective impact on students’ academic careers and later life outcomes remains of deep concern.”
The abysmal student performance in cyber charter schools and mixed performance, at best, in brick-and-mortar charter schools create questions about the value taxpayers receive for spending more than $1.6 billion each year on student tuition payments to charter schools.
Current legislation (House Bills 356 and 357) that would allow for the unchecked expansion of brick-and-mortar charter schools regardless of the quality of education they provide to students must be rejected.
The lackluster student performance in brick-and-mortar charter schools does not justify the expansion of these schools and the significant increase in tuition costs borne by taxpayers that would accompany this expansion.
Instead, the CREDO report results highlight the urgent need for lawmakers to provide additional tools for charter school authorizers, including the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), which authorizes cyber charter schools, to enable them to hold these schools accountable both to students and taxpayers.
In addition, Governor Wolf must appoint a cyber charter task force to examine cyber charter funding and performance issues. This task force should make recommendations about an appropriate funding system for these schools that will match student tuition with the actual cost of a cyber education to eliminate wasteful spending of taxpayer money. It should also make recommendations that will ensure cyber schools will provide all students with a quality education.
Each year, Pennsylvanians spend over $463 million to send more than 35,000 children to commercial cyber charter schools, where many experience an overwhelmingly negative, and potentially irreversible, impact on their level of educational attainment.  This is unacceptable. It is past time for Harrisburg to take responsibility for holding these schools accountable to students and taxpayers.
If you agree that state lawmakers need to reject charter school expansion bills that are being pushed by PA House leadership and instead focus in increasing charter school accountability click  HERE to send a letter to your state lawmakers. The charter expansion bills (HB 356 and 357) are moving fast. Lawmakers need to hear from you today!

 

 

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