November 21, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Moratorium Needed on New Cyber Charters,
says Law Center
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is in jeopardy of violating state law if it approves eight new cyber charter schools in the coming weeks, according to the Education Law Center.
Pennsylvania law requires the Department to annually review cyber charter schools for student performance problems and revoke cyber charters not meeting the student performance standards mandated by state law.
Recent research shows Pennsylvania’s existing cyber charter schools are not meeting those academic standards. A 2011 study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that while students in cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania tended to have higher test scores when entering cyber charters, every subgroup of students’ academic performance in cyber charter schools was lower when compared to the academic performance of the same subgroups in brick and mortar charter schools.
The results were even more dismal when cyber charters were compared to traditional public schools. The CREDO study found that in both reading and math, all eight Pennsylvania cyber schools in existence at the time performed significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts.
Currently, only one of Pennsylvania's cyber charter schools is making Adequate Yearly Progress under state academic standards for student performance.
"Cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania have longstanding problems with poor academic outcomes for students, and the Department does not appear to have the current capacity to handle its legally mandated and critical oversight and accountability functions for these taxpayer-funded schools," said Education Law Center Executive Director Rhonda Brownstein.
Attorneys from the Law Center will testify at the Department’s Nov. 27 cyber charter school hearing in Harrisburg.
The Department supervises the operations of 16 cyber charter schools, including four new cyber charters it approved for the 2012-2013 school year. Eight applications are now pending before the Department to open even more cyber charter schools in 2013-2014.
"Authorizing new cyber charter schools at this time would risk placing the Department in violation of its statutory duty to annually review and revoke cyber charters with academic performance problems. That's why we're asking Secretary Tomalis to apply a 12-month moratorium on granting additional cyber charters," Brownstein said.
The Education Law Center in non-profit legal advocacy organization, dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania's children have access to a quality public education.
Education Law Center
Office: 215-238-6970 ext. 334