Roebuck publishes new charter school reform report

HARRISBURG, April 29 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, issued his 5th consecutive report on charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. The report calls for strong reforms to charter schools.

"We need to fix the problems with Pennsylvania's outdated charter school law,” Roebuck said. “They should be treated the same way as public schools since they receive taxpayer money.”

The report is available online here. One highlight is an update on the performance of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, including:

  • For 2016-2017, the last year the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile (SPP) reported scores, based on a score of 100, the average SPP score for traditional public schools was 69.6, for charter schools 58.8 and for cyber charter schools 46.7.
  • None of the 14 cyber charter schools had SPP scores over 70, which is considered the minimum level of academic success, and 10 of them had scores under 50.
  • 51% of public schools reached a score of at least 70, while only 20% of brick-and-mortar charter schools reached that goal.
  • There were only 10 high performing charter schools with SPP scores above 80 in 2016-17, a sharp drop from 28 high performing charter schools in 2012-13.

 

  • 43 charter and cyber charter schools, nearly one in five, have closed due to academic and/or financial reasons, some due to fraud and financial irregularities.

Other key points of the report include:

  • A detailed analysis of the cost of charter schools, which highlights the disparity between funding and expenditures at charter schools; and
  • An outline of S.B. 806, which was introduced last session and aimed to create a School Funding Advisory Commission which would review and make recommendations concerning charter and cyber charter school funding.

Roebuck also introduced H.R. 263 to require the State Board of Education to conduct a study on the best practices of high performing charter schools to meet the first three goals of the charter school law: improve student learning; increase learning opportunities for all pupils; and encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.

Additionally, a rally was held in the Capitol today for cyber charter funding reform by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units, and the Pennsylvania Association of school Administrators.