PA lawmakers caving on cyber charter reform | Guest column
By Express-Times guest columnist By Mark Spengler Updated on July 18, 2017 at 10:30 AM Posted on July 18, 2017 at 10:19 AM

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene Depasquale recently reminded the public that we have the worst charter school system in the country. Easily the worst part of the Pennsylvania charter school embarrassment has to do with cyber charter schools, which have shown deplorable results in terms of graduation and student performance and have wasted a ton of taxpayer money. Here are some of the most recent numbers:
Average graduation rates for 2015-16:

  • Pennsylvania public schools, 86.1 percent.
  • Pennsylvania cyber charter schools, 47.7 percent.

Average school performance profile results, 2015-16 (70 is considered passing)”

  • Public schools, 70.3 percent.
  • Cyber charter schools, 50.9 percent (nine out of 14 scored below 50).

Total local Pennsylvania taxpayer money spent on cyber charter tuition, 2013-15:

  • $1.2 billion

Perhaps the saddest part of our cyber charter system is the funding method. Cyber charters are funded at the same per diem rate as bricks-and-mortar charter schools. This of course makes no sense, because cybers do not have anywhere near the same level of expenses as bricks and mortar schools. Going all the way back to 2012, it was reported by the Auditor General’s office that Pennsylvania  taxpayers were being overcharged $365 million a year. Clearly, much of this has to do with overspending for cyber charters.
School Performance Profile Scores for PA Cyber Charters 2013 – 2016
Source: PA Department of Education website          
A score of 70 is considered passing
Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.
Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect. 

Information shared by:
Edward Albert, Ed.D, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools

Cyber School SPP Scores