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No cyber charter school in Pennsylvania made Adequate Yearly Progress
[January 23, 2013]

No cyber charter school in Pennsylvania made Adequate Yearly Progress

Jan 23, 2013 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Recalculated figures for attaining Adequate Yearly Progress on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams for 2012 released by the state Department of Education show that the number of charter schools hitting the targets for AYP dropped from 77 to 43.

With the recalculation, no cyber charter school in Pennsylvania made AYP.

The recalculation has its most significant effect on the status of brick-and-mortar charter schools, which accounted for 76 of the schools originally designated as making AYP.

Only one cyber charter school made AYP under the original calculations released in September. It has been downgraded under the new calculations.

According to numbers provided by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, there were total of 144 brick-and-mortar charter schools in Pennsylvania and 12 cyber charter schools.

The PSBA alerted school districts to the recalculated designations on Tuessday and announed them publicly on its website today.

In Allegheny County, the change means that four brick-and-mortar charter schools saw a status change from "Made AYP" to "Warning." They are: --Environmental Charter School at Frick Park; --Manchester Academic Charter School; --Propel Homestead; --and Propel Montour.

The recalculations were ordered in November after federal education officials denied Pennsylvania's request to evaluate charter schools using more lenient standards.

Without waiting for approval from the U.S. Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education in September treated charter schools as districts rather than individual schools when calculating AYP.

Schools must hit certain targets at every tested grade level to achieve AYP, but a district needs only to hit targets in one of three grade spans tested -- 3-5, 4-6 or 9-12.

In November, U.S. Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle said Pennsylvania's request to use the district method for charter schools was "not aligned with the statute and regulations." She ordered Pennsylvania to re-evaluate charter schools' AYP standards under the individual school method. She said Pennsylvania could assess charter schools under the district method but only in addition to the school method.

The state Department of Education in recent days posted a spreadsheet with the revised AYP standings. On Monday, the site will have the side-by-side school and district calculations for school charter schools, Tim Eller, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said.

PSBA spokesman Steve Robinson said the recalculations are important because the AYP designations given to charter schools in September were misleading to the public.

Last fall, the PSBA submitted a formal letter of objection to the U.S. Department of Education to the new AYP calculations for charter schools.

"Our concern was that the way they were calculated originally inflated the numbers and made it seem that some made AYP when they didn't," Mr, Robinson said. "That masked deficiencies, denied families the chance to make informed decisions and would have delayed corrective action measures for those schools." Mary Niederberger: or 412-263-1590.

___ (c)2013 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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