The PA Charter Performance Center improves the quality of education, especially for at-risk students, by producing unbiased, accurate and timely information that will build momentum for the adoption of sound state-level charter school policy.
Charter schools are educating a growing share of Pennsylvania’s K-12 students. In 2021, 146,000 students attended a Pennsylvania charter school, an astonishing 85% increase in just ten years. Low-income and at-risk students are more likely than other students to enroll in charters. While only 16% of district schools are located in high poverty areas, 58% of brick and mortar charter schools are operating in high poverty census tracts. This raises significant equity issues about who attends charters and how are they doing.
While enrollment is growing, student learning is not keeping pace. The most recent assessments show that 78% of 3rd through 8th grade charter students failed their Math PSSA and 56% failed English Language Arts. Over six in ten 11th graders attending charter schools failed the Algebra Keystone Exam and 45% failed Literature. More concerning is the fact that every one of Pennsylvania’s 14 cyber charters has been identified as needing some level of support and improvement under the state’s accountability system.
Absent unbiased, accessible information, there can be no accountability to boost charter school performance or close poorly performing operators. The Center seeks to close this gap by delivering reliable information on school performance for charters and district run schools to advance the policy conversation in Harrisburg and help parents make the best decisions for their children.
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The work of the Center is made possible by a generous donation from the Ivywood Foundation.