Measuring Up



Pennsylvania

TOTAL SCORE:
54 out of 132

Rank: 15 out of 18

See a summary of the state’s charter law.

See additional observations about charters in the state.

What is the state of charter schools in Pennsylvania?

GROWTH INDICATORS

 

 

Score


1. Public school share
 (2014–15)

6

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter schools

176

6%

 

 


2. Public school student share
 (2014–15)

6

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter school students

132,531

7%

 

 

3. Students by race and ethnicity (2013–14)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

White

36%

72%

-36%

Black

44%

13%

31%

Hispanic

14%

9%

5%

Asian

3%

3%

0%

Other

3%

3%

0%

Total minority

64%

28%

36%

 

4. Students in special populations (2013–14)

8

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

Free and reduced-price lunch status

57%

42%

15%

Special education status

N/A

N/A

N/A

English learner status

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total special student populations

57%

42%

15%

 

5. Schools by geographic distribution (2012–13)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

City

67%

17%

50%

Suburb

25%

47%

-22%

Town

2%

10%

-8%

Rural

6%

26%

-20%

Total nonsuburban

75%

53%

22%

 

6. Communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools (2014–15)

2

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

 

 

 

Number of communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools

4

   
 

7. New public charter schools opened over the past five years  (2010–15)

6

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2010–11

16

Average Annual Open Rate

6.6%

2011–12

18

2012–13

14

2013–14

6

2014–15

4

Total number

58

 

 

 

8. Public charter schools closed over the past five years (2009–14)

6

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2009–10

1

Average Annual Closure Rate

1.3%

2010–11

0

2011–12

1

2012–13

5

2013–14

4

Total number

11

 

 

 
 

INNOVATION INDICATORS

 

 

Score

9. Percentage of charter schools with an identified special focus (2012–13)

6

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

 

 

 

No Excuses

14%

Total

50%

STEM

9%

Arts

8%

Classical

1%

Purposely diverse

0%

Single sex

2%

International/Foreign language

7%

Montessori/Waldorf

12%

Dropout/Expulsion recovery

3%

Military

0%

Vocational training

5%

Public policy/Citizenship

0%

 

QUALITY INDICATORS

 

 

Score

10. Additional days of learning in reading (2007–11)

0

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in reading

-29

 

 

 

11. Additional days of learning in math (2007–11)

0

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in math

-50

 

 

 

12. Percentage point change in top categories in state accountability system (2012–14)

3

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 2012-13

2013-14

Difference

90 to 100+

2%

2%

0%

80 to 89.9

16%

12%

-4%

Total

18%

14%

-4%

 

13. Percentage point change in bottom categories in state accountability system (2012–14)

3

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 2012-13

2013-14

Difference

60 to 69.9

23%

28%

5%

Less than 60

37%

38%

1%

Total

60%

66%

6%

 

Items Reported But Not Scored

Startups versus conversions (2014–15)

 

Startups

Conversions

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools

91%

9%

 

 

 

Charter authorizers (2014–15)

 

Number of authorizers

Number of charter schools

Average number of charters per authorizer

Percentage of the state’s public charters authorized by this type of authorizer

Local education agency

48

162

3

92%

State education agency

1

14

14

8%

Independent charter board

Noneducational government entity

Higher education institution

Nonprofit

 

Virtual public charter schools and students (2013–14)

Number of virtual public charter school students

34,251

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter school student population enrolled
in virtual charter schools

27%

 

 

Number of virtual public charter schools

15

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools that are virtual charter schools

9%

 

 

 

Health of the Movement Summary

Pennsylvania’s charter public school movement ranked #15 out of 18, scoring 54 points out of 132.

Pennsylvania scored relatively well on the following indicators:

  • In 2013-14, charter public schools in Pennsylvania served a higher percentage of free and reduced-price lunch students (15 percentage points more) when compared with traditional public schools.
  • In 2012-13, 50 percent of the state’s charter public schools were special-focus schools.

Pennsylvania scored relatively low on the following indicators:

  • Between 2007-08 and 2010-11, charter public school students exhibited lower academic growth in both reading and math (29 days less and 50 days less, respectively), on average, when compared with traditional public school students in Pennsylvania.
  • Between 2012-13 and 2013-14, the percentage of charter public schools performing in the top two categories of the state’s accountability system decreased by 4 percentage points (from 18 percent to 14 percent).
  • Between 2012-13 and 2013-14, the percentage of charter public schools performing in the bottom two categories of the state’s accountability system increased by 6 percentage points (from 60 percent to 66 percent).

In addition to the above points, we also offer the following observations about the movement in Pennsylvania:

  • In 2014-15, 6 percent of the state’s public schools were charters.
  • In 2014-15, 7 percent of the state’s public school students were charter students.
  • In 2013-14, the state’s charter public schools served a significantly higher percentage of racial and ethnic minority students (36 percentage points more) when compared with traditional public schools.
  • In 2012-13, 75 percent of the state’s public charters were located in nonsuburban areas as compared with 53 percent of traditional public schools.
  • In 2014-15, four communities in the state had more than 10 percent of public school students in charters.
  • Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, 58 public charters opened in Pennsylvania, a 6.6 percent average annual open rate.
  • Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, 11 charter public schools closed in Pennsylvania, a 1.3 percent average annual closure rate.
  • During 2014-15, 91 percent of the state’s charter public schools were start-ups and 9 percent were conversions.
  • Pennsylvania law provides the following potential authorizers: local school boards, two or more local boards for regional charters, and the state department of education for virtual charter schools. As of 2014-15, 48 local school boards had authorized 162 charter public schools (92 percent of the state’s charter public schools) and the state department of education had authorized 14 virtual charter public schools (8 percent).
  • In 2013-14, 14 full-time virtual charter public schools operated in Pennsylvania, serving 34,251 students (27 percent of the state’s charter public school population).

concluding thoughts

  • In Pennsylvania, charter public schools serve a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minority students and free and reduced-price lunch students than traditional public schools, showing that charters are serving those students who most need a better public school option.
  • Pennsylvania also has a relatively high percentage of special-focus schools, showing that charters are providing a diverse array of options for students and educators.
  • While many successful charter public schools operate in Pennsylvania, the performance of the movement as a whole needs to improve, as demonstrated by the four quality metrics in this report.
  • To improve the quality of the movement in Pennsylvania, we encourage the state to change its law to strengthen the competency of current authorizers, create additional high-quality authorizing options, and strengthen its accountability policies.