The Pennsylvania Department of Education is considering proposals for eight new cyber charter schools amid concerns about the cost and quality of that education model, according to an article from Newsworks.
The state currently operates 16 cyber charter schools, eight of which opened within the past two years. The new proposals include a cyber charter school that would focus on connecting students with job opportunities and internships as well as one that hopes to be the “first African-centered cyber charter school in America,” according to the article.
However, opening and operating cyber charter schools has been a notoriously contentious issue in Pennsylvania because of those schools’ history of poor performance, as well as because of pushback from brick-and-mortar schools that see charter schools as siphoning funding away from them. (In Pennsylvania, the students’ home districts are required to reimburse charter schools for students’ full per-pupil funding.) Cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania can enroll students from every part of the state.
An April 2011 study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that cyber charter schools performed significantly worse in reading and math than their brick-and-mortar charter school peers as well as their peers in traditional public schools.
If all eight charters are approved, they project a total enrollment of 2,750 students in the 2013-14 school year, which would grow to 9,800 students in 2017-18, the story says. The state’s department of education, which approves all cyber charters in Pennsylvania while individual districts approve brick-and-mortar charters, expects to reach a decision in early 2013.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.