Standards

U.S. Says Pa. Was Not Authorized to Change Charter Progress Rules

By Dan Hardy, The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT) — October 16, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education says the Pennsylvania Education Department “acted prematurely” when it changed rules for how charter schools can meet academic-performance standards on the annual PSSA achievement test.

The change makes it easier for most charters to meet the state benchmarks, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Public school advocates call it an unfair way to make charters look better than regular public schools, to which they have typically been compared.

Instead of averaging the scores of all tested students to make AYP, under the new rules charters could average the test scores of only a few grades to meet state benchmarks, the way it is done for entire school districts.

State Education Department spokesman Tim Eller said the change was made to bring calculations for charters into line with those of districts. Some charters have a wide range of grades and, like districts, would get a fairer evaluation that way, he said.

Many public school advocates said the change was part of continuing Corbett administration favoritism for charters and other school-choice options.

“It unfairly makes charters look better than they are,” said Lawrence Feinberg, a Haverford School District board member and cochair of the Keystone State Education Coalition, a public school advocacy group.

In late July, without public notice, the state Department of Education filed the proposed change with the federal Education Department.

The change had not been approved by the federal agency by September, when the state announced test scores and AYP results using the new method for charters. Weeks later, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association said it learned of the change when reviewing test results.

Eller said last week that the proposal is a “routine amendment.”

But in an e-mail last week, a U.S. Education Department official said: “The [Pennsylvania Department of Education] does not have the authority to apply this methodology . . . until the federal department has had an opportunity to review and approve its expanded application.” The official said the federal department was still reviewing the request.

Eller said that while he was “not contesting their authority . . . we don’t anticipate our request being rejected.”

Under the new rules, charters did about as well statewide this year as public schools, and much better than regular schools in several urban districts.

About 49 percent of charters statewide made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2012, compared with 51 percent of all Pennsylvania schools.

In Philadelphia, about 54 percent of charters made the grade, compared with only 13 percent of public schools.

The school boards association said that if the old rules had been used, dozens fewer charter schools would have made AYP and charters would have performed much worse on average statewide than regular public schools.

Under the old rules, the association estimated, statewide, only 33 of 156 charters with PSSA scores—21 percent—would have gotten the “Made AYP” designation, instead of 49 percent. In Philadelphia, association figures showed, 20 percent of charters would have made AYP, instead of 54 percent.

State Education Department AYP figures showed more charters making the mark than the association estimate. No figures for Philadelphia charters were provided.

Related Tags:

Copyright (c) 2012, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Explainer What’s the Purpose of Standards in Education? An Explainer
What are standards? Why are they important? What's the Common Core? Do standards improve student achievement? Our explainer has the answers.
11 min read
Photo of students taking test.
F. Sheehan for EdWeek / Getty
Standards Florida's New African American History Standards: What's Behind the Backlash
The state's new standards drew national criticism and leave teachers with questions.
9 min read
Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Celebrate Freedom Foundation Hangar in West Columbia, S.C. July 18, 2023. For DeSantis, Tuesday was supposed to mark a major moment to help reset his stagnant Republican presidential campaign. But yet again, the moment was overshadowed by Donald Trump. The former president was the overwhelming focus for much of the day as DeSantis spoke out at a press conference and sat for a highly anticipated interview designed to reassure anxious donors and primary voters that he's still well-positioned to defeat Trump.
Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in West Columbia, S.C., on July 18, 2023. Florida officials approved new African American history standards that drew national backlash, and which DeSantis defended.
Sean Rayford/AP
Standards Here’s What’s in Florida’s New African American History Standards
Standards were expanded in the younger grades, but critics question the framing of many of the new standards.
1 min read
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the historic Ritz Theatre in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on July 21, 2023. Harris spoke out against the new standards adopted by the Florida State Board of Education in the teaching of Black history.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the historic Ritz Theatre in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on July 21, 2023. Harris spoke out against the new standards adopted by the Florida state board of education in the teaching of Black history.
Fran Ruchalski/The Florida Times-Union via AP
Standards Opinion How One State Found Common Ground to Produce New History Standards
A veteran board member discusses how the state school board pushed past partisanship to offer a richer, more inclusive history for students.
10 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty