There have been several reports in the past week or so that Pennsylvania changed the way it measured AYP for charter schools, using a method that makes it easier for the charter schools to make AYP. The reports also say that the state education department made the change without federal approval, which is still pending.
The issue was brought up in early October by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
As a result of the less-stringent method, “44 of the 77 charter schools that PDE has recently classified as having made AYP for 2011-12 in fact fell short of the targets for academic performance that other public schools had to meet, some even declining in proficiency percentages rather than making gains,” the PSBA statement says.
If you look at the Pennsylvania AYP website, you’ll see that school districts results are measured by grade spans, and districts need to hit all of the targets in only one grade span to make AYP.
But schools’ results are measured overall, and in a number of subgroups, and if one group doesn’t hit the target, the school doesn’t make AYP. Charter schools used to be measured that way, but now they are measured the same way as districts.
In a Morning Call story, the education department said the change levels the playing field, but others said it’s unfair.
The change didn’t appear to help any York charter schools; the four that were measured did not make AYP.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association released a statement today saying that state education Secretary Ron Tomalis owes an explanation of why the state made the change for charters without federal approval.