2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 0%
Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, enacted and launched in 2012, offers corporations tax credits for their donations to Opportunity Scholarship Organizations (OSOs) that provide private school scholarships. Students who meet the zoning and income requirements can receive those tax-credit scholarships.
The Pennsylvania legislature enacted and launched the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program in 2001. The program offers corporations tax credits for donating to organizations that provide low- and middle-income families private school and prekindergarten scholarships, as well as organizations that support innovative public school programs.
Charter Schools Score: 72%
Pennsylvania has earned a C on CER’s National Charter School Law rankings.
Pennsylvania has an average charter school law that is hampered by a lack of authorizer diversity.
While there have been efforts to increase the number of entities who are able to authorize charter schools, Pennsylvania’s charter school law still only allows public school districts to authorize in the Keystone State. This is problematic because often public-school districts are hostile to charter schools and will work to limit the autonomy of the schools they authorize if they choose to authorize at all. In a state like Pennsylvania where over 40,000 students are on charter school waitlists it needs to be easier to open a charter school than it is currently.
While the Keystone State has no cap on charter schools and a binding appeal to the state to counter adverse district authorizing, the lack of multiple independent authorizers and the districts’ increased micromanagement prevent Pennsylvania from earning any higher than a C.
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed in 1997
- Number of Charters: 167
- Estimated Charter Enrollment: 138,400 (down 2percent from 2015-16)
- There is no cap on the authorization of charter schools
- Virtual Charter Schools Permitted
- EMOs and CMOs can operate with some regulations
- Pennsylvania earned a three out of fifteen for authorizers. The only governing body that can authorize brick and mortar charter schools is a local school district. Charter applicants can appeal a school district’s decision to the State Board of Education. This measure provides charter applicants with recourse if they feel that districts are making arbitrary decisions. Virtual charter schools can be authorized by the State Board of Education. School districts make poor authorizers because they are supposed to be authorizing their competition which means that they are very likely not to authorize schools that would represent real competition or regulate charter schools to the point where they cease to become innovative bodies (and thus will not compete with the district).
- Pennsylvania earned ten out of fifteen points for growth. While they do not have a formal cap on the number of charter schools, many districts throughout the state have imposed informal caps on the number of charter schools by choosing not to approve them. These limitations have hurt the growth of the number of charter schools in Pennsylvania,
- Pennsylvania earned a thirteen out of twenty points for operations. This is because charter schools in Pennsylvania have a blanket waiver from most state and district requirements. However, many districts have begun to strictly regulate charter schools and their activities. This regulation limits their ability to be innovative and operate as they feel is necessary.
Pennsylvania earned a six out of fifteen for funding equity. Charter school operational funding is inequitable because it is based on expenditure calculations made by the individual districts. The state can intervene if districts are not making scheduled payments to the charter schools. Charters do not receive the same in categorical federal funding as traditional public schools. Charter schools receive some per pupil funding from the state for facilities but the amount is not close to what traditional public schools receive.
Online Learning Score: 65%
The state must continue to work on barriers surrounding student access and eligibility.
Teacher Quality Score: 72%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers C+
Identifying Effective Teachers C+
Retaining Effective Teachers D
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D-