School districts in PA are measured on AYP results at the district level and at the school level. The district level allows for reporting of grade spans, such as grades three to five or grades seven to nine. Reporting over spans in this way generally raises scores.
Last summer, PA Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis altered the way charter schools could report their AYP results. Tomalis’ ruling allowed charter schools to report AYP results at the district level, rather than at the school level. Traditional public school districts and PSBA objected, stating that an individual charter school is not the same as a school district, which is made up of a number of individual schools. The new ruling resulted in reports that 59% of charter schools reached AYP, rather than the 37% that actually did.
On Nov. 21st, the Federal Department of Education overruled Tomalis’ change, on the basis that a charter school is an individual school building and is not a school district. The federal government ordered PA to re-calculate and re-publicize the results of the charter schools in January 2013, using the school level methodology.
This change ensures that a parent or community member comparing the results of one public school to one charter school will be comparing results grade to grade, and not one grade to one grade “span.”