The Pennsylvania Department of Education has released statistics on student performance that indicate charter school students are doing better than students in traditional public schools.
Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis released statistics about which schools met "adequate yearly progress" [AYP] benchmarks. AYP figures look at results of standardized testing from grade to grade to discover whether students are progressing at an acceptable rate.
In Tomalis's figures, 50 percent of Pennsylvania public schools overall met AYP benchmarks, while 59 percent of charter schools did.
If charter schools were measured the same way that public schools are, only 37 percent would have met the standards.
Currently, individual schools need to hit minimums in every grade in order to pass. Schools that fail to meet standards get additional oversight; if they don't improve, they can have their faculty replaced or even be changed.
AYP is calculated not just for schools but for school districts. They need to hit minimum AYP in any one of three grade ranges: grades 3-5, 4-6 or 9-12.
Critics of the statistics have charged that charter figures are inflated because the charter school results have been calculated differently.
Tomalis treated charter schools as school districts, with the more generous standards, in the most recent figures, and has asked to continue to do so in the future. The critics have suggested that the changes will artificially inflate the results for charter schools. Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who has repeatedly cut funding for public education, has received a great deal of support from lobbyists for charter schools.