Cyber charter schools are established when the state Department of Education grants the cyber charter applicant a charter. Oversight PDE is responsible for the oversight of cyber charter schools that it has chartered, including decisions whether to renew, non-renew or revoke the charter. You can review cyber charter school policy, here: Cyber Charter Schools
In Pennsylvania, most cyber charter schools operate with expired state agreements. In an investigative report published January 2019 by the Philadelphia Inquirer, it found that 10 of 15 cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania are operating with expired charters. Bellefonte Area School District is in support of cyber charter school reform after finding that cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania fall in the bottom five percent.
Bellefonte Area School District offers its own cyber program, called Bellefonte eLearning Academy, that offers the flexibility of virtual education with additional benefits that can't be found at cyber charter schools. That includes BeLA students who have the option to work one-on-one with a certified teacher; participate in district-sponsored extracurricular activities, such as athletics, clubs, fine arts and more; the chance to go on international trips through the district; and attend Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology. He or she also graduates with a Bellefonte Area diploma. To learn more about the BeLA program, visit this link: Q&A with Rebecca Leitzell
A report by Education Week shows that graduation rates for cyber charter schools often fail to graduate at least half of its student body. The article about low graduation rates specifically at cyber charter schools can be found, here: Online charter school graduation trend. You may also see more detailed information about Pennsylvania cyber charter school graduation, here: PA cyber charter schools
There is a near-100 percent success rate for students passing classes through the district’s BeLA program – Bellefonte eLearning Academy. Cyber Education Coordinator Rebecca Leitzell said that’s because the program is set up in the best interest of the student to boost his or her success.
“If students struggle in BeLA, we provide them with a different option,” she said. “We do not allow them to continue with online learning and fail.”
*On Aug. 14, 2019, Bellefonte Area School District's public relations director spoke with the communication director from the state Department of Education about why there are so many charter schools operating with expired charters. Read more about the department's response in this link: Response from PA Department of Education
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD. Information provided includes data from the 2018-19 school year as that is the latest complete set of statistics available (prepandemic)
Graduation rates of cyber charter schools attended by students living within the boundaries of Bellefonte Area School District, which tuition was paid for by the district in the 2018-19 school year.
Information also shows that 100 percent of BeLA students who took state standardized tests have scored proficient or advanced. According to data from Niche.com, a Pittsburgh-based rating and review website, of the cyber charter schools funded by Bellefonte Area School District in the 2018-19 school year, none have higher stats.