• Bellefonte eLearning Academy vs. cyber charter schools

    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 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 is waiting for a response from the state Department of Education to how and why this is possible.

    *Editor's note: On Aug. 14, Bellefonte Area School District's public relation 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

    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

    These are graduation rates of cyber charter schools attended by student living within the boundaries of Bellefonte Area School District, which tuition was paid for by the district in the 2018-19 school year:

    • 21st Century Cyber Charter School: 62 percent
    • Agora Cyber Charter School: 45 percent
    • Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation Charter School: 25 percent
    • Commonwealth Charter School: 68 percent
    • Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School: 50 percent
    • Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School: 71 percent
    • Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School: 77 percent

    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.”

    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.

    • 21st Century Cyber Charter School
      • 62 percent proficient in reading
      • 38 percent proficient in math
    • Agora Cyber Charter School
      • 34 percent proficient in reading
      • 14 percent proficient in math
    • Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation Charter School
      • 37 percent proficient in reading
      • 17 percent proficient in math
    • Commonwealth Charter Academy
      • 41 percent proficient in reading
      • 19 percent proficient in math
    • Keystone Education Center Charter School
      • 12 percent proficient in reading
      • 5 percent proficient in math
    • Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School
      • 48 percent proficient in reading
      • 24 percent proficient in math
    • Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School
      • 54 percent proficient in reading
      • 30 percent proficient in math
    • Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School
      • 52 percent proficient in reading
      • 25 percent proficient in math