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Myth Busting Cyber Charter Schools: Part 3



What is a SPP score? Why do cyber charter schools have lower SPP scores than traditional brick and mortar schools?

No cyber charter school in the state has a School Performance Profile score of 70 – but that does not mean it is not achievable.

To understand the School Performance Profile (SPP) scores of cyber charter schools, it is important to remember that the summary building-level score is not easily applied to a single school serving students in grades K-12 from hundreds of districts. Some of the metrics that are used to calculate SPP scores do not apply to cyber charter schools, meaning cyber charters receive a zero points towards their final score in some categories.

Additionally the metrics used to measure SPP have changed from year to year, making it difficult to compare to past years. To complicate the process further, only schools who have a grade 11 cohort of students have received an SPP for this year. There were marginal increases and decreases in the cyber schools this year, and despite the ups and downs PA Virtual still ranked at the top of the pack. It is also important to consider the score in the context of our student populations:

PA Virtual employs six state-certified principals and enrolls 2,500 students, which makes us larger than 60 percent of the school districts across the state. We are one of the largest cyber options in the state and educate students from all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

  • The majority of cyber charter school students reside in struggling urban and rural school districts. It is not uncommon for larger cyber schools like PA Virtual to enroll hundreds of new students each year, who have struggled in their traditional school district.
  • A large number of students enroll in cyber school two to five years behind grade level.
  • It takes time to identify students’ intellectual and emotional needs. We accommodate each student with a tailor-made plan of individualized instruction and support, which may affect standardized testing scores, which are used to calculate SPP
  • Cyber charter schools are also an option for students with extraordinary obligations that limit their ability to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar school. In addition to providing students with extra attention, online education creates flexibility that allows students to advance at their own pace.

According to the 2014-2015 School Performance Profiles, PA Virtual is one of the highest-performing K-12 cyber charter school in Pennsylvania with a building-level score of 64.6.

Cyber education is a tuition- free public school option – the district sends a portion of your child’s per pupil allotment directly to the charter school of your choice, at no additional cost to you.

Feel free to share your thought about this topic with us!

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around PA


Across the state, Pennsylvania sure knows how to celebrate the luck of the Irish each March. Here is a quick look at parades and activities families in each city can enjoy:

Right in our capital, the Capital Region Association of Irish and Celts host a handful of events between March 11 – 19 to celebrate the Irish in everyone! Proceeds from their events and fundraisers go towards a scholarship fund for local students, but you don’t have to be Irish to apply.

In the north eastern part of the state, Scranton claims it holds the second largest parade in the country (for cities with a population of over 50,000) which will take place this year on March 12. Prior to the parade, the city also hosts the Brian. P Kelly Memorial Footrace, in honor of the late St. Patrick’s Parade Association President who passed away in 2004 of cancer.

Sponsored by the Church of St. Patrick, Erie families can enjoy their parade on Saturday, March 12 at 2 pm. This year marks the only 39th anniversary of the parade, but the church is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the city. The parade route runs through downtown Erie and ends right in front of the historic church!

In Pittsburgh, the city is embracing the 100th Anniversary of The Easter Rising, which led to the Irish Revolution and ultimately to the establishment of the Republic of Ireland as we know it today, and using that as their theme! On Tuesday, March 8 members of the city council will make an official proclamation announcing “St. Patrick’s Week in Pittsburgh” with their parade and family friendly parade fest in Market Square kicking off at 10 am on Saturday, March 12.

For the first time this year, the Philadelphia the 246th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be broadcast LIVE on Fox29 in the southeastern part of the state from noon – 3 pm on Sunday, March 13. It will also re-air on March 17 during the same timeframe. The Philadelphia parade features several of the cities unique string bands, more commonly known as mummers. Also in Philadelphia, WHYY will host a family friendly party from 4 pm – 7 pm with plenty of live music, Irish dancing, and no adult beverages.

May the Luck of the Irish be with you and your family!

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Posted on: March 14, 2016 by M. Dubbs in

In the Community


Cyber School & Women’s History Month

PA_Virtual_Cyber School_Womens_History

Celebrate Women’s History Month by learning about these five women who have had significant impacts on the landscape of the educational and STEM fields.

Many of the advances in modern science and technology we have today would not be possible without the work of Marie Curie. Marie is one of the most frequently studied and well-known pioneers in science and education. Born in 1867, Marie had to overcome the obstacles continually placed in her way simply because she was a woman and became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in two subject areas – Physics and Chemistry. Her research advanced the field of radioactivity, X-ray equipment, and modern medicine.

Before she became president of Alabama State University in 2014, Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd dedicated her life to the field of STEM education. She became the first African-American female to earn her Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University. Her work at the John Hopkins University Applied PHysilca Lab (APL) included engineering evaluations and analysis of the Strategic Weapons Systems on US military submarines - Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident. She has been a champion in education and a lifelong advocate of introducing children to STEM concepts at an early age.

Current President and CEO of Yahoo! Marissa Mayer has faced criticism at every turn - but let’s not forget where she started. Marissa was Google’s first female engineer, joining the team in 1999 when the company was not yet a household name. Over the years, she became a key person in the development of some of the Google brands we use every day including Google Earth, Google Maps, Local Search, Street View and Gmail and was one of the youngest members of their executive team before she moved to Yahoo! in 2012.

Samantha John is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Hopscotch, an app that allows kids to make their own games, stories or animations while learning the basic concepts of code. Hopscotch is a free app with in-app purchases, but is a game changer for introducing the power of code to young children. Hopscotch is great for boys and girls of all ages, but Samantha is also an advocate behind the Girls Who Code movement.

At only 18 years old Malala Yousafzai has paved the way for educational options for women around the world. Living in Pakistan, a country under Taliban control, Malala was attacked for speaking up in favor of a young girls basic right to education. Since 2009, she has become an international activist for women’s education a passion that began when the BBC approached her family looking for an author for an anonymous diary detailing life under Taliban rule. Since then she and spoken at the United Nations, has a foundation in her name and was the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

What women inspire you to achieve great things? Let us know!

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Posted on: March 09, 2016 by M. Dubbs in

Did You Know?


Why I Chose PA Virtual: The Wert Family

Philadelphia, PA

Why_Choose_PAVirtal_Caitlin_WertIn the United States alone, roughly 2.7 million young women participate in Girl Scouts and cookie season officially kicked off in January! Last year, Caitlin Wert, now in 10th grade, received the Silver Award from the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA for her efforts in educating her female peers on a range of important matters. Through lessons learned in cyber education, Caitlin was able to confidently and accurately teach these lessons.

“Through sessions offered by the Guidance Department at PA Virtual, I have become educated on important topics such as bullying, self-esteem and respect. I incorporated some of what I learned into my "Girl Power" program, especially during the session I held on anti-bullying.”

 After brainstorming about potential projects, Caitlin concluded that what she was most passionate about was helping those closest to her—her female peers. She contacted her local library about conducting a series of lessons that would be aimed at educating girls her age and slightly younger, and was immediately granted permission.

“She wanted to give girls a place where they could come and express themselves safely,” said Cindy Wert, Caitlin’s mother, “she said that if she could make an impact on just one girl she’d be satisfied, but she ended up doing so much more.”.

Each of the 8 weekly lessons focused on a theme. The themes were Self-Esteem, Anti-Bullying, Friendship, Problem Solving, Respect, Confidence, Cooperation and Love Your Planet. By the end of the series, Wert had taught a total of 40 girls. She credits this success to the leadership abilities she obtained through both Girl Scouts and her online education.

“Not only have I learned leadership skills through Girl Scouts, but being a student at PA Virtual has definitely had an influence on my leadership abilities. I would say in 5th or 6th grade, I really started to come out of my shell in my classes. Girl Scouts and PA Virtual have both been a factor in my leadership and service to others.”

Caitlin has moved on to the next level of Girl Scouts and will be working toward her Gold Award this summer.

How can you help your child achieve academic success? Click below for more information on how you can enroll your child at PA Virtual today!

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Posted on: March 02, 2016 by M. Dubbs in

About Cyber Education, Insider Perspectives