The difference between cost & curriculum – how does a cyber charter school & your local school district compare?
As we continue to look at some of the of cyber education in Pennsylvania, we take a look at some of the fundamental differences between your local school district's online program and a full-fledged cyber charter school. How do you choose what is right for your child?
It is true that both cyber schools and district IU’s educate children online and there is a cost to both - but they are not the same. Cyber schools incur cost much differently than a traditional IU. IU’s can use teachers already salaried from the district, and pre-owned classroom equipment. Cyber schools must account for facilities for mandated testing and health screenings and provide each student with a computer, the essential software, all curriculum materials, a printer, and reimbursement for Internet access.
How much does it cost to send a child to cyber school? Cyber schools are funded through your state tax dollars, and is a percentage of your traditional districts per pupil allotment – which varies greatly depending on where you live. To date, there has been no comprehensive analysis of the per-pupil cost of cyber education in Pennsylvania. Cyber charter school leaders have repeatedly asked the legislature to convene a group to answer the question of the average cost to educate a child in a cyber charter school. In the absence of such data, opponents of cyber charter schools have circulated unsubstantiated and inaccurate numbers.
How does the curriculum stack up?
PA Virtual takes a look at each individual student to assess their learning needs instead of just trying to teach all of our students the exact same way.
In most cases, students who choose to learn online through their districts IU will be following the same curriculum as the district mandates, in a similar way, but with an online component.
PA Virtual and other PA cyber schools purchase nationally recognized curriculum programs from outside sources, which comply with the PA Core learning standards.
Districts have been able to develop their own online programs thanks to the pioneering efforts of cyber charter schools. If anything, the growth of district-level virtual academies demonstrates the demand for alternative learning environments.
It is our goal to foster innovation in the design and delivery of educational services. PA Virtual ensures the development of best practices that will improve student achievement through Innovation in Teaching and Learning Grants. Teachers who have collaborated to pilot successful instructional initiatives have gone on to present at national conferences on virtual learning.
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 thoughts about this topic with us in the comments below, and click the button below to request more information about PA Virtual.