School Choice Score: 76%
The Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit for students in low performing districts and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Scholarship (EITC) for low-income families both allow for students attending public school to have the opportunity to attend private school. Collectively the programs are currently capped at $150 million in total possible tax credits, which results in over 60,000 students receiving scholarships. The state permits parents some choices among traditional public schools but it restricts such choice to within other districts. Districts are not required to participate, limiting parents’ options.
Charter Schools Score: 78%
Pennsylvania lawmakers have been engaged – unsuccessfully – for more than four years in an effort to improve and expand the state’s charter law to allow for independent and multiple authorizers, since many school districts oppose charters and withhold needed resources as a condition of their oversight. The law has little hope of improving in the near future with the election of a new governor who has repeatedly opposed school choice. The School Reform Commission of Philadelphia, for the first time in seven years, was forced to accept and approve charter applications. Thirty-nine applied and only five were approved in early 2015. Yet 40,000 students remain on waiting lists in just that city alone.
Online Learning Score: 0%
The state must continue to work on barriers surrounding student access and eligibility.
- Source: Digital Learning Now!
Teacher Quality Score: 72%
Pennsylvania’s annual teacher evaluations use student growth measures as the preponderant criterion. Professional development is not aligned with evaluation findings. Eligibility for dismissal is a consequence of multiple unsatisfactory evaluations. Pennsylvania has minimum salary requirements, but school districts are given additional authority to negotiate how teachers are paid, and teachers can receive additional compensation for working in shortage subject areas.