Pennsylvania just approved the operation of four new cyber-charter schools, bringing the number of online charter schools in the state to 17.

This is literally unbelievable.

We constantly hear lectures from “reformers” about data-driven decision-making and focusing only on results.

They like to say “it’s for the children.” “Children first.” “Students first.”

The existing cyber-charters in Pennsylvania have been evaluated and found to have disastrous results. The data say they are failures.

Of 105,000 charter students in the state, 32,000 are in cyber-charters. Here is the State Education Department release about its decision.

Citing the Stanford CREDO study of cyber-charters in Pennsylvania, the Keystone State Education Coalition writes:

“In an April 2011 study (PDF), the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University reviewed the academic performance in Pennsylvania’s charter schools.  Virtual-school operators have been aggressively expanding in the state for more than a decade, making it a good place for a study; around 18,700 of the state’s 61,770 charter school students were enrolled in online schools. The results weren’t promising.

The virtual-school students started out with higher test scores than their counterparts in regular charters. But according to the study, they ended up with learning gains that were “significantly worse” than kids in traditional charters and public schools. Says CREDO research manager Devora Davis, “What we can say right now is that whatever they’re doing in Pennsylvania is definitely not working and should not be replicated.”

Further, of 12 cyber-charters, only 2 made AYP. Eight were in “corrective action status.”

Would “reformers” please spare us the empty rhetoric about “it’s for the children”?

And would they stop prattling about “data-driven decision making?”

When we see what is happening in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and other “reform” states, anyone can see that “the children” will certainly not be the beneficiaries of these decisions. The data are clear. It’s all about the profits.