Pennsylvania has 14 Cybercharters, which are very profitable to their owners. A new book reviews the outcomes of Cybercharters as compared to brick-and-mortar schools. Attending a Cybercharter has negative effects.

The following appeared in the Keystone Center for Charter Change, which is sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Cyber versus Brick and Mortar: Achievement, Attainment, and Postsecondary Outcomes in Pennsylvania Charter High Schools

MIT Press by Sarah A. Cordes, Temple University, February 6, 2023 Abstract: The charter school sector has expanded beyond brick-and-mortar schools to cyber schools, where enrollment grew almost tenfold between 2015 and 2020. While a large literature documents the effects of charter schools on test scores, fewer studies explore impacts on attainment or postsecondary outcomes and there is almost no work exploring the consequences of cyber charter enrollment for these outcomes. In this paper, I examine the impacts of Pennsylvania’s charter high schools on student attendance, achievement, graduation, and postsecondary enrollment, distinguishing the impacts of brick-and-mortar from cyber schools. I find that brick-and-mortar charters have no or positive effects across outcomes, and that effects are concentrated in urban districts and among Black and economically disadvantaged students.

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By contrast, attending a cyber charter is associated with almost universally worse outcomes, with little evidence of heterogeneity. Students who enroll in a cyber charter at the beginning of 9th grade are 9.5 percentage points (pps) less likely to graduate, 16.8 pps less likely to enroll in college, and 15.2 pps less likely to persist in a postsecondary institution beyond one semester. These results suggest that additional regulation and oversight of cyber charter schools is warranted and also bring into question the efficacy of online education.

The state’s Cybercharters, as listed on the PA Dept of Education website:

21st Century Cyber CS

Achievement House CS

Agora Cyber CS

ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber CS

Central PA Digital Learning Foundation CS

Commonwealth Charter Academy CS

Esperanza Cyber CS

Insight PA Cyber CS

Pennsylvania Cyber CS

Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS

Pennsylvania Leadership CS

Pennsylvania Virtual CS

Reach Cyber CS

Susq-Cyber CS