Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley visited PA Cyber Monday and announced the online school has made AYP a third consecutive year.
L-R Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, PA Cyber Exec. Dir. Andrew Oberg and CEO Dr. Nick Trombetta.
The lieutenant governor himself announced the outcome of 2011 PSSA state testing for the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. On a tour of school facilities Monday, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley made the early announcement that PA Cyber has met all AYP performance targets for the third straight year.
Cawley called PA Cyber a model for the nation, noting it is the largest charter school anywhere to make Adequate Yearly Progress, the standard of school effectiveness under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
“I congratulate you on making AYP three years in a row, and now challenge you to keep up your great work and make it four,” Cawley told an audience of 600 who gathered in the mainstage theater of Midland’s Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center.
“When it comes to public education, Governor Corbett and I believe the priorities must be child, parent and teacher, in that order. That is what schools like PA Cyber are all about,” Cawley said. “Pennsylvania families need quality options when it comes to educating our kids. This decision should not be based solely on zip code or economic status.”
Dr. Nick Trombetta, PA Cyber CEO, said PSSA state test results showed PA Cyber students overall and in all subgroups made across-the-board improvement in reading and math, meeting 31 of 31 AYP targets for academics, graduation and test participation.
On his morning tour the lieutenant governor saw a demonstration of a real-time virtual class in a renovated building that was once the largest United Steelworkers local union hall in the country. He met instructional supervisors working in PA Cyber’s administrative building, former headquarters for Crucible Steel, which 30 years ago was the small western Pennsylvania town’s major employer.
Dr. Trombetta told the lieutenant governor that Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center is built on the site of the town’s high school that closed after Crucible Steel shut down in 1982.
Cawley viewed construction underway in downtown Midland on a $10 million dining hall and music education facility at Lincoln Park and a new $5 million PA Cyber headquarters building, both scheduled to open a year from now.
Dr. Trombetta told Cawley the online school is now Beaver County’s third largest employer. “This has been a jobs, jobs, jobs success story,” he said.
Dr. Trombetta said PA Cyber enrolled 10,000 students last year and he expects 11,000 this year. The Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School enrolls 550 students and has a waiting list of 400. Another affiliated nonprofit, the National Network of Digital Schools, provides high quality online K-12 curriculum to 433 schools in 19 states.
“None of this would have happened without the courage, vision and good work of the board and staff at the Midland Borough School District,” he said, speaking of the school which sponsored PA Cyber’s original state charter in 2000.
“I salute the work of Dr. Trombetta and the faculty and staff at PA Cyber,” said Cawley. “What started as 50 students in Midland has grown to the largest charter school in the state.”
An analysis of preliminary 2011 PSSA data for PA Cyber showed that students in ethnic subgroups – black, Hispanic and multiracial - posted the largest improvement within the school, raising reading scores by an average of 7 points, a nearly 23 percent improvement, and math scores by an average 9 points, a gain of 27 percent.
The school achieved a graduation rate of nearly 92 percent on a goal of 85 percent, and a test participation rate of 98 percent on a goal of 95 percent. Final PSSA test score data will be made public when school “report cards” are posted next month by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
This is the third consecutive year PA Cyber has met all AYP performance targets: 29 targets in 2009, 29 in 2010, and now 31 in 2011. The two additional targets this year were due to having enough ethnic Asian students to constitute a subgroup.
Joining Cawley on the tour were State Sen. Elder A. Vogel Jr. (R-47), State Rep. Jim Marshall (R-14), State Rep. Jim Christiana (R-15), Beaver County Commissioner Charlie Camp, and a personal friend of Cawley’s, Fr. Terence Henry, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Cawley said many years ago Fr. Terry taught him world history and American history at the archdiocese high school in Philadelphia.