PA Cyber Charter School Receives Middle States Accreditation
"Some of us were skeptics and I was one of them. ... To come in as a skeptic and come out as a supporter, as I did, is pretty impressive." - Dr. John Plesha, Associate Director, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
MIDLAND, Pa., Nov.1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools has conferred upon the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School full accreditation status for all grades K-12.
PA Cyber is the first public cyber charter school in the nation to successfully go through the Middle States accreditation process, according to Dr. Nick Trombetta, CEO.
"We are always seeking ways to improve our school, and to differentiate PA Cyber from other virtual schools and programs," said Dr. Trombetta. "We are very pleased, proud and excited about receiving this designation from the organization which provides accreditation for the nation's best schools and universities."
Executive Director Andrew Oberg said, "PA Cyber is dedicated to delivering a very high standard of instruction. It is gratifying to have our school's educational excellence validated by Middle States, considered to be the gold standard among accrediting organizations."
The school was informed of accreditation status Monday, Oct. 31, by John Plesha, Ph.D., associate director of the Philadelphia-based Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Dr. Plesha chaired the five-person committee whose on-site visit was part of a year-long accreditation process. The other four members included both traditional classroom and cyber educators from other states.
Dr. Plesha said this was his first opportunity to examine the operation of a cyber charter school.
"Some of us were skeptics and I was one of them. My whole background in education is in bricks-and-mortar," said Dr. Plesha. "To come in as a skeptic and come out as a supporter, as I did, is pretty impressive. Does cyber school work for everyone? No. But does bricks-and-mortar work for everyone? No. Cyber school is a valid educational opportunity."
Dr .Plesha said the speed with which PA Cyber was able to complete the accreditation process was an indicator of good staff organization. "Normally it takes a year and a half. PA Cyber managed to do it in a year. They have their act together," he said.
Oberg said, "We constantly have to report to the state about our school's operations, often above and beyond what other schools do, so we knew we could complete the accreditation process in a timely fashion. Our team did an amazing job for us, very professional and thorough."
PA Cyber internal coordinators for the accreditation process were Nicole Cwynar of the Title I Reading Department, and Dr. Sandra Fouch, director of federal programs, assessment and research.
Dr. Plesha said the accreditation process is individualized for each school, but all schools applying for accreditation must meet or exceed recognized educational standards in 12 different categories.
"It comes down to accountability and responsibility," he said. "What we ask is if the stakeholders in a school - the teachers, staff, students, parents and community - feel confident that the school is doing what it should be doing, whether it is what it claims it is, and if it is meeting internationally recognized standards of quality."
In addition to Nicole Cwynar and Dr. Sandra Fouch, the internal accreditation committee included Andrew Oberg, Brian Boothby, Dana Craker, Deborah Bufalini, Elizabeth Kail, Jane Camp, Jennifer Shoaf, Jordan McCarty, Kevin Percic, Logan Glass, Margie-Jo Miller, Marta Karwoski, Matthew Schulte, Mike Shoaf, Nancy Yanyanin, Nicole Gianvito, Nicole Granito, Paul Pupi, Roberta Viscuso, and Joe Rodella.
In August, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley came to PA Cyber headquarters to announce the school had made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act) for a third consecutive year, an unprecedented accomplishment for a cyber charter school of its size. In October, the Post-Gazette named PA Cyber the Top Workplace among all large companies in the Pittsburgh region, and named Dr. Trombetta as the 2011 Top Executive.
"Receiving Middle States accreditation caps a wonderful year of recognition for our school," said Dr. Trombetta.
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is a voluntary non-profit association dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer evaluation and accreditation. It is one of six regional accrediting organizations for higher education institutions recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education. Middle States provides accreditation services for colleges and schools in 15 states and 87 foreign countries.
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School is an online school providing a free publicly funded education for children of Pennsylvania residents in grades K4 kindergarten through high school senior. Founded in 2000 in a small western Pennsylvania steel mill town, PA Cyber now enrolls 11,000 students from every part of the Commonwealth and is considered a leading innovator and national model for online K-12 education. The school website is www.pacyber.org.
SOURCE PA Cyber Charter School
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