York Schools Rank 499th of 500 in Achievement, Change is Overdue

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

York School District’s Student Achievement still at Rock Bottom Despite  Funding Increases  

Spends $656 more per Student than the State Average, Still Fails Students

October 13, 2014, HARRISBURG, Pa.—New research from the Commonwealth Foundation reveals that for years York City students have suffered in some of Pennsylvania’s worst-achieving public schools—second to last in the state to be exact. That’s despite a steady rise in funding amounting to a 33 percent increase over ten years.

This Wednesday, the York City School Board will be asked to give preliminary approval a plan to reverse this trend of escalating costs and stagnant achievement.

“Structural change is long overdue if York is to fulfill its obligation to offer students a quality education,” said James Paul, senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation. “We hope to inform the ongoing debate as to whether students deserve a chance at a better education through converting district schools—whether in part or as a whole—to a charter operator.”

Achievement and Funding Analysis

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education:

  • York City SD ranked 499 of the 500 districts on the 2012-13 State Performance Profile
  • In math, more than twice as many York students performed “below basic” than the state average
  • In reading, nearly three times as many York students performed “below basic” than the state average

Funding has increased substantially without a noticeable improvement in achievement:

  • From 2002-03 to 2012-13, spending per student rose by more than $6,000—a 33% increase in inflation-adjusted dollars
  • Despite the rise in spending, student achievement was essentially flat from 2008-12
  • As of 2012-13, York City spent $656 more per student than the state average

Paul continued:

The families of more than 2,300 students in York—and more than 120,000 students statewide—have already made the choice to attend charter schools to escape chronically failing district schools. Given the track record of York City School District, despite boosts in funding and attempts at reform, it’s no wonder York parents and students are seeking a better solution than loading more money onto a sinking ship.

While charter conversion is not a guarantee of immediate success, York charters do outperform district schools.

James Paul and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact us at 717-671-1901 to schedule an interview.

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For more information, please contact our director of media relations for the Commonwealth Foundation at 717-671-1901 or [email protected].

The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.