Pennsylvania just approved four new cyber-charter schools, bringing the number of online charter schools in the state to 17, writes noted education historian Diane Ravitch on her blog—and given what the research says about the efficacy of cyber schools in that state, she calls this news “unbelievable.”

“We constantly hear lectures from ‘reformers’ about data-driven decision-making and focusing only on results,” she writes. “They like to say ‘it’s for the children.’ … [But] the existing cyber-charters in Pennsylvania have been evaluated and found to have disastrous results. The data say they are failures.”

A Stanford study reviewed the academic performance in Pennsylvania’s charter schools and found virtual-school students started out with higher test scores than their counterparts in regular charters—but ended up with learning gains that were “significantly worse” than kids in traditional charters and public schools, on average.

“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,” Ravitch writes. “The data are clear. It’s all about the profits.”

To read the full blog post, click here.

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staff and wire services reports