“It is clear the secretary made that change to make charter school performance look better and the feds said, ‘You can’t do that,'” Bethlehem Superintendent Joseph Roy said.

The federal government has shot down Pennsylvania’s unilateral rule change that made it easier for charter schools—including cyber charters—to meet federal testing benchmarks than traditional public schools.

State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis had said Pennsylvania could treat charter schools the same way it treats school districts in calculating student test scores to come up with so-called Adequate Yearly Progress grades.

But the U.S. Department of Education said that because charter schools are individual schools, they must have their own separate AYP grades under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Tomalis did not wait for federal approval when he made the change over the summer at the bequest of the charter school industry. The change might have inflated the success rate of charter schools, according to a Morning Call analysis of state test data, because testing rules are more lenient for school districts than individual schools.