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The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research (PACER): Translating Research and Analysis for Education Policymakers

Began in June 6, 2011

The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research–or PACER–is designed to inform state education policy discussions through rigorous, objective research; regular policy briefs; and research-based commentaries in leading media outlets statewide.

Related Publications


Special Education Funding in Pennsylvania Charter Schools

For many years, policymakers, researchers, and education stakeholders in Pennsylvania have been examining and debating the Commonwealth’s system of funding special education in charter schools. Despite all this attention, there remains significant confusion about how…


Teacher Diversity in Pennsylvania from 2013-14 to 2019-20

As RFA documented in Patching the Leaky Pipeline, teachers of color (TOCs) are important for all students and particularly for students of color (SOCs). Yet, despite promising statewide initiatives to improve teacher diversity, there is…


Equity-Focused Charter School Authorizing Toolkit

Providing high-quality and equitable learning opportunities should be a primary goal of all schools and school systems. Charter schools comprise the most steadily growing sector of Pennsylvania’s public education system, now home to over 160…


School Performance Profiles: Still Not the Sum of a School’s Parts

Since 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has annually published School Performance Profiles (SPPs), which assign a summative academic performance score for every traditional public and charter school in Pennsylvania by rating each school…


Charter School Special Education Funding in Pennsylvania

For many years there have been calls to reform how Pennsylvania funds special education both for school districts and charter schools. While some modest changes were recently legislated, they applied exclusively to new state special…


College Affordability in PA: How Did We Get Here, and What Can Be Done?

A postsecondary credential is quickly becoming the only reliable gateway to the middle class. A college certificate or degree is associated with higher household income and stability, better health, and a stronger, more competitive economy.…


Community Schools in Practice: Research on Implementation and Impact

Community schools are receiving increased attention in Pennsylvania and across the country as policymakers and practitioners strive to address the effects of poverty on academic performance, and provide more comprehensive supports for traditionally-underserved populations. While…


Creating a Comprehensive Picture of School Performance

For more than two decades, states have been required to report publicly on the academic performance of schools and districts. These school rating systems have received increased public attention amid growing concerns about the prevalence and…


Educational Vouchers – Facts, Figures, and a Summary of the Research

Educational vouchers have gained increasing currency in recent months as a potential school reform strategy in Pennsylvania. Both Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates have publicly endorsed vouchers in some form, and the Pennsylvania legislature has expressed interest…


Issue Brief: Performance Pay for Teachers

This PACER Issue Brief–the third in a series–examines alternative teacher compensation models, specifically pay for performance. It builds on the series’ first brief on teacher effectiveness to provide context, identify challenges, and answer questions about…


Issue Brief: School District Portfolio Management

In Philadelphia, an ambitious effort to restructure the district has been proposed. The draft Blueprint for Reforming Philadelphia’s Public Schools, released in April 2012, sets two distinct goals: 1) Safe, high-performing schools district-wide; and 2)…


An Analysis of Pennsylvania’s Cyber Charter Schools

Pennsylvania’s first charter school opened in 1998, enrolling 44 full-time students. The sector has since grown to 16 schools enrolling 35,000 students from all but one school district in the Commonwealth. This PACER Issue Brief…


School Closings Policy

The nation’s largest school districts have increasingly turned to building closures to address budget deficits, demographic shifts, and the movement of students to charter schools. This PACER Issue Brief examines school closings policy.


Early Childhood Education in Pennsylvania

Early childhood education has emerged as a priority for state and national policymakers, even in the face of declining education budgets elsewhere. This PACER brief examines the research and policy base surrounding early childhood education.


Local School Governance in Philadelphia

School district governance in Philadelphia has long been a subject of debate. In this PACER brief, RFA examined the history of Philadelphia school governance; surveyed the governance structures in a sample of other large, urban…


Revisiting Cyber Charter School Performance

RFA’s updated cyber charter school analysis shows that cybers continue to lag far behind both traditional public and charter schools on the state’s performance measure, and average cyber performance trails behind the average performance of…


The Potential Effects of Opting Out of State Tests in Pennsylvania

Parents across the country have expressed frustration with standardized tests. This policy brief examines the degree to which student opt-outs might influence Pennsylvania’s new school rating system, the School Performance Profile (SPP), which relies heavily…


PA Keystone Exams: Analysis of 2013-14 Publicly-Available Data

Pennsylvania’s two-decade experience with standards-based education reform has been marked by an increasing reliance on test-based accountability. This research brief provides education stakeholders with accurate, comprehensive analysis to inform the growing debate about Keystone Exams.


Pennsylvania’s School Performance Profile: Not the Sum of its Parts

Test-based accountability has been a primary feature of public school policy since 2001, when the No Child Left Behind Act required states to adopt annual assessment programs, identify sanctions for schools that did not meet…
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