The Widener Partnership Charter School, or WPCS, was founded in September 2006 by community members and leaders in Chester, Pennsylvania and Widener University. It began as a K-3 school and became a K-5 school in 2010. As of 2012, it serves 328 students grades K-5. In the fall of 2011, WCPS received approval from the Chester Upland School Board to expand to grades K-8.
“[D]evelop urban elementary (K-5) students with the behaviors, task commitment and creativity to succeed in the current educational environment. Through holistic cultivation of children’s resources, the WPCS will enable students to become self-motivated, competent, and lifelong learners. The school will aim to educate its students to become citizens of character who can contribute to the vitality and well-being of the region.
By providing a multicultural, student-centered environment in which all students are held to high academic and behavioral standards and by engaging parents and caregivers as partners in the education of their children, the WPCS will provide the context for students to work in collaborative relationships both within and outside the school to provide service to the greater community.”
A core component of WPCS is its Parent Caregiver Council which engages parents and caregivers in meaningful ways. The school also serves the needs of students and faculty at Widener University by allowing students in a multitude of disciplines to learn experientially. Faculty are able to use the school as a laboratory to conduct research in myriad fields.
WPCS as of 2011 is the highest performing public elementary school in Chester. The school was only one of two in the district to make Adequate Yearly Progress based on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). The school attendance rate in 2011 was 97%.
Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA, Scores:
5th Grade Reading:
2011 – 60% on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.
5th Grade Math:
2011 – 57% on grade level (11% below basic). State – 74% of 5th graders are on grade level.
4th Grade Reading
2011 – 49% (21% below basic), State – 73%
2010 – 68% (19% below basic), State – 73%
4th Grade Math
2011 – 67% (26% below basic), State – 85%
2010 – 74% (13% below basic), State – 84%
4th Grade Science
2011 – 36%, (19% below basic), State – 82.9%
2010 – 62%, (21% below basic), State – 81%
3rd Grade Reading
2011 – 54%, (30% below basic), State – 77%
2010 – 47%, (34% below basic), State – 75%
2009 – 75%, (20% below basic), State – 77%
3rd Grade Math
2011 – 54%, (22% below basic), State – 83%
2010 – 72%, (6% below basic), State – 84%
2009 – 71%, (4% below basic), State – 81%
Charter schools are expensive. For example, in 2007, three charter schools cost the district $25 million out of an $84.6 million budget. That said, 38% of students in the Chester Upland School District are enrolled in charter schools. Some parents worry that students enrolled in traditional public schools are suffering at the expense of charter school students. Those individuals hope for reforms that benefit students district-wide.
Charter advocates, however, argue that the district saves money as per-pupil spending is lower, on average, for charter schools than public schools. Lower by about $2,500 per student per year. In addition, proponents cite achievements on PSSA’s to demonstrate the current success of charter schools in the Chester Upland School District.
The 2012 budget crisis in the Chester Upland School District has impacted WPCS. It will suffer a $500,000 budget cut. Fortunately, funds from Widener University make WPCS able to better compensate than other schools in the district.