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In 1999, the School District of the City of York in Pennsylvania was struggling with student achievement. Schools were not performing well, with students at Lincoln Elementary schools performing at the lowest level in the district. The superintendent, with the support of a group of parents and teachers from Lincoln Elementary School, sought a new approach to help improve the school.


Lincoln Elementary School was converted into a charter school in 2000. The school partnered with Edison Learning using Edison Learning’s School Designs to build and manage the school, now called Lincoln Charter School. The road to charter approval for the school was at times difficult, but with the dedication of a group of parents and teachers, combined with a strong, supportive partner Edison Learning. It was achieved.


  • Lincoln Charter School became the first and remains the only conversion charter school in Pennsylvania.

  • Within 5 years from opening, Lincoln Charter School went from the lowest-performing elementary school in the district to the highest performing school.

  • Lincoln Charter consistently outperforms the other schools in the district – between 2002 and 2009 Lincoln Charter School’s Pennsylvania System of State Assessment (PSSA) Reading scores grew by 25.2 points compared with other schools in the district that grew by 14 points on average.

  • Based on the success of Lincoln Charter School, support was given to open the Helen Thackston Middle School in 2008.


The School District of the City of York in Pennsylvania is a district with a challenging socio-economy and demographic profile. The district includes a diverse mix of students, including 43% African American and 37% Hispanic. A majority of the students (83%) qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch; nearly 34% of students live below the poverty line. In 2000, all schools in the district were not performing well and struggling to make improvements.


The superintendent at the time was looking for new ways to help improve the district’s schools. He was interested in Edison Learning’s innovative approach to building highly effective schools. He decided to try the company’s methods with one of his schools. The district entered into a partnership with Edison Learning and chose Lincoln Elementary School as the first partnership school. Lincoln Elementary School was chosen for a number of reasons, namely; 1) the school was the lowest-performing in the district, 2) the school’s administration had strong ties to the community and 3) the administration was innovative and open to trying new methods to increase student achievement.