If the actions are not taken by the deadline, he said, the Education Department would begin proceedings to revoke the charter.
Founded in 2004 and originally based in Bryn Mawr, Achievement House provides online in-home instruction to students in grades 7 through 12. In June, 840 students across the state were enrolled.
In the July 31 decision, Tomalis also said the Education Department would not consider Achievement House's request to add kindergarten through sixth grade as part of its renewal. He directed the school to stop running ads for those grades and to remove all references to an elementary school program from its website.
As of Wednesday, the school was still touting a new elementary program on its website, offering a "sneak peek into our K-6 program" and directing families interested in enrolling their children to "Click Here."
Lawyer Brian Leinhauser, who represents Achievement House, said the school was happy to have a five-year renewal. He said the school would comply with the secretary's directive and had begun gathering the requested information. He said he expected the material would be submitted long before the deadline.
He said Achievement House disagreed with the department's view that renewal was not the time to ask to add an elementary program. Leinhauser said the school would seek to have its charter amended to include K-6. In the meantime, the school is making arrangements to quickly remove references to an elementary program from its website.
Although interested families had submitted preliminary information, no K-6 students were enrolled for the fall, Leinhauser said.
Pennsylvania's cyber charters have had problems with academic performance for years. Only two of the 12 cyber charters operating in the state in 2010-11 met the academic standards under the federal No Child Left Behind act. Achievement House has not met those standards for the last seven years, and the state said the school had only a 24 percent graduation rate. The state's target is 85 percent.
The education secretary said that only 16 percent of the 11th graders at Achievement House scored as proficient in math on the state standardized tests in 2010-11. While scores have been improving by 2.8 percentage points per year, at this rate it would take until 2033 before 57 percent of Achievement House's 11th graders scored proficient in math, he said.
The reading results were better. Forty-eight percent of 11th graders were reading on grade level in 2010-11. "While inconsistent, the reading performance shows an upward trend," Tomalis said.
His 15-page decision also asked for information for several properties Achievement House has bought or rented across the state, including the New Life Expressive Arts and Enrichment Academy at New Life Christian Fellowship Center in Chester City. Achievement House signed a three-year lease with New Life in March.
Minutes posted online from Achievement House's March board meeting said that New Life desired "to provide a cyber-education curriculum to students of the Chester Upland School District and any of the surrounding districts," and that the students would be enrolled at Achievement House.
The Education Department said Achievement House had not provided evidence that the academy staff supervising students from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. had the required academic certification or child-abuse clearances.
Furthermore, the state said it was unclear whether the program would be secular and the facilities would be "devoid of religious symbols."
Leinhauser said Achievement House was merely renting space from New Life so some students could receive their online instruction from Achievement House teachers in a group. New Life provides proctors to ensure that students do not get rowdy, Leinhauser said. The agreement calls for proctors to have all of the clearances required to work with public-school students.
Although state law gives school districts the responsibility for authorizing and overseeing regular charter schools, the Education Department has that authority over cyber charters, which can draw students from across the commonwealth.
The cyber charter schools receive taxpayer funds from a student's home district. Sixteen cybers will be operating across the state this fall.
Contact Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or firstname.lastname@example.org.