Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about PA Virtual. However, these FAQs are no substitute for personal answers to your individual questions. Please contact us to learn more about PA Virtual at 866.728.2751.
HOW DO CHILDREN WHO ATTEND PA VIRTUAL SOCIALIZE WITH OTHER STUDENTS?
Our students take part in many academic and social outings statewide each year. These outings include trips to museums, zoos, parks, and other community destinations. We also encourage students to participate in their resident school district athletics and membership organizations. Many students feel that having friends throughout the state results in richer and more successful social life. Also, PA Virtual students are eligible to participate in extra-curricular clubs and organized athletics in their district of residence.
DOES PA VIRTUAL OFFER THE STRUCTURED ENVIRONMENT OF “BRICK AND MORTAR” SCHOOLS?
Our parents access a structured, comprehensive lesson plan everyday. The K12 Inc. curriculum is a researched-based curriculum that relies on the mastery of lesson objectives. The lessons and activities that children complete each day have been developed so that an adult has all the tools needed to use the program successfully with the help of a highly qualified, PA-certified teacher. The program is also flexible— it can be modified to your child’s needs or interests.
IS THE CURRICULUM AND MATERIALS THE SAME THROUGHOUT THE STATE FOR EVERY STUDENT?
All students follow the same curriculum for their grade level, without regard to where they live or their economic circumstances.
IS HOME-BASED EDUCATION A FULL-TIME JOB?
Schooling at home does take time. Your children will need to spend approximately five to eight hours on schoolwork each day, depending on the grade level. However, the time you spend working with your children does not have to be continuous. Direct parental participation during the school day can range from 80 percent for early grades to about 50 percent for higher grades.
DOES NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND APPLY TO PA VIRTUAL?
In accordance with ACT 22, the Pennsylvania Charter School Law, all of our students are required to take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) in the areas of Math, English Language Arts and Science at the grade levels prescribed, by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Students are required to take the Keystone Exams upon course completion in Algebra, Literature, and Biology by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We must reach the School Performance Profile standards as set by the state. PA Virtual must meet all state standards for School Performance Profile in relation to teacher certification and student achievement. In addition, as a charter school, we provide annual reports to the state, and must have our charter renewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education every five years.
IS PHYSICAL EXERCISE A PART OF YOUR CURRICULUM?
Physical exercise is part of PA Virtual’s school programming. Students are required to log one hour each week of structured, organized and supervised activities. Many students, of course, go beyond our requirements to take part in community soccer, volleyball, softball, basketball, and other sports leagues.
DOES THE PROGRAM PROVIDE A COMPUTER, TEXTBOOKS, AND OTHER INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS?
Yes. Each family is loaned a computer system (including computer, printer, software, and a set reimbursement for Internet connection) to support the learning process. These computer systems are PA Virtual property and must be returned in acceptable working condition when the student leaves PA Virtual. PA Virtual will arrange for technical support and troubleshooting for these systems. We also provide all the textbooks and instructional materials that are needed to complete the program. These books and materials are sent to students directly from K12, Inc via postal or electronically. Our students are responsible for consumable materials (color printer cartridges, paper, notebooks, writing instruments, etc.).
CAN MY CHILD WORK AT HIS OR HER OWN PACE?
The program is flexible within the parameters specified by state law and is geared towards students with varying learning abilities. Teachers will partner with you to determine what the appropriate pace is for your child while achieving mastery of standards mandated by the state.
CAN I ENROLL ALL OF MY CHILDREN IN PA VIRTUAL?
Regardless of the size of your family, all children between the grades of Kindergarten and 12th grade are eligible to enroll at PA Virtual. Parents will be assigned a grade-appropriate teacher for each child.
CAN A STUDENT ATTEND PA VIRTUAL AND ANOTHER SCHOOL SIMULTANEOUSLY?
No, since PA Virtual is a state-chartered public school, students cannot attend another school simultaneously.
HOW IS ATTENDANCE TAKEN AND RECORDED AT PA VIRTUAL?
Attendance is recorded every day when a student begins his or her day by signing into Blackboard, PA Virtual’s online management system, in addition to teachers documenting students participation in synchronous and asynchronous classes. All students are required to meet state-required daily instructional mandates and complete 900 hours (elementary) or 990 hours (secondary) annually in accordance with state law.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO ATTEND THE PENNSYLVANIA VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL?
There is NO tuition because PA Virtual is a free public school.
WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS A PARENT OR ACADEMIC COACH?
Your role is to support your student in the daily lessons in collaboration with the teacher. Your partnership with the assigned PA Virtual teacher is to ensure that the academic benchmarks for your student are being met both academically and socially.
HOW DOES YOUR SCHOOL HANDLE SPECIAL EDUCATION?
We adhere to applicable federal and state laws that govern special education. Each student with an IEP is assigned to a highly qualified, PA-certified special education teacher. The highly qualified, PA-certified regular education teacher, special education teacher, parent or guardian, and other team members work together to create an appropriate IEP and implement each student’s specially designed instruction.
WHO GRADES STUDENT WORK?
On a day-to-day basis, parents check student work and teachers monitor student’s academic growth. Teachers also assign semester and year-end grades.
DOES PA VIRTUAL HOLD FINAL EXAMS, AND WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR PROMOTIONS?
Periodic assessments take place throughout the year to serve as benchmarks to ensure students are learning. Promotion is contingent upon successful completion and mastery of the benchmarks and state assessments.