Archive for the ‘About Cyber Education’ Category

Kindergarten Online?

PA Virtual Kindergarten ProgramEnrolling your child in Kindergarten is one of the most fun and exciting times in a parent’s life. There are more options than ever for children – if you are considering cyber education, PA Virtual Charter School is an excellent option.

Cyber education requires that parents are closely involved in their child’s personal learning experience. At PA Virtual, the Learning Coach is typically an adult who resides in the home of the child. The Learning Coach provides parents with the opportunity to engage, connect, and provide instruction to their child so they may stay connected to their child’s education.

Kindergarten students average five hours of instruction and learning per day using a variety of instructional methods. PA Virtual provides the flexibility for parents to break up the day and infuse fun and play between live online classes, instruction with the Learning Coach, and independent learning. As students progress through the year, PA Virtual uses DIBELS screenings to ensure that students are kept on track and meeting the benchmarks required by the PA Core Standards. DIBELS is one of the top ranked early literacy screening programs used for young students and is used nationwide by schools of all kinds.

Once enrolled, parents can expect their child’s day to be a blend between live online classes, supplemental learning activities, and self-directed courses. PA Virtual’s Family Support Coordinators, guidance counselors, and administrative team help families adjust to the online learning model and help create an environment where every child can succeed.  With the guidance of the child’s learning coach, Kindergarten students may also receive instruction in music, art and physical education on a regular basis.

Parents who are considering cyber school, sometimes ask what is provided by the school?  PA Virtual provides students with a laptop computer, printer/scanner and a monthly stipend to help cover the cost of internet charges. Using the K12 curriculum, PA Virtual students also receive all supplemental learning materials in the beginning of each year including books, art supplies, science kits, and other learning tools. These provide Kindergarten students with the basic materials necessary for understanding all subject area learning.

If you are interested in learning more about PA Virtual Charter School and how PA Virtual could benefit your Kindergarten student, Please take about a ½ hour to check out the recording of the Kindergarten Open House! It’s not too early to sign your kindergarten student up today for PA Virtual!

Logging Daily Attendance- The Key to Academic Success

Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow

Did you know that nationally, as many as 7.5 million students miss 10 percent of school days in excused and unexcused absences every year? That’s 135 million days of school. As you know, a single missed school day is one a student never gets back. Each time a student misses a day of school, the entire class is affected. Good attendance is important at every grade level. It is important to instill this in children at the elementary level. In our community of partnership, learning and achievement, we work together to make sure all students can reach their academic goals and that begins with daily attendance.

At PA Virtual, we monitor attendance in three ways.

First, our students are required to log into Blackboard every school day, Monday through Friday, to record their daily attendance. We encourage our students to make logging into Blackboard part of their morning routine. Every day at noon, our Family Support Coordinators check attendance. If your child has not logged into Blackboard by noon, we will call and send you an email encouraging you to have your student login for afternoon classes.

Second, if your student is engaged in live, Synchronous classes, their teacher will be monitoring their attendance. Our teachers strive to make every lesson rich and engaging. It is essential to your student’s academic success to be ready for class each day and to participate in these great opportunities.

Finally, our parents help us track our students’ academic hours through the Online School. Students in Kindergarten through 6th grade are required to log 900 total academic hours throughout the course of the school year. Seventh through 12th graders are required to log 990 total academic hours. By tracking your student’s academic hours through the K12 Online School, you help our teachers to know how best to support your student’s academic goals.

We know your student’s academic success is important to you. That’s why we will continue to commit ourselves to helping your student make positive decisions that support their academic goals. The simplest decision your student can make is logging daily attendance.



In Defense of Cyber Schools

PA_Virtual_Grad_Kyra_Smith-CullenKyra Smith-Cullen is a PA Virtual graduate from the Class of 2011. She attended Lock Haven University to study Journalism and currently works as a copy editor for the Daily Item. In the following
article that was published in the Daily Item, Kyra shares and dispels some of the arguments that are made against cyber charter schools. Thank you Kyra for sharing your story!

“In Defense of Cyber Schools”
Kyra Smith-Cullen

On June 10, I watched my youngest sister, Dimitria, graduate in a ceremony similar to my own. The principal made the same joke. Names were drowned out by families’ cheers — and an air horn. And, like me, she had never met most of the people she was graduating with.

Dimitria was a member of the seventh class to graduate from the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School, or PAVCS. Our older sister, Tajya, was in the first and I was in the third. My brother, Kade, was the only one of us to graduate from a brick-and-mortar school, though Dimitria spent her academic career bouncing between the two. Tajya and I were home-schooled before joining PAVCS.

In the 13 years between starting PAVCS and Dimitria graduating, I have heard practically every argument against cyber schools.

One of the loudest arguments was how cyber schools weren’t held to the same academic standards as brick-and-mortar schools. We were encouraged to succeed on our tests and had to have a certain score in order to graduate. I had my core courses — math, English, history and science — along with my co-curricular courses and a mandatory test preparation class every semester. At one point, PAVCS switched to a schedule that was more in line with college, so courses were changed after 18 weeks and we were expected to keep pace.

Our teachers are like any other in the state, with licenses and proper certification, and they did the best they could to help us succeed. They had dedicated office hours and were available by appointment for tutoring program. It was drilled into our heads that, because we were cyber-schooled and under criticism, it was even more important to do our best because people would doubt our schooling.

At one point, I had a friend whose health issues forced her to consider alternative schools and her mother spoke to me about it. They’d gone to her school’s guidance counselor beforehand and mentioned they were considering cyber schools.

They were told that colleges didn’t consider cyber schools as valid high schools, the diploma wasn’t from an actual Pennsylvania school and it would make it difficult to have post-secondary education.

My classmates and I all graduated, received our very valid diplomas and moved on. They went to Cornell, Penn State, nursing schools or the military — and those are just among the people I talk to. Many of us who went to college were on the Dean’s List or graduated with honors.

I pride myself on my schooling. My grades were very important to me to through my entire academic career and I get slightly defensive when people suggest that, because I went to cyber school, things may have been easier for me. But the things I’ve achieved aren’t diminished by my education, they are supported by it. Tajya, Dimitria and I received a quality education at a cyber school and nothing will lessen that.



Myth Busting Cyber Charter Schools: Part 3


What is a SPP score? Why do cyber charter schools have lower SPP scores than traditional brick and mortar schools?

No cyber charter school in the state has a School Performance Profile score of 70 – but that does not mean it is not achievable.

To understand the School Performance Profile (SPP) scores of cyber charter schools, it is important to remember that the summary building-level score is not easily applied to a single school serving students in grades K-12 from hundreds of districts. Some of the metrics that are used to calculate SPP scores do not apply to cyber charter schools, meaning cyber charters receive a zero points towards their final score in some categories.

Additionally the metrics used to measure SPP have changed from year to year, making it difficult to compare to past years. To complicate the process further, only schools who have a grade 11 cohort of students have received an SPP for this year. There were marginal increases and decreases in the cyber schools this year, and despite the ups and downs PA Virtual still ranked at the top of the pack. It is also important to consider the score in the context of our student populations:

PA Virtual employs six state-certified principals and enrolls 2,500 students, which makes us larger than 60 percent of the school districts across the state. We are one of the largest cyber options in the state and educate students from all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

  • The majority of cyber charter school students reside in struggling urban and rural school districts. It is not uncommon for larger cyber schools like PA Virtual to enroll hundreds of new students each year, who have struggled in their traditional school district.
  • A large number of students enroll in cyber school two to five years behind grade level.
  • It takes time to identify students’ intellectual and emotional needs. We accommodate each student with a tailor-made plan of individualized instruction and support, which may affect standardized testing scores, which are used to calculate SPP
  • Cyber charter schools are also an option for students with extraordinary obligations that limit their ability to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar school. In addition to providing students with extra attention, online education creates flexibility that allows students to advance at their own pace.

According to the 2014-2015 School Performance Profiles, PA Virtual is one of the highest-performing K-12 cyber charter school in Pennsylvania with a building-level score of 64.6.

Cyber education is a tuition- free public school option – the district sends a portion of your child’s per pupil allotment directly to the charter school of your choice, at no additional cost to you.

Feel free to share your thought about this topic with us!


Why I Chose PA Virtual: The Wert Family

Philadelphia, PA

Why_Choose_PAVirtal_Caitlin_WertIn the United States alone, roughly 2.7 million young women participate in Girl Scouts and cookie season officially kicked off in January! Last year, Caitlin Wert, now in 10th grade, received the Silver Award from the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA for her efforts in educating her female peers on a range of important matters. Through lessons learned in cyber education, Caitlin was able to confidently and accurately teach these lessons.

“Through sessions offered by the Guidance Department at PA Virtual, I have become educated on important topics such as bullying, self-esteem and respect. I incorporated some of what I learned into my “Girl Power” program, especially during the session I held on anti-bullying.”

After brainstorming about potential projects, Caitlin concluded that what she was most passionate about was helping those closest to her—her female peers. She contacted her local library about conducting a series of lessons that would be aimed at educating girls her age and slightly younger, and was immediately granted permission.

“She wanted to give girls a place where they could come and express themselves safely,” said Cindy Wert, Caitlin’s mother, “she said that if she could make an impact on just one girl she’d be satisfied, but she ended up doing so much more.”.

Each of the 8 weekly lessons focused on a theme. The themes were Self-Esteem, Anti-Bullying, Friendship, Problem Solving, Respect, Confidence, Cooperation and Love Your Planet. By the end of the series, Wert had taught a total of 40 girls. She credits this success to the leadership abilities she obtained through both Girl Scouts and her online education.

“Not only have I learned leadership skills through Girl Scouts, but being a student at PA Virtual has definitely had an influence on my leadership abilities. I would say in 5th or 6th grade, I really started to come out of my shell in my classes. Girl Scouts and PA Virtual have both been a factor in my leadership and service to others.”

Caitlin has moved on to the next level of Girl Scouts and will be working toward her Gold Award this summer.

How can you help your child achieve academic success? Click below for more information on how you can enroll your child at PA Virtual today!