Prospective parents often ask how students socialize in a virtual school environment. As socialization is a crucial part of a child’s development, we offer plenty of opportunities for students to interact with their peers outside of the classroom. Our Family Support Coordinators organize fun and educational field trips across all regions of the state each month. PA Virtual also has over 20 clubs where students meet virtually on a regular basis based on common interests. Additionally, students may choose to participate in their local school district’s extracurricular programs such as athletic teams and social clubs.
Enter your email below.
Silas, PA Virtual Student
You may be asking yourself, "How do I know if my child will benefit from a PA cyber school?" This is a crucial question when determining the next steps in your child’s educational future. Please read some of the reasons our current families enrolled and have found success with our virtual model. We hope that our online school guide in Pennsylvania is helpful.
If you want to be more involved in your child's education, we can help. Our parents – Learning Coaches – are a foundational element of the school’s model. The Learning Coach is crucial to a student’s success. As a Learning Coach, parents actively participate in their student’s education by partnering with teachers and support staff to ensure daily progress and academic achievement. Each student enrolled must have a primary responsible adult to support them.
The Learning Coach is the eyes and ears of the school in the home learning environment. This means parents ensure students:
The involvement and support of the Learning Coach varies based on the age and the need of the student and relies heavily on open lines of communication between the Learning Coach, student, and teacher. For parents that want to be involved with their child’s education on a daily basis, the role of the Learning Coach is the role of a lifetime.
If you are looking for a structured schedule that meets at certain times each day, then synchronous classes may suit your needs. While a Learning Coach is still essential for synchronous classes, the courses offer the benefit of live, real-time teacher interaction and instruction. The virtual classroom is organized in an electronic platform known as Jigsaw Interactive for students in grades k-8 and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for students in grades 9-12. In synchronous classes, teachers and students interact verbally and use an interactive whiteboard, chatbox, emoticons, microphones, instant messaging, webcams, and other online tools. Students who follow a primarily synchronous plan will still have some asynchronous classes and lessons to complete, with the help and guidance of their Learning Coach.
If you are looking for a slightly more flexible schedule, then asynchronous classes may better suit your needs. Students have a customizable schedule in a self-directed environment. Their day is managed by the adult at home – the Learning Coach – but their academic work is planned by a certified teacher. The teacher supervises academic progress and is available to support their students' needs daily. Students must meet the prerequisite program criteria to participate in the asynchronous model as outlined by each school.
PA Virtual believes the responsibility of educating your child is a team approach. In addition to your partnership as the Learning Coach, PA Virtual provides the tools and services students need to succeed - inside the classroom and outside in the greater community.
We hope this information was helpful to parents who are considering if their child would benefit from a PA cyber school. For more information on PA Virtual, please check out our website and feel free to request more information.
One of the greatest assets PA Virtual has is the diverse background and experience of our teaching staff! We have over 150 state-certified teachers in locations all across the state, and many have both cyber and brick-and-mortar teaching experience. Nine of our teachers were nominated for 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year!
PA Virtual teachers have an average of eight (8) years of service to our school. Some of our teachers are new to the PA Virtual family, and some of them have been with us since we opened our virtual doors in 2001. But no matter how long they’ve been here, all of our teachers share a passion for teaching at PA Virtual!
This is a sample of just a few of the many wonderful teachers at our school. Explore their bios below. Check out the “Meet Our Team” page to view all teacher photos and fun facts.
Name: Jacqueline Sieber
Name: Robin Elder
Name: Zachary Mehal
Our teachers bring a wide array of talents and interests to our community and make PA Virtual a great place for you and your student to learn and grow. Want more? View the virtual profiles of Elementary School teacher Katie Barnett and High School teacher Tamara Bacon below.
Meet Katie Barnett!
Meet Tammy Bacon!
PA Virtual’s state-certified teachers lead students through their studies using the K12, Inc. curriculum for students in grades k-8 and the Edgenuity curriculum for students in grades 9-12. Just like at your local school, our experienced teachers supplement the curriculum using their creativity to individualize lesson plans and add variety throughout the year.
The K12, Inc. curriculum consists of online lessons, books and workbooks, Learning Coach Guides, and supplemental materials. The Edgenuity curriculum consists of rigorous, interactive online content that fosters advanced critical thinking and analytical skills for students in the upper grades.
Students in grades K-4 take courses in Math, English/Language Arts (ELA), Science, History, Art, Music & Physical Education. You can review and download course descriptions by grade level here.
Here’s an example of what first grade students receive for their ELA curriculum.
You may be thinking, "What are the top PA cyber elementary schools near me?" You've come to just the right spot. Want to see an online lesson in action? Click here!
Students in grades 5-8 take courses in English/Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science, American & World History, American & World History Art, Music, Health & Physical Education. You can review and download course descriptions by grade level here.
Here’s an example of what fifth grade students receive for their ELA curriculum.
Want to see an online lesson in action? Click here!
Students in grades 9-12 take a variety of courses in core subjects as well as electives. You can review and download our high school course catalog here.
Here's an example of the Edgenuity platform.
Contact us when you're wondering, "Are there PA cyber high schools near me?" Want to see an online lesson in action? Click here!
Starting a new school can be overwhelming, especially when that new school is unlike anything you’ve ever done before. Parents and students have many questions, like what their responsibilities will be, what a typical school day looks like, and how many hours a day they are expected to complete schoolwork.
At PA Virtual, families and administrators work together to answer those questions by deciding what type of instruction best fits their student’s needs: synchronous or asynchronous.
Synchronous courses are led by PA-certified teachers; students attend live classes with their peers across the Commonwealth.
Asynchronous courses provide students the opportunity to move through their courses in a more self-directed manner, with the supervision of PA-certified teachers. Teachers plan the student's coursework and are available to support students daily.
Both models require dedication and assistance from the Learning Coach, although the level of involvement can vary somewhat by grade level.
Elementary school establishes the educational foundation for young learners. At this stage of their educational journey, students begin to think critically, problem-solve, and manage their learning time; all skills that will help foster future academic success.
Families with elementary-level students should expect the Learning Coach to be very hands-on. Learning Coaches of elementary students will sit alongside their child during live, teacher-led lessons. After live lessons are complete, the role of the Learning Coach is to guide the child through their assignments and online lessons, enhancing concepts as needed.
Students are expected to receive 5 hours of direct instruction per day. Direct instruction is comprised of instructor-led classes and independent work guided by the Learning Coach. Students receive live instruction from teachers in synchronous classes. Teachers also direct students to work with their Learning Coach to complete lessons in the online school. Additionally, the Learning Coach will guide their students through the asynchronous courses offered at the elementary level (Spelling, Vocabulary, Art, Music, and Physical Education; and at some grade levels, Phonics, History, and Science).
Middle school continues to build on the educational foundation of students. At this stage of their educational journey, students continue to hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Middle school students engage and participate in classes under the supervision of their teachers, using discussion boards, podcasts, videos, webcams, wikis, and other forms of communication. At this stage the students become more independent and begin to actively manage their learning time - they are encouraged to begin taking ownership of their education. Teachers provide students with a syllabus outlining assignments and due dates to help them stay on track.Parents should expect their middle school student to receive 5-5 ½ hours of direct instruction per day, regardless of whether they are in synchronous or asynchronous classes. Direct instruction is comprised of instructor-led classes and independent work guided by the Learning Coach. Hours will vary based on a student’s individual needs and program requirements, and additional hours may be needed for students who attend academic support or tutoring classes. In general, however, synchronous students will attend classes up to 4.5 hours a day, with the remaining hours used to complete independent work. Learning Coaches with students in synchronous classes should be available to keep an eye on students while they are in class, and they will need to dedicate additional hours each day for asynchronous work. Learning Coaches with asynchronous students should be available to monitor students while they complete their schoolwork and will need to dedicate approximately 5-5 ½ hours each day.
PA Virtual high school students prepare for their future journey to work and post-secondary education. Students learn techniques to manage their time, solve problems, take personal responsibility, properly use information and communication technology, and gain global awareness.
Each academic year, high school students are required to take a minimum of 5.25 credits. Students receive a minimum of 5 ½ hours of direct instruction per day, for a minimum of 990 hours by the end of the school year. Direct instruction is comprised of instructor-led classes and independent work. On average, synchronous students spend 3-5 hours per day attending their live classes and dedicate 1- 3 hours a day to independent work. Asynchronous students dedicate a minimum of 5 ½ hours each day to independent work in lieu of attending live classes.
To graduate and earn their diploma, high school students must:
The School Counseling Department at PA Virtual works closely with students in selecting courses, planning their academic futures, and advising them in career and college options. Throughout the school year, high school students are invited to participate in monthly presentations on different topics such as college applications, financial aid, and scholarships, as well as workforce, military, and vocational/technical opportunities.
School Counselors also hold senior reviews with every student to discuss their post-secondary plans and help them work towards their goals. For example, they can help students who are college-bound complete applications. For students interested in immediately entering the workforce, counselors can help create resumes, find job fairs, and provide helpful interview tips. Military-bound students get support in connecting with their branch of choice or local recruitment offices, and students interested in vo-tech programs get help finding a school that will meet their interests and needs.
Starting a new model of education with PA Virtual Charter School can be challenging for both parents and students. While the instruction process for each family differs depending on the grade and mode of instruction, school administrators work hand-in-hand with families to ensure each student has the potential to succeed, opportunities to overcome challenges, and access to a curriculum that doesn’t overwhelm them. Parents will find their students are most successful in a cyber charter school when they are partners in the educational journey and actively work with our staff to support them every step of the way.
There are 14 cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. These schools have a few similarities and many differences. Per the PA Department of Education (PDE), a cyber charter school is an independent public school and a non-profit organization that uses technology to deliver a significant portion of curriculum and instruction. Cyber charter schools are established and operate under a charter through the Department of Education. The differences between schools are vast, and this section focuses on providing data to help families learn some of the key differentiators.
Act 82 Building-Level Performance Profile
Per PDE, The Act 82 Building Level Score (formerly the PA School Performance Profile) is an integral part of the Educator Effectiveness System. The profile provides a school-level academic score for all public schools, including charter and cyber charter schools, and career and technical centers. The Act 82 Building Level Score is one of the state’s measures of accountability for public schools in the commonwealth. Many data elements come together to create the academic score, including:
Indicators of Academic Achievement:
PSSA/PASA/Keystone performance, industry standards-based competency assessments, grade three reading proficiency, and SAT/ACT college-ready benchmarks.
Indicators of Closing the Achievement Gap:
All student scores are used to define how well a school is making progress toward proficiency of students. Historically Underperforming Students scores are used to define how well a school is making progress towards proficiency of those students who have historically not demonstrated proficiency.
Indicators of Academic Growth/PVAAS:
Measures the school’s impact on the academic achievement level of groups of students from year to year.
Other Academic Indicators – Assesses factors that contribute to student
The data provided focuses on PA cyber charter schools scores, based on the PDE 2019 Act 82 Building-Level Profile Results.
PDE explains that these scores are designed to help inform the public of school performance and allow them to compare schools, while also providing a score for educators to use as part of their evaluation system and a methodology to analyze their strengths and needs.
We are proud to report that PA Virtual has one of the highest Act 82 Building Level Scores in 2019.
PDE explains that growth data measures a student group’s growth across time, and compares the performance of a student group to their own prior performance. Review the subject-specific data below for cyber charter schools Meeting Annual Growth Expectations.
PA Virtual is pleased to report the highest Annual Growth Expectations among PA cyber charter schools in Science/Biology. PA Virtual had the 3rd highest Annual Growth Expectations among PA cyber charter schools in both English Language Arts/Literature and Mathematics/Algebra I.
There are so many choices in where children go to
Please review the school size of the cyber charter schools in PA, per PDE Public School Enrollments 2019-2020:
PA Virtual Charter School families have the best of both worlds - small enough that our students can master the curriculum in smaller class sizes, paired with strong parental involvement and a true sense of community, yet large enough that students have a wide variety of courses, services, and social opportunities available to them.
Cyber charter schools receive their charters through the Department of Education. These
PA Virtual Charter School offers every grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade. Our school is separated into 3 smaller
High school graduation rates can be an important indicator of a school’s success. All public schools in the state provide their graduate data through the Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS), and that data is used to calculate Graduation Rate. Below you can see data from the Future Ready PA Index from 2019-2020 (PA Department of Education's most recent published data).
PA Virtual is proud to have the highest 4-year Graduation Rate of all the cyber schools in the state.
We hope this section comparing all 14 cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania will help you as you research the best school for your child. While PA cyber charter schools are chartered and monitored through the PA Department of Education, every school is independent and the differences are vast. Make sure to consider all of these factors as you make a choice.
When parents decide to research cyber school as an option for their child, they usually have many questions. Maybe you're wondering, "What happens after my child graduates from online school?" Or, one popular question we hear at PA Virtual is: “How will a PA Virtual education prepare my child for post graduation?” PA Virtual high school students complete a graduation project which gives them real-world experiences whether that be through job-shadowing or research. In addition, each and every day, through instruction and supports, our teachers prepare students to successfully transition out of high school as independent lifelong learners.
Every student has a School Counselor who assists with helping students figure out what path they want to pursue after they graduate. For students interested in immediately entering the workforce, counselors help create resumes, find job fairs, and provide interview tips. Military-bound students get support in connecting with their branch of choice or local recruitment offices, and students interested in technical college get help finding a school and career path that will meet their interests and needs.
Whether it is helping students choose a career path or college, prepare for the workforce or military, or earn as much scholarship money as possible to make their post-graduation dream come true, our counselors steer PA Virtual students in the right direction, cheering them on as they travel down the path to future success.
But don’t just take our word for it, listen to PA Virtual alum Elias Harkins as he shares what he’s been up to since graduating in 2013.
“PA Virtual provided me with countless skills which are vital in college. Time management, note-taking, online portal navigation, and test-taking abilities are things I mastered with PA Virtual.”
- Alexis Dingeldein, Class of 2017
"PA Virtual not only offered me the independent learning environment that I had come to love through traditional homeschool but also provided me with an education that challenged my skillset and supported me in areas where I was weaker. The creativity of my classes and the encouraging teachers helped fuel my interests in the sciences and led me towards pursuing a career in medicine."
-Elizabeth Dower, Class of 2014
"Many of PA Virtual's classes significantly improved my abilities as a writer and a scholar. One class that particularly prepared me well was Mr. Rocchini's criminal law elective. The class taught me how to write persuasively, critically analyze a problem from multiple perspectives, and finally how to persuasively argue a point tailored to a certain audience. The class marked the first time that I had ever studied the law and fueled my goal to eventually become an attorney."
-Zachary Griffith, Class of 2014
Join our PA Virtual school community of over 2500 students! We provide students with an excellent education, grounded in high academic standards, which will help them achieve their full academic and social potential. Our 4-step enrollment process is easy and we will help to guide you through.
You will receive a personalized email with the link to the registration form, which should take 10-15 minutes to complete, as well as a list of documents to submit with the fax or email address for submitting them. We will also provide you with the enrollment forms required by the PA Department of Education, which you complete online and submit electronically.
The documents that are required by the state of Pennsylvania include:
In addition, we request these additional documents if applicable:
After you complete your online registration and submit your documents, the Assistant Director of Enrollment will call you to complete the Enrollment Conference. During this call, we will discuss the specific requirements and expectations for our school and for your child’s grade level and also explain your role as the Learning Coach. In addition, we will talk about the specific needs of your child so that this information can be shared with our Academic and Family Support Teams. Sharing this information will help them to provide support to your child from day one. We will confirm your child’s start date with PA Virtual and withdrawal date from their current school. After the Enrollment Conference, it is your responsibility to contact your current school to provide them with your start and withdrawal dates. Your child should remain enrolled in their current school until the enrollment process is finalized.
Enroll early so that you are able to start the school year on our first day of school! Enrolling early will also give you time to set up your home learning environment. We also have open enrollment throughout the school year. Apply now to begin the enrollment process.
We look forward to helping you through the enrollment process and are very excited to partner with you as your child starts their educational journey with PA Virtual!
We hope that our online school guide in Pennsylvania is helpful for you. Cyber charter schools offer flexibility to students and their families. Our asynchronous mode of instruction provides an opportunity for families to customize a student’s schedule that works best for them, allowing students to complete work at their own pace. Additionally, because cyber charter schools are public schools, there is no cost to attend, and all academic materials are shipped directly to each family’s home. Students graduate with a high school diploma just like students at your local district school. And students are equipped with the skills and preparedness for the next step after graduation, whether that is furthering their education or entering the workforce.
*As a public school, PA Virtual is funded by Pennsylvania Taxpayer dollars.
Our families say it best:
“We are PA Virtual proud because they go above and beyond other schools.”
They encourage my son to embrace his intelligence and to never stop learning!.”
Kariann Kocher, Elementary School Parent
“We are happy with being a part of PA Virtual because we have been welcomed from day one by all of the lovely staff members who are as passionate about teaching as we are about learning.
PA Virtual helped integrate and transition us when other local schools would not and now my daughter is excelling and actually enjoying learning without disruptions. Thank you PA Virtual.”
Wanda Klinefelter, Middle School Parent
“PA Virtual has made a difference in our lives by allowing my child the flexibility and freedom to excel beyond our wildest dreams while engaging in fun, exciting, and challenging virtual classrooms. Thanks PA Virtual!”
Corinne Putnick, High School Parent
Enter your email below.
Amazing teachers and courses challenged my mind, while the flexibility of an online environment and encouraging faculty gave me support in areas where I needed help to thrive!”
PA Virtual Graduate, Class of 2013