Parents’ Guide to How Online School Works at CCA
CCA believes learners flourish when families and teachers come together in a strong partnership.
There are many questions about doing school online that parents might ask themselves. Will their neighborhood high school be the right stage to launch their child’s academic and professional future? Sadly, too many families find their local school will not meet their needs, whether the issue is lax academic performance, inadequate attention to your child’s individual needs, a dangerous environment or a combination of those factors.
But you’re not stuck. Did you know that, in Pennsylvania, parents can choose an online elementary, middle and high school? Your child can receive a customized education at Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), a public cyber charter school for grades K-12 available at no cost to families.
We’re sure you have a lot of questions, and we’ve put together a brief online parents guide to help you weigh your options.
Attending school online at CCA allows students to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. CCA focuses on your child’s interests and skills to develop a customized curriculum that will ensure your child graduates both career- and college-ready.
About Online Learning
In Pennsylvania, cyber charter schools are public schools authorized and overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Public cyber charter schools must be operated as nonprofit, public entities. That means they are tuition free because they are supported by tax revenues like every other public school. A diploma awarded by CCA is the same as you would earn at your neighborhood public high school.
Likewise, CCA holds accreditation from the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. By meeting that standard, we show that, even though you’re attending school online, you are receiving a quality education that can be reciprocated with other schools. The accreditation also validates the value of CCA’s education to other accredited institutions.
Our friendly enrollment team will work with students and their families to transfer credits from your home school district, and CCA provides you with a computer, technical support and an internet subsidy, so your student won’t miss a beat in transferring out of your current school.
The customized education offered at CCA allows students to learn when, where and how they choose. Online students are not required to sit in a classroom from dawn to dusk. They can learn at their own pace on their own schedule through real-time virtual classroom sessions, recorded lessons, workbook projects, hands-on learning, career-readiness education and other opportunities.
CCA prides itself on offering a family centered education, with the parent role in school as important as the student’s. Our cyber school parents and guardians are involved in helping us develop their child’s customized learning plan and monitoring their work.
We recognize the diverse skills our students bring, and we offer accelerated Honors and College in the High School programs, as well as extra educational support, technical education opportunities, career planning, internships, hundreds of field trips and customized plans for our learners in special education and English Language Development programs.
The Benefits of Attending a Virtual School
Online school parents do not have to worry if their child will make it to the bus stop on time or, alternately, have to walk through unsafe neighborhood streets to get to their brick-and-mortar school.
CCA Provides Comfortable Learning Environment
Online school parents also do not have to worry about their child being safe throughout their school day. CCA allows your child to learn from the safety and comfort of your own home. But, just because they are learning online, they won’t be stuck behind a computer all day without any social interaction. CCA students interact virtually with their teachers and classmates from across the entire state of Pennsylvania. We also offer multiple socialization opportunities, including hundreds of educational and social field trips every year, more than two dozen clubs and other activities and workshops.
Personalized Education at Our Online School
A parent’s role in school is important from day one. At CCA we believe that student success is a team effort, so we work to build strong foundations through family relationships. With our family centered education, parents and guardians help teachers at CCA develop a customized education based on your child’s interests and skills. Parents and guardians also serve as their child’s learning coach which, at the high school level, includes working with your child and guidance counselors to develop a customized plan to help meet post-high school goals.
Math, science, English and social studies serve as the core online curriculum, but we also offer Honors, Advanced Placement and college courses, electives centered on any interest possible, from coding, gaming and aquaponics to journalism, criminal justice and health sciences. We also have career-readiness opportunities through our Career Pathways program. CCA can design learning programs and provide support services to students with disabilities. Plus, we offer a robust English Language Development program.
Our ability to customize an education for our students allows us and the students to adapt to changing needs and better prepares our students not just for graduation but for life after high school.
Flexibility in Family Centered Education at CCA
As an online school that offers a customized, family centered education, CCA knows every family and child follows different schedules. As parents of online students, you will discover that one of the most valuable benefits of a cyber charter school is the ultimate flexibility you and your child have.
You will never have to worry about your child missing a class again. If your child can’t join a lesson online in real time, they can watch it at a more convenient time. Because all of the lessons are recorded, they also serve as a great tool for reviewing material or watching multiple times if it is a particularly difficult lesson.
Especially in the high school years, this flexible schedule lets students pursue jobs and internships while their peers in other public and private schools are anchored to a classroom in a building. It also opens even more time to pursue other extracurricular activities, from clubs to sports to the arts or whatever your child’s interests are. It’s also a fringe benefit to gain extra family time, which can be in short supply these days. Students benefit from the flexibility when they attend school online, and parents do, too.
What to Consider Before Enrolling Your Child in Cyber School
A parent’s role in education is crucial to their child’s success. We know you want what is best for your child and, at CCA, that’s what we want, too. It can be a big transition for many families to decide to leave their neighborhood brick-and-mortar school and transition to a public cyber charter school. Aside from determining why you’re dissatisfied with your current school, you will want to consider the points in this guide for online school parents before enrolling your student at CCA.
Your Child’s Learning Style
At CCA we believe parents know their child best, which is why we focus on family centered education. The parent’s role in education directly contributes to a student’s success. You will need to determine in what environment your child works best and what their learning style is.
Some students learn and work better in a traditional, structured learning environment, while others thrive in an educational environment like CCA’s online school that features student-centered learning in which a student’s interests and abilities drive the process. Investigate the school’s curriculum and policies. Are group projects stressed over individual assignments? How is homework structured, and what are the policies surrounding how and where it’s done and consequences over its completion? What sort of services are available to help students learn, and what services are available to offer additional academic support?
As far as your child’s learning style is concerned, in addition to knowing if they work better in groups or individually, it’s important to know if your child is a visual or auditory learner. Does the school stress one style over the other or accommodate all learning styles? Does your child have any special needs and, if so, does the school offer specific help or programs with those types of learning issues? If it’s possible, it’s helpful to talk to parents of children with similar learning styles to see how they think the school is performing for them. At CCA, we have multiple parents from diverse backgrounds ready to talk to parents considering online high school, family mentors who advise CCA families on nonacademic issues and regional Family Service Centers for in-person help.
Students’ Career Goals and Interests
Too many of today’s public schools think that getting their students to walk across the graduation stage to take their diploma is the ultimate goal of a high school education. At CCA, we know graduation is just a beginning and our students need 21st century skills to be career- and college-ready to start the next chapter of their lives. It’s important to investigate if and how a high school helps its students explore career and education options, if it has any structured programs to do so, like CCA’s Career Pathways, how robust its counseling operations are and if it offers access to college and military representatives as well as internships and job shadowing. All of those services help students to be ready to decide if they want to enter the workforce, continue their education or join the military after graduation.
The School’s Success
Like every other public school in Pennsylvania, public cyber charter schools are required to have our students take state assessment tests. Although test scores are certainly a factor to consider when choosing a public school, they should never be the only one. How are the scores trending? How are different populations of students performing? It’s important to understand the makeup of a school as diverse as a public cyber charter school like CCA. Because we accept any Pennsylvania resident in grades K-12, we often need to provide for gaps in student knowledge due to inadequacies in their previous education. We specifically have programs designed to help these students catch up, and it’s important to investigate how the schools you are considering address this population – particularly if your child fits into this category.
Beyond test scores, check a school’s data to see what students are doing after graduation. Are graduates attending the sort of college, university or technical school you hope your child will attend? Are students moving right into the workforce in rewarding career options? Do alumni have ongoing relationships with the school?
A critical parent role in school selection is to find a school where your child will be exposed to a wide swath of subjects and pursuits inside and outside classroom learning. Does the school offer accelerated learning options such as Advanced Placement (AP) courses and dual enrollment programs that allow students to earn college credits while still in high school? What subject areas interest your child most? Are there strong programs in STEM fields or arts and humanities programs that offer not just introductory courses but the ability for advanced study or career connections? Every public school offers a core curriculum that students need to follow to earn a diploma. But not every school offers academic and career exploration courses or deep dives into specific subject areas.
At CCA, we know well that an education is not complete if it happens only during school lessons. You will want to look for a high school that offers clubs and extracurricular activities that run the gamut from technology and theater clubs to leisure clubs to the ability to compete at debate contests and science fairs. What about field trips? Many public schools no longer have the budgets for trips, which not only limits a student’s ability to explore outside the box but can severely limit exposure to career options. It’s important to see if extracurricular participation is required, what the most popular activities are and if students have the time to participate in more than one pursuit.
The parent’s role in education plays a key factor in success for both high school and in the future, and that starts with exploring which school is best for your child. Deciding to become an online school family may be the path for you after you consider all of the above facets in the schools you are considering.
CCA’s Partnership Approach to Education
CCA believes students flourish when families and teachers come together in a strong partnership. When a family member is engaged with CCA teachers, it sends a message to the student: This is important.
Everyone has a role: Children explore their academic passions, teachers personalize lessons and encourage learners, and family members act as learning coaches by supporting, motivating and monitoring their child’s progress.
The outcome is a productive student who wants to attend school and families who are engaged and excited by their child’s talents and progress.
It’s rewarding, too. Many CCA families say charter school parent involvement is the most satisfying aspect of being a part of the school.
Family Involvement Makes a Difference in Student Development
At CCA, families can customize a school day that maximizes a student’s potential. CCA students attend classes virtually using the latest tools and technology. Families work collaboratively with highly qualified and Pennsylvania-certified teachers. Virtual lessons are presented in real time, or recorded, to meet the unique needs of each family.
Because learning happens primarily from home, CCA families have great flexibility in scheduling. Students can fulfill class requirements around their daily schedules.
An adult family member serves as their child’s learning coach, playing an active role in their child’s education and helping them to succeed in school and in life.
Cyber Schools Provide a Safe Environment For All Learning Styles
A CCA cyber school education helps students gain the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to succeed. If you’re also looking for flexible scheduling and a customized education for your child, consider becoming an online school parent. You can learn more about being a part of a charter school where parent involvement is important by contacting us, or you can enroll now if you’re ready for the change.