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Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) is committed to offering a customized, robust, standards-aligned K-12 program that prepares students not just for graduation but for college or technical schooling, careers or service in the military. To develop curricula that allow for a personalized education program, CCA plans, creates and sources content and materials to deliver targeted, engaging courses for students across all grade and ability levels. We combine these top resources with our Pennsylvania-certified teachers to work with the entire family to forge a customized program that meets the varied interests, skills and needs of our students and allows them to enjoy the full benefits of personalized learning.
Across the country, students enter their schools every day bringing diverse skills, competencies, interests and educational needs. Yet the traditional educational system is designed to teach them all at the same time and at the same speed. CCA recognizes that students learn in different time frames and different ways and that is why personalized learning is important. It meets students where they are to give them what they need when they need it.
By enabling students to master skills at their own pace, personalized learning allows for customized paths to graduation, makes better use of technology, targets students’ skills and interests most effectively, takes advantage of learning opportunities outside of school, and more easily identifies the need for interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students.
We asked PA residents about what goals they think personalized learning can help achieve. Here’s what they said:
At CCA, student choice is one of the benefits of personalized learning. Students and their families work together to choose what types of courses they take, and every course at CCA is filled with opportunities to practice new ideas and concepts and receive feedback. CCA creates a safe learning environment for students to make mistakes as they process new material and skills. This is a big part of what customized learning looks like. Traditional education with its focus on rote learning and right and wrong, often prevents students from trying something new for fear of failure.
The personalized learning and technology at CCA allow teachers to offer whole-group, small-group and one-on-one support through written feedback, real-time virtual class sessions, variations to lessons to help different learning styles, choices in how assignments are completed and continual communication.
Personalized learning is important because it is student driven, gives students more responsibility over their learning, recognizes each student learns differently and allows for greater educational growth. CCA’s customized cyber education is a great model of what personalized learning looks like.
Charter schools and cyber charter schools were authorized in Pennsylvania to create greater flexibility for innovation within public education and to provide a form of public school choice. As a cyber school, CCA invests in customized academic programs in which students are driving decisions about what and how they will learn. CCA meets students where they are in their educational journey and supports them in learning at their own pace and on their own schedule.
Because we are a cyber charter school, CCA can offer our students the best of both worlds: a customized education on their own schedule. CCA students have the freedom to pursue a wide range of extracurricular activities, attend field trips, hold jobs and internships, volunteer in their communities, enroll in college courses and even graduate early due to our flexible learning environment. Combining personalized learning and technology, CCA offers flexible learning options for students to pursue their education when and how it fits their needs. That means students can choose to participate in an online class in real time, watch a recorded version at a more convenient time or forgo the class sessions if that additional instruction is not needed for students to successfully master the concepts of a lesson.
Caring, flexible teachers offer online, phone, email, text and chat options to connect with students and ensure they have what they need to be successful in their courses. Another benefit of personalized learning is that CCA offers whole-group, small-group and one-on-one opportunities so students can choose their best learning environment.
CCA recognizes that each student is unique in multiple ways – in their past educational experiences, in their educational interests and in the ways they learn best. An education at a public cyber charter school frees students from the requirement to be in their seats at designated times, enabling them to set their academic schedules based on their wants and needs, regardless of the time, place and pace of the content.
Students can pursue unique opportunities outside of a traditional school’s brick-and-mortar walls, which allows students to explore career- and community-based learning during typical school hours.
CCA’s teachers work with students to determine their best learning styles and help them to establish goals for success. Even better, customized academic programs adapt to students’ changing needs. The benefits of personalized learning allow CCA cyber school teachers, students and learning coaches together to review their progress regularly and adjust goals as needed throughout the school year.
One of the benefits of personalized learning at CCA is that we believe mistakes are inherent in learning and that’s why we provide multiple levels of support to students in their journey to success. Teacher-led guided instruction offers students opportunities to participate in a virtual class environment for real-time instruction, class discussions, and teacher and peer interactions. Students also can view a recording of these sessions at a more convenient time and still receive detailed feedback from a teacher while working at their own pace on assignments.
Also, teachers are trained to use formative assessment, which allows them to identify in real time the strengths and weaknesses in student learning so that they can modify instruction to the student. That ultimately supports students where they are and helps them reach grade-level standards and beyond. This is what personalized learning looks like.
Additional support is available to students through small-group and one-on-one appointments with their teachers. CCA also monitors all students for support through the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model, a schoolwide initiative to provide universal screening to all students and then targeted academic, behavioral, social and emotional interventions. These interventions are formulated by data-driven decision-making and involve the student’s full academic team of teachers, counselors and administration.
CCA’s Career Pathways program is another tool we use to offer a customized education program. At CCA, we are committed to providing students with 21st century skills, helping them discover future careers and preparing them to succeed in school and in life.
Our career-readiness program, CCAWorks®, employs a flexible, exploratory, career-oriented mindset that will help students discover and explore different careers within a field of interest and gain knowledge, experience and skills that prepare a student for life after high school. Students can explore any of the five career pathways at any point in high school, but we recommend choosing in ninth or 10th grade. CCA offers the following Career Pathways for our online students:
CCA’s internship program uses Career Pathways to help students determine which industries might be best suited for their skills and interests.
CCA offers a robust Honors program for students in grades 3-12 to participate in a rigorous and challenging online classroom to meet the needs of gifted and advanced students. At the high school level, the Advanced Placement (AP) and College in the High School programs are added to the challenging course options.
The Honors program is designed to meet students’ advanced educational needs by providing personalized academic programs focused on real-world applications. Students within the program are required to participate regularly in class discussion and problem-solving activities.
Project-based learning is incorporated into the program, allowing students to engage in complex questions and challenges. Students are always encouraged to work above grade level with a rigorous customized curriculum that challenges and promotes their academic growth. Advanced courses are available pending a counselor’s approval.
Working in conjunction with the general education curriculum, CCA has injected personalized learning into special education. We reach each student on their individual level by providing unique accommodations and modifications based on each student’s individualized education program (IEP). CCA uses multiple sources of information to customize a plan for each student’s success, including grades, assessments, interest profiles and family input, among others.
The exclusive CCA Achieve courses allow students who are several grade levels behind to receive instruction on their grade level, while also receiving support to fill in gaps on skills from previous grades that haven’t been mastered yet. CCA’s personalized academic programs recognize the diverse and distinctive needs of each student by providing interventions, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and BCBA (board-certified behavior analyst) therapy to support students and families in-home or at approved facilities based on the IEP process.
CCA appreciates the modified pacing that students with special needs may require, and accommodating differentiated pacing is one of the benefits of customized learning in special education. Without the constraints of a typical classroom, teachers can group material into digestible pieces, while students can take breaks as needed. This is another reason personalized learning is so important. Real-time virtual classroom sessions, where students can meet with their state-certified special education teacher, are always recorded so students can access them at a later time more convenient for their schedule.
At CCA, personalized learning is the key to meeting our students where they are and customizing the curriculum so they can find success through graduation and beyond.
Working in conjunction with teachers, school counselors, career-facilitation consultants and other staff, CCA students create customized learning goals allowing them to leave CCA career- and college-ready. CCA’s personalized education program is built around our staff’s commitment to understanding the whole student, including interests, strengths, areas of need and goals, so they can build a strong relationship with the family and offer guidance to support a student’s goals. This is why personalized learning is important. It is not a cookie-cutter education. It truly is a customized plan that considers all aspects of a student’s life, interests and skills.
There are multiple benefits of personalized learning: Students have the option to take a wide variety of courses while pursuing internships, early graduation, summer courses, independent study, field trips and other opportunities to meet their learning goals while preparing them to be a productive citizen who is ready for a career, college, technical school or to serve in the military.
If you are a Pennsylvania family ready to see how your child can thrive in a cyber school environment, enroll today. Or, get in touch with a CCA parent to hear about their experience with CCA’s personalized education program.