Franklin County virtual academy created

Franklin County virtual academy created

There are 39 comments on the Public Opinion story from Jun 5, 2011, titled Franklin County virtual academy created. In it, Public Opinion reports that:

Chambersburg Area School District has 238 students who attend a form of online charter school.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Public Opinion.

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pool patron

New Bloomfield, PA

#22 Jun 6, 2011
and isn't it possibly true that the people who started blended schools get some financial gain? I think that is so. It is a glorified correspondence class. It is true that students are leaving the classroom. Maybe districts should focus on keeping them instead of throwing them out the doors. Remember that the districts will get paid for the virtual academy regardless of student outcomes.

Just a bad idea for students and a good idea for the few who stand to gain including districts who don't want poor test scores added to their data.
DOOPtastic

United States

#23 Jun 6, 2011
Check the facts wrote:
Hey DOOPtastic...does the military accept the students who graduate from an online program?? Nope...at least not without provisions.
Face it folks...cyber schools suck our money out of public education. If we have to pay for every kid that goes there but have no say in the teachers, curriculum, or education...I'd rather have these kids take a local online classes and be funded by our own teachers as opposed to sending them out elsewhere
You're correct - the military has some limitations on students who graduate from a cyber program. You can learn more about it here: http://www.military.com/news/article/May-2011... . There are members of Congress actively working on having this changed. There is an old provision, created in 1987, that classifies any student who doesn't get a traditional diploma as a Tier 2 graduate. Obviously, this was long before the inception of cyber schools.

I'd like to just reiterate that cyber schools are charter schools, chartered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They ARE public schools. The district does not educate the student, so they transfer the student's tax dollars to the cyber school. The district wouldn't have any say in the education, because the student does not attend school there.

However, the cyber must comply with all Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines, just like the district. In many cases there are very valid reasons for leaving the school district. The district is, in some way, failing the student or the student's family.

If a school district isn't meeting a student's traditional educational needs, and the district is supposed to be expert in delivering that education with many, many years of practice - what makes anyone think that a district just dipping its toe into the cyber education pool will be successful? These districts know little about educating in the cyber realm and they are providing very few resources to make it work.
Experienced Cyber Mom

Chambersburg, PA

#24 Jun 6, 2011
My children all graduated from a cyber charter school in Pennsylvania. Two of them just graduated with Bachelor’s degrees and received scholarships due to their grades and SAT scores. My youngest is still pursuing her bachelor’s degree. I have never known a college in PA or surrounding states that was "wary of accepting students with degrees from cyber schools." Colleges look at the SAT score first for traditional brick and mortar public schools or cyber charter schools. Looking at the record of the school, virtual or otherwise speak a great deal to colleges and parents who are making choices. The PA Virtual Charter School ( www.pavcsk12.org ) where I have been a teacher for 9 years, for the 2009-2010 school year had a 96.08% graduation rate while the Chambersburg School District had 89% and Greencastle Area School's graduation rate was 86.7%. Last year was the Chambersburg High School's 4th year in the corrective action by the state. I would be more "wary" of choosing a virtual school run by that school. Sadly, this is all about retrieving money to their budgets from students who have left to cyber charter school with 10 years of online education experience and excellence!
Reason

Chambersburg, PA

#25 Jun 6, 2011
DOOPtastic wrote:
<quoted text>
Are a student's PSSA scores attributed to the cyber school? Nope - there are no measures for accountability. Please stop trying to make them sound credible. You only seem more pathetic.
You're correct - the military has some limitations on students who graduate from a cyber program. You can learn more about it here: http://www.military.com/news/article/May-2011... . There are members of Congress actively working on having this changed. There is an old provision, created in 1987, that classifies any student who doesn't get a traditional diploma as a Tier 2 graduate. Obviously, this was long before the inception of cyber schools.
I'd like to just reiterate that cyber schools are charter schools, chartered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They ARE public schools. The district does not educate the student, so they transfer the student's tax dollars to the cyber school. The district wouldn't have any say in the education, because the student does not attend school there.
Are a student's PSSA scores attributed to the cyber school? Nope - there are no measures for accountability. Please stop trying to make them sound credible. You only seem more pathetic.
However, the cyber must comply with all Pennsylvania Department of Education guidelines, just like the district. In many cases there are very valid reasons for leaving the school district. The district is, in some way, failing the student or the student's family.
If a school district isn't meeting a student's traditional educational needs, and the district is supposed to be expert in delivering that education with many, many years of practice - what makes anyone think that a district just dipping its toe into the cyber education pool will be successful? These districts know little about educating in the cyber realm and they are providing very few resources to make it work.
Are a student's PSSA scores attributed to the cyber school? Nope - there are no measures for accountability. Please stop trying to make them sound credible. You only seem more pathetic.
DOOPtastic

United States

#26 Jun 6, 2011
Reason wrote:
<quoted text>
Are a student's PSSA scores attributed to the cyber school? Nope - there are no measures for accountability. Please stop trying to make them sound credible. You only seem more pathetic.
Reason - you've been misinformed. A student's PSSA scores are absolutely attributed to the cyber school. Students who attend a cyber school and take the PSSA - their scores have no bearing on the district's scores.

Cybers have to meet all of the same Adequate Yearly Progress standards as school districts do. If they do not meet AYP, they must write a School Improvement Plan with their local Intermediate Unit, which then goes to the PDE for approval. Schools (districts, charters, cyber charters) who do not meet AYP face increasing levels of consequences.

You can learn more about AYP and see every school's AYP status and report card at http://paayp.emetric.net . To specifically see the charter schools (cybers are included on this list) you can go to http://paayp.emetric.net/CharterSchools .

In addition to the AYP accountability measures, charters and cyber charters undergo charter renewals at set intervals. Each must also submit an Annual Report by August 1 of each year. You can view all of the charter school annual reports (cyber charter school reports are included) at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.p... .(Districts neither have renewals nor annual reports).

I am not trying to make cyber schools sound credible. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has already given them credence by approving 12 of them in the state. Over 25,000 students and their families have given cybers further credence by entrusting their education to the schools.

I am simply refuting incorrect information that is being put forth. I am providing links to back up my information. If this makes me pathetic, so be it. I believe in the difference between words and facts.
Confused

Landisburg, PA

#27 Jun 6, 2011
After spending a ton of money on the CASHS building and stadium, the district is now putting a plan in place that will provide the means to have students NOT use these facilities. Make sense?

Too bad we did not build a "cyber stadium" and field a virtual team. At least we would have saved some of that money. Then the students could watch the virtual games on their laptops and not have to associate with all of the nasty fans.
Take A Closer Look

Aspers, PA

#28 Jun 7, 2011
Parent of a student wrote:
Can a student go to the Vo-Tech School if they are in cyber school? I would cyber school my Son if this were possible. He will take over the Family farm after school. He wants to take Ag. Mechanic so that he can work on his own equipment.
I wouldn't see why they couldn't attend Vo-Tech if they are cyber schooled. If the kids can go to the regular "brick and mortar" school to participate in a Foreign Language class...I don't see what the difference would be. I'm no expert on the issue, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Also, I think I would rather have my children cyber schooled (I'm a stay-at-home mother), than have them in an (at times) unsafe learning environment. I get tired of the bomb threats; whether they are real or bogus. I get tired of kids bringing weapons to school as well as teasing and bullying the kids. Bullying will never be completely removed from any school, especially with so many kids having access to cell phones, unsupervised internet access and social networking sites. Those things make it easier to bully not only during school hours where it interrupts learning, but outside of school, even in the childrens' homes, where it can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts because they cannot escape it. I don't care WHAT the school district's policy is (at least where we live), my children have reported instances of other kids bullying them, as well as other kids who are being bullied. The schools don't take it seriously ALL the time. I've caught instances where what a child reported was WELL within the SD policy of what would be considered "bullying," and watched the school do NOTHING.

We can't protect our kids forever, and I follow their lead for now; however it seems like my children very well may end up being cyber schooled if our district can't dislodge it's proverbial head from it's proverbial butt.

Despite what most school districts say, and despite what most parents (want to) believe - schools are a big political part of our communities. They don't have the best interests of our children at heart (at least not all of the time). When do you hear of a Superintendent taking a pay cut to save a school program? No, my eyes were opened WIDE for me; go to a few school board meetings, talk to other parents, pay attention to what is going on with your children at their school. I couldn't see it for myself at first either. Just take a closer look.
Curious

Newville, PA

#29 Jun 7, 2011
Due Process wrote:
So the same colleges who are now offering most of their classes on-line, are leery of accepting high school students in the same on-line programs (i.e. cyber schools)? What kind of logic is that?
If we can provide a better education with our own cyber program, shouldn't we consider closing the doors on the traditional schools in the area? According to the article, it would cost us less and the education would be better (their words, not mine).
There was an article in the Harrisburg Patriot today about how universities are now more open to cyber schools graduates. They have seen the pattern that the majority of these students are very motivated and independent learners. They do not need to be hand held as much. They are looking at the whole child. The PO is once again behind the times on their information. I know that CCA. a cyber school in PA has had children accepted at John Hopkins, Harvard, Temple, Penn State, and many other schools.
Curious

Newville, PA

#30 Jun 7, 2011
Reason wrote:
<quoted text>
Are a student's PSSA scores attributed to the cyber school? Nope - there are no measures for accountability. Please stop trying to make them sound credible. You only seem more pathetic.
What???? Please get your facts straight before you speak. YES...cyber school must take the PSSA Tests and ...YES it is tied to their AYP. Guess what...they also must meet more standards because they have a lot more subgroups than your local schools that serve a set community or population. It is so interesting to read so many ignorance..shoot off your mouth comments when you have no idea what you are talking about.
Been There

Newville, PA

#31 Jun 7, 2011
Wolfbane wrote:
Cocooning students in a cyber school may not be the best way to prepare them for employment in a mortar and brick facility where they are expected to interact constantly with flesh and blood individuals, and be physically present there five days a week.
I have 2 children who are cyber schooled due to the local middle school and 2 who attend brick and mortar and have excellent teachers. I can honestly say that my children in a cyber setting have a better curriculum and spend more time on academic than those in the brick and mortar. They also have time to interact with people of "all" ages ...which is the real world experience that you discuss. They are involved in numerous extra curricular activities as are their cyber school peers. My cyber schooled children have work hard their last 2 weeks of school. My children who attend a brick and mortar...really could have missed school and it wouldn't have mattered academically. Just a lot of end of the year fluff. I can compare the 2 as I have experience with both right now. The world is our classroom. We do not learn by books a lone. My children get very little of that real world learning in a traditional setting. They are not encouraged to solve real world problem. They are told what to do and when to do it. My boss wants me to be able to try to solve problems on my own first before resorting to him for the answers. You can't honestly say that is happening in our schools. Ask any employer how well he thinks the majority of our traditional schooled students are ready to take on these challenges.He may answer... A few...
Been There

Newville, PA

#32 Jun 7, 2011
Sobeit wrote:
This decision has nothing to do about education. It is about money and creating high paying job for the current establishment.
In this day and age and with the state of economy being what it is and will be for some time to come, no college is going to turn down any student who shows up with money in hand simply because s/he attended a cyberschool. That is pure bunk.
The current traditional school personnel have no background or experience in cybereducation and they are going to acquire it at the expense of the taxpayers and the students.
The taxpayer would be far better off it the school accept the subsidy for cyberstudents in their districts and left the education to someone who knows what they are doing.
Agreed!
Cyber Charter Mom

Chambersburg, PA

#33 Jun 7, 2011
Curious wrote:
<quoted text>
There was an article in the Harrisburg Patriot today about how universities are now more open to cyber schools graduates. They have seen the pattern that the majority of these students are very motivated and independent learners. They do not need to be hand held as much. They are looking at the whole child. The PO is once again behind the times on their information. I know that CCA. a cyber school in PA has had children accepted at John Hopkins, Harvard, Temple, Penn State, and many other schools.
Well said. All of the cyber charter schools have a long list of students accepted at a wide range of universities inside and outside of PA. That comment about colleges being "wary" was just a scare tactic to get parents who have chosen the public cyber charter schools to reconsider and come back with their money. Also calling Cyber Charter Schools "for profit" schools is incorrect also. They are public schools also. If you use facts to make a case, that is one thing but making false statements just to scare parents is heinous

“Divine Hag”

Since: Jun 08

Briar Patch

#34 Jun 7, 2011
Part 3 of 3

In fact, the only issue I had was the Borough of Chambersburg’s refusal to acknowledge the law regarding athletic participation.
Many areas understand that the extracurricular activity requirements CLEARLY addressed in 24 P.S.§17-1701-A. section 9 http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.p...
apply to cyber students just as much as home schooled students (who hade to fight long and hard to be allowed to join school teams.) We *could* go the lawyer route and force them to eat crow, but when we have such a great Recreational Department and considering legal fees, it isn’t a priority…although we ARE wanting to get into track and LAX next year, so who knows.

Yes, we COULD solve this problem by enrolling The Boy in Chambersburg’s cyber school, but we were driven away BECAUSE of incompetence, vindictiveness and helpless, befuddled bureaucracy by dusty, bitter administrators ---why on earth would we want to do that again?

If your only problem is peer harassment or poor facilities, perhaps a local solution would be the thing for you and your family. I admire and respect many local teachers, I hope they are the ones that are teaching on Blackboard and not the… other ones.

As a sample of what kind of education we’re discussing, this is The Boy’s schedule next year, for 9th grade:
Honors Literature & Composition 9
Algebra 1 Concepts & Strategies
Biology
Honors US History
German 1
Transition 1 (elective)
Physical Education (fall semester)
Health (spring semester)
Leadership Course

If you have questions, I will try to answer them. I think you can still send private messages through Topix if you’re registered and here is the web address to The Boy’s school http://moodle.palcs.org/moodle/
Some parts will be inaccessible without passwords, so your experience may be limited.

Side note:
You can get mad about the taxes all day long, I won’t argue with anyone about it. If the district is driving people away,(reference the obtuse refusal to acknowledge the PA Charter School Law mentioned above) perhaps you can save your taxes by correcting them rather than trying to keep other people’s children from getting a quality education in a safe environment.

An opportunity was available for my child and I intend to take full advantage of it. As I would if full vouchers to brick and mortar schools were made available.(The new Governor is considering related legislation.)

“Divine Hag”

Since: Jun 08

Briar Patch

#35 Jun 7, 2011
Part 2 of 3

Which brings me to my next point.
ALL equipment was provided by the school. Webcam and headset (which we chose not to use) printer/scanner, computer, monitor, books for optional book club, paints, clay paper, pastels (for art) pedometer, jump rope, basic red gym ball and other basic equipment for Phys Ed, text books, which we will be mailing back, with prepaid postage labels when the school year ends on June 9th, one set of ink cartridge refills, one pack of printer paper. We also received a partial reimbursement for our internet bill.

You can access the website from a personal computer, but they have numerous firewalls installed on the provided computer.

(The other cyber school we seriously considered provided Macbooks to students. It’s the school Santorum sent his kids to when he was ripping off the state by living in VA, so maybe they feel they have to make up for it.)

At PALCS, which has offices outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, there are field trips all over the state and even trips to Valley Forge, Disney and China, all optional and paid for by the parent.
Multiple times a year they have dances, picnics and other ‘just because’ get togethers for the kids. The Boy is attending a free (!Yay free!) space camp sponsored by NASA this summer through the school, along with the summer reading program and anything else we can find to toss him in.

The students still take PSSA. They still have to meet graduation requirements. The supervising adult, aka Home Facilitator (if both parents need to work or nontraditional situations, being a parent isn’t required) must be involved with the day to day goings on. I spoke weekly to one of The Boy’s instructors. I have access to all of his correspondence, his daily grades, the recorded chat sessions, everything. There is also a parent chat one night a week to brainstorm and socialize.(Tbh I did not make use of that feature. I always planned to, but, well, life.:-P) And you will probably find yourself out of your element at least once when it comes to helping your student, Pre-Algebra was my big issue—I had to crowd source information about probability and multi-step equations one evening when The Boy missed homework help.(Yes, I googled and begged on Facebook, only to have the teacher straighten his head out the very next day. It all looked Greek to me.lol)
There’s also tech help for the technologically disadvantaged among us.

The assignments are posted a few weeks in advance of the due date, so that the student may work ahead if they choose (really helpful to do this!)

“Divine Hag”

Since: Jun 08

Briar Patch

#36 Jun 7, 2011
Part 1 of 3

This is a LONG post. Those that know me know I’m long-winded, I promise there is a good chance you’ll find useful information in there somewhere, despite the fact that a few knowledgeable people have already spoken up. &#61514;

My son attends Pennsylvania Leadership Cyber Charter School (PALCS) and I can tell you, from experience, quotes in this article are patently false.

For those interested:
Homework help and office hours for each teacher are available daily, by phone, by web chat and in person should you so choose.

Every teacher was enthusiastic, cheerful and committed. Almost every grade or comment comes with an “atta boy!” or other form of job well done. They may be faking, but they’re GOOD at faking and the confidences they give the kids--at least MY kid-- is priceless to me.(Some of the teachers look like they’re 12 and will male you feel old. Just sayin.)

Students are required to log in to every class each school day to keep from being absent. Yes, they could then goof off for the rest of the day, but that schoolwork will pile up into a mess of bad grades and high stress. It does require discipline and integrity

Each subject has a weekly live group chat, except Pre-Algebra which was daily (thank goodness!) All our recorded so that the student can reference them later if there is an issue, or if they miss it. This is in addition to a weekly social chats and chats for extracurricular groups, in all of which students are able to make use of (with the teacher’s consent) web cameras, headsets for actual chatting, or the standard typing on the keyboard.
Tammy

Chambersburg, PA

#37 Jun 8, 2011
Cocooning students in a cyber school may not be the best way to prepare them for employment in a mortar and brick facility where they are expected to interact constantly with flesh and blood individuals, and be physically present there five days a week.

Obviously you are unaware of the programs offered through Cyber-School. There are many programs available during the school day for social interaction - IE Bowling at Lincoln Lanes on Wednesdays. Additionally, children in Cyber-School are able to participate in any after-school activity offered by the district. And most Charter Cyber Schools offer days out with the school where you see your classmates and teachers.

When aren't they socializing? When they are doing their school work.
MomOf1

Pittsburgh, PA

#38 Jun 10, 2011
Parent of a student wrote:
Can a student go to the Vo-Tech School if they are in cyber school? I would cyber school my Son if this were possible. He will take over the Family farm after school. He wants to take Ag. Mechanic so that he can work on his own equipment.
This depends. Students in cyber can go to vo-tech but you need to check in with cyber schools you're considering and the vo-tech as well.

Since: Oct 08

Location hidden

#39 Jun 11, 2011
Sobeit wrote:
<quoted text>But cocooning them in a mortar and brick facility where it is necessary to have a resident policeman and where they are surrounded by all manner of distraction is?
There are certainly more distractions at home.

“Divine Hag”

Since: Jun 08

Briar Patch

#40 Jun 29, 2011
Sick-Tired wrote:
<quoted text>
There are certainly more distractions at home.
This is true. The same discipline required by those that work from home is required by those that learn from home.
It isn't for everyone.

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