5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Cyber Charter School
You may have considered a cyber charter school for your child but are not sure where exactly to begin. There are 14 cyber charter schools to choose from in Pennsylvania, so you have quite a few choices. These schools have some similarities but also many differences. Therefore, you may be wondering how to choose a cyber school in PA. It is important to do your research and to choose a cyber charter school that will be the right fit for your family. But, what questions should you ask? ln this post, we’ll discuss five important questions you should ask when researching which cyber charter school in PA is best for your family.
1. What does a “typical” day at a cyber charter school look like?
Students should be spending between 5 and 5 ½ hours on schoolwork each day. As a parent, you'll want to determine what the requirements are during that time, what services the school offers for your student’s needs, and if there will be live classes available. If there are live classes, also known as synchronous classes, it’s important to know what those classes entail, what kinds of teaching and learning tools are used in the virtual classroom, and if those classes are recorded so that they can be viewed by the student or the parent at a later time. If students are not in live classes, are they working on independent work? If this is the case, be sure to ask what types of materials are offered so that you as a parent can support them during that time.
2. What responsibilities do I have as a parent of a cyber charter school student?
Because a cyber charter school student is learning from a home environment, the parent’s role is extremely important. As a parent, you'll want to understand what types of responsibilities you will have as they apply to the involvement you would have with the student’s learning on a daily and weekly basis. You’ll also want to know how much communication you will be required to have with the school, and you should find out what types of technology you will be required to learn.
3. What curriculum is used?
Be sure to ask each school if the curriculum was created for a cyber environment and if it’s used across all grade levels. It can also be beneficial to see samples of the curriculum that would apply to your child or children's particular grade level. At PA Virtual, we utilize the K12, Inc. curriculum for kindergarten through 8th grade and Edgenuity for 9th through 12th grade. You can check out the course descriptions by grade as well as our high school course catalog here.
4. Do you offer a time for students to meet and socialize?
Many cyber charter schools offer field trips and outings for their students and families so they can socialize and connect with others in their local community. In addition, some also offer clubs. Determine if those outings and opportunities are virtual or face-to-face, or a combination of both. At PA Virtual, we have over 30 virtual clubs and offer face-to-face outings across the state every month during the school year as circumstances allow.
5. May I speak with a parent at the school?
When contacting cyber charter schools you are researching, you may find it helpful to get a parent’s perspective. At PA Virtual, we offer the opportunity for prospective families to speak with a current parent in our school.
With so many different cyber charter schools across the state, there are many options available to your family. Don’t hesitate to call the schools you are researching and ask questions to help guide your decision. The information we covered in this post is a good starting point, but make sure to also ask questions specific to your family situation such as, “What does your school offer in terms of enrichment?” and “What programs do you have in place for students who are struggling?”
We hope you found this information helpful as you begin your search for a new school, and we wish you the best for you and your family.
PA Virtual Charter School is a cyber charter school that has been educating Pennsylvania students in grades k-12 since 2001. Learn more about what PA Virtual can offer to you and your family at one of our upcoming online open houses. You can get your questions answered live, you will learn about our curriculum and teaching methods, you will get a peek inside our virtual classroom, and you’ll get to meet other parents and staff here at PA Virtual Charter School. You can RSVP to an open house here.