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Mom is totally burned out, looking at public online schools...Connections Academy?

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Tomorrow afternoon I am going to an information session to find out more about Connections Academy. It is an online public charter school. And I am looking at using it for my oldest and maybe my middle child next year. They would be going into grade 9 and either 7 or 8 depends on what I decide. His birthday is in October and the deadline here is in December. He makes the cut off for the higher grade, but would be young. He hates writing but would be very bored if he had to redo things he already knows. Does anyone have first hand experience with it?


Specifically I am interested in knowing how likely it is for my kids to get credit for the algebra 1 that they are doing this year. Both dd14 and ds12 are doing VideoText and we are currently in module c, so we will have definitely finished more than half of it before the end of the year. I have tests and quizzes and all kinds of problems worked out, but I don't know what would be acceptable.


And I would like to know what it takes to get into an honors or ap class? I can produce report cards but the only testing I have is from when they were six. It would have high enough scores, but they are very old.


And finally if you tried it, did it work? I have a local friend who tried it this year and it did not work, but I haven't been able to meet up with her yet.


So any other advice?



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We used Connections Academy last year for my son in 11th grade. We knew he would be returning to public high school for his senior year, so we needed to use our state's virtual school in order to have everything on his transcript be accredited. I have mixed feelings. Our experience is that connections can get the job done on an average to less than average level. My ds took English 12 because CA offered British Literature for that grade and he had already done American Literature, which was offered in 11th grade. In that class, the students participate in online discussions. They answer an essay prompt and then are required to respond to two other classmates' prompts. Ugh! If I did not know the grade level, I would have guessed 7th grade. Out of 30 some students, I would say there were maybe three working on grade level.


The materials for the classes are pulled from a variety of sources so the quality can vary tremendously. On the whole, the teachers do a decent job, but I think they have a difficult client base to work with. Many of the kids are doing remedial work. Our newspaper announced the state graduation rates this morning: 68% for the state, 45% for Connections Academy.


I agree with the pp in that if you are already burned out, this can be the way to go, especially if you have a self-directed student.. For myself, I found that I did as much teaching as I usually do and it was a bit harder because I had to familiarize myself with materials that I did not choose. My son would tell you that he learned a lot. What he won't tell you is that part of the reason is because I was right there at his elbow for much of the journey, especially after I discovered what he was really doing on the computer. You should know that the kids can still talk among themselves during live lessons and that they can web mail each other at any time.


There were many good things that happened last year in our mother-son relationship, but it was hard work on my part. That could have just been our particular situation and my expectations.


The CA in your state could be very different. Please keep us posted on what you find out.

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My dd is using Connections Academy this year . She is in 7th grade. I have found the curriculum to be fairly challenging, the teachers responsive and the assignments meaningful. I can't speak to the other students as he avoids LiveLessons like the plague and only participates in them when required.


She is very motivated by grades and I rarely need to intervene. She is very independent.


I love the Connections interface.

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So I went to the Connections Academy information get together tonight and it went really well.


First off, the positives:

The kids I saw today were very happy and pleased with the program, I expected this but it needs to be said.

The teachers I saw today were excited and happy with teaching. I saw two high school teachers and a lower elementary teacher. There were more there but I don't know what positions they had.

The math teacher (Algebra 1 and up) was clearly knowledgeable about math. He knew his subject matter.

The history teacher (Grades 8 and up) was nice enough. I don't know enough history to guess his knowledge, but he stated that if it wasn't in the list of subject matter that was supposed to be covered in one of his grades that he probably did NOT know it. This concerned me.

There would be no problem with putting my ds age 12 in either grade 7 or 8 next year. It would be my choice.

There would be no problem putting giving either my dd14 or my ds12 credit for having taken Algebra 1 this year. It may involve a placement test, but if they passed it, no problem. (This was a potential issue because ds is young for having taken Algebra.)

No issues with getting into AP or honors classes for my dd14. She would be placed there on my say-so and then moved if it wasn't a fit.


Now the not so positives:

I left a bunch of questions with an administrator because no one present could answer them. She will email me some time next week.

Included in that list are questions about where AP tests are taken, how someone not in grades 9-12 gets into a gifted class, can my ds12 take a foreign language, and more...


And my biggest issue:

There is extremely limited teaching by teachers. While the teachers have plentiful office hours (M, T, W, F from 9 to 4!) to answer questions, they do not teach the material. All the teaching is done by reading the screen and answering questions. If you have ever used Time 4 Learning, it is that model. There are LiveLesson classes for each subject where a teacher uses a white board like program to go over material but it may or may not have anything to do with what your student studied that week. It was explained to me that each student could be at a different place in the History (or Algebra or something else) curriculum so there was no set pace and therefore no set lecturing at all and no classroom discussions. Since a big part of our reason for looking at this was so that she could have discussions about things I can't talk about this isn't so helpful.


This doesn't mean that it is bad. I think it could be very useful. It is possible that I will even end up using it. But I now know what it really looks like. I hope this helps someone else. It was very very good information for me.


(And the kids got fed pizza and played mini-golf for a couple of hours.)

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Thank you. I am still thinking about it all.


Another thing I forgot to mention is that Connections does not have all its a-g requirements in for the state of CA. This is a big deal. It means that a diploma from Connections would get treated the same as a diploma from my private school as far as getting into any of the UC or CSU system schools. Extra tests and a different pool of applicants, this is very not good.


They are trying to get approval but aren't there yet. The hold up is foreign languages and the lab part of science....

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