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South Carolina Connections Academy Receives Palmetto Silver Performance Award 

Only School in the State’s Charter School District to be Honored, Recognized for Performance Growth on State Testing at the Elementary School Level

COLUMBIA, SC (May 2, 2011) — South Carolina Connections Academy (SCCA), a leading virtual charter school, is the recipient of the Palmetto Silver Performance Award which is presented by the South Carolina Department of Education and the State Board of Education. South Carolina Connections Academy, the state’s first virtual charter school, was honored for its performance growth on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards in third through eighth grades, and was the only charter school in the South Carolina Public Charter School District to ever receive this award. There are a total of 11 charter schools including five virtual schools in the public charter school district.

The Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards program, now in its 10th year, was established under the Education Accountability Act of 1998 by the South Carolina General Assembly. Criteria for the Palmetto awards are developed by the state’s Education Oversight Committee, and the Department of Education applies those criteria to determine which schools are honored.

South Carolina Connections Academy, launched in the fall of 2009, is the state’s first virtual school and serves students in grades K-12 from across the state. As a public charter school, there are no fees to attend. Hallmarks of the program include individualized learning, certified South Carolina teachers,  rigorous implementation of state curriculum, state-of-the art technology, and engaging clubs and activities and other social experiences—both in-person and online.

The Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards program recognizes and rewards schools for overall performance based on absolute and growth ratings. These ratings are determined by elementary and middle school student scores on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS). The PASS measures student performance on the South Carolina Academic Standards, and includes tests in five subject areas—writing, English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, although not all tests are administered at every grade level. 

For the 2010-11 school year, South Carolina Connections Academy increased its student achievement on the PASS, moving more students into the higher performance levels of “met” and “exemplary.” With more students achieving higher scores on the PASS, South Carolina Connections Academy was able to meet the state’s criteria for the Palmetto Silver Performance Award.

“We are pleased with the exceptional progress our students have made on the PASS. South Carolina Connections Academy prides itself on being a leader in virtual education and providing its students the best education possible,” South Carolina Connections Academy Principal Allison Reaves said. “Our performance growth is a reflection of our dedicated teachers and our highly-motivated students. We are thrilled to be a recipient of this prestigious award, and will continue to strive to for increased success on state tests.”

South Carolina Public Charter School District Superintendent Wayne Brazell praised South Carolina Connections Academy on its great success.

“It’s a great day for virtual education in South Carolina,” he said. “We certainly want to demonstrate that virtual education has a place in South Carolina, and this award goes a long way to demonstrate that. This is the first big step and we are hoping this will be the first of many for our virtual schools. From my point of view, I have been absolutely delighted with the progress and the academic integrity of Connections Academy; it certainly has been a role model for virtual education in South Carolina.”

The Silver Palmetto Award is the first major academic award for the South Carolina Public Charter School District, which was created through the South Carolina Charter School Act. The district opened its first school in August 2008, and South Carolina Connections Academy is the only school in the district to be accredited by AdvancED.

The South Carolina Public Charter School District will officially present South Carolina Connections Academy with the Palmetto Silver Award at its annual awards dinner 6 p.m. on May 13 at the Columbia Marriott.

Information sessions are underway for parents and students interested in learning more about South Carolina Connections Academy. Enrollment is open for those students who would like to attend a South Carolina Connections Academy for the 2011–12 school year. 

About Connections Academy

Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12. Through tuition-free public schools, and full-time and part-time private school programs, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. In the 2011-2012 school year, Connections Academy will serve students in 22 states via 23 virtual public schools. It serves students worldwide through the online private school, National Connections Academy. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some public school programs do not offer all grades. Connections Academy is a division of Connections Education LLC. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit www.ConnectionsAcademy.com. To speak with someone at South Carolina Connections Academy, call 803-212-4712.