Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

Common Questions

Connections Academy®–supported schools are tuition–free online public schools for grades K–12 offered in certain states. This is a unique program that combines the strong parental involvement of homeschooling, professional expertise and accountability, and a flexible learning environment. Connections Academy provides the tools and support students need to learn in an online setting. Learn how to enroll.

Arkansas Connections Academy submitted its application for an online public charter school to the Arkansas Department of Education. On November 17, 2015, the Arkansas Charter Authorizing Panel approved ARCA. On January 14, 2016, the Arkansas State Board of Education met and approved the decision made by the Charter Authorizing Panel.

Arkansas Connections Academy serves students in grades K–12.

Families choose Arkansas Connections Academy® because they trust us to give their children a unique, personalized school experience where students can learn and grow.

Supported by Pearson, the world’s learning company, Arkansas Connections Academy provides a complete, full-time education for children—one that includes all the core courses, electives, and social opportunities K‒12 students need. Caring teachers specialize in online learning and work with parents. Together, they set individual goals and ensure that students learn. Arkansas Connections Academy prepares children for a bright future—whether that includes college, technical training, or career readiness.

Please see our School Calendar for school year start and end dates.

Tuition & Costs

As an online public school, Arkansas Connections Academy is free for children of Arkansas residents. The only costs are for school supplies and optional field trips, if scheduled.

No. All required books and instructional materials for courses are provided to students. Some texts are provided online, and other texts are in print form.

Curriculum

Arkansas Connections Academy provides comprehensive lesson plans online and in print, along with a number of exciting elective courses. The proven curriculum incorporates materials developed by leading educational institutions, as well as lessons and other resources developed by curriculum specialists.

Arkansas Connections Academy offers core courses in language arts/English, mathematics, science, and social studies. The curriculum also includes art, physical education, music, home life, world languages, technology literacy, and other enrichment courses. At many schools, gifted and talented, honors, and Advanced Placement®* courses are available for students who qualify.

* AP® and Advanced Placement® are registered trademarks of the College Board. Used with permission.

Teachers and Learning Coaches work closely together to create a unique learning environment and to set goals for their students’ learning. Teachers use an individualized approach to learning throughout the year called Personalized Performance Learning® (PPL), which allows them to evaluate the needs of a student and customize accordingly.

Arkansas Connections Academy students often lead busy lives, and this online flexibility allows for learning when it works best. Students will need to be available for teacher-led LiveLesson® sessions, but are able to choose how to arrange their free time in between. For some students, scheduling breaks in between lessons may be the answer to optimized learning. For others, leaving time for extracurricular activities is key. Check out the Connections Academy blog to see some examples of sample schedules.

For students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) Connections Academy provides a continuum of virtual special education services that include consultation, curriculum accommodation and modification, collaboration with learning coaches and general education teachers, and virtual direct instruction. Connections Academy provides students with IEPs with related services, which may include virtual speech language and virtual occupational therapy, as determined by the IEP team. For eligible students with disabilities who do not require special education, Connections Academy develops (as needed) and implements Section 504 plans that detail appropriate accommodations and modifications.

Enrollment

ARCA serves students residing in Arkansas who are entering grades K–12.

Check the enrollment page to find the following:

  • Grades offered.
  • The age that a child must be to start school in your state.
  • The acceptable proof of age documents in your state.
  • Any geographical restrictions for attending in your state.
  • The acceptable proof of residency documents in your state.
  • Restrictions for submitting immunization documentation.
  • Types of immunizations (shots) your student must have for enrollment.
  • Prior public schooling limitations.
  • Supporting documentation.
  • Types of documentation that may apply to your student that may need to be submitted.

 

Connections Academy enrollment begins once you have registered through our Enrollment Portal. Once registered, you will provide the necessary information and documents to enroll. Proceed to your the enrollment page to get started!

Connections Academy’s Academic Placement Services team uses academic records to place students in courses that are the best fit for them.

Connections Academy is comfortable with a ratio of 4:1 (four children to one Learning Coach). An additional adult serving as Learning Coach is recommended for more than 4 students in a household. In the event that the additional adult is not a parent or legal guardian, a Designated Learning Coach Agreement must be completed by both the parent/legal guardian and Designated Learning Coach.

Students who are 18 or over must meet age eligibility requirements in their state. Students must also submit academic documentation of all courses attempted since entering the 9th grade. Academic documentation will be reviewed by a school counselor to determine the student's eligibility to complete the program requirements before meeting the age cap for enrollment. Students who cannot complete the program requirements before meeting the age cap for enrollment are not eligible to enroll.

Both emancipated minors and students 18 years and older are required to complete the Parent/Legal Guardian (Caretaker) Acknowledgement (PLCA) form and to provide all required enrollment documentation before the student can enroll. Emancipated minors must also submit court documentation for their emancipation. Please contact the Enrollment Team at 800-221-2720 for more information.

The term "Learning Coach" is used to represent the role that the enrolling parent/guardian plays in the student’s educational experience. The enrolling parent/guardian chooses to serve as the "Learning Coach" which may include working closely with the teacher to ensure assignments are completed, schedules are met, and students are engaged and motivated. The parent/guardian may designate another trusted adult to act as a Learning Coach by completing the Designated Learning Coach online form.

You will have access to our learning management system, at any time of the day including weekends and holiday breaks. This level of flexibility helps you to design a learning day that works best for your family.

Communication is the most important element in succeeding with online learning. If you or your student experience any problems along the way, contact us immediately. Many kinds of support are available for students and families, including enrollment help, computer/technical support, academic assistance, and school counselor support. We are ready and willing to assist you—give us a call. Communication is key throughout your entire experience with Connections Academy.

Local schools serve one district. Connections Academy serves students from multiple districts statewide. Not all districts statewide accept the same documentation.

Connections Academy schools operate like any other public school. Therefore, our schools must comply with the same state regulations. Specific documents are required for all enrolling students.

During the enrollment process, submission of academic documentation such as a report card, unofficial transcript, schedule, or current progress report, helps to ensure that your student has an accurate and personalized course placement to start with Connections Academy.

As a parent/legal guardian you may request copies of the student's most recent report card or unofficial transcript, IEP documentation, birth certificate, and immunization record from their file. DO NOT withdraw from your current school or request a complete copy of the student's cumulative file prior to completing the enrollment process, as this information will be requested from the student’s previous school upon completion of the enrollment process.

That depends on you. The sooner you complete online enrollment forms and submit the required documents, the sooner your student will be enrolled. It typically takes two weeks or more to complete the entire enrollment process.

TIP: Log in to your caretaker homepage daily to review the student’s enrollment status and the verification of documents you submit.

Our process is streamlined to minimize any inconvenience to you while still meeting state regulations. Refer to the Enrollment Instructions document for some tips to help you keep the process moving.

After submitting your documents, you can check the status of your documents by visiting the Enrollment Portal. If you are unable to verify the status of your documents or have any questions, please call 800-221-2720 and contact the Enrollment Team using the document submission option in our phone system. We will check the system to see if the document was received. Please be prepared to provide us with the following information: student’s name, number of pages sent, the date sent, and if sent by fax, the fax number.

After you have confirmed your student's enrollment with Connections Academy, you should withdraw your child from your previous/local school immediately—preferably the same day. Delaying withdrawal could result in confusion, extra documentation, or cancellation of enrollment.

Do not withdraw your student before confirming your student’s enrollment, as this may result in additional documentation being required (e.g. report card). Delays in submitting these documents could result in delays starting school.

You can change your information by calling 800-221-2720

In order to update a parent or student name, Connections Academy will need a copy of the legal name change documentation such as an amended birth certificate, marriage certificate or court order. Please submit this documentation via fax or mail. If students use a preferred name and/or gender that differs from the legal name and gender, you can reach out to your school counselor or principal to make that request once students become enrolled.

Socialization

Every year, we ask Arkansas Connections Academy families to rate our program. This year, once again, parents who completed online school reviews gave us high marks for helping students succeed academically and personally. See the results of the latest Parent Satisfaction Survey.

Just like in a bricks-and-mortar school, the most successful students have parents who are involved in their education. We recommend that a parent or other trusted adult serve as a Learning Coach to support the student’s learning. Each family does this differently, and the role largely depends on the age of the student. For instance, students in high school are encouraged to work more independently, whereas elementary-age students will need more support while completing lessons. Some of the ways families may support learning include providing daily structure, communicating with teachers, and helping students stay on track.

Yes. Arkansas Connections Academy understands the importance of students and parents interacting with others in the program and in the community. There are a number of opportunities for you to take part in activities, both online and in person. Community coordinators and school staff plan field trips, special projects, and group meetings with other families in your area. Online discussion groups and the private email system allow you to communicate with other students or parents from all Connections Academy schools.

Additionally, Connections Academy’s Club Connections brings together enrolled Connections Academy caretakers across the country who are reaching out to their local communities to spread the word about Connections Academy.

By becoming a member of Club Connections, you can:

  • Support and grow your local Connections Academy school.
  • Spread the word to other families who would benefit from a virtual education.
  • Receive a membership kit with rewards, tools, and ideas to help promote your Connections Academy school.

 

Arkansas Connections Academy knows that for students to achieve at the highest levels, they need not only a great academic program, but also the freedom to learn in a safe and comfortable setting. Parents and Learning Coaches also play a key role in creating this environment to ensure their child’s well-being. Below are some of the most important resources Arkansas Connections Academy provides to ensure that students are safe and focused on learning:

  • All Connections Academy–provided computers are equipped with heightened Internet security settings and Internet filtering software that can be activated upon request by calling the Technical Support line at 800-221-2720. If you are using your own computer, Technical Support can help you configure Internet security settings and find additional Internet filtering software.
  • We provide an Internet safety course for students, parents, and Learning Coaches. The course contains valuable information about practicing safe behaviors online. This course is also required training for all Connections Academy school staff.
  • Staff trainings regarding student safety are a critical part of the Connections Academy professional development plan. The Connections Academy course Students in Distress: Recognizing and Responding is designed to help teachers and other school staff become familiar with the signs of distress, such as from bullying/cyberbullying, neglect and abuse, or depression, or other problems that would keep students from doing their best. The course also teaches them how to respond promptly and professionally.
  • Regular required contact between teachers and students helps teachers get to know each student individually. Educators who know their students are better able to note behaviors or attitudes that may indicate problems.
  • Connections Academy strictly prohibits any form of bullying/cyberbullying, harassment, hazing, or other destructive actions that may cause emotional and/or physical harm to students. School policies regarding these prohibited behaviors are documented in the School Handbook: General Portion and the state-specific School Handbook Supplement.
  • Each Connections Academy course contains a summary of web links so parents and Learning Coaches can quickly and easily note any links that they may not wish to have their student access.

 

Technology Requirements

The amount of time a student spends on the computer varies by grade. Younger students spend approximately 15–30%, middle school students spend about 50–75%, and high school students spend about 80–90% of their school day working on the computer.*

* Time on the computer may vary based on the use of print textbooks or online textbooks. The availability of print textbooks varies by state and course.

Students and Learning Coaches do not need advanced computer skills to attend Connections Academy. Through our Learning Coach Success series, parents are given the opportunity to attend a variety of sessions on subjects about anything from becoming acquainted with technology, to where to find resources in our education management system. We also provide a technology literacy program that aids students in developing additional skills.

There are some specific software requirements necessary to use our online education management system. Please refer to the computer requirements page for complete details.

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