What is Connections Academy?
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.
What grades does Connections Academy serve?
Connections Academy serves students in grades K–12 in most states. Check your school’s home page to find out more.
Has any educational organization ever evaluated the program and its curriculum?
Connections Education is accredited by AdvancED, an organization representing 34,000 public and private schools and districts across the United States and in 65 countries worldwide. Many of the Connections Academy–supported schools are accredited by one or more of six regional accrediting organizations for higher education institutions recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education.
The curriculum is designed by experienced leaders in online learning. It meets national and individual state standards and has earned numerous awards from national organizations for educational content and learning technology. In addition, parents consistently rate the curriculum as high quality in our annual Parent Satisfaction Survey.
How is Connections Academy different from traditional schooling?
Connections Academy schools are committed to providing a high-quality education that is personalized to meet a student’s individual needs. This level of personalization is not commonly available in traditional public bricks-and-mortar schools. Using our accessible technology, we connect parents, teachers, and students from home or anywhere there is Internet service. Additionally, families benefit from unique flexibility in creating their schedule, something that typically isn’t possible in a traditional setting. Parents are also able to control their student’s learning environment, ensuring a safe and stimulating atmosphere. Check out the Connections Academy blog to learn more about the benefits of attending school online.
What does a Connections Academy family receive?
- First-Class Curriculum: Our program features curriculum developed by leading educational publishers. Connections Academy families receive a combination of textbooks*, online textbooks, workbooks, comprehensive lesson plans, and exciting enrichment courses.
- Exceptional Teaching: Connections Academy’s professional teachers work one-on-one with students and their parents to instruct, review assignments, and customize the curriculum. Our teachers provide extra help for struggling or gifted students.
- State-of-the-Art Technology: Families receive online communication, planning, and learning management tools; online lessons and library resources; and technology literacy courses. Depending on the school, families may receive a computer and subsidy for Internet access**.
Is the Connections Academy program homeschooling?
Although Connections Academy and homeschooling have some similar attributes, Connections Academy is not homeschooling. All Connections Academy schools are public school programs. Connections Academy schools provide a defined set of curriculum materials that have been specifically aligned to local standards and use certified teachers to evaluate student performance, including decisions concerning the child’s grade-level promotion. All Connections Academy students are required to take state standardized tests, and the schools are accountable to regulatory authorities for the students’ performance.
Can I enroll my child after the school year has started?
Yes. In many states, you can enroll after the start of the school year. Most schools have enrollment deadlines at some point during the year, however. Check your school’s home page for more information, or call us for a consultation, particularly if you want to start late in the school year.
Can my child attend the program part-time or during the summer?
The Connections Academy public schools are offered on a full-time basis. International Connections Academy, our accredited online private school, offers a part-time program and online summer school in addition to a full-time program.
Are Connections Academy schools nonprofit?
Connections Academy public schools are operated under contract with nonprofit organizations that are either charter schools, school districts, or governmental entities. International Connections Academy is a private school.
When does the school year start and end?
School year start and end dates vary by school. Check your school’s home page for the correct start and end dates.
What are the job opportunities at Connections Academy?
Connections Academy is always looking for hardworking dedicated individuals to join the team. Please review the current openings to see if a position is available near you. Connections Academy is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.
How much does the online program cost?
The online public school program is free, including all of the books and curriculum. The only costs are the optional field trips, which are organized by your school’s community coordinators and staff, and the replenishment of some school supplies, such as printer cartridges.
Will I need to purchase books or materials for courses?
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.
What curriculum does Connections Academy provide?
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. The curriculum for each public school is aligned to the state standards.
Will my child be required to take standardized tests, and if so, where?
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. Course offerings vary by state and grade level.
Will my child be required to take standardized tests, and where?
Yes. All online public school students must complete the standardized tests that are required in their state or district. We also provide a test preparation program to develop the skills that students will need in order to perform well on many types of assessments. Your Connections Academy school will arrange testing locations throughout the state and will inform you in advance of where and when your child is scheduled to attend.
How are lessons customized?
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.
What is a typical day like?
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.
How much time do students spend on the computer?
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.*
What computer skills do Connections Academy students and Learning Coaches need?
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 Connexus®, our education management system. We also provide a technology literacy program that aids students in developing additional skills.
What hardware and software do I need to access lessons and learning tools online?
There are some specific software requirements necessary to use Connexus, our online education management system. Please refer to the system requirements page for complete details.
What do current parents think about Connections Academy?
Every year, we ask 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.
What is the role of a Learning Coach?
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.
Throughout a student’s education, Connections Academy teachers take the lead in ensuring student success. When first getting started, the Connections Academy Family Support Program provides ample resources to help families become acquainted with the online learning structure. Learn more about the responsibilities of a Learning Coach.
Can I get in touch with a current parent?
Yes. We encourage you to contact a Connections Academy parent to hear their perspective on our program. Go to the Contact a Parent section of the website to see the backgrounds of several Connections Academy parents. If you would like to get in touch with one of them, complete the online form provided. You will be contacted by that person within a week.*
Are there opportunities to meet other Connections Academy families and socialize once enrolled?
Yes. 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 ORANGE 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 ORANGE, 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.
What does Connections Academy do to help students remain safe while participating in this program?
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 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 800-382-6010. 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.
Can my student participate in sports in the school district?
Many states allow students to participate in extracurricular activities within their resident district; however, there are some states with restrictions regarding online school. Check with the school in your state or give us a call at 800-382-6010.