Florida Connections Academy Awarded 'A' Grade from Florida Department of Education for Third Consecutive Year

Virtual K–8 School Takes Top Honors on 2008–09 School “Report Card”

BALTIMORE, June 22, 2009 — Florida Connections Academy (FCA), the virtual public school that Florida students attend from home, earned an “A” grade for the 2008–09 school year from the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE).

FLDOE awarded FCA its “A” grade because of its exceptional student achievement on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCAT)—particularly in the challenging middle school grades—in all four academic subjects evaluated: reading, math, writing and science.

Students surpassed state reading proficiency ratings in every grade—beating overall state scores by 30 percentage points in 8th grade and by 16 percentage points overall. In math, middle school students exceeded state ratings by as much as 26 points. FCA’s proficiency ratings for combined grades 6–8 exceeded those of the state’s other full-time K–8 virtual school in reading, math, and science. These results are particularly impressive because the school’s results are based on a student population that was 53% higher in serving low income students and 33% more minority students than the other K–8 virtual school.

“We are thrilled and honored that FCA has gotten an “A” on its 2008-2009 report card, commented Thomas J. Herdtner, FCA Principal. “But we are not surprised that the state has determined our school delivers a superior education program—we hear this every day from our parents and students. By combining the strong parental involvement, the expertise and accountability of publicly funded education, and the flexibility of online classes, our program truly provides Florida families with an outstanding educational alternative.”

Under the Florida’s “A+ Plan,” the FLDOE annually assigns every public school a grade. School grades are based on how well students have mastered the Sunshine State Standards (the skills Florida teachers determined the state’s children must learn at each grade level) which are measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Student scores are classified into five achievement levels, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Schools earn points based on three things: how well students are doing, how much progress they are making (learning gains), and how much progress struggling students are making in reading and mathematics. To earn an “A” grade, a school must earn at least 525 points, meet adequate progress of lowest students in reading and math, and test at least 95 percent of eligible students.

Headquartered in Orlando, FCA has operated under contract with the Florida Department of Education since 2004 and also partnered with Florida Virtual School to launch Florida Virtual School’s Connections Academy in August 2008. Parents pay no tuition for students to attend FCA, since it is a public school. FCA offers a unique, high-quality curriculum aligned to Florida’s state learning standards. The school uses technology and more to deliver individualized instruction following a Personalized Learning Plan developed for each student.

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading national provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual public schools in fourteen states operated in partnership with charter schools, school districts, and state departments of education. Connections Academy schools deliver top quality, personalized education for students that combines certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences to create a supportive and successful environment for children who want an individualized approach to education. In Connections Academy's Personalized Performance Learning® approach, students use daily lesson plans and curriculum materials provided by Connections Academy. Teachers develop a learning plan for each student, utilizing a proprietary, web-based Learning Management System to deliver, track, and administer the learning. In 2008–09 Connections Academy serves students in Arizona, California (Southern and Central), Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri (through the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program), Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some schools do not offer all grades. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit www.ConnectionsAcademy.com.