Frequently Asked Questions about Texas Connections Academy
To get the information you need from our Texas online school FAQs, click on one of the questions listed below.
What is Texas Online Schools (TxOLS)?
The Texas Virtual School Network Online Schools Program (TxVSN OLS) provides full-time virtual instruction to eligible Texas public school students in grades 3–12 through approved public school districts and open-enrollment charter schools. These online public schools offer 100 percent virtual instructional programs to students who are not physically present on campus during instruction. Courses comprising the TxVSN OLS program are reviewed to ensure they meet the state curriculum standards, known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and national standards for quality online courses. Teachers are required to be Texas-certified in the content area and the grade level they are teaching, and must be trained in best practices in delivering online instruction.
When did TCAH begin?
Texas Connections Academy @ Houston (TCAH) first opened as Houston Connections Academy in December 2008. In August of 2010, the school name was changed to Texas Connections Academy @ Houston (TCAH), but it remained a Houston ISD school.
Has any educational organization ever evaluated the program and its curriculum?
Yes, the Texas Virtual School Network has evaluated and approved all of Texas Connections Academy @ Houston’s courses for grades 3–12. The College Board has also reviewed and approved all of the Advance Placement courses offered at Texas Connections Academy @ Houston. Texas Connections Academy @ Houston offers several courses that student athletes may use towards eligibility requirements set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Eligibility Center as well.
Region 10 Education Service Center has approved TCAH professional development for teachers who are new to the school. Participating in professional development qualifies them to meet the requirements of Texas Statute Chapter 30A, which governs online teacher professional development requirements. In addition and in accordance with public school standards, TCAH also receives an annual accountability rating from Texas Education Agency.
Who is eligible to participate/enroll?
See the Eligibility page for full details.
When can I enroll my student?
The enrollment period varies from year to year. Visit the Enroll page to see if enrollment is open.
What are my rights in terms of enrollment?
All students who meet the eligibility requirements have the right to enroll. However, for special education students, an ARD/IEP committee meeting will be held within 30 school days after enrollment in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to review placement and the program. They will either agree that the placement is appropriate, or may decide that the student cannot be appropriately served at TCAH and should be withdrawn for a more appropriate placement. Students who are withdrawn as a result of an ARD/IEP committee decision will be given an option to enroll in an appropriate Houston ISD school or program.
What is the difference between public virtual school and “homeschool”?
TCAH provides state approved curriculum in a Texas certified, teacher directed school. The students are required to complete a specific amount of work at a predetermined pace and grade level, and participate in state testing to ensure that they are keeping up with state standards. Qualifying students receive a high school diploma issued through the state of Texas.
With homeschooling, parents direct the teaching, curriculum selection, pacing, and level for their child. Homeschool students do not have an attendance requirement, are not required to take the state assessments, and do not have to meet promotion requirements. Homeschooled students do not receive a diploma issued by the state of Texas.
What is the difference between public virtual school and “home bound”?
TCAH provides a state approved curriculum and state-certified online teachers. The students are required to complete a specific amount of work at a predetermined pace and grade level, and participate in state testing to ensure that they are keeping up with state standards for a high school diploma issued through the state of Texas.
Homebound services are provided to a child for a medically relevant eligibility at the student’s home, and the student may or may not receive a shortened school day or school week, or shortened assignments. A medical doctor’s recommendation helps determine eligibility for homebound services. Because TCAH is not homebound services, a student must be dismissed from homebound services to be eligible to participate full time at their zoned campus to enroll in this online school. If a student requires homebound services, those services are provided through their locally zoned school.
How does TCAH support students with disabilities?
TCAH is committed to provide students, regardless of disability, with an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the school’s education program, as required by federal law. We provide students with accessibility through resources tailored to each student’s individual abilities and needs, including assistive technologies and individualized support. If your student is in need of assistance in order to fully participate in TCAH’s education program, please contact the school’s Special Population Department at 281-661-8293 ext. 6864. You can also obtain 24-hour technical support by calling the Accessibility Hotline at 888-639-5960.
Does TCAH provide all the levels of support that are available at my child's zoned school?
TCAH provides a print-rich, rigorous curriculum to help your student work on lessons that are on grade level or above. TCAH is a part of the Houston Independent School District, and the district has the continuum of services and supports, but this one school does not have all the supports and programs that are available at your zoned school. TCAH does not have a slower-paced nor an alternative curriculum. If you have any questions, please contact the school’s Special Population Department at 281-661-8293 ext. 6864.
Does TCAH have an alternative curriculum for students who need a different type of curriculum?
The curriculum that is approved to be used in this online school is not an alternate nor slower-paced curriculum. The curriculum is a challenging, grade level or above, reading-intensive curriculum. While our school district has the continuum of services and supports, this one school does not.
Does TCAH provide all the accommodations that are listed in an ARD/IEP document or 504 Plan for a student who is new to the school?
The answer depends on the accommodations that are identified on the student's 504 Plan or ARD/IEP document. While the virtual environment is a great program for many students and some accommodations naturally occur with this learning method, some are not possible through a virtual school.
For special education students, an ARD/IEP committee meeting will be held within the first 30 school days of enrollment. The committee is responsible for determining the accommodations needed for the student to make educational progress, and if those accommodations can be provided in the virtual environment. If the ARD committee determines that TCAH does not have the levels of support the student needs, the committee may recommend that the student will be withdrawn from TCAH in favor of more appropriate schooling options.
For students that have a 504 Plan, a meeting will be scheduled to review what accommodations the student needs in the virtual environment. TCAH staff will advise the parents on what can and cannot be accommodated from your student's current ARD/IEP or 504 Plan during a consultation prior to moving forward with enrollment. The consultation may include a recommendation pursue a more appropriate schooling option.
The TCAH staff is available to talk with you, review your student's services, and consult with you on the services available at this school. We will make every effort to fully inform parents of the services and/or supports that are available for special service students in this 100% virtual environment. If you have any questions, please contact the school’s Special Population Department at 281-661-8293 ext. 6864.
English is a second language for my student. Can my student’s needs be met at TCAH?
TCAH is a text-rich environment where instruction and student management system are delivered in English. Students that scored Advanced or Advanced High on the TELPAS the previous school year generally are able to participate successfully in this online curriculum.
What documents are needed in order to enroll my student in TCAH for special services?
Visit the Eligibility section to learn about documents needed to enroll students in TCAH for special services.
Is credit recovery offered at TCAH?
No. TCAH students are required to complete the full course work for each TCAH course. Student enrolled at TCAH have 7 courses each semester.
Since I am registering online with TCAH, how is my student subsequently enrolled in Houston ISD?
First, your student must be “stage 4/enrolled” in Connexus® so that your learning materials can be shipped. Your student will remain in stage 4 until start up tasks are completed. Startup tasks must be completed within five days of starting school, and then your student will be officially enrolled in Houston ISD. To complete startup tasks, you and your student must: verify your courses, talk to a teacher, complete orientations, accept the honor code, and begin instruction. If the student does not complete startup tasks within the first five days, the student will be withdrawn from Connexus and will not be enrolled in Houston ISD.
Since my student will not physically attend school at TCAH, how will the school know that my child is attending?
The TCAH staff will know that your child is attending school through lesson completion and seeing that your child meets promotion standards. Students are considered to be 100% in attendance once they successfully complete the courses assigned. This means that students are required to meet state standards with lesson completion for the assigned grade level in order to be counted as “in attendance.” Students typically complete 25-30+ hours of school work weekly with some high school students working more.
Does my student have to complete all lessons that are assigned?
Yes, students are required to complete the full course by the end of the semester and/or year. Students who enroll late in the semester are assigned all lessons in the course. If the student attended school prior to enrolling in TCAH, the teacher may skip lessons if they can verify mastery of the course-specific Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
What technology is provided to students?
Each family enrolled will need to provide their own computer and Internet access. High school students in math and science will also need a graphing calculator. See the Technology section for full details.
Are physical textbooks provided to TCAH students?
TCAH students in grades 3–8 receive physical textbooks and online textbooks.
TCAH students in grades 9–12 receive online textbooks. Hard copies of textbooks are available for purchase.
Are all Connections Academy courses available to TCAH students?
No, TCAH offers only the courses that have been approved to meet 100% of the TEKS alignment, iNACOL standards, and accessibility standards. Due to the time that is required to make these alignments to the curriculum, not all Connections Academy courses are currently offered in Texas. However, Connections Academy plans to continue obtaining course approval on additional courses for the students of Texas.
Do TCAH graduates receive a diploma and have a graduation ceremony?
Yes, the diploma is issued through TCAH by Houston ISD. TCAH has a graduation ceremony hosted by Houston ISD in a Houston ISD provided facility the weekend immediately following the last day of school for the district. In order to be eligible for a diploma in the spring, all course work and graduation requirements prescribed by the state of Texas and the Houston ISD must be fulfilled a week prior to the last day of school in the spring semester.
What are the graduation requirements for TCAH?
As a Houston ISD school, TCAH follows the Houston ISD Board Policy EIF. Learn more about Houston ISD school graduation requirements.
According to TCAH policy, students new to the school must earn a minimum of 5 full credits (10 courses) while enrolled at TCAH to be eligible to graduate from this school.
How do I request a transcript/student record?
To request an official transcript from Texas Connections Academy, please complete and submit the request form.
Once submitted, the request will be processed in the order received. Please be advised: Depending on the volume of requests, it may take up to 5 business days to process. The High School official transcript request form is specifically for those who meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Currently enrolled TCAH student in the 9th-12th grade
- Currently enrolled TCAH student that has earned credit from one or more high school level course
- Former students or graduates of TCAH
*If you are in need of a transcript to enroll your student into another Texas public school, the new school will accept the unofficial transcript copy for registration and once enrolled, the enrolling school will send a request directly to Texas Connections Academy via the state mandated records exchange system, TREx, for the official record.
Do TCAH students participate in state testing?
Yes. When you complete the agreement to enroll in TCAH, part of the agreement states that all students are expected to participate in state testing at one of the TCAH testing sites. The state testing site may be located within a 2 hour (or less) driving range from the student’s residence. It is parent’s responsibility to make travel arrangements to get the student to state testing for all testing days. An adult is required to walk the student into (and out of) the test site and show their ID each test day. Lack of transportation or being unable to take time off from work are not excused reasons for being absent from state testing, so advanced planning is encouraged. If the family would like to “opt out of state testing” a different schooling option should be considered.
Does TCAH have a Prom?
TCAH does not have a prom, but students are encouraged to seek local opportunities for dances and proms.
What if my student enrolls and we find that we cannot meet the school requirements?
We recommend that you set scheduling goals during the first three weeks of your student’s transition to virtual school to help ensure success. Your student’s homeroom teacher will be available to assist you throughout this time. If TCAH online school is not the right school for your child, you can withdraw from TCAH and enroll in another schooling option.
Who should be contacted if abuse, neglect, or exploitation is suspected?
Under Texas law, anyone who thinks a child, or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited must report it to Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). To make a report, call DFPS’s 24-hour hotline at800-382-6010. When you report suspected abuse it enables families to get the help they need.
Bajo la ley de Texas, el que piense que un niño o una persona de 65 años o más, o un adulto con discapacidad es víctima de abuso, descuido o explotación debe reportarlo al Departamento de Familia y Servichttp://www.houstonisd.org/Domain/21141ios de Protección (DFPS). Para reportar la sospecha de abuso, negligencia o explotación, llame a la línea de 24 horas del DFPS al800-382-6010. Cuando informe sobre la sospecha de abuso que permite a las familias a obtener la ayuda que necesitan.
What services are available for TCAH students experiencing homelessness?
The McKinney-Vento Act ensures educational rights and protections for children, youth and families experiencing homelessness. Under this act, various living situations may be considered homelessness and may qualify the child, youth or family for certain services. The Houston Independent School District's Homeless Education Office - Project S.A.F.E. (Student Assistance Family Empowerment) provides assistance to students and families that are living in a homeless situation or that are in transition. To learn more about available services, please visit the Houston Independent School District website.
Read Additional Connections Academy FAQs