CEA’s New Homeroom Process

Since I first began teaching at CEA, six years ago now, our online homeschool has grown and changed quite a bit! We’ve introduced two new curricula, ten new teachers, and three new administrators! Our numbers have grown, but our values are still the same: we want to make sure that we know each of our students and their families, and are shepherding them along as they pursue academic success!

When we were a smaller school, our fearless leader Mrs. Z used to do all of this on her own! She is still very involved with every student and family in the school—teaching elective courses with students and answering phone calls and taking registrations–but this past year, we’ve introduced a new Homeroom monitoring system that all of our administrators participate in. This system ensures that we are giving our students the most support possible, and that there is a system of checks and balances to keep everybody accountable.

Approximately every two weeks, Mr. Barnett, Mr. Zabor, and Miss G go through their respective section of students checking progress, emailing students for encouragement, and offering help where they see issues. They also email parents of students who have gotten behind, trying to make sure that we are partnering with parents to help students stay on track. This process has been incredibly important this year, and we have been so pleased with the results.

Our students have always been successful, but this homeroom system has allowed us to identify struggles earlier in the year so that we can intervene as quickly as possible. Our Homeroom teachers meet at least once a month with Mrs. Z to share information and make sure that we are engaging with every single student as productively as possible. We’ve seen students who were struggling make turnarounds and begin to improve, and we’ve been able to help parents feel more empowered and have a better understanding of their students’ schoolwork.

Every year we work to find new ways to improve and grow in our service of students and their families. We hire teachers who are experts in their subject area and who believe in our mission as a school; we work to improve communication and support wherever possible. We never want to remain stagnant, even if we are doing well; we always want to grow and improve and find ways to become better educators! This year’s Homeroom checking process has become a valuable part of our online homeschool, and we look forward to continuing to work with students to help improve their time management and study skills so that they can continue to be successful.

Parenting on Online Homeschool Student – Taking An Active Role

Parenting on Online Homeschool Student - Taking An Active RoleIf you have chosen an online homeschool for your child, you have chosen one of the newest, most innovative ways to educate your child.  Online homeschooling offers many benefits – the ability to do school at home, the flexibility to work on your own schedule and at your own pace, control over your child’s education.  In addition, if you have chosen a good program, your child has professional teachers, the school handles the administrative tasks and keeps you informed of your child’s progress, and you are in a properly accredited program – one that will be recognized by colleges and universities around the country when your child graduates.

Of course, if you are the parent of an online homeschool child, you still need to take an active role in your child’s teaching.  With an online homeschool program, it is true that you no longer have the day-to-day burdens of teaching and grading.  However, you still play a crucial role in your child’s development.   Raising your child will always be your responsibility – a responsibility that you cannot pass others or expect them to do on your behalf.  So how do you define your role and balance it with the online school along with the other resources you have brought into your childs life?

A good model is to think of all the resources as a team, with you at the center as the head coach and director.  Those resources include the online school, other activities and clubs your child participates in such as sports, arts, dance or music, your local church and youth group, your childs friends, and the community you live in.  Each resource plays a role in your child’s development, and contributes value in different areas.  You guide, direct and orchestrate the overall process, looking for areas where there are unmet needs, and making changes and adjustments to address new needs which are uncovered as you go along.

The primary job of an online school – as with any school – is to ensure that your child’s academic needs are met.  That he or she learns algebra, chemistry and how to write a good essay.  That he or she has enough of the right credits to graduate in four years.  That provides good learning opportunities and does everything to help your child succeed academically, that he or she has a good transcript that will help him or her get into the right college.  To identify your child’s talents, to give direction in areas of strength, and assistance in areas of weakness.  To encourage and motivate your child.

Encouragement and motivation are areas where your responsibilities and those of the online school begin to overlap.  Every school – online or not – has the responsibility to ensure it is providing an environment that is encouraging and motivating to students – that it is not intentionally or unintentionally doing things to discourage or demotivate its students.  On the other hand, schools also have a responsibility at times to challenge students to do better, to hold them to a high standard, and to encourage them to be responsible for their work.

There are certain things that an online school can not do.  For example, we can detect if your child is struggling, not spending enough time, or not logging in.  We can alert your student and you to the problem with e-mails, letters and phone-calls.  We can offer help and assistance.  However we cannot make your child log-in or do their work.  We can offer encouragement, but ultimately your child is the one who decides if they will work.  We can identify good and bad decisions, and let you know what the consequences will be, but we cannot make those decisions for you and your child.  Ultimately, each person bears the consequences of the decisions he or she makes – the principle of sowing and reaping.

This is why your role as a parent is so crucial.  At 13 or 14, your child cannot see the consequences of the decisions he or she makes now, but you can.  By putting a proper framework in place, you try to help guide your child into the right decisions, and into developing good habits.  And this is why it is so important that you take an active role in your child’s development – even if they are in an online school – in fact especially if they are in an online school.  If you were homeschooling in the past, an online school frees up your time and energy immensely by taking the burdens of teaching and administration away from you.  This frees up your time so that you can do the things that only you as a parent can do – the things that are most important.

As your child’s parent, you understand them the best of anyone.  You know how they “tick”, what motivates and de-motivates them.  What things they gravitate to, and what things they avoid.  Until they marry, no one will understand your child as well as you do.

So, stay active in your child’s online school education.  You may have to work, or have other responsibilities and obligations pulling you away.  But find time to stay engaged and involved in your child’s life.  Don’t be an absentee parent.  Don’t try to delegate your responsibilities to others.  More on how to stay involved in future articles.

CEA Diploma or GED?

A GED, or General Education Development exam, assesses high school academic skills. However, there are a number of important differences between a high school diploma and the GED. The GED may be considered as equivalent to a high school diploma in very limited cases, but a GED usually does not provide the same opportunities as a high school diploma.  Read below for a full explanation of the CEA Diploma or GED.

The GED originated after World War II to allow veterans to complete their high school education in order to attend college. To pass the GED, a person must earn a minimum score on each section of the test along with a minimum combined score on all sections of the test. Those who pass the GED receive a certificate. In comparison, in order to earn a CEA diploma, students must take and pass individual courses based on credits. Most high school diplomas nationwide require 20-24 credits to be taken over 3-4 high school years. A diploma is your ticket to higher wages and is a key credential for applying to jobs or college.

High school graduation requirements for the CEA diploma are set primarily by Florida, CEA’s home state, but also by the individual state where each student resides. These requirements include a minimum number of courses per subject , standardized testing, and attendance . A high school diploma requires coursework in the core academic topics of reading, writing, math, history, science, as well as core electives. The course work taken to earn a CEA diploma is designed to build well-rounded skill sets as well as meet state graduation requirements. In comparison, the GED covers all of these topics with just one test, and earning a GED requires only passing that test.

Some community colleges will accept a GED in lieu of a high school diploma, but not standardized entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT. Some colleges accept students with GEDs, but require them to take additional exams, or take additional courses at cost without receiving college credit. Most colleges and universities, including most four-year colleges, require 24 high school credits for admission, and do not accept a GED at all. In addition, students who earn a CEA diploma and have demonstrated passing grades will often be able to get financial aid that is unavailable to students who only have a GED. This is where a CEA diploma offers a BIG advantage over the GED.

A CEA diploma is also better than a GED for employment opportunities. Many employers require high school diplomas for their employees, and do not accept GEDs. A GED tells an employer that a person “quit” high school. Employers may view the GED negatively, revealing a lack of ability to complete a program.

Another major benefit of a CEA diploma versus a GED is in regards to military service. Each branch of the United States military accepts a regular high school diploma from traditional and online schools. The GED may be accepted by the Army or Marines, however, a GED is regarded as Tier 2 education, which greatly affects pay scale as well as military assignments. The armed forces limit the percentage of Tier 2 candidates accepted in any enlistment year. In addition, GED holders must score higher on the ASVAB to qualify.[1]

In conclusion, for students currently in high school, it is essential to see it through until graduation. Whether your goal is to enter the workforce, go to college, or enlist in the military, a regular diploma is accepted as proof of graduation from high school – without question. If you get anything less, you will be limiting some of your options for the future.

Other advantages of a CEA Diploma vs GED:

  • High school graduates earn, on average, about $1,600 a month more than those with a GED (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).
  • Less than 5% of those with a GED receive a bachelor’s degree.
  • 77% of GED holders do not continue past the first semester of college (American Council of Education study).
  • Organizations and companies are no longer recognizing equivalency exams as a valid alternative to a high school education.
  • Research shows that people with GEDs are, in fact, no better off than dropouts when it comes to their chances of getting a good job.[2]

[1] http://www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/high-school-diploma-vs-ged

[2] http://www.npr.org/2012/02/18/147015513/in-todays-economy-how-far-can-a-ged-take-you

Dual Enrollment Program with Colorado Christian University

CCUSeal Earlier this year, CEA was approached by Colorado Christian University to submit some of our courses for consideration in their Dual Enrollment program. After a couple months of work—collecting all the relevant course materials, getting transcripts for our teachers, submitting it all for approval—we ended up with ten approved courses certified for Dual Enrollment credit. These are our courses, taught by our teachers, but available for college credit! We are incredibly excited about the new avenues this opens up for our school, and especially our students in this new 2015-16 school year and also the years to come.

What exactly are Dual Enrollment Courses?

Dual Enrollment courses are called “dual” because they count as both college and high school credit. This can be great for students for a few different reasons. First, students in essence are “killing two birds with one stone” in the sense that they are completing high school and college requirements at the same time. Second, when dual enrollment courses are taken through an accredited institution* those courses typically can be transferred to a student’s future college after they graduate high school. These courses often can count as “General Ed” courses; students who take them during their high school years can save quite a bit of time and money, since Dual Enrollment courses are more cost-effective than paying for a typical college course. Finally, Dual Enrollment courses are college-level; they require strong academic skills as well as a heavy dose of self-discipline. For students planning to head off to college, Dual Enrollment courses are a great way for students to “get their feet wet” and experience the rigor of a college-level course. However, these courses are still taught by our own CEA teachers who are very attentive to students’ needs as they transition to this level of work.

What is the difference between Dual Enrollment and AP?

At CEA, our Dual Enrollment courses take into account all of the work for the entire course. Often, for AP students to receive college credit for the course, they must complete all the coursework and pass a high-stakes test in early May. In Apex, we are using AP-level courses for our Dual Enrollment classes, because they are the most rigorous courses in our curriculum. However, students enrolled in the Dual Enrollment version of the course are not required to take the AP exam at the end in order to receive college credit. We prefer this, because it helps reward students who are phenomenal workers, but who might struggle with high-stakes, high-pressure exams. We feel that the grades for the whole semester—assessed with a blend of multiple choice and written assessments—are a much better representation of a student’s work in the classroom and their preparedness for college. Thankfully, for our Dual Enrollment courses, the AP exam is not required to receive credit for the course. However, we still do offer the AP courses for students who prefer that to the Dual Enrollment option.

Is Dual Enrollment right for my student?

If your student is academically strong and well disciplined, they are a good candidate for one of our Dual Enrollment courses. We look for students, primarily juniors and seniors, who have been successful in honors-level courses earlier in their high school career. Certain Dual Enrollment courses, especially in math and science, have prerequisite courses that must be completed before a student would be prepared to take the Dual Enrollment version of the course. Our history and English courses typically require a writing sample to ensure that the prospective student can handle the rigorous writing requirements. Students should also be ready for a challenge and interested in the subject matter. Finally, students who have an idea of the colleges they will be applying to should reach out to admissions counselors at those schools to check and confirm that our courses will transfer easily and meet relevant requirements.

Conclusions

In the end, we are incredibly excited for the new opportunities these courses will provide for our students. We know that many of our students are certainly capable of succeeding in these courses; we are hopeful that this will provide a way for them to be challenged in their thinking and their academic skills as well as saving them time and money in future college expenses. We are also hopeful that this will continue to draw new students into our school who are looking for Dual Enrollment opportunities.

Our Dual Enrollment Coordinator, Miss Gentile, is happy to help students with any additional questions or requests for information. She is the one who will guide students through the process of navigating the Dual Enrollment courses and making sure to register with CCU for college credit. She is also available to answer questions about course equivalencies that might be helpful to discuss with prospective colleges.

*Our partnership college is Colorado Christian University, which is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. A full list of their accreditations can be found here: http://www.ccu.edu/accreditations/

Our school is also accredited by Advanc-ED and SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).