Christian Educators Academy – FAQ
This is the time of year when we are inundated with phone calls from perspective new families (and we love talking to you!) asking about our online school. Although much of this information is elsewhere on our website here is a quick recap of the most commonly asked questions. You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we are always more than happy to talk to you.
Q: Where is Christian Educators Academy (CEA) located?
A: Our business office is in Florida, and we are registered as a private school in Florida. Our teachers are located throughout the country, and our students throughout the world.
Q: What curriculum do you use?
A: We use two prestigious, highly awarded curricula, both are considered college preparatory – Apex and Gradpoint. Apex covers grades 9-12, and offers opportunities for Honors, Advanced Placement and Dual-Enrollment through our program with Colorado Christian University. Gradpoint covers grades 6-12 and offers a wide selection of electives. Both curricula come with full teacher support.
Q: What is the difference between Apex and Gradpoint?
A: With Apex, depending on the course, 20-40% of assessments are teacher-graded. With Gradpoint, most assessments are computer-graded. Because of the additional teacher support required by Apex, we run the Apex curriculum as a traditional 9-10 month term. With Gradpoint, students have the option of taking up to a full year to complete their courses, although they can complete in the traditional 10 months if they choose. With Apex there are more essays to be graded, requiring more writing. In Apex, students frequently have to wait for teachers to grade or unlock assignments, and need to plan their schedules accordingly. Gradpoint allows students to work more independently, without the need for teacher interaction. Overall what we have found is that Apex works better for some students, Gradpoint for others. We believe that have the choice of two great curricula allows us to adapt more effectively to the learning styles of our students.
Q: How do students interact with the school?
A: Most of the time, students interact by logging into their classes through their computer. Most of the instruction and many of the assessments are online. If an assignment needs to be graded, the student completes and submits it online. The teacher has 24-48 hours to respond (most teachers respond within 24 hours). The same is true if a student has a question, they submit it via e-mail to their teacher, and the teacher has 24-48 hours to respond. Most of the time, grading and questions are resolved using e-mail. If a teacher feels that additional support is needed, they can set up a conference call or Skype with the student at a designated time. Usually a short call resolves any issues.
Q: Are there any live classes or discussion groups?
A: In the past we tried to implement these, but what we found is that because of the differences in time zones and student progress through a course, it has been impossible to successfully organize regular discussion groups or live classes. We are continuing to look for ways to do this in the future, and are open to new ideas.
Q: Do you ensure that students pass all material?
A: Yes. We have a mastery-based system, which means that students needs to pass all quizzes and assignments with a minimum score of 70% (80% for Honors / AP). The system allows one re-try on a failed test. After two failed attempts, the system locks the student out, and they need to contact their teacher for help.
Q: Is tutoring available?
A: Yes. This year, one member of the staff will be available as a tutor, to assist on occasions when a student needs a little extra help. We cannot provide tutoring for individual students on a continuous, on-going basis. If a student needs this, parents should arrange for support outside of CEA.
Q: What do I need to do to sign-up?
A: If you are interested in CEA, fill out our 1-page information form, which tells us how to contact you. To register for the school, you need to fill out our 10-page registration form, send us the students birth certificate, immunization records and transcripts, and pay the tuition. Once we have all this, and have a discussion with you about which curriculum and specific courses your student will be taking, we can generally set up the students classes within a day, and then will send the student their username and password.
Q: When do classes start?
A: You can start and end classes anytime you want. Most students start their school year in August or September, and end in May or June. You can pick any dates you want for the start and end, just tell us what dates you want when you register.
Q: Does the student have to work during a particular time of day?
A: No, students can set whatever hours they want to work to fit their schedule.
Q: How much time is required for the school?
A: The material covered by our courses is the same approximate content and workload as any traditional public or private school. In high school, for non AP/Honors courses, students should plan on at least 3-5 hours per day, 15-20 hours per week. This may vary depending on the abilities of the individual student. For AP / Honors courses, students should plan on 5-6 hours a day. In the middle school, about 3 hours a day should cover it.
Q: Do assignments have due dates?
A: Yes, in both Apex and Gradpoint, every assignment has a due date based on the chosen starting and ending dates. You and the student can see all of these dates when you look at the individual syllabus for a student’s course.
Q: What happens if a student misses a due date?
A: The due dates are intended as guidelines, not as strict requirements. If a student misses due dates by a few days, it is not a big deal. We recommend that students turn in assignments sometime within the week that they are due. This gives students the flexibility to devote particular days to particular subject (e.g. Monday = English, Tuesday = Math), etc. What we look for is students falling more than a week behind and the gap appears to be growing.
Q: What if my student is sick, or has to travel?
A: This is not a big deal at all. Just let us know. We recommend if possible that students continue to work while they are traveling if possible. If this is impossible, as long as time is allotted for the students to catch up when they get back, that is fine. What does not work is students not doing any work for a whole semester, and then trying to catch up a whole semester’s work in a few days. This is just not possible, and it does not provide a quality education.
Q: How can I monitor my children’s progress?
A: The access account we set up for your student is also accessible to you. By going into your child’s account, you can quickly see if they are keeping up to schedule, and how much time they have been spending online in their courses. We recommend doing this on a regular basis, particularly if your student is young, new to the program, and/or has not yet established a successful track record of working in our environment. Even if they have a successful track record, we still recommend monitoring on a regular basis.
Q: Will I get progress reports, etc?
A: Parents in the Apex system automatically receive a progress update once a week. Parents in the Gradpoint system will receive an update at least once a month. In addition, we send out quarterly report cards (November, January, March, June).
Q: Are there any books?
A: Generally, no. All of the material for all courses is 100% online, with only a few exceptions (AP courses, Health, Bible).
Q: What hours do teachers work?
A: We allow all of our teachers the autonomy to set their own work hours. Many of our teachers work in the evenings or at night. We only require that each teacher logs in at least once per day, and address all outstanding issues – questions, unlocks, and assignments to be graded.
Q: What is my role?
A: We ask parents to take an active role in their children’s progress by routinely monitoring their activity, asking how they are doing, finding out if they are staying on schedule in their courses and putting in the required seat-time. We ask parents to read any progress reports, e-mails and letters from us, and to contact us immediately if there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Q: What is included when I enroll?
A: For high school, 6 classes – 4 core (English, Math, Science, History) and two electives. For middle school – 4 core classes and in 8th grade, 1 elective.
Q: What does my student receive when they complete their courses at CEA?
A: Students graduating from CEA receive an accredited diploma, and an accredited transcript showing all the courses they have taken in high school, whether at CEA or another school. Students not graduating from CEA receive an accredited transcript showing all the courses they have completed at CEA.
Q: Is there a minimum number of courses that must be taken in order to graduate from CEA?
A: Yes, our accreditation agency requires that students must take at least 6 credits with us (the equivalent of the entire senior year) in order for us to grant a diploma.
Q: Are there age limitations?
A: Our programs are intended for students ages 12-20; they are not intended for adults. We do not accept anyone above the age of 20 into our program.
Q: How is CEA accredited?
A: CEA is accredited by SACS – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the same organization that accredits all of the colleges and universities in the southeastern U.S., and by Advanc-ED, which has accredited over 20,000 schools worldwide.
Q: How do I know that colleges and universities will accept your accreditation?
A: All of the colleges and universities in the U.S. are accredited by one of six accreditation agencies established by Congress and the US Dept of Education, SAC is one of those six agencies. There is a reciprocity agreement, any school accredited by one of these six agencies has to accept any school that is accredited by any of the other agencies. Almost 100% of our graduates go on to college, and a list of the colleges they have been accepted to is provided on our website.
Q: What if I transfer back into my local public high school, do they have to accept your accreditation?
A: Each public school board and school district sets its own policies, which we have no control over. If you are considering going back into your public school after CEA, we advise you to talk to them first to find out what the expectations and requirements are. Public high schools can require students to take end-of-course exams. and to re-take courses if they do not pass these exams. Students can also be required to take standardized tests such as FCATs and TCATs that were missed.
Q: If my student is not a Florida resident, what graduation requirements apply?
A: Since we are a Florida private school, all of our graduating students must meet Florida standards. If a student lives in a state where the standards exceed Florida’s standards, those will apply. The requirements in all states are fairly similar, with a few variations here and there. The requirements in Florida are:
4 years of English, 4 years of Math including at least Algebra I & II and Geometry; 3 years of Science including at least Biology; 3 years of History including World History, US History, US Government and Economics.
Q: Do your students take standardized tests like the PSAT, SAT and ACT?
A: Yes, in fact we require it. Students must take standardized tests in at least the 8th, 10th and 12th grades. In the 8th grade they typically take a Terra Nova test. In the 10th grade, they typically take the PSAT, but can take a Terra Nova test instead. In the 12th grade, they take the SAT or ACT, or both. Parents register and pay online with the College Board using our school code, then schedule a test-date at a local facility. Test results are sent to us. We also have an SAT prep course.
Q: Do you require/administer other standardized tests (FCAT, TCAT) or end of course exams?
Q: Can my student enroll if they have been homeschooled?
A: Yes. We just need a list of the classes taken, the curriculum used, and some samples of their work (essays, tests, etc)
Q: How much is the tuition?
A: For college prep, $2200/year, paid in advance. For Honors/AP/Dual Enrollment, $2600, paid in advance. For Middle School: $1600, paid in advance. We also offer the option of paying for just one semester at a time, or one course at a time. We also have installment plans that require $800 down with the balance paid over 6 months, for an additional $200. A full break-down of our tuition is listed on another page.
Q: Can I get a refund if it doesn’t work out?
A: If the student has not logged in, everything can be refunded except a $200 registration fee. Once the student has logged in, nothing can be refunded. We advise all students to try our demo’s and make sure the curriculum will work for them, before they sign up.
Q: Can I take classes from both Apex and Gradpoint at the same time?
A: Generally no, all classes will come from either Apex or Gradpoint. We do allow Apex students to take 2 Gradpoint electives for an additional $500.
Q: Can my student transfer from Apex to Gradpoint from year to year?
A: Yes, as long as they take a traditional Math curriculum (Algebra I & II and Geometry) and do not take Integrated Math. We find however that most students become accustomed to whatever curriculum they are taking, and do not want to switch.
Q: My student is interested in taking Honors classes, but maybe not this year, what do you advise?
A: If they are 9th grade and above, we would definitely recommend enrolling them in the Apex curriculum, and consider taking 1 Honors class this year or next to see how they do (a student can take up to 1 Honors class at the College-Prep price). If a student is new to online, we do not recommend more than this for the first year, until they have adjusted and have a track record.
Q: My student has never done online, and wants to take a full Honors load the first year, what do you recommend?
A: Honors classes are considerably more work than normal classes, and students can easily become overwhelmed, especially if they are new to online. We will allow it, but we recommend this be done cautiously, with the student fully aware of the burden they are taking on.
Q: If a student enrolls in Honors classes and is overwhelmed, can they go back down to a non-Honors level?
A: Yes, absolutely. However our strong preference is to place students appropriately from the beginning. We want them to be challenged, but not overwhelmed.
Q: Between Honors and AP, what is better?
A: We strongly recommend Honors, as colleges treat these on a transcript just like AP Classes. With AP classes, books are required, and AP credit can not be granted unless the student passes the course and takes and passes the AP Test with a 4 or 5. Students who don’t achieve this are treated as if they just took an Honors course. If your student wants college credit, we strongly recommend a Dual Enrollment option.