Cyber schools (also known as virtual schools) are a schooling option for students in Philadelphia. Cyber schools use interactive technology and multimedia in place of a traditional classroom, usually allowing students to participate from home using a computer.
Students complete their schoolwork at home and do not attend classes in a school building. Teachers communicate with students and parents through e-mail, telephone and/or videoconferencing to help students stay on track with their studies.
Most cyber schools supply each student with a laptop, and they often reimburse families for Internet costs. The schools usually pay for textbooks and other supplies or lend them to the students for the duration of a class.
Under Pennsylvania law, students in cyber schools are allowed to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities at a nearby traditional public school.
Cyber schools can be a good option for students with a variety of educational needs. They are still school, with homework and tests, so students and families should not see them as an easy way to a diploma. But for students who love working on computers or who tend to study better as independent learners, they are worth considering.
Some schools use what is called a “blended” approach, which requires students to periodically appear at school or another location to meet with teacher(s) and/or advisor(s) face-to-face.
There are currently 16 cyber schools in Pennsylvania, all of them operated as charter schools. As with all public schools, there is no cost to attend cyber charter schools.
Because few cyber schools actually are based in Philadelphia, you may not find them listed in the GreatPhillySchools search results, but all students who are residents of Pennsylvania can attend any one of these schools.
Cyber schools have a multistep enrollment process, which usually includes an in-person appointment. During the appointment, the student’s information (such as proof of address) is verified, and the family has a chance to meet with school representatives to answer questions and fill out paperwork.
The exact enrollment process varies from one cyber school to another. To set up an appointment and learn more about what is required from a school, you should contact the school directly.
For school locations, contact information and past academic performance, see the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. Note that a few of the schools are too new to show up on the Department’s summary of 2011 PSSA (state test) performance data.
If you have other questions, contact Marlene Kanuck, BEA2/Charter Schools Coordinator, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Teaching and Learning, 717-783-9294, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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