Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Downingtown Cyber Academy differ from a cyber charter school?
Downingtown Cyber Academy offers a multitude of benefits as compared to a cyber charter school.
- All of our courses are taught by PA-certified, Downingtown Area School District teachers
- Cyber charter schools have historically poor performance. DCA courses maintain the same rigor and engagement as DASD’s in-person instruction with the added flexibility of the online environment.
- All of our courses follow the same curriculum and/or standards that are being taught in the school building, maintaining the same rigor and engagement as DASD’s in-person instruction with the added flexibility of the online environment.
- Cyber Academy students can participate in all in-school and extracurricular DASD programs and events, including groups such as homework club, athletics, band, etc.
- All of our Cyber Academy teachers will be required to provide 90 minutes of live (synchronous) learning per 1 credit course per cycle (45 minutes per 1/2 credit course).
Is the Cyber Academy the same program that was offered this past spring?
The Downingtown Cyber Academy is not the remote learning that was provided this past spring. The remote learning that our families experienced this past spring was in response to the emergency closing and left no time to adequately prepare our staff or students.
Using well-trained, DASD online instructors, the Downingtown Cyber Academy has successfully provided online education for hundreds of DASD students since 2011.
Who are the teachers?
All of the teachers in the Downingtown Cyber Academy are teachers in the Downingtown Area School District and teach face-to-face in one of our 16 schools.
What are the class sizes?
Class sizes follow the same limits as their in-person counterparts. If a course in the building has a limit of 25 students, for example, the online version will have a limit of 25 students as well.
I am concerned that my child won’t get enough socialization as part of the Cyber Academy. How can DASD help?
One of the benefits of the Downingtown Cyber Academy is that they remain DASD students; that means that they can participate in all clubs, programs, athletics, field trips and activities as an in-school student could. Additionally, students can elect to enroll part-time, taking some classes online and some in the physical classroom (hybrid model).
How do students apply for the Downingtown Cyber Academy?
Students and parents can fill out an application at www.dasd.org/cyber.
I have additional questions that aren’t answered here; who should I contact?
Please contact our Coordinator of Online Learning, Kristie Burk, at email@example.com or 610-269-8460.
What grade levels may participate in the Cyber Academy?
The Downingtown Cyber Academy is open to all DASD students from grades K-12.
What courses are available?
The programs of study are available at dasd.org/cyber.
Are there live or recorded lessons?
The Cyber Academy provides both recorded lessons and live sessions with the teacher.
What is the schedule? Will my child be required to log in at specific times?
All of our classes are asynchronous, so students can work flexibly throughout the week. All teachers will provide 90 minutes of live instruction per one credit course per cycle (45 minutes for 1/2 credit courses). Teachers will post their schedules at the beginning of each week.
How are labs handled?
Our labs are handled in a number of ways. They can be virtual labs and/or simulations. Students can also watch a recording of a lab and then analyze the data. Some labs can be done safely at home with common household items.
What does Kindergarten look like in the Cyber Academy? Is it half-day or full-day?
Kindergarten is half day and will include a number of screen-free activities.
How does gym/PE work?
The students will follow the same physical education curriculum while they are at home.
What about books or any other materials needed?
Most of the course materials for the cyber courses are digital and available within a student’s course. Any analog material for a course (books, equipment, etc.) can be picked up at a student’s home building. Students must return the material upon completion of the course.
Distribution of materials will be completed in a manner that follows all current safety protocols.
Are AP or IB courses offered?
Yes, we have several AP and IB courses available. The programs of study can be found at www.dasd.org/cyber. New courses are being added as more information becomes available.
What about AP exams?
Students who are taking a cyber AP course can register to take the AP exam at their home high school. Registration information can be found on the high school’s website. In order to prepare for the material on the exam, AP students may optionally ask to accelerate their AP coursework in the spring semester in order to be finished prior to the test.
Are there honors or accelerated programs offered?
Yes. The programs of study can be found at www.dasd.org/cyber.
Is the gifted/enrichment program available with the Cyber Academy?
The Downingtown Cyber Academy is available to gifted students as part of their regular education programming to meet their needs as gifted learners. When the Downingtown Cyber Academy is utilized to provide enrichment, acceleration, or a combination of both as part of a GIEP, it is considered a change of placement and the Gifted Multidisciplinary Team (GMDT) must determine the student’s readiness for online learning, the appropriateness of cyber instruction to meet the student’s demonstrated needs, and the recommended course(s) before the student may begin. A Gifted Written Report (GWR) will be completed before the GIEP is revised to include cyber education as the district-provided gifted education service to meet the student’s identified gifted needs.
Are special education students allowed to participate?
All DASD students may consider participating in the Downingtown Cyber Academy. Special Education students who have some of their needs met through specially designed instruction must discuss cyber education at an IEP meeting where the team will determine the supports needed to provide access to the student’s program of study prior to beginning any cyber coursework. The student’s IEP will be provided to the cyber teachers who will ensure compliance with all required modifications and accommodations. The students will continue to have a DASD case manager if they transfer into the cyber program full-time.
Are there due dates for assignments?
Course work is assigned at the beginning of each week and students have until the end of the week to complete. Secondary students should plan to spend approximately 5 hours on each one-credit cyber course and 2.5 hours on each .5 credit course per week. Elementary students will spend 3-4 hours each day.
How are tests or other assessments given?
Tests can be administered online or in a live session with the teacher.
How frequently do teachers give feedback to students on their work?
Teachers will be providing feedback at the same frequency as they do in the brick-and-mortar classroom.
How do students submit coursework not completed on the computer?
Students can use their iPad to scan or take a picture of work to submit or present it to the teacher in a live session.
What about Encores or Specials?
Encores and specials are offered. The programs of study can be found at www.dasd.org/cyber.
Can my child participate in band/choir/orchestra?
Yes, students can participate in band, choir or orchestra, but only in-person.
Can my child attend field trips?
Yes. Cyber Academy students are invited to participate in all of the same field trips opportunities as their in-school classmates.
How will the parents know if the kids are not keeping up with the course and homework?
Grades are posted and available in Schoology and Infinite Campus and teachers will communicate with parents if students are behind pace.
Does my child have to participate in the cyber academy full-time, or is there a part-time option?
Students may attend 100% online, or with a mix of in-person and online courses providing a tailor-made learning opportunity to meet all students’ needs.
Can students return to the building during the year if they start in the cyber program?
Yes. Students can transfer back to their home buildings during the school year based on specific start dates set by the district. These dates are listed on the registration page.
What if after a month, I find this isn’t working for my child? Can they transfer back?
To promote a seamless transition, we ask that children move between cyber and in-person on the specified start dates.
Is there a registration deadline?
In light of the current COVID situation, we are asking families who wish to have their child begin with the Downingtown Cyber Academy on August 31 to register by August 3. After this date, registration is still open, but students may have to begin the year by attending their originally- scheduled, in-person classes until they receive their cyber schedule.
Can a child transfer mid-year from the Cyber Academy or a private or charter school?
Yes. For the smoothest transition possible, we recommend that students transition at the specific start dates set by the district.
What happens if a large number of students decide to transfer back into the building all at once? Can DASD accommodate that?
Our courses are all taught by DASD teachers and class sizes are limited to the in-person class size numbers, so yes, on specified start dates, students may transfer back into the building. If a large number of students were to transfer back into the building, we would adjust teacher schedules as necessary to accommodate them.
Are all students eligible for the Downingtown Cyber Academy?
The Downingtown Cyber Academy is open to all DASD students from grades K-12.
Is the Downingtown Cyber Academy only open to DASD students?
The Downingtown Cyber Academy is only available to students that reside in Downingtown Area School District.
Can students participate in the Technical College High School (TCHS) if they are full-time cyber?
Yes, students can be full-time cyber students and participate in TCHS. Students will need to provide their own transportation to TCHS if they are not at the school to ride the bus.
Can my child transfer into the program after the school year has started?
After the school year begins, students can transfer into the cyber program. Enrollment dates are listed on the registration page.
For hybrid participation, does the district provide transportation?
Students can take a bus to school at the beginning and the end of the school day. Students who wish to come into school later or leave school early must provide their own transportation.
Do Cyber Academy students attend class with students from their school, or is it mixed?
Cyber classes may have students from other schools from within the district.
Does the Downingtown Cyber Academy affect STEM applications?
No. The DCA is a district-program and the courses have the same rigor as our traditional courses.
What are the graduation requirements?
High school students are expected to meet the same graduation requirements as the students in the district high schools. Cyber students will receive a high school diploma from either Downingtown West High School or Downingtown East High School. To receive a Downingtown Area School District diploma, students must earn 24 credits, complete a graduation project, and achieve proficiency or higher on the Keystone Exams beginning with the Class of 2019. Beginning with the graduating class of 2021, all high school students are also required to complete one cyber or blended learning course, which will be automatically satisfied when participating in this program.
What about PSSAs, Keystone exams, and other state tests?
Students in the Downingtown Cyber Academy are still required to take state-mandated tests, such as the PSSAs. Arrangements to take these exams will be made in conjunction with the school counselor and principal. Students who are taking state exams may have their Downingtown Cyber Academy pacing schedules adjusted, but they will not be exempt from completing any of the required cyber work. Keystone Exams are State mandated end-of-course tests. Students are required to take the appropriate Keystone Exam at the conclusion of Algebra I, 10th Grade English, and Biology.
Does the Downingtown Cyber Academy follow the DASD calendar?
Students in the Downingtown Cyber Academy will follow the Downingtown Area School District school calendar, including vacations, snow days, and holidays. The Downingtown Cyber Academy will follow DASD's marking period scheduling, including midterms and final exams.
How are evaluations handled if my child is in the Cyber Academy (gifted, special ed, etc.)?
Being a part of the Cyber Academy does not prevent your child from being evaluated for gifted or special education programs.
Initial requests for evaluations, both gifted and special education, should be directed to your homebuilding’s principal or school counselor. The student’s educational team will review student data with you to determine the next steps, including issuing a Prior Written Notice for evaluation. A multidisciplinary evaluation requires in-person assessment with a licensed school psychologist and arrangements for in-person assessment would need to be made.
For students that are already identified, reevaluations will take place every three years in compliance with federal mandates (2 years for students with cognitive disabilities). In-person assessment may be required as part of the reevaluation process.
If my child graduates from the Downingtown Cyber Academy, will their diploma indicate they were an online student?
No. Their diploma will be the Downingtown Area School District diploma from either East or West High School.
If enrolled in the Downingtown Cyber Academy, can my child participate in extracurriculars, clubs, and sports?
Yes. A Downingtown Cyber Academy student is a Downingtown Area School District student and can participate in all clubs, activities, extracurriculars, and athletics.
Can college-bound athletes participate in the cyber program?
Yes. Most of our courses are NCAA-approved. Students who need NCAA-eligibility should consult with their building's NCAA liaison when selecting cyber courses.
Outside of the teachers, how will DASD support my child through the Cyber Academy?
Your child will have the same support that an in-person student would receive, including access to school counselors, nurses, case managers, special education teachers, etc.
Who will help if my child is struggling or needs extra help?
Your child’s teacher is available to provide support online or in-person by appointment. Additionally, Cyber Academy students are invited to participate in all school groups, including Homework Club.
I have additional questions that aren’t answered here; who should I contact?
Please contact our Coordinator of Online Learning, Kristie Burk, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will you provide a device for my child?
Students will need internet access to complete their cyber courses. Our high school students should use the laptop provided by the Downingtown Area School District’s 1:1 program. Students in K-8 will be eligible to take home a device provided by the district.
What devices are provided at each grade level?
iPad K-8 and laptops 9-12
Can my child use their own device to participate in the Downingtown Cyber Academy (similar to the BYOD program)?
Technically, yes, but BYOD will not be allowed if the student comes into the building.
What platform is used?
Starting in the 20-21 school year, most core courses K-12 will be in Schoology. Some electives will be in Edgenuity.
What is the role of the parent in the Downingtown Cyber Academy?
In grades K–5, students require a lot of support from caring adults at home in the online classroom. Parents or guardians of elementary students in the Downingtown Cyber Academy provide the structure a student needs by establishing and managing the daily routine. The Downingtown Cyber Academy’s online planner makes it easy for students to keep track of their daily lessons. Parents stay in touch with the student’s teachers by phone, email, and virtual conferences. The student’s teacher will contact the parents early in the school year to discuss how they will work together to help students reach their potential.
Parents of elementary cyber students should plan to:
- Devote about one hour per day per subject overseeing their students’ schoolwork.
- Set the daily schedule with varied activities and breaks.
- Assist with lessons and communicate frequently with the teacher.
- Help monitor student progress and comprehension.
Parents/guardians of students in grades 6-12 also play a vital role in the student’s learning in the Downingtown Cyber Academy; however, the students will also be expected to take more responsibility for their learning. The parents/guardians are responsible for many academic aspects of the student’s virtual learning program that contribute to a student’s success, including but not limited to
- Viewing Parent Portal every week to check attendance for full-time students.
- Establishing an appropriate location for learning.
- Helping students to establish a daily routine for working on the lessons for their subject.
- Keeping students motivated.
- Monitoring student comprehension and grades in Parent Portal.
- Communicating frequently with the teachers and/or the Coordinator of Online Learning.
- Encouraging students to complete assignments and to turn in work.
- Notifying online teachers and the Coordinator of Online Learning when students are struggling or experiencing academic or personal issues that might inhibit academic achievement.
What are the characteristics of a successful cyber student?
With the freedom and flexibility of blended and cyber courses come responsibility. Online work takes real commitment and discipline to keep up. Students should be willing to log in to classes every school day. Students should have the following characteristics (or be willing to work on them) if they want to participate in this cyber program. They should
- Be self-motivated and a self-disciplined individual.
- Enjoy working independently.
- Be willing to ask for help.
- Have good time-management skills.
- Be able to meet deadlines for schoolwork.
- Communicate any questions or concerns to the teacher either online or face-to-face.
- Feel comfortable expressing themselves in writing using standard English.
- Like to get things done today and not tomorrow.
- Not miss the daily face-to-face interaction with instructors and classmates.
- Not give up easily, even when confronted with obstacles.
- Be willing and able to commit to at least five hours per week per course.
- Agree that online courses can be more challenging than face-to-face classes.
- Have reliable internet access.
- Be comfortable in a "virtual environment" - email, sending attachments, online discussions, etc.
- Not be afraid to try new things.
For more information, please contact us at email@example.com.