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 elementary DCA teachers offer daily Zoom lessons. Our secondary DCA teachers provide 2 Zooms per 1-credit course per cycle.
- Students can choose a part-time cyber option in grades 6-12, which is not available in cyber charter schools.
Who are the teachers?
All of the teachers in the Downingtown Cyber Academy are teachers in the Downingtown Area School District.
What are the class sizes?
School Board policy dictates class sizes within the district by grade.
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 (part-time).
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?
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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. Elementary teachers provide two 45-minute Zoom sessions per day. Secondary teachers provide two 45-minute Zoom sessions per 6-day cycle for a 1-credit course and one 45-minute Zoom session per 6-day cycle for a .5 or .33 credit course.
Are there due dates for classwork?
Yes. To provide maximum flexibility for our students, work will be assigned on Monday and due by the end of the day on Sunday. Students may be given some long-term projects or essays that they will work on for several weeks, but they will always be due on a Sunday.
Are courses self-paced?
Every week students will be given material, included recorded instruction, digital texts, and interactive lessons, as well as assignments to complete for the week. Students may complete the work at their own pace throughout the week as long as it's submitted by the end of the day on Sunday.
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.
Are honors, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate courses offered?
The DCA offers several honors and Advanced Placement courses. For the 2020-21 school year, the International Baccalaureate is allowing DASD to provide virtual IB courses.
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.
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 Sunday to complete it. 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 are administered online or in a live session with the teacher.
Can my child participate in band/choir/orchestra?
The DCA does not offer virtual music performance courses, but students can elect to take them in the brick-and-mortar school.
Does my child have to participate in the cyber academy full-time or is there a part-time option?
Students may attend 100% online in grades K-12. Our 6th-12th graders can also take a mix of traditional and online courses, providing a tailor-made learning opportunity to meet all students’ needs.
Can students transfer back to the brick-and-mortar buildings after the start of the year?
Students are only allowed to transfer into or out of the DCA at the start of a trimester for elementary students or at the start of a marking period for secondary students. Report card grades will transfer into the new classes.
If students are currently in the DCA, do they need to register for next year?
Yes, students must reregister for the DCA each year.
Is there a registration deadline?
Registration for the 21-22 school year will open on January 22, 2021 and will remain open through June 30, 2021. After the start of school, students will be able to enroll in the DCA at the beginning of each marking period or trimester if there are available spaces in the classes.
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.
For part-time cyber students, does the district provide transportation to the brick-and-mortar school?
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 classes just with students from their home school or is it mixed?
- Elementary students can be grouped in classes with students from any of our 10 elementary buildings.
- Marsh Creek students will be in classes together.
- Downingtown Middle School and Lionville Middle School students will have classes together by grade. For some classes, such as world language and advanced math classes, students may also be grouped with students from the three high schools.
- Students at East, West, and STEM may be in classes together.
Does the Downingtown Cyber Academy affect STEM applications for 8th graders?
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 principal. 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 in their home schools.
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.
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 a traditional student would receive, including access to school counselors, 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, DCA students are invited to participate in all school groups, including Homework Club.
Will you provide a device for my child?
Students will need internet access to complete their cyber courses from home. Students K-12 should use their district-issued devices.
Can my child bring their own device to participate in the Downingtown Cyber Academy (BYOD)?
Technically, yes, but part-time DCA students will need a district-issued device within their home school buildings.
What platform is used?
Downingtown Cyber Academy courses are in Schoology.
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. Schoology 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 a DCA Administrator.
- Encouraging students to complete assignments and to turn in work.
- Notifying online teachers and the DCA Admin team 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.
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