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  1. #21

    Default

    Hi Robert,

    That sounds miserable!

    There are plenty of alternatives that will put your schooling into reasonable hours. Its called homeschooling!
    And you can even use Saxon, if you want. You just go and buy it.
    Post an introductory thread, and you can get as much advice as you like from those of us who have been doing it for a while.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  2. T4L In Forum Jan19
  3. #22

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    Hello!
    I registered just so I could reply to this thread.
    I SO wish I had seen this back in the spring. My high school junior and I could have been spared so much stress. We have withdrawn from KCA (Kansas Connections Academy) and he is planning to just get his GED.
    We live in a very tiny town. One stop light tiny. We never had any issues with the local school district until he hit high school. And then he had teachers that...well...let's just say that while I don't claim to have perfect grammar, I would have been a better English teacher than the lady they have. Multiple emails from her that I had to decipher. Everyone has typos but this was absurd. And after some discussions with other parents and students, I wasn't the only one noticing such issues. And that is just one of the teachers that was an issue.

    Anyway...my son was failing when he should have been excelling. So we agreed to give online school a try and if that didn't work, then we would look into the GED. We needed free because we are a one income family and don't have extra funds in the budget. KCA seemed like a good choice. Boy. Was I wrong.

    Apparently Kansas requires "count days" where they total up the amount of time the student spends actively in a lesson. 360 minutes total are required. One minute off and you have to redo count day. Problem is...there isn't a cumulative timer for the student or the parent. You have to attempt to keep your own tally. Which might be fine if 30 minutes of "inactivity" didn't cause the timer to time out. No matter what we did, we just couldn't seem to hit the 360 minutes which is apparently grounds for being kicked. I have 2 other children. One is in the local school district still. The other just turned four and is home with me. So I really can't devote a whole day to watching over my 17 year old's shoulder making sure we are correctly tallying his lesson time. I don't know how to write code but surely a cumulative timer wouldn't be that hard to add in to make things easier for the students as well as the parents.

    Then there is the issue of not being able to get the windows to properly load so that assignments can be uploaded to Dropbox or wherever the teacher requires. And then, of course, teachers take days to respond to emails. But they can immediately forward emails sent out from the principal so that you have 5 copies of the same email. Like that isn't overwhelming.

    Then he got behind in chemistry because we didn't have everything on hand for him to do a chem lab and he couldn't go on to the next assignment until he did that one. We had access to the list of supplies needed for the entire year but we didn't know what assignments they would be needed for and since the "backpack" for that lesson didn't show materials needed...actually specifically said no materials were needed...we didn't know until he clicked through to the section that actually told him. Part of the reason we went online school is so I didn't have to read ahead to be prepared for lessons. A little heads up on needed supplies would have helped immensely. I didn't know what magnetic centromeres or pop beads were so definitely not things I have on hand. I need to know ahead of time for things like candy (we don't keep a lot of junk in the house) and red cabbage (my 17 year old and I are the only ones that eat cabbage) so I can purchase them when needed.

    This might sound like a bunch of small issues but when you start adding it all up...this was taking over our entire day! It started out fine and I actually recommended KCA to other parents that were looking for options. I regret it now as I am doubting it would work any better for them than it did for us.

  4. #23

    Default Dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs

    This is why I joined this online community. Thanks for cutting to the chase of what's been eating at me for a year and a half now-- my son is being underserved in a public school environment in a small town. This experience is daunting, but I'm out of options.

  5. #24

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    Hello! I'm going on my third year of high school at Connections Academy in California, and thought I would add in my two cents.

    Firstly, I think that most of the issues that people run into here are mainly to do with the student, not the school. The teachers are friendly and helpful, but only if the student actively reaches out to them and remains in contact with them. The ugly truth is that online schooling creates a very easy scapegoat for students. Putting off a daunting unit test? No worries, there are 100 different excuses you can use - from "technical difficulties" to "insufficient prep for exams," it is very easy for a student to blame the online school rather than their own shortcomings. I should know, I've been guilty of this a few times. If your student isn't doing well in an online school environment, it is most likely because they are not utilizing the resources available to them and are not reaching out for help. Online schooling requires the student to take responsibility for their education and stay on top of their work. In a traditional school setting, there are strict time periods and a teacher that you have to see every day. In online schooling, you can hide from your teachers (and even your learning coach). It is very easy for gaps in communication to occur. Then, at the end of the semester when you find out your student isn't doing very well, more than likely your student isn't going to want to own up to their own mistakes.

    The curriculum itself has some gaps for AP courses, which I personally filled with a few short Youtube videos and some AP workbooks (some of which Connections themselves provided me with). Nothing major. The assignments in my highschool courses sometimes felt like busy work, but when it came time for my AP exams, I realized that they had actually been immensely helpful in preparing me. So far, I have taken 5 different AP courses, including AP Calculus. The math classes are the ones that I've found can be the most challenging, but definitely not "college level" work as others have stated. I should know this as well, I am dually enrolled in college math classes. I have also taken AP classes at a traditional school for a brief period, and can assure you that Connections AP courses are held to the same standards - no more, no less - than any other public school. In most cases, I found Connections courses to be easier than other courses since they provide so many different learning options and the teachers provide ample materials and resources for students to use (but again, it's up to the students to use them. I once took a French class and the teacher would take practice tests and do small assignments WITH the students during their "live lessons," but only 1 or 2 students would ever show up. Nobody ever took the time to attend the lessons, so nobody knew the incredible aid she provided. The of the practice tests ended up being very similar to the actual unit tests and final. The 1 or 2 students who routinely showed up aced the class).

    I know that a lot of people have complained about long hours, but I am able to get by with just a few (2-4) hours a day of work during the week, and studying on weekends as needed. As long as you are studying smart, quality over quantity, there is no reason that your student/you should be working 7 hour + days. For certain classes I'll be spending extra time on top of those 2-4 hours, like reading a novel for my english class or taking practice tests in my spare time to prepare for an upcoming exam. Otherwise, 2-4 hours is enough to get assignments done, and weekends are enough to study tricky math and science concepts that I need to master.

    Okay, so I lied. There's another ugly truth, and it goes by the title of "Learning Coach." As a parent, you are given the title "learning coach" and are responsible for making sure your student is succeeding in school. But do you remember how I mentioned that it's really easy for students to slack off and create excuses? Well, the same problem happens to learning coaches. High school was bad the first time around, and reliving the experience along with your student is just as miserable. It is very easy for parents to get overwhelmed and shove all the responsibility on their child and on the teachers. The teachers are not there to babysit the student's progress, despite what many parents would believe. It is the learning coach's responsibility to monitor their student's progress and ensure that they are staying on track. There are even nifty little tools to help the learning coach along with that, including the Learning Coach dashboard. The learning coach has their own portal to log into which presents a dashboard on the front page. It has a little smiley face that is either green (for on-track), yellow (for approaching alarm mode), or red (for alarm mode. The smiley face then turns into a sad face). The dashboard also has the student's overall class GPA/percentage for the semester in big, bold numbers. If the learning coach doesn't know of their student's progress, then it indicates that they haven't logged on to their parent portal in a very long time. (Fun little note to add, learning coaches can also see any webmail exchanged between the students and teachers... so it is very helpful to check those, and see if your student is actually reaching out for help).

    Well, that's all I feel like writing for now. If any parents or students have questions, don't be afraid to ask them. I personally have enjoyed my time and Connections Academy, and hope that my experiences can help others decide if it is the right learning environment for them!

  6. #25

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    2017 Update on Connections Academy:
    Be careful of this school! Lots of technology problems and very little communication between the different departments. My son loses submitted lessons on a daily basis, which means wait on them to restore them, which they cannot do - or redo them! Puts him further and further behind and discourages his grades. Mark Reider is an awesome teacher there - one of the few that is dedicated and works to help in any way. So grateful we had him this year. But we can't get acknowledgement of the problem from anyone else there or any real help getting it fixed. The principal of the Arkansas school is completely out of touch with what is happening, and the IT department is nonexistent, unfortunately. The association of Arkansas Charter Schools says there is nothing they can do to help! This is where our tax dollars are going, Arkansas!!

  7. #26

    Default Help pretty please!

    This was a lot of great info on Connections. I don't believe this is the right move for my son. However I am hoping you can point me in the direction of other online schools. When I Google so many pop up and I have no clue which is real or not. I cannot send my son back to our school district, it's not fair to him. I need an environment that will allow him to learn at his own pace and staff that will assist with patience. Our public school has so many disruptive kids and teachers who aren't able to control them. I HAVE to find a program ASAP for him. Any suggestions are appreciated, I am completely ignorant to this type of schooling and need help please.

  8. #27

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    As miserable a place as public schools are, I havent heard of any online schools that give a decent education. Dont be afraid to take responsibility. Post an introductory thread for yourself, and you can get plenty of advice and help with the direction to take based on your situation.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  9. #28

    Default

    TERRIBLE ADMINISTRATION THAT LIES TO COVER THEIR TERRIBLY GLITCHY SYSTEM

    It appears to be a common problem in many non-biased review sites (Don't go to their own).

    My son was enrolled at Oklahoma Connections Academy's online school the past school year. Their Connexus system software that is used for assessments (Quizzes, Skill Check's, Tests, etc.) had issues since the beginning of the school year (2017). The scores he received on the assessments that he turned in would have discrepancies. He might get a 100%, and it would show up in their system as a 50%, 0%, etc., and sometimes it wouldn't even show up as having been done at all. My mother is a retired elementary school educator (still currently certified), and she monitored him, ensuring academic honesty. She has been the primary witness of these discrepancies. However, I have also witnessed my son taking these assessments from beginning to end, only to see at least one show up as a different and lower grade in their system. My daughter who is currently an 18-year-old college student with honors has even witnessed answers changing on their own in front of her eyes after my son hit the button to submit the grade. When we called about it in September of 2017, we were told by their tech. support department that this has been happening to others, as well.

    We then began taking pictures and screenshots of every grade that was sent. There are so many, that they haven't even graded everything from the autumn semester (2017) as of today (8/10/18), and they say they won't take any more picture evidence to replace the improper grades with. This had happened all year, but in the spring semester, they claimed that my son had been cheating, because they say they can see SOME (Most of the ones I've seen don't even have that.) screenshots with 2 tabs of the same test open. This is due to him sometimes accidentally double-clicking instead of clicking, which causes a second test tab to be open. The staff from their tech support are now claiming they have never heard of this happening to anyone else, despite some of their staff saying in the past that this has been happening to others, bad reviews ( https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/c...ting=1#reviews ) of people on sites pointing out that it has happened to them, and other schools using the Connexus software that admits it is glitchy. The vice principal said that it was the word of the math teacher to not accept any more multiple choice remediation (Their "work at your own pace" policy says they will accept it.). The math teacher told me it was the word the vice principal. When I called the principal, she said it was the word of the vice principal and herself. It seems audacious for them to claim we are lying and cheating when they aren't honest with us.

    Our lawyers have even appealed to their administration on our behalf, but there is no legal precedent for your school to have any academic honesty.

    We will not be continuing enrollment or be referring people to their school the way we did in the autumn semester. We will, however, actively suggest people never enroll their children in this school, as they are dishonest and claim the family is, probably due to wanting to save face about their growing number of technological problems. They have claimed my son was cheating even when they have no proof, and even in the face of proof (screenshots) showing that we have been honest.

    Don't enroll your children in this school, so it doesn't end up destroying the confidence of even more students.

  10. #29

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    My two boys 8 and 11... our first year had its issues but this year our second year is going much better.
    They are doing great You can always try and if you don't like it mail the books back. We have park days where we meet other families, a lot of come from other programs k 12 included.
    Connections offers private school, it's the same curriculum but with without the teacher or state and it cost money.

  11. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aandwsmom View Post
    Ok, we have used Time 4 Learning through this year....starting Fall 2012....both boys will be in High School and outgrown it.....POOP. I love it, they love it and it works....

    This year, Andrew used eLearning for 9th grade and did ok. I am not thrilled with it and from what I have heard...it can be a year by year choice on whether they offer the Compass Odessey High School program.

    So checking out other options because as I posted in the family complaining dept.....I am not happy with my Mom running their writing program.

    Not sure about piecing their school together via lots of places....I am not as creative as some of you, nor do I have time and gumption to always make sure they do it. But will if that is what it comes down to.

    So....am using April and May to research places, programs, etc.
    I do not think they can go back to public school. Andrew's ADHD halts his changing classes, etc. he didnt get it in 6th grade and now would be a nightmare. William does not do well with crowds and I think that public school would overwhelm him, esp. high school.

    I am currently looking at Connections Academy.....it looks a lot like K-12 online, etc. in that it is regimented on the time frame. More like a public school instead of homeschool. That we do not want. But, fighting 2 teens on schooling vs. online gaming at Minecraft......

    So....have any of you used it, know someone that used it, I want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly!
    I am aware this is an old post but having recently begun the endeavor of homeschooling I can attest that I at least researched this option thoroughly. In my state there are kids and teens complaining about teachers using this environment and the schools lack of care to bully the students and plenty of parents who have seen it. Too many for us to have felt this was a viable option.

    Ours was being considered for the gifted program before we moved. We ended up in the unlikely scenario where homeschooling was not only our best option but almost the only one that made any sense. He had been in a special program and they had already made him transfer schools earlier in the year. That's a lot for a second grader. Then to be moving halfway through the year? It wasn't fair to him to make him go through that so we went to homeschooling and he's thrived. In the past three months he did material not taught to him in school for second grade and blasted through the rest of second grade. He's not in third grade level material. We sometimes feel like we are still getting the hang of the home-school thing and my desk has been taken over by it and maybe sometimes the kitchen table depending on the day but I think we are doing alright for now.

    One thing we did research was our options.

    We didn't use the online public school options. They read as 'used to be great but now not' and teachers taking advantage of the environment to inflict abuse verbal and some kids had gone through some stuff... I was thorough in my research. I know where to go and what to look for. I basically do this and find the truth and then cross reference it. Stuff goes on and people who should be aren't stopping it. I don't want to put Chris through that.

    So for what it's worth, beware.

    We have found time4 learning adequate alongside doing pe and art on our own. We've supplemented but that's been more since he started on third grade material. I will give them this. They cover more. The issue we have run into is that his brain is ready for more knowledge but his vocabulary isn't. If you have a kid jumping ahead, as we have learned, you need to supplement for vocabulary. Also, some of these words that are tossed out at third graders aren't typical for third graders to use or understand so you do need to have a dictionary on hand as well so that kids who are not ahead in vocabulary or are younger but ready to move on have the means to understand what they are reading. That we have learned.

    If you come to any conclusions of your own, or have an update for this threat I know I'd be interested to hear it. Basically soaking up everything we can right now.

    I am hoping the feedback I can give from the research I did is helpful to someone or to you even, though I doubt it will be helpful to you this much past the original date you posted.

    Be blessed. Stay safe.

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