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There is a lot to learn about PALCS! To help you find your way around important cyber school terms, words and concepts, we’ve put together this glossary to help you understand some of the terms we use most often at PALCS — you’re learning even before you’re enrolled!

Academic Advisor A staff member who assists PALCS families with organization and scheduling, will facilitate communication and will provide additional support.
Accountability As a public school, PALCS is subject to all the standard requirements of a public school – state standardized testing, PA Core standards — plus additional audits and communications with the PA Department of Education.
Advanced Courses Courses available at all levels throughout PALCS. In elementary school, advanced lessons are incorporated directly into all courses and teachers will select students to receive these lessons based on their performance. Starting in middle school, advanced courses may be available as separate courses students receive based on parent/teacher/guidance recommendation or performance, or advanced lessons may be incorporated directly into standard core courses. Advanced coursework is either College-Prep or Honors/AP level in high school. Advanced students may also be interested in pursuing the University Scholars Program.
Advanced Ideas Center (AIC) A PALCS office building on Paoli Pike in West Chester, which houses our Elementary and Middle School teachers and the University Scholars Program.
Age PALCS started operation in 2004 and accepts Pennsylvania students between the ages of 5 and 21. For Kindergarten, we accept students based on the age requirements or at the permission of the students’ local district.
Assignments Assignments are how we measure the success and progress of a student’s learning at PALCS. Examples of assignments may be free responses, student forums, quizzes using multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank or essay question, file submissions of typed or scanned documents or pictures, audio or video recordings, or they may be interactive activities completed on other websites.
Attendance Students must log in to the school website every Monday through Friday during the school year, excepting holidays. An excuse must be submitted by a parent if the student does not log in.
Asynchronous Instruction PALCS primary method of instruction is asynchronous learning: lessons are created and posted by the teacher about a week in advance of the due date, and students are able to access those lessons and complete them at their own pace before the due date.

Blended Learning Students learn though a mixture of both on-site and online learning. The PALCS University Scholars Program, Center for Performing and Fine Arts, and the School of Professional Studies are examples of blended learning.
Brick-and-Mortar Term used to refer to a “traditional” school families are used to – going to sit in a classroom with a teacher and other students. This may refer to a standard public school or a charter school with a building. While PALCS is primarily a cyber school, PALCS does have brick-and-mortar components: we have both office buildings where teachers and staff work and events, and we have optional programs with on-site learning opportunities.
Book Buddies A storytime book club for elementary students hosted every other month in the main PALCS West Chester office. Alternates monthly with Got Science.
Bridge to Student Success (BtSS) A support system for students and families that focuses on improving school attendance and improving the consistency and quality of class work submissions.

Calendar PALCS operates 180 school days from September to June. The first day of school of the 2016-2017 school year is September 6, 2016. View the 2016-2017 Calendar (.pdf)
Canvas A portion of the PALCSchool Learning Management System. Some grade levels and courses in PALCS use Canvas to access their lessons.
Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA) An audition-based supplemental program for PALCS students in grades 6 through 12 that offers a pre-professional arts education in theatre, dance, music and fine arts. Learn more about CPFA »
Charter School Pennsylvania Charter Schools receive charters, or an application which provides approval to operate, from the PDE. Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. Charter schools are accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. Charter schools can be brick-and-mortar or cyber. PALCS is a public cyber charter school.
College-Prep Courses High school course level designed for students who are college-bound. Students should be self-motivated and dedicated to be successful at this level.
Compass Learning Courses Educational partner that provides courses used to supplement some PALCS courses or student graduation requirements.
Core Courses Required courses for all grade levels in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies.
Core Standards The commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not use Common Core, but instead, uses a series of standards called PA Core. All public schools in Pennsylvania, including PALCS, teach PA Core standards. PA Core can be explored on this PDE website.
Courses Students complete all school work online in courses, including core, elective, and non-academic courses. Courses are hosted in our PALCSchool website.
Curriculum PALCS curriculum is composed of a variety of textbooks, manipulatives and kits, websites, and original teacher-created content. Each lesson in the school is created by a PALCS teacher using text, audio, video, and interactive elements. More information about courses and curriculum is on our Academics page »
Cyber School Cyber schools, also known as virtual or online schools, have students virtually “attend” school online by logging into a website and completing schoolwork independently from home. Cyber schools may be run by a local district or may be a charter school. PALCS is a public cyber charter school.

District All Pennsylvania families live in a local school district, and children in those districts usually attend the local school district school. PALCS operates as something like a location-independent district, in that families may live anywhere in Pennsylvania and still attend PALCS. PALCS is funded by your tax dollars paid to your local district; when you enroll in PALCS, we will bill your local district for a certain percentage of your students’ per-pupil education funding, which will then cover our expenses at PALCS to educate your child. PALCS students may still participate in local district extra-curricular activities and sports.
Dual Enrollment PALCS is a public K-12 school and provides a complete state-approved education; students are not permitted to be enrolled in more than one K-12 school at the same time. PALCS does have partnerships with both Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Delaware County Community College, and at the approval of the PALCS guidance department, students meeting certain criteria may take advantage of dual enrollment programs at either of these schools to earn both high school and college credit.

Educational Travel Gives students the chance to gain first-hand experience and knowledge of other regions and cultures. Certain travel opportunities will have an option of earning a half-credit through course work that can count toward the electives requirement for graduation. PALCS has traveled to over half a dozen locations both nationally and internationally.
Electives PALCS offers elective courses to all grades, K-12. Elective courses cover subjects such as arts and humanities, business, technology and computer science, world languages and leadership. More information about courses and curriculum is on our Academics page »
Elementary School Elementary school covers grades K-5. More information about courses and curriculum is on our Academics page »
Extra-Curricular Activities Online, students can attend any of our open chats or participate in virtual clubs. In our offices, students are able to participate in recurring activities that alternate themes around holidays and fun topics. Around the state, families are welcome to attend any of the numerous field trips hosted by our teachers and parent network coordinators.

Field Trips PALCS holds field trips across the state all year long. PALCS hosts, activities such as picnics,  trips to Kennywood and HersheyPark, the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh zoos, the Heinz History Center, museums. We also host tours through places like the Herr’s Factory, Longwood Gardens, various farms and orchards, and meeting with community leaders like local EMS workers.

Google Apps (GApps) Google Apps for Education is an integrated communication and collaboration suite that is hosted by Google and managed by PALCS.
Got Science An interactive science club for elementary students hosted every other month in the main PALCS West Chester office. Alternates monthly with Book Buddies.
Graduation PALCS graduates receive a tier 1 high school diploma, viewed equally as a diploma from a traditional brick-and-mortar school in Pennsylvania. PALCS hosts a cap-and-gown graduation ceremony in June at the Lancaster Mennonite School in Lancaster, PA, and is open to all PALCS graduates who wish to attend.
Guidance PALCS has a strong guidance department, with four guidance counselors associated with elementary and middle school grades, and four high school guidance counselors that move up yearly with students, from 9th grade through graduation. Special programs also have dedicated guidance counselors.

High School PALCS high school covers grades 9-12. More information about courses and curriculum is on our Academics page »
Homeschool While PALCS students are learning at home and assisted by a parent, homeschool in Pennsylvania almost always refers to students learning under the PA Home Education Law, which does not cover charter schools. Legally, PALCS is not homeschool. Homeschool students in PA are instructed by a parent or supervisor who selects their own curriculum and presents a yearly portfolio to an evaluator; PALCS is a public school, which still follows the same standards and requirements as traditional brick-and-mortar public schools. PALCS selects the curriculum, and parents provide schoolwork assistance, but instruction comes from PA-certified teachers. As PALCS families have flexible hours, students are welcome to choose to participate in activities geared toward homeschoolers for personal enrichment.
Homework Help Available Sunday – Thursday, 6 pm – 8 pm. Families can meet with a grade- and subject-level appropriate PALCS teacher in a virtual classroom to get help with homework.
Honors Courses High school academic course tier for students who are excelling academically. Courses are challenging. AP courses are considered Honors-level or above.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) An IEP is a document that outlines learning needs and accommodations for special education students.
Internet Service Provider (ISP) An ISP delivers Internet to your home. Comcast and Verizon are examples of common ISPs. Families must select their own high-speed ISP before enrolling in PALCS, and have access to a wired Internet connection – PALCS laptops must occasionally be plugged directly into your ISP device (modem) to receive updates and tech support. PALCS will reimburse a capped monthly Internet payment for the months you are enrolled in the school.


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Keystone Exams PALCS high school students are required to complete three state-mandated Keystone exams in Literature, Biology and Algebra I after completing the corresponding courses at PALCS. Testing locations will be set up throughout the state on pre-appointed dates and proctored by PALCS teachers. Parents are required to make sure students attend and complete the Keystone exams.
Keystone Review Students who have not scored proficient or higher on a Keystone Exam may be enrolled in a Keystone Review course, as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Keystone Review courses are basic, supplemental courses structured to help students reach on-level standards. High school students may not opt-out of a Keystone Review course.

Leadership Program The Leadership program is designed to provide students with real world skills and educational opportunities that extend beyond the standard curriculum. Dedicated leadership courses and student government opportunities are available to all students beginning in late middle school and throughout high school.
Learning Management System (LMS) The broad term for the technical system that runs school websites. PALCS refers to our LMS as PALCSchool, and is, in fact, a combination and customization of other LMSes that other cyber schools commonly use, including Moodle and Canvas.
Lessons Lessons are created personally by PALCS teachers and are how we deliver instruction to students. Each PALCS lesson is like its own website presenting information about a subject. Lessons might be text written by the teacher or imported from textbooks or other websites, they might have audio or video components, or might be interactive websites or educational games. Lessons are followed by assignments to check student progress. Each lesson is posted about a week in advance of the assignment’s due date.

MAP Test MAP Testing is a diagnostic assessment tool used to see how students are progressing through their studies. We use the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) for MAP testing, which helps us us adjust the pace and difficulty of lessons presented to students.
Materials Items families receive from PALCS to facilitate learning. Students receive a computer (laptop by default), a printer/copier/scanner, and a microphone headset. Students also receive textbooks, novels, manipulatives, kits, or other items based on the courses the students are enrolled in. Each course has different materials, most of which will be returned at the end of each school year, though computer items and some clearly marked school materials may be kept from year to year based on enrollment.
Marking Periods PALCS is divided into four marking periods, generally around late fall, mid-winter, spring, and the end of the school year. Students receive grades for each marking period, which will show up on a report card.
Middle School PALCS middle school covers grades 6-8. More information about courses and curriculum is on our Academics page »
Moodle Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment: a portion of the PALCSchool Learning Management System. Students log into this website every day to count attendance and access courses and lessons. Moodle formerly supported all grade levels and all courses for our school, so we may still interchangeably refer to our school website, “PALCSchool”, as “Moodle”. Moodle is now only used for some grade levels and courses.

NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association: an organization that establishes rules for eligibility, recruitment and scholarships for Division I and II sports at the college level. Most PALCS courses are NCAA-approved, and more information can be found on the NCAA eligibility website.
Non-Academic Courses In addition to core courses and elective courses, PALCS students may receive Non-Academic Courses. No grades or credit are assigned for these courses, but they are helpful resources for PALCS families. Examples include the guidance course, homeroom, bridge to student success, and student government.

Office Hours PALCS staff members work in-office during normal business hours, generally Monday – Friday, 8 am to 4 pm, though there is some level of flexibility. Families may always reach out to us during these times. “Office Hours” also refers to specifically posted times teachers will be available live in a virtual classroom during the day for extra support and homework help.
Orientation As the final part of the PALCS enrollment process, after submitting a registration packet, families interested in enrolling in PALCS will attend an Orientation. Families learn about the school website, cover school policies, receive materials, and often become students on the day of orientation.

PA Department of Education (PDE) The governing body of all schools in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The PDE granted PALCS its charter to operate, and we are fully accountable to their standards and oversight.
PALCS The acronym for the PA Leadership Charter School. We pronounce it as one word, “palcs”. Cyber school founded in 2004 and currently has over 2600 students state-wide.
PALCS Eagles A program to help elementary students who need additional support in reading and math.
PALCS Network A support website accessible by families enrolled in PALCS. The PALCS Network provides links to internal school forms, tech support, getting started tutorials, the activity/event calendar, club information, and contact information for staff members.
PALCSchool The term for our school website for enrolled students, where students log in each school day to record attendance and access courses and all lessons. PALCSchool covers a variety of learning management platforms, including Moodle and Canvas.
Parent Advisory Board Board of PALCS parents who meet with the principal monthly to provide feedback and school improvement suggestions.
Progress Check About every three weeks, PALCS has a progress check. All lessons are to be completed by these progress check dates, and students will have an up-to-date grade in their course. Every third progress check is the end of a marking period, where grades will be recorded on student report cards.
PSSA The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, PALCS students in grades 3-8 are required to complete this state-mandated standardized testing in Language Arts and Math. Testing locations will be set up throughout the state on pre-appointed dates and proctored by PALCS teachers. Parents are required to make sure students attend and complete the PSSA.
Public School PALCS is a public school. We operate using the same PA Core standards set forth by the PDE as a traditional brick-and-mortar school.


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Registration Packet The first step in enrolling in PALCS. To enroll, families complete a Registration Packet. Afterward, our Admissions department will contact you to set up your Orientation. Start your registration now »
Report Cards PALCS issues report cards online on our school website after each of our four marking periods throughout the year. Grades for individual lessons can be accessed at any time and are constantly available for review throughout the school year.
Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtII) PALCS offers courses in math and reading to help students build the skills they need to be successful on Keystone Exams and in high school courses. The Reading for Success and Math for Success courses are designed to provide students with individualized instruction and targeted interventions in Math and/or Reading. Students may be assigned to one of these courses based on assessment data, classroom performance and teacher input. The course is a requirement and will be taught by PALCS staff in a synchronous format. The course is worth 0.5 of an elective credit which can count toward a student’s general elective graduation requirement.

School Board Meetings Board meetings are held every other month. These meetings are open to the public. Learn more about School Board Meetings and Board Members »
Socialization For the most part, PALCS students will be completing school work at home online, which is obviously a change from a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom. PALCS offers online open chats for students to talk to their peers, online activities and clubs, and many optional monthly field trips and activities so students can meet up. Students can obviously still see any local friends and families may still participate in sports and extra-curricular activities at their local district.
Special Education PALCS provides Special Education services. More information is available on our Special Education page »
Student Services PALCS department that handles admissions, enrollment, attendance, student materials, child accounting, ISP reimbursement, records, office administration, and other daily tasks.

Teachers PALCS teachers are state-certified and highly qualified. Teachers work full-time for PALCS and create all course content, respond to and grade assignments and host live virtual lessons. PALCS students interact directly with their teachers, and teachers are available for additional online or phone support.
Tech Support PALCS has an in-house technical HelpDesk that provides friendly assistance for individuals having technical problems with electronic devices.
Testing PALCS students complete several kinds of tests: standardized testing, like the PSSA and Keystone Exams, and also online assignments and tests to check student progress. Tests range from quick quizzes for comprehension to final unit or marking period tests that families would be accustomed to seeing in a traditional brick-and-mortar school.
Title I A federally-funded educational program designed to improve the academic achievement of students in Reading and/or Math. PALCS provides Title I services to students based on their achievement levels.
Transcripts PALCS grades for individual lessons, marking periods and school years are constantly available to families on our school website. Families requesting PALCS transcripts for school transfer or college applications can complete our Transcript Request Form, found on the Guidance page »

University Scholars Program (USP) An honors college-preparatory program offering specialized gifted education curriculum to students in grades 6-12 through two methods: an on-site/online blended program in West Chester, Pennsylvania, or a complete virtual program for statewide students. Learn more about USP »

Vo-Tech PALCS juniors and seniors meeting certain academic, attendance and finance requirements are eligible to participate in vocational and technical school programs in their area.
Virtual Lessons In addition to the asynchronous learning students complete for most schoolwork at PALCS, students have access to live virtual lessons that take place at set times. Students can talk to their teachers and other students in the class while the teacher covers a lesson in real-time. Virtual lessons last about an hour and each course in the school has a virtual lesson. Some virtual lessons have required attendance, so students may be expected to be online live for some number of set hours each week. Some virtual lessons are optional, but recorded for later viewing. Virtual lesson requirements change based on grade level, academic achievement, or specific course.


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Zoom The software used for live web conferencing at PALCS. Enables teachers to host virtual lessons with students, principals to hold assemblies, and other staff to host sessions to spread information and support.