Interested in what PALCS can make possible for your student?

FAQs

Almost anyone. Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School provides a full cyber school experience for any student residing in Pennsylvania in grades K-12 regardless of race, religion, sex, ethnic background or any factor used for discrimination. Students under the age of 21 may attend in order to finish their high school education. Kindergarteners are accepted based on the acceptance age and start requirements of the local district. Students may not be expelled from their current district. Otherwise, as a public school, PA Leadership openly accepts all K-12 students in Pennsylvania.

Nothing. As a public school, PALCS provides a free and appropriate education to any student in Pennsylvania who wishes to attend.

Individualized pacing and scheduling

Cyber school allows students to work at a speed that fits their individual learning needs. Students have an extended window to complete work, allowing them to work ahead or spend extra time on assignments. This setup helps:

  • Gifted students move faster than in other educational settings.
  • Special Education students work in the safety and support of a home environment.
  • Students take specialized courses rarely offered by local districts.
  • Children of families that travel often.
  • Athletes with complex scheduling needs.
  • Those focusing on the arts and needing extra time to develop their talents.

PALCS is not just for students with unusual schedules or needs. It is a great place for any student who has a supportive Home Facilitator and would enjoy learning via the Internet.

Combining the best interactive curriculum with skilled teachers who are online every day helps students engage with the material and with their teachers more than in the traditional brick and mortar setting, even allowing some students to progress faster than in other schools.

Health, safety and the home environment

Cyber school minimizes negative socialization by reducing the risk of drugs, alcohol, gangs, fights, bullying, and the fear associated with an unsafe environment. Our school is ideal for students who have trouble attending school for health and social reasons.

PALCS is also a great choice for young parents. We provide a teen parent support group with both an online component and in-person group meetings in the Pittsburgh area.

Cyber school provides all of the advantages of homeschooling without the added stress and workload placed upon homeschooling parents. Qualified, experienced teachers bring instruction into the safety and comfort of the student’s home. Parents or guardians are able to monitor student progress and provide basic guidance as Home Facilitators (HFs).

Eliminating unnecessary time-wasting like busing, changing of classes, lunch periods, and discipline issues allows students to complete their schoolwork much quicker than in a brick and mortar school. This gives families extra time to connect with their community. Students can build friendships within faith-based communities, community sports teams, neighbors, and other home-based learning groups.

Several factors make PALCS the best cyber school experience. PALCS has:

  • PA certified teachers, many with life experience in their subjects, giving direct instruction.
  • Families interacting daily with teachers, as they host live classrooms, provide individual feedback, and send daily messages to students.
  • Electronically recorded grades in a regularly updated gradebook accessible to students and parents at all times.
  • Curriculum from a variety of publishers, carefully chosen to work best in the home setting.  We partner with the finest online curriculum companies and many of our textbooks have online components.
  • Teachers who design their own courses, drawing upon the best resources available, each lesson enhanced with the teacher’s personal style.
  • Many courses with guest lecturers who are experts in their field.
  • A tiered, complete course of study for grades K-12, with many courses more rigorous than normal courses and all with extracurricular opportunities.
  • An emphasis on computer, typing and writing skills from an early age, because good communication skills are important for effective leadership.
  • An independently run cyber charter program, as opposed to some charter schools which are run by specific school districts.

Please view our Parent/Student Handbook.

Our school is run on a password-protected website, accessible from any computer with Internet access, anywhere in the world. No special software is needed. Students simply log on with their own personal username and password to begin working.

Attend an Information Session to see the school in action!

Sometimes. Students are required to log on every school day, Monday through Friday with exceptions for holidays. Students are generally not required to log on at any particular hour of the day, and are not required to be online for any minimum length of time, as long as they log on at some point during the school day. Once a student logs on, attendance is recorded for the day. Then he or she should check announcements, PALCSmail, and lessons for all classes. Once lessons are complete, a student can be finished with school for the day or choose to work ahead. This is particularly convenient for students who have part-time jobs or participate in scheduled events or activities like sports or music classes.

In addition to the asynchronous lessons to be completed at any time, students in elementary grades (K-5), students in certain courses like journalism or foreign language, or students who need extra academic assistance will have required online virtual lessons at set times. Upon enrollment, families will work with teachers to select their virtual lesson schedule. This is generally 3 – 4 one-hour lessons per week. An example schedule could be Monday noon – 1, Tuesday from 10 – 11, and Thursday from 2 – 4. These are required online lessons, but the rest of the week’s schedule is completely flexible.

While not a substitute for regular school days, students may do schoolwork on weekends or holidays if they fall behind or will be going on a trip. Just like in brick and mortar schools, parents must submit excuses for missed student days.

Please visit our curriculum page for full details.

PALCS graduates receive a Tier I Pennsylvania public school diploma, and are thus qualified to pursue any post-secondary education, employment, or military activity.

75% of our 2012 graduates chose to enter post-secondary education, 18% entered the workforce directly after high school, 5% chose military, and 2% pursued other options.

View our school profile (.pdf) to see a partial list of colleges and universities to which our students have been accepted.

PA Leadership is open 180 days and runs a schedule similar to other public schools with holidays, winter break and spring break. Our first day is in September, traditionally the day after Labor Day, and the school year ends in June.  View our 2013-2014 school calendar here (.pdf).

PALCS does not offer summer courses to the public.

Students are not permitted to be enrolled in two full-time schools simultaneously, whether public, private, home, or charter school. Students who enroll in PALCS are full-time students of PALCS and meet all PA state standards through our courses.

There are, however, certain exceptions: some local school districts will permit a student to take a course at the school. This requires the active participation of the local district, school, and teacher and will often involve a fee. This partnership must be arranged by the parent.

11th and 12th graders who meet a series of enrollment and academic requirements may be eligible for participation in a vo-tech program. Information is available upon request.

On the SAT, the Class of 2012 scored a 1518 overall average, higher than the state average of 1472. On the ACT, the Class of 2012 scored an average composite score of 23.4, higher than the state average of 22.4.

As a public school, PALCS participates in the yearly PSSAs. PALCS made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the 2009-2010 school year and continues to make strides annually in standardized testing scores. See more info on testing or view our school profile (.pdf).

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has more information about PSSAs and AYP here.

For many special education students, PALCS is the ideal school. All our teachers are trained to provide an Individual Program of Instruction for every child. This uniquely prepares them for students with IEPs. PALCS has a full-service Special Education Division with special ed teachers working directly with parents, students, and regular ed teachers. PALCS can provide in-home related services throughout the state to students with unique needs and telephone/Internet counseling for needs that can be met online.

Visit the Special Education section of our website for more information. You may also wish to view this informational document designed for parents, regarding Special Education in charters schools.

Title I is a federally funded grant given to schools with a high percentage of low-income families. Funds from Title I must be used to improve the academic achievement of students at risk for failure in Reading and/or Math.

PALCS does have a Title I program. The Early Success K, Fresh Start 1-2 and Moving Forward 3-5 Title I Language Arts/Mathematics program collects initial student assessment data and works collaboratively with teachers to diagnose areas of weakness and prescribe a plan of action. Students continue to receive instruction in their regular Math/Language Arts classes with support from a Title I teacher.

For more information, see our Title 1 page.

Requests for high school transcripts for juniors, seniors, or graduates who are college bound can be made by completing this form. All other transcripts or release of records can be requested at 610-701-3333 X 1168.

Students at PALCS participate in interactive learning every day. They interact online with the curriculum, teachers, and their classmates. Open chats organized by grade-level are hosted monthly in multimedia classrooms so students can talk freely to their peers. PALCS also holds exciting and educational monthly field trips and events for students including:

  • Museums (Natural History; Art; Science; History Center; Children’s Museum)
  • Zoos
  • Renaissance Faire, Fall Fests, and other outdoor events
  • Kennywood and Hershey Park Science Days
  • Circus, Stars on Ice, and other shows
  • Fiddlesticks Symphony, Shakespeare plays, and other cultural events
  • Miniature Golfing
  • Movies (Chronicles of NarniaCharlotte’s Web)
  • Picnics
  • Workshops
  • Meet & Greets with teachers
  • Senior High Prom

Regional activity coordinators in various parts of the state organize events all over Pennsylvania so that every student has options to attend.

Yes, according to BEC 24 P.S. 17-1719-A (14,) students are permitted to participate in extracurricular activities offered by their home school district provided that they are not offered by PALCS. Students must comply with the policies and meet the specific eligibility requirements established by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Students who are members of a sports team with their home school district must continue to meet grade requirements to be part of the team. PALCS will notify the home district when grades fall below a “C.” Whenever possible, PALCS will assist students and parents to secure the opportunity to participate in the extracurricular activities for which they are eligible.

Additionally, PALCS participates in NCAA eligibility. If interested, please speak with your PALCS guidance counselor upon enrollment.

  1. Apply: Complete an application online or through the mail.  Instructions for submitting your registration and additional required documentation will be included in the online/mail packet.  Once all documents are received, we will call to schedule an orientation with you.
  2. Schedule: Attend an orientation at your convenience. Orientations take place in our West Chester or Pittsburgh offices, or potentially other locations by appointment.  Each student and home facilitator is required to attend the orientation. The time between receipt of your packet and your orientation date changes during the year; during busy times, it may take several weeks. It is always best to submit your packet as soon as possible.
  3. Enroll: Children become official PALCS students on the day of the orientation. Students receive school materials at the orientation. During the school year, do not withdraw your child from their current school until the orientation at PALCS.

For more information, please feel free to call 1-877-PALCS-TLC.

The period between PALCS receiving your enrollment packet and your student being enrolled in PALCS changes throughout the year. Students are typically enrolled as soon as an orientation can be scheduled. However, if certain grades reach capacity levels we may implement a lottery system. Our current enrollment availability is posted on our admissions information page.

Orientations are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, so the more registration packets we receive, the longer a family may need to wait for an orientation slot. Wait times may reach four to five weeks in August and September, our busiest months of the year; we reach smaller peaks at the ends of marking periods. Orientations may be scheduled within a week during other times of the year.

During the school year, online classes may be activated immediately once a student is enrolled. Students enrolling during the summer will have to wait for our first day of school, which is traditionally the day after Labor Day. Many students go home with computers upon leaving the orientation, but if a school computer is not available, students may use a home computer. Computers may be shipped within days if immediately available and may be shipped within weeks if they need to be ordered from the manufacturer. Textbooks may be sent home with the student or take up to a few weeks to arrive, depending on availability.

Possibly. PALCS cannot officially request student records (transcripts, medical records) from your former school until after a student is enrolled. As these documents are required for the enrollment process, families should contact the local district and request these documents before PALCS enrollment.

Within 15 days of PALCS enrollment, PALCS will send a form to the student’s local district to notify them about the enrollment and to have the student’s records sent to PALCS.  Local districts sometimes require families to sign additional withdrawal documents, so it is best to check with the local district when requesting documents before PALCS enrollment to see if they will require follow-up.

Students complete all schoolwork from home, so office trips are rarely necessary. However, there are two situations that require your presence in a location other than your home:

  • When a student applies to PALCS, students and Home Facilitators (HFs) must attend an orientation. If families travel to the office nearest them (West Chester or Pittsburgh), orientations may be processed as soon as openings are available. PALCS also conducts regional orientations as needed for families unable to travel to the West Chester or Pittsburgh offices
  • State-mandated PSSA testing must be administered every year for selected grades. PALCS will set up multiple locations throughout the state for the convenience of families so they should not have to travel further than one hour to reach the testing site.

PALCS provides a Windows desktop computer with all software and internal storage needed to hold all school programs and files. Laptop computers may be provided to families with special circumstances upon request. Additional equipment includes:

  • Monitor
  • Keyboard & mouse
  • Headphones with microphone
  • 3-in-1 printer for printing, scanning and copying
  • Webcam

Some lessons have students use additional software for tasks such as word processing, audio recording, and advanced math notation. PALCS computers use open-source software that can be used on home computers as well as the school computer.

The school warranties equipment for normal wear and tear. Parents are responsible for paper and print cartridges and damage to the computer by software not provided by the school.

PALCS computers are not available for purchase. Students who withdraw or graduate from PALCS must return all equipment to the school, including computer system and textbooks. PALCS will provide a prepaid return label, enabling the parent to return this equipment with no cost to the parent.

PALCS uses a version of Moodle that has been redesigned and customized from the ground-up to provide full interaction between students, home facilitators and teachers. PA Leadership’s Moodle site provides:

  • Multiple lesson types that take full advantage of the Internet, with embedded images, sound, and video, as well as links to external educational websites
  • Multimedia classrooms with real-time features:
    • voice and text chat
    • interactive whiteboard
    • synchronized web browsing
  • Flexible testing that is able to challenge even the most gifted student
  • Automatically graded tests that produce instant results and explanations of correct answers; also, the ability for teachers to grade and respond to open questions
  • Instantly updated grades to a student online progress report, available to both parents and students
  • Access to the most complete, up-to-date curriculum through digital versions of many of our textbooks
  • The ability to communicate with each teacher and student in several modes:
    • Lectures
    • Guided discussion
    • Free discussion
    • PALCSmail (internal and protected from spam)
    • Multimedia Classrooms

A basic understanding of computers is necessary to get set up and functioning, but Home Facilitators without prior computer training can still be effective if they are willing to learn. PALCS provides detailed instruction on how to set up the school computer and has a phone Help Desk to answer any questions. An online tutorial and FAQs are constantly available to explain how the school works. The PALCS Help Desk and Student Services are available from 9 AM to 4 PM daily to answer any questions you might have. Teachers are also available daily to help explain classroom material.

As a public school, PALCS may not teach sectarian religious instruction. Any public school may teach courses such as Comparative Religions and The History of (name of religion). In addition, parents may request an opportunity for religious instruction for their children that is facilitated by the school but not paid for by the school. Parents are also free to provide any instruction in their home that they believe complements the curriculum taught by the school. Parents may form groups separate from the school to facilitate this instruction. The role of the PALCS teacher is to neither encourage nor discourage any expression of religious thought that is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

PALCS attempts to accommodate any reasonable request from parents. For example, parents who do not believe in teaching music may opt their child out of any music courses. However, core courses, like Kindergarten reading, can not be replaced. In such cases, it is the parents’ responsibility to supplement the curriculum with their own religious beliefs.

PALCS networks parents both geographically and across grade levels. Parents provide leadership for groups to encourage field trips, study partners/groups and other activities designed for the benefit of the students. PALCS has hired parent representatives to facilitate this process.

Parents are welcome to attend the PALCS Board of Directors meeting held monthly, but should contact the school in advance of the meeting to obtain meeting times and agendas. Click Here to see our Board Meeting Schedule.

Parents can be hired by the school as:

  • Teachers – on-site only
  • Teacher aides – generally on-site only
  • Support staff – on-site only

Parents can be very helpful with public relations for the school by:

  • Contacting state legislators and communicating their appreciation of this alternative form of education.
  • Writing to local newspapers who cover stories of local families that have broader policy implications.
  • Providing word-of-mouth advertising for the school.
  • Helping design materials or websites.
  • Being available for interviews by media outlets who want to hear the families’ perspective on PALCS.

Also, Parents can help with fund raising. Various programs/grants are available that enable local PA businesses to contribute to projects for the school and receive up to a 90% tax break on their donations.

Building on the strong emphasis on participation of the Home Facilitator, PALCS encourages parents to voice any suggestions that could help strengthen the school.