There are many families who may have heard of PA Leadership Charter School. But, do they really know what PALCS is, how it works, and when they can enroll their children? Through this FAQ sheet, you can learn more about the best online school in PA and determine if it might be the right fit for your family.
Q1: What is PALCS?
A1: PA Leadership Charter School (PALCS) is a state-approved public cyber charter school, for Pennsylvania residents in grades K-12. PALCS opened its doors in 2004, and now serves over 3,200 students state wide. Our mission is to provide an academically challenged, knowledge based curriculum with an individualized and flexible approach.
Q2: What materials does PALCS provide for my child?
A2: Every PALCS students is loaned a laptop running Windows. Also, students are issued a headset/microphone, a 3-in-1 printer, and all the e-books and workbooks needed. We will also provide math, art, and science manipulatives as needed throughout the school year.
Q3: Who may attend PALCS?
A3: PALCS openly accepts all K-12 students in Pennsylvania, as long as they meet the age requirements (age 5 through 21), and have never been expelled*. Kindergartners are accepted based on the acceptance age and start requirements of the local district. * At certain times throughout the year certain grades may reach capacity and will close, but this is clearly noted on our public website – www.palcs.org/apply-now/
Q4: What does PALCS cost?
A4: PALCS is funded the same way your local brick and mortar school is funded. We receive funding from the district that students reside within. As a public school, we provide a free & appropriate education to any student in PA who wishes to attend* (*unless grades have closed due to reaching capacity) .
Q5: What is the school calendar for a PALCS student?
A5: PALCS follows a 180 day school calendar, and runs a similar schedule to other public schools with holidays, winter break & spring break.
Q6: What is the attendance policy?
A6: Students log in once a day, Monday through Friday, at any time during the 24-hour period. Students are not required to log in at a certain time or stay logged in for a certain amount of time. However, students are expected to communicate with their teachers throughout the day and attend any mandatory online lessons.
Q7: What curriculum does PALCS use?
A7: Our state-certified teachers design and create their own curriculum; PALCS exceeds all PA Core Standards, and is state-approved. We follow the PA version of Common Core which is a little different than National Common Core. PALCS students still take the state standardized tests (because we are a public school). We use a variety of materials from many different publishers: both physical & virtual textbooks, novels, workbooks and/or other types of supplemental content such as websites & educational programs. Our teachers are constantly changing and updating their curriculum, making sure it is tailored to each individual student.
Q8: Does PALCS offer different tiers, or academic tracks?
A8: Yes, in all grades we offer different tiers in our core classes. For example, in our High School program we use three different educational tracks. Our Guidance counselors place enrolling students accordingly. The “Academic” level has courses that are designed to meet all standards set by Pennsylvania Department of Education. Our “College-Prep” courses are designed for students who are college-bound; and our “Honors” level courses are academically rigorous courses designated for the college-bound student. We also offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses for students to take on.
Q9: What are the differences PALCS & other cyber schools?
A9: There are many differences that set PALCS apart from other schools and cyber schools, including: flexible scheduling, teacher created lessons and curriculum that is individually designed to meet each child’s needs. We are also the only cyber school in the state of Pennsylvania that has the Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA) and University Scholars Program (USP). We also have our School of Professional Studies (SPS), which is an elective-based certificate program for our high school students. This program allows students to take elective classes that will ultimately lead to a certificate of completion for a certain track. These electives are based off of college majors, which is great for students who have interest in exploring what they want to do in their future.
Some Typical Questions
Q9: What does a typical week look like for a PALCS Elementary student?
A9: For elementary, students would have 3 live lessons a week; one for math, one for reading. Science and social studies rotate every other week. In elementary, these lessons are mandatory to attend. Aside from virtual live lessons, posted assignments (or “homework”) are posted 7 school days in advance, meaning students have about a week and a half to complete their posted assignments for the week.
Q10: What does a typical week look like for a PALCS Middle or High School student?
A10: Middle and high school students will have 4 live lessons a week, one for each core class; however, these lessons are not mandatory. We encourage students to attend the lessons. However, if they cannot attend live, the virtual lessons are recorded and posted for the students to review as many times as they would like. Aside from virtual live lessons, posted assignments (or “homework”) are posted 7 school days in advance, meaning students have about a week and a half to complete their posted assignments for the week.
Q11: What will my child’s schedule look like?
A11: For all grades, you will work closely with our Guidance Couselors and will be able to pick your own live-lesson schedule, based off the time and day options provided to you. These lessons are about 30-45 minutes each. They are held through our “Zoom Room” (virtual classroom). Students can work at their own pace on their posted assignments, keeping in mind of progress checks and weekly due dates.
Q12: What is a typical class size at PALCS?
A12: The maximum capacity for our “Zoom Room” (virtual classroom) is 25, which allows for a small student to teacher ratio. Many classes have less than 25 students allowing for more 1-1 time with our teachers.
Q13: Will my child have an assistance from anyone if they are struggling academically?
A13: Students who are struggling academically will receive help from an of Academic Advisor, who will assist students with organization and scheduling. The Academic Advisor also helps facilitate communication with teachers and will provide additional support as needed throughout the year. We offer a middle and high school program called SOAR (Student Opportunity for Academic Recovery). This program is designed for students who are over the traditional middle and high school ages because of retention, truancy, or other challenges.
Q14: How can my child socialized and interact with their classmates?
A14: PALCS has numerous activities and events for students. They include Book Buddies, National Honors Society, Got Science Club, Student Government, Creative Writing Circle, Middle School Connect, and Minecraft Club. We also host annual events such as Junior & Senior Prom, Semester Dances, Holiday events, Beginning & End of the Year Picnics & Graduation Ceremonies.
Q15: Where do students go after PALCS?
A15: Students who graduate from PALCS have gone on to universities, the workforce and the military. PALCS graduates have attended schools ranging from small private colleges such as Grove City, Washington & Jefferson, Allegheny, Messiah; to major state universities like Penn State Pitt, Temple and Drexel and Ivy League schools like Princeton, Harvard and Yale. PALCS makes it possible for every child to graduate and find their place in the world!
Find out if PALCS the right fit for your family. Do your research and find the best fit for YOU! If you would like to see if PALCS is the right choice for your child, do not hesitate contact us for you personal information session