Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) operates a schoolwide Title One Educational Program serving on average approximately 11,000 students per year. At present, our population encompasses students from every county and school district in the state of Georgia. Our goals are for students to build a firm academic foundation from which they can move forward to the next grade level successfully or graduate and to create a strong school community. Our rigorous curriculum, coupled with supportive school programs, is designed with these goals in mind. Our entire faculty and staff are eager to support our students on their journey to academic excellence and assisting them in reaching their goals.
GCA is designed to meet the needs of a diverse range of students who seek a rigorous academic program through a flexible online school experience, with access to school services such as clubs, activities, counseling services, and college advising. Students at GCA attend school online using our robust learning management system (LMS), which hosts online courses and course management tools for students, teachers and parents. The LMS offers a single place where students can access any information related to their academic life at GCA. Students use the LMS to:
- Access their courses
- Access supplemental tools and resources
- Take assessments
- Review grades
- Manage their course schedule
- Interact with faculty, staff and peers in an online community
- How Class Sessions Work
- Student Onboarding Program
- Role of the Parent/Learning Coach
- Live Interaction
- School Property and Supplies
- Hot Spots and Internet Service Provider (ISP) Supplement Program
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Objectionable Content
- Instructional Time
- Live Interactive Class Sessions (Synchronous)
- Live Interactive Class Sessions Engagement Guidelines
- Live Interactive Class Sessions Conduct for Parents and Students
- Asynchronous Engagement Expectations
- Student Programs
How Class Sessions Work
All GCA classes are conducted using a combination of asynchronous and synchronous (“real-time”) components which may vary based on the course.
Courses contain asynchronous reading assignments, activities, assessments and videos, as well as synchronous ‘live’ class sessions conducted by the teacher at predefined times. All live core content class sessions are recorded, so students may access sessions for review, as needed. We have both required and encouraged ‘live’ class sessions depending on a student’s academic proficiency level.
Central to these synchronous sessions is the online classroom technology our teachers use, which provides a whiteboard for live online instruction, the ability to conduct multi-student discussions and collaborative activities, and space for instructional slides, as well as file and video sharing. This technology enables teachers and students to engage in live virtual discussion as if they were in a physical classroom.
Attendance requirements for ‘live’ class sessions is based on the student’s academic proficiency level, their timeliness at completing assignments/ assessments, and/or their adherence to school procedures and policies. In cases where a scheduling conflict prevents a student from attending a required ‘live’ class session, students must notify their Compliance Specialist in advance, provide an acceptable excuse if applicable, and they must watch the recording. It is highly encouraged that students either attend live class sessions or watch the recordings of the live class sessions regardless of whether they have earned full flexibility or not. Students who are required to attend ‘live’ class sessions will be counted absent if not in attendance.
Note: Watching recordings does not remove the missed session(s) (i.e. absences) that students may accrue during the school year if the absences are not excused.
Our faculty members also use ‘live’ class session tool for small group remediation sessions, one-on-one tutoring sessions, and parent-teacher meetings. These particular ‘live’ class sessions may or may not be recorded at the discretion of the host.
Student Onboarding Program
To facilitate a successful virtual education experience for your student, Georgia Cyber Academy has implemented a Student Onboarding Program to ease new students into the online learning environment and to prepare them for the start of school. The program begins up to one week before the start of school, after the student has completed the enrollment and admissions process. Onboarding may differ, depending on the student’s grade level and when they start school.
Students will participate in our Strong Start program, which will introduce them to their new school experience. Please expect a welcome e-mail and phone call from your Family Success Liaison before the first day of school.
During the first month of school, students and parents should plan to attend a Learning Coach Live Help and Technology Training virtual session, as well as their teachers’ scheduled course orientations. Recordings and/or documents of the Learning Coach Live Help and Technology Training virtual sessions will be posted on the Parent Calendar.
Role of the Parent/Learning Coach
Georgia Cyber Academy students access their learning resources online. While school faculty and staff support student learning, there is still a need for support and guidance from an adult who is physically present with the student to supervise and monitor progress throughout the school day and year. Georgia Cyber Academy refers to this “at home” role as Learning Coach. Most frequently the Learning Coach is a parent, but it can also be a tutor or other designated adult responsible for the student’s day-to-day learning supervision. Parents are asked to identify the designated Learning Coach, who faculty/ staff will communicate with throughout the school year.
The primary duties of the learning coach are to enter their student’s attendance daily, read their GCA emails at least once daily, answer all communications within 24 hours, complete all paperwork requests, complete all surveys, keep the student’s information up to date, monitor their student’s assignment completion and grades daily, ensure that their student attends all required live classes, monitors their student when taking assessments and tests to ensure that no ‘additional help’ is provided that might mask whether a student truly understands the concepts or not, and communicate with their student’s teacher and FSL whenever they feel that a student is struggling or needs additional support.
(student to teacher/administration & parent/guardian/LC to teacher/administration)
Live interaction and conversation through chat, video, mic, or via phone is required to some extent for all students. Depending on the proficiency level of the student that can be more or less live interaction. Learning coaches (parent/legal guardian or designated adult) are required to some extent to converse with staff regarding their student on a regular basis as well.
Our faculty teach online live classes just like in a traditional school model. Students that attend live classes interact with the teacher and other students. All classes are recorded, so students can refer to them if needed. Additionally, there are online live small groups, instructional support classes, and open offices. There is a combination of online and off-line work and projects to complete and turn in with due dates.
Students that are struggling to master standards/skills or have demonstrated a proficiency level below their assigned grade level are required to attend live classes on a set schedule. These students would submit excuses for their absences just like in a traditional school.
Students that are doing well and have demonstrated a proficiency level that is consistent with or above their assigned grade level, are following school policies, and completing all assignments/tests on time are afforded more flexibility and may view recorded classes when they miss live classes instead of being required to attend all live sessions on a set schedule.
Field trips, face to face social events, online clubs, and all-school in-person events/outings are optional, but highly encouraged.
If a student is having difficulties learning the material or being compliant to school policies, there will be additional interaction required.
Parents/legal guardians/learning coaches should be prepared to attend all conferences and meetings regarding discussions/concerns/issues/academic decisions about their student as may be required. These conferences and/or meetings may be held in person, by telephone, and/or by video conference.
Milestones Assessments are mandatory and require face to face/in-person participation. Opt-outs are not permitted. Other assessments/tests/exams may require on camera and mic monitoring or may require face to face/in-person participation as well.
School Property and Supplies
Georgia Cyber Academy provides academic support tools, equipment, and assistive technology when warranted. In rare cases, GCA may also provide physical course materials. Georgia Cyber Academy also provides computers and printers to families upon request and when a financial information form is completed (see below under section Computer Policy). Hot spots for internet service may be provided to families in financial need provided that their student attends class and is compliant to all GCA requirements, rules, procedures, and policies (see below in section Hot Spots and Internet Service Provider (ISP) Supplement Program). These materials are school property and must be kept in good condition.
Facilities that are used for Georgia Cyber Academy outings are considered school property, and the same expectations apply to the Georgia Cyber Academy outing facilities.
Parents are responsible for the repair or replacement of all lost, stolen, or damaged school property. A list of property that must be returned is provided to parents. All property and equipment must be returned in good, working condition upon withdrawal from the program.
Any printed materials that may be provided are copyrighted, and unauthorized copying of those materials is a copyright infringement.
Materials/equipment provided by GCA cannot be sold or transferred and are to be used solely by the student in his or her studies while enrolled in the school. Parents are to comply with this rule and all the terms and conditions of the School Property section of the District Handbook.
Basic school supplies such as paper, pencils, pens, erasers, highlighters, notebooks, binders, folders, markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue/glue sticks, scissors, rulers, protractors, compass, calculators, etc. are the responsibility of our families. A suggested school list will be provided for each grade level at the beginning of the school year.
Georgia Cyber Academy requires all families to have a minimum of one dedicated computer per student and one printer per household that meet the minimum specifications necessary to access the GCA Online School (GOLS).
Minimum technical specifications are as follows:
- Chrome, Windows-based, or Apple computer
- Reliable Internet Connection with a recommended minimum 3 Megabits per second download speed
- Internal or external microphone
- Internal or external speakers
- Internal or external web camera
- Google Chrome Browser
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
Georgia Cyber Academy will provide a computer enrolling student upon request and when a financial information form is completed. Please contact your Family Success Liaison if you are in need of a computer or printer.
Note: Families must also have Internet access to participate in the school. Internet access is verified during the enrollment process and throughout the school year. Hot spots or reimbursement for internet service may be provided to students that have a financial need (see below in section Hot Spots and Internet Service Provider (ISP) Supplement Program).
Georgia Cyber Academy will provide a printer to any enrolling family upon request and when a financial information form is completed. Please contact your Family Success Liaison if you are in need of a printer. Note: Printer paper and ink refills are not provided.
Hot Spots and Internet Service Provider (ISP) Supplement ProgramFamilies who meet the requirements listed below are eligible to receive either a hot spot or in special circumstances an ISP supplement checks to help off-set the cost of internet service for their student(s).
The requirements for receiving a hot spot or an ISP supplement are:
- Family participates in the GCA Online School per requirements.
- Family has a Georgia Cyber Academy loaner computer.
- Family has completed a family income form after July 1st of the current school year.
- Family is compliant in academics, attendance, records and all other GCA requirements.
- Family must have a current student address on file. Failure to provide an updated student address with required proof of residence will result in the forfeiture of the hot spot or in the ISP check being voided and the check will not be re-issued.
- Family does not have a GCA issued Hot Spot.
If multiple families reside in the same residence, only one family will receive the hot spot or ISP supplement.
ISP checks are only issued if the hot spot provider does not provide internet coverage in the area where the student resides (the student address of record).
If an ISP check is warranted, then it will be mailed twice per school year at the rate of $9.95 per month (per household) for the school year ISP supplement payments are made at the end of January and at the end of June or July and it is the responsibility of the legal guardian to ensure that all information listed in their student’s Infinite Campus account is accurate for mailing purposes. ISP checks are issued to the legal guardian on record.
Eligibility for the ISP supplement begins the first full month after the family receives the loaner computer package. To receive the supplement when issued in January or June/July, the student must be enrolled in the school at the time of supplement processing to be eligible to receive it. Please be aware that if an ISP check is lost, Georgia Cyber Academy does not automatically reissue a check to the family. If a check is not received or is lost in the mail, parents need to notify the Georgia Cyber Academy office within thirty (30) days of checks being mailed to open an inquiry. At the discretion of Georgia Cyber Academy, non-compliant students may have ISP supplements denied. Checks not cashed within ninety (90) days will not be reissued.
Curriculum and Instruction
Georgia Cyber Academic (GCA) is committed to providing a rigorous Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) based curriculum and a solid system of support for all students. Georgia Cyber Academy students are provided with coursework in: Mathematics, English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies. K-8th grade electives include PE/Health, Art (K-5), Computer Science (6-8), optional Spanish (1st -8th), and optional Art (7th-8th). Two electives per semester are provided for grades 9-12 and vary by academic course path and individualized goals. Georgia Cyber Academy also provides supplemental tools and resources for standards-based review/practice to include, but not limited to: iXL, Wowzers, MindPlay, Writable, Type to Learn, Edmentum (Study Island), BrainPOP, Lumos Learning, i-Ready, and Education Galaxy.
All students take two electives as indicated in the preceding paragraph. Electives are all taken for a grade. 100% of elective courses must be completed.
K-8 students may also take additional optional electives (more than 6 courses/subjects) if they scored proficient or distinguished on all sections of the previous years Milestones assessments and/or are part of the Gifted & Advanced program. Kindergarten students must be part of the Gifted & Advanced program to be allowed to take additional subjects for a grade. Additionally, all students taking additional optional courses/subjects must maintain an 80 or above in all academic contents, turn assignments in on time, be compliant to attendance & engagement policies, and follow all school policies. Students will be removed from additional optional courses/subjects for failure to attend required classes and/or to maintain adequate progress. Options include:
- Kindergarten Advanced & Gifted students - Spanish
- 1st through 8th grade students - Spanish
- 8th grade Advanced & Gifted students – High School Spanish (for HS credit)
- 7th and 8th grade students - Art
Georgia Cyber Academy encourages students to complete assigned lessons within each content area course, since courses in the subsequent grade levels assume completion of lessons in the prior grade. A lesson is completed when the student has mastered the objectives, as measured by the lesson assessment. It may not be necessary to teach every lesson if the student can demonstrate mastery of the objectives on the assessments. Learning Coaches and students should work very closely with their teachers to decipher the best course of action when determining lesson planning and assessment completion.
The GCA Online School (GOLS) is designed to collect and record data that substantiates the academic progress of each student. Therefore, it is mandatory that GOLS is used to collect assignment/assessment data that reflects the standing of the student. Attendance must be recorded through TimeClock Plus daily. This data serves as one of the primary tools for determining advancement into subsequent course levels. It is essential that parents of Georgia Cyber Academy students understand that, by enrolling in Georgia Cyber Academy, they agree to ensure that their students participate in the academic programs as designed, including completing all coursework, recording attendance, participating in required interactions with assigned teachers/staff, checking their email daily, and participating in school and state-mandated assessments.
Georgia Cyber Academy requires that parents/ student submit work assignments to assist teachers with the decision to advance a student to the next course/ grade level. Georgia Cyber Academy requires student work to be original, with appropriate citations for references to published works. Parents/ students are provided work assignment guidelines from their assigned teacher(s). Work assignments are submitted electronically. At Georgia Cyber Academy we understand that our school is academically rigorous. Meeting the challenge of completing one year of course work in this model can be demanding. Our certified, highly qualified teachers and support staff are here to assist parents/ learning coaches to meet the associated challenges.
A student identified as “academically at-risk” would hold a differentiated priority of contact, as determined by the teacher and the parent, and increased interventions may be warranted. It is vital to note that academically at-risk students require a greater commitment to remediation and support. Students who are identified as academically at-risk may receive additional Response to Intervention (RtI/MTSS) support. Students and Learning Coaches are required to comply with all recommendations to address the current academic needs of the student.
There may be times when a parent finds certain lessons, books, or materials objectionable for various reasons. If a parent finds objectionable material, he or she should contact his or her content teacher via e-mail. Teachers will work with the parents to find alternative lessons to meet the lesson objectives. An assessment for the alternate lesson must be completed to ensure that the concepts/skills of the lesson have been mastered.
The student may have live class requirements, conferences, assignments, and/or assessments between 8am and 4pm, Monday through Friday excluding school holidays. A student’s grade level, courses, specific programs, provided services, and their proficiency level determine the amount on online time that may be required and the structure of that time.
Per SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.02, Georgia Cyber Academy students must participate in school learning activities for a minimum of 180 days per school year.
Per SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.02, the minimum number of hours required per school day are as follows:
|Kindergarten||4.5 hours per day|
|1st through 3rd grade||4.5 hours per day|
|4th through 5th grade||5.0 hours per day|
|6th through 12th grade||5.5 hours per day|
For Kindergarten through 8th grade, time does include Math, Social Studies, English/ Language Arts, Science, Foreign Language, Art, PE/ Health, Computer Science, and other elective courses, as well as, support activities such as tutoring, state testing, and Academic Support Services (per IEP). Time may also include Educational Field Trips, Testing, Counseling, Health Screenings, and extended learning time activities, however additional attendance guidelines for these activities may be outlined in the GCA District Handbook. Also, school sponsored non-instructional activities may count toward attendance hours.
NOTE: Attendance hours must be logged in a timely manner in accordance with GCA procedure and guidelines. Failure to follow attendance logging procedures may result in withdrawal from GCA.
Live Interactive Class Sessions (Synchronous)
We believe synchronous learning is important because it provides students the full benefits of our highly qualified instructors. The synchronous interaction provides immediate instructor and student feedback, reduces the feeling of isolation, fosters a sense of community with the learners and offers a forum for student collaboration. By incorporating live and interactive learning opportunities in the online environment, teachers are leveraging synchronous learning to enhance learning and promote engagement.
Our synchronous sessions are personalized for the individual learner’s needs. We feel it is important to allow the teacher flexibility to determine what should be covered, what students should be targeted, and when the sessions should be held to reach these students.
Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) provides students with a balance of flexibility and appropriate levels of academic support. GCA students will be held accountable for attending live class sessions based on their individualized proficiency level (see chart below). Students identified as Beginning or Developing are required to attend live class sessions to receive intensive teacher support. All new students will be classified as Beginning for at least the first semester to ensure that the student acclimates well to the virtual environment and are compliant to program requirements.
Recordings are provided to all students for review, however live class attendance may be ‘REQUIRED’. Full flexibility students (Proficient) are encouraged to attend live class sessions but may watch recordings if that better fits their schedule. Students who are not participating in the class session may be removed from the room and will not be counted as present for that session. Flexibility is earned at the proficient and distinguished levels as determined by the Georgia Milestones and NWEA assessments. Students who miss required class sessions may be referred for progressive discipline, including a referral to the Academic Review Board (see details below) and up to withdrawal from GCA. If a student has an emergency that conflicts with a required class session, it is imperative that he or she contact their Family Success Liaison as soon as possible. This refers specifically to students classified as Beginning or Developing Learners.
|Instructional Level||EOG Cut Score*||Interim Assessment Score||NWEA Growth Assessments||Course Average|
|Advanced||Distinguished Learner||>92%||Above grade level||>90%|
|Proficient||Proficient Learner||80-92%||On grade level||80-89%|
|Developing||Developing Learner||68-79%||1 year below grade level||75-79%|
|Beginning||Beginning Learner||<68%||>1 year below grade level||<74%|
*Grades 4-8 only
Notes on Full Flexibility: If students are granted flexibility from attending live class sessions, then it is possible to do most assigned schoolwork from recorded class sessions. That said, even full flexibility students must occasionally interact with their teachers, school personnel, and other students on team projects between the hours of 8am and 4pm. Mandatory tests are also given between the hours of 8am and 4pm and the student must attend during those times. School conferences, as well as, IEP and MDR meetings are typically scheduled during the 8am to 4pm school day, too.
Once a student is granted flexibility, they must demonstrate the ability to manage that privilege without it negatively impacting their academic performance. They must maintain on grade level proficiency as demonstrated through varying data points, turn all assignments in on time, and take all required assessments or flexibility may be withdrawn. However, prior to being granted flexibility from live classes students must demonstrate proficiency in all core subjects per the state Milestone’s assessments. Therefore, it is possible for students to earn a great deal of flexibility in how they structure their school day, but there will be times that they are required to be present during the hours of 8am and 4pm.
New students are required to attend live classes for at least a semester in order to fully acclimate to the virtual academic environment before flexibility is considered. If new students have scored 3 Proficient Learner or 4 Distinguished Learner on all the previous year’s Milestones exams, then after the first semester they may be granted flexibility from attending live classes. However, that would depend on how well they have acclimated to the virtual environment and they would still have to review the recordings for missed live classes.
Regardless of whether a student is struggling or typically does well academically, there may be times that extra support is required to master a skill or concept. When students are invited to a small group reinforcement session or tutoring, they are required to attend the live session even if they have full flexibility.
To avoid absences, families are asked to schedule appointments around required class sessions. Please communicate any special circumstances to your Family Success Liaison (FSL) AND your teacher.
- If a student misses a required session, the teacher will send an email to the student and Learning Coach notifying them of the lack of engagement and outlining GCA’s engagement expectations.
- If a student misses five required sessions, the Attendance and Engagement Compliance Specialist will send an email to the student and the Learning Coach notifying them of the lack of engagement and outlining GCA’s engagement expectations.
- If a student misses ten required sessions, the Attendance and Engagement Compliance Specialist will send an email to the student and Learning Coach notifying them of the trend of extreme disengagement and informing them they are close to being referred to the Academic Review Board and that continued disengagement will result in withdrawal from GCA for non-compliance.
- If a student misses fifteen required sessions, the Attendance and Engagement Compliance Specialist will send an email and make a phone call to the student and Learning Coach notifying them of the trend of extreme disengagement and informing them they are close to being referred to the Academic Review Board and that continued disengagement will result in withdrawal from GCA for non-compliance.
- If a student misses twenty required sessions, the Academic Review Board Coordinator will contact the family to set a meeting up with them and the Academic Review Board. The Academic Review Board will determine whether the student will be withdrawn or placed on probation. If needed, the Family Support Liaison will process the withdrawal and the student and Learning Coach will be notified by email of the withdrawal for non-compliance. If a probationary period is granted, the engagement of the student will be reviewed by the Academic Review Board at the end of the probationary period and a decision on withdrawal or re-engagement will be made.
IMPORTANT: By enrolling your student at Georgia Cyber Academy, you are agreeing to ensure your student is actively engaged in class and that they are completing/submitting their own work, on time, and in compliance with the assignment’s guidelines. Students are expected to respond to all questions and/or prompts from the teacher during the session to the best of their ability. Students are expected to complete any work assigned
Learning coaches/parents/legal guardians may submit excuses for absences following the GCA Board Attendance Policy located in the Appendix of this document to their Family Success Liaison.
Students will additionally be held accountable to the attendance and truancy process regarding work completed, student logins, and attendance logged by Learning Coaches. The FSL support process will also be in place to encourage students to remain compliant and engaged.
Important Notes: Students attending extracurricular or other outside programs (including religious based) will still be held accountable for attending ‘required’ live class sessions. Students traveling, regardless of the time zone they are in, are still held accountable for attending ‘required’ live class sessions, turning assignments in on time, and taking assessments at the assigned time (all stated times are based on Eastern Standard Time Zone). Trips/vacations will not be accepted as excuses for missing ‘required’ live classes or completing assignments late.
Live Interactive Class Sessions Conduct for Parents and Students
When using a teacher’s personal room, please always sign in using your first name and last initial.
Guidelines for Parents and Students:
- Arrive promptly at the schedule time for your class sessions.
- Whiteboard and microphone privileges are assigned at the discretion of the teacher.
- Direct messaging conversations should be limited to the content of the lesson.
- Respectful and courteous behavior toward others is always expected.
- Non-participation or stepping away without the teacher’s approval is an absence from the session.
- If there are multiple students in your home, each student needs to log into a session individually.
- Students and parents are expected to follow the etiquette previously described.
- Students are not allowed to type their full name, address, email address, or phone numbers in the chat box or share that information during live class sessions.
- Students will not be allowed to cause learning disruptions during live class sessions including: use of inappropriate language (typed or oral), posting pictures or images to the whiteboard (unless specifically requested), posting web links (urls) in the chat box or on the white board, disrespect of teachers or other students. If a student is causing a disruption that negatively impacts the learning environment or engages in behavior that is prohibited, they will be removed from the live class session and their parents will be contacted.
Please keep in mind that individual teachers may have additional guidelines/ expectations that are specific to their classrooms.
Asynchronous Engagement Expectations
All students will be held accountable to the truancy process regarding work completed, student logins, and attendance logged by Learning coaches. In addition, students must continue to maintain a high level of academic performance to continue to earn flexibility from attending live class sessions and asynchronous participation.
To remain in good standing, all students must meet or exceed expectations in the following four areas:
- Logging into the GCA Online School (GOLS) daily.
- Remaining on pace with coursework.
- Taking all assessments/tests/exams within the stipulated time period.
- Maintaining high performance as evidenced by overall average per course.