Connections Academy online public school review
A rigorous curriculum featuring live learning sessions with teachers and classmates.
If you’re looking for an online public school where teachers are trained specifically in online teaching, then Connections Academy might be for you. It offers a mix of both live lessons and self-paced assignments for students in grades K through 12. However, both parents and students have complained of intense workloads and confusing portfolios in online reviews of the school. You also need to be prepared to devote around five hours daily to oversee and support your younger children in elementary school.
Is Connections Academy available in my state?
Connections Academy is a part of the public school system and available in the following states:
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
How does Connections Academy work?
Connections Academy uses certified teachers specially trained in online teaching. Your child will meet with teachers and classmates in their virtual classroom and complete assignments and activities independently from home. Teachers regularly check in by phone and email to offer assistance when needed.
Is it self-paced or on a daily schedule?
Children have live learning sessions with teachers at specific times during the day. Although there are due dates, the independent assignments are self-paced, giving families a more flexible schedule.
How are student progress and attendance monitored?
Parents report the number of learning hours a student completes each day. The school also verifies attendance by touching base with the student through phone calls and viewing the student’s completed assignments and assessments.
Teachers monitor student progress through regular benchmark evaluations, quizzes, exams and annual report cards. Parents keep in close contact with teachers and have parent-teacher conferences twice a month or as often as needed.
What are the perks of Connections Academy?
Connections Academy has a few upsides for elementary through high school students:
- Free summer school courses. New high school students can enroll in a free, two-week summer session to help close the learning gap before entering grades 10 through 12.
- Individual and group counseling. Available through state-certified counselors, students have access to mental health counseling to improve their emotional well-being.
- College and career counseling and support. High school seniors get one-on-one counseling to explore their options after high school, including career choices, vocational training and college.
What to watch out for
Before enrolling your child, you might want to consider the following drawbacks:
- Overwhelming workload. Some students felt that the workload was too much and the assignments kept stacking up.
- Confusing portfolios. A large portion of classes includes submitting a student portfolio. Some students claim that the instructions are complicated and that they failed classes because they weren’t formatted correctly.
- Low graduation rate. Connections Academy’s graduation rate is well below the state median in some states, including Texas, California and Michigan.
- High parental involvement for younger students. A parent or other responsible adult should expect to devote approximately five hours daily overseeing and supporting younger students in grades K through 5. As students become more independent in middle and high school, parents take a less active role.
Compare other K-12 online schools
What is my role as a parent?
You’ll play a critical role in supporting your child’s online education. The parent, or another designated adult, is the student’s designated learning coach. The learning coach manages the structure of the school day and keeps the student on track with assignments.
Learning coaches also assist with assignments, help students connect to teachers for extra help and clock in daily learning hours to fulfill state requirements.
How much computer time is involved?
Younger students generally spend less time on the computer than middle and high school students. Elementary children may spend 15% to 30% of the school day in front of a screen, whereas high school students spend up to 90% of their school day working on the computer. Computer time may also vary depending on whether the state supplies online or print textbooks.
Am I responsible for providing the technology and textbooks for lessons?
Connections Academy supplies all textbooks and curriculum for online learning. You’ll need to provide a Windows or Mac desktop or laptop computer with Internet access and a compatible browser, such as Google Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer.
Depending on the state and school, low-income families may receive a computer and subsidy for Internet access.
How will my child be able to socialize with other kids?
During the live virtual lessons, your child joins a virtual classroom with other students. Connections Academy also organizes optional in-person field trips for students and families in your area. And many states allow online public school students to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities in their local school district.
Types of courses and programs offered
Every grade has classes in math, science, language arts and social studies. A few electives include subjects like world languages, American
Sign Language (ASL), digital arts, music and game design. And many schools also offer honors classes and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
Is there a curriculum for children with special needs?
Connections Academy has specially trained teachers and staff to support children with special needs, including those with individual education plans (IEPs) and 504 plans.
Are students required to complete state testing?
Yes, online public schools participate in state-standardized testing. Your school will arrange testing locations and inform you of testing dates.
Testimonials: What parents and students say
Online reviews for Connections Academy from parents and students are mostly negative. While they appreciate the regular communication with teachers through phone and email, many complain about the heavy workload and teachers getting upset over missing or late assignments.
How do I enroll my child in Connections Academy?
Follow these steps to start the enrollment process:
- Go to the Connections Academy website and click Enroll.
- Select your state in the drop-down menu to confirm that a program is available where you live.
- Confirm that your child is eligible to enroll by clicking Eligibility in the menu bar.
- Complete the forms and submit required documents in the online portal.
- Receive your enrollment confirmation.
When do I need to enroll my child?
Connections Academy follows public school open enrollment periods. Check with the Department of Education in your state for enrollment deadlines where you live.
Does Connections Academy offer summer and holiday breaks?
Yes, Connections Academy has summer and holiday breaks, as well as professional development days for teachers with no classes for students.
Connections Academy is a virtual option for public schooling that offers more flexibility than a traditional school day. But families complain that students are buried in assignments. If you’re not able to devote hours a day tackling this rigorous curriculum, you might want to keep looking at other online public schools.
You can explore even more options available with our guide to K–12 online school.