F.A.Q.

Some of the Most 
Frequently Asked Questions

General
What is a Virtual School?
A Virtual School provides the majority of classes and learning opportunities using online and digital technologies. They are sometimes called “cyber-schools” or “online schools.”
Is virtual schooling good for kids?
As with most things when it comes to children, it depends on the child. It also depends a great deal on the particular school, and the family. Children can thrive in most environments when provided the support and loving guidance they need.

Some children do very well in a traditional classroom. Though as school resources continue to be stretched, and classroom sizes expand, the need for alternatives is increasing as well. That is one reason Virtual Schools have become an option for school districts across the world.

Virtual Schools are one option that has been proven to provide children, schools, and families the flexibility to meet different needs.

What is a Public School of Choice?
In Massachusetts, the school choice program allows parents to send their children to schools in communities other than the city or town in which the family resides. A public school of choice is a public school approved for this program, with governmental controls and oversight; it is funded by taxpayers, with no additional costs to parents. Tuition is paid by the sending school district to the receiving school district. The program is offered to all students within their district(s), but districts may elect not to enroll school choice students if no space is available.
For Parents
How much does it cost to attend GCVS?
GCVS was the first virtual public school of choice in Massachusetts. As a public school, it is funded through taxes, and all students attend for free.
Who can attend GCVS?
GCVS covers the entire state of Massachusetts. Any student who lives in Massachusetts and is eligible for public school, is eligible to attend GCVS.
Can a child with an IEP attend GCVS?
As an approved public school of choice, all students eligible to attend public school in their covered areas can attend: This includes students with an IEP.

If your child has or is in process of getting an IEP and you have any concerns about the ability to attend classes online successfully, you can contact us to discuss your concerns. It can also be helpful to talk with current teachers and counselors about what school settings would best meet your child’s academic needs.

How flexible is the GCVS schedule?
One of the biggest benefits to an online school is the flexibility it offers students and families.

GCVS combines flexibility with clear expectations. Regular live sessions, check-ins, and family support offer a balance. Live sessions provide direct student-teacher and peer-to-peer interaction and support on a regular basis. Most families find this structure helps them keep on-track and motivated, along with the support they need when they need it.

Our family travels a lot, is GCVS a good option?
For families who travel a lot, virtual school can be a good option. At GCVS, some classes are live sessions and require a student to be online at specific times. It is important to be able to connect and commit to those times. This does not normally pose a problem for families as they travel, because sessions are scheduled well ahead of time, and they can plan around them.
Can my child succeed at GCVS even with a demanding schedule of outside activities ?
The simple answer is Yes.

  • Children who find attending a physical school difficult often excel in a virtual setting.
  • Students working with coaches or other trainers to develop their skills in sports, acting, or other areas, can do very well at GCVS at pursuing their other activities.
  • For some students, part of their training may be incorporated into their personalized curriculum plans, so they actually get credit for those activities. This is done through the GCVS Independent Study option.
How many hours per day are required?
GCVS follows the Massachusetts state requirements.

Students must attend a minimum of 180 days of school per year.

For students in k-5, 5 hours per day are required.

For students in grades 6-12, 5.5 hours per day are required.

How is attendance tracked?
GCVS follows the Massachusetts state requirements.

Students must attend a minimum of 180 days of school per year.

For students in k-5, 5 hours per day are required.

For students in grades 6-12, 5.5 hours per day are required.

Are GCVS teachers qualified?
To teach in Massachusetts, educators must obtain certification from the state. In order to get certification, a teacher must have a Bachelor’s Degree and pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) for the content areas and grade levels he or she wishes to teach.

As an approved public school, GCVS requires that all teachers meet or exceed the Massachusetts requirements. For detailed information on Massachusetts State Licensure requirements, visit https://www.teachercertificationdegrees.com/certification/massachusetts/

Does GCVS require more time from parents than other schools?
Compared to traditional schools, some families find GCVS requires about the same amount of time. Sometimes, even less.

With a traditional school, the time spent preparing a student to leave the house and traveling to and from school can take up to several hours every day. With homework time added in, it is not unusual for families to spend 5-6 hours per day on school-related activities.

As with any school, students in elementary grades require more hands-on assistance and guidance than older students.

Families who have tried, or considered, a homeschooling option have found a good virtual school can save them countless hours every day. By providing the curriculum, teachers, and support, a school like GCVS alleviates the stress of a parent being the sole provider of a student’s emotional, physical, and educational needs. It allows parents to take a step back and focus on the support and guidance, without having to develop, or worry about the quality of, educational programs.

How do families stay engaged?
Family engagement is an essential part of student success. GCVS provides trained Family Engagement Coordinators to ensure a successful academic experience, facilitating collaborations and open communications between parents, students and the school.
How do you communicate with parents?
Communications for any school should be one of the most important aspects. With a Virtual School, it becomes even more important. Everything depends on good, clear, consistent, and frequent communication.

GCVS uses the most up-to-date programs and tools to make communications as smooth as possible. From our Learning Management System and internal messaging to phone, email, and even mail, we want to hear from our students, and families.

How are children protected against bullying?
GCVS takes steps to create a bully-free environment.
GCVS is committed to a safe and positive learning environment for all students, employees, volunteers, and parents, free from harassment, intimidation, and bullying.  All forms of bullying and cyberbullying are prohibited. The GCVS Student Handbook provides a detailed policy regarding bullying and cyberbullying. Anyone engaging in bullying or cyberbullying is in violation of the policy and subject to appropriate discipline
Are credits from GCVS transferable?
GCVS was the first virtual public school of choice in Massachusetts, and remains one of only two who have the ability to grant a diploma. As long as students follow their Personalized Learning Plans, to meet the graduation requirements, they will receive a diploma from GCVS.
Do students get diplomas from GCVS?
GCVS was the first virtual public school of choice in Massachusetts, and remains one of only two who have the ability to grant a diploma. As long as students follow their Personalized Learning Plans, to meet the graduation requirements, they will receive a diploma from GCVS.
How do I enroll my child in GCVS?
All the enrollment information is available here. You can also call us at 413.475.3879, with any questions. We are happy to assist you.
Does GVCS work with educational partners?
At GCVS, there our four primary partners who provide support for curriculum and learning platforms to ensure academic success and delivery of the best experience.

Florida Virtual School Global Services  Core Knowledge   ZLearn   engageny

 

What tools and resources are needed to attend GCVS?
The two most important tools are a good laptop and internet connection. Each year, GCVS provides each student with a laptop for school activities. The laptop is pre-loaded with all the software needed, and tech support is able to help troubleshoot if any issues do arise. Most families chose this option, but you can use your own computer at home. GCVS can only provide tech support for the laptops they issue.
Is GCVS aligned with state and federal standards?
GCVS meets or exceeds all state and federal guidelines.
Where can I find more information about Massachusetts state standards for education ?
Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

http://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – School Choice

http://www.doe.mass.edu/finance/schoolchoice/

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System – Graduation Requirements

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/graduation.html

For Students
How does online learning work?
GCVS  utilizes a combination of live sessions, tutorials, videos, worksheets, reading, and all of the other tools available to help students learn.

At GCVS, a “typical” day could look like this:

  • Log onto computer from anywhere
  • Attend virtual class sessions – Click through interactive lessons with text, audio, video clips, animation, and links to related sites
  • Complete online math quiz
  • Email teacher
  • Communicate with classmates online or by phone
  • Complete offline assignments with provided materials (e.g., reading assignments, draft an essay, conduct an experiment with school-supplied materials, study for an exam)
  • Turn in assignments, and receive written teacher feedback in the e-course room or via a phone call to discuss ways to improve.

GCVS uses the Canvas Learning Management System. It is the cutting edge umbrella software that enables GCVS to deliver a sophisticated, multifaceted, and diverse learning experience right into your home. As long as you have an internet connection, you can take courses.

What is a Learning Coach?
A Learning Coach can be called different things. It is a responsible adult (usually a parent) who who works in conjunction with the online classroom teachers to help facilitate their student’s progress through daily lessons, and works to modify the pace and schedule as necessary.

At GCVS, Learning Coaches are provided training and support, including monthly workshops to help them make the most of their time and efforts. Generally, no special knowledge is necessary, just a desire to help a student learn. A Learning Coach is highly engaged with the student’s program; this creates an opportunity for a new relationship as co-learners, explorers, and intellectual partners.

With the proper support, a Learning Coach usually finds the experience, built on curiosity, to be rewarding, bringing a new closeness to the family.

What if I fall behind or need additional help?
No matter how much planning, support, and personalization, there will always be times when some students need a little extra help. We encourage students to let their teachers know if they are having a hard time. We also provide workshops, so your personal Learning Coach can get the support he or she needs to help you succeed.

Our teachers are trained to recognize the signs a student is struggling and provide support as soon as possible. Our “Student Intervention Team” is available for teachers to refer students for additional academic support.
Can I socialize with my classmates?
Students at GCVS connect with each other during live sessions with teachers, or in other specific forums.

Students are also encouraged to take advantage of outside opportunities, such as local clubs, organizations, and sports teams, to provide much-needed social engagement for students and to meet the state’s physical education requirement. There are additional benefits of students connecting with each other in real life. This helps them form deeper friendships, engage more fully academically, and have a fuller context of each other when engaging online.

GCVS offers Student Clubs & regular Social and Academic Outings.

Recent examples of outings include:

  • hiking
  • skating
  • local historic and cultural sites
  • science museums
  • zoo
  • talent shows
  • back-to-school/end-of-year school picnics.
What is Personalized Learning, and how personalized is it ?
Personalized Learning plans are developed to identify areas of strengths and challenges for each student, as well as interests, in order to find the best educational options.

Personalized Learning plans are created with you, your parents/guardians, and school counselors. Plans should be revisited each year to check progress, as well as adjust based on student interests and needs.

At GCVS, Personalized Learning plans are the core of a student’s academic plan for success, and serve as the primary tool to guide educational choices.

What classes can I take at GCVS?
Elementary and Middle School

The elementary and middle school programs consist of the four core academic courses of English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and History, and students may also take art or music as a full-year class. In order to meet the state’s physical education requirement, we work with students and their parents on a plan for some exercise or fitness activities.

Lessons are supplemented with traditional materials, including award-winning textbooks, CDs, videos, and hands-on collateral that complement online learning and allow the greatest number of students to master lesson objectives.

High School

The GCVS High School program (grades 9-12) provides a core curriculum of challenging college preparatory courses, Advanced Placement courses and a generous complement of electives in all departments.

GCVS is committed to offering each student a virtual school instruction that is both engaging and challenging, which is accomplished by following the Massachusetts High School Program of Studies, or MassCore. MassCore is intended to fully prepare high school graduates for college or a career. MassCore recommends a comprehensive set of subject area courses and units as well as other learning opportunities to complete before graduating from high school.

In addition, students may choose to do an “Independent Study” course, and earn credits through “Work-Based Learning.”

Similar to our elementary/middle school program, students are required to have a plan for exercise, fitness, or sport activities to meet the physical education requirement.

All students must have a graduation course plan, outlined at the beginning of their studies, which is discussed with a guidance counselor/advisor and can be modified throughout the student’s time with our program. A vision without a plan is just a dream. Our graduation course plans ensure that you attain your dreams.

What is Independent Study?
GCVS students may participate in individually designed projects and studies that are worthy of high school credit. These projects may include course work at an accredited school or college, creative projects, academic research or other viable educational experiences. Each project proposal should have a distinct title, an outline of pursuits, measurable goals, and a final evaluation.

A faculty advisor to monitor the project is required, and interim assessments encouraged. It is the sole responsibility of the student to develop, propose, and document the learning objectives.

Generally, 0.5 credits will be awarded for approximately 90 hours of educational/creative pursuits. This is roughly equivalent to a single semester course.

What is Work-Based Learning?
Experience in the world of work is valuable for eligible high school students, in compliance with the Massachusetts Child Labor Laws. Typically, these experiences will be limited to juniors and seniors, but other students may discuss the possibility with the Guidance Department.

A Work-Based Learning Plan, outlining the common competencies between school and work, is available from Guidance. Students will be required to have a job that entails between 10 and 20 hours of work per week (paid or unpaid), a work supervisor who is willing to evaluate their performance twice in a semester, and a faculty advisor who will make the final decision on whether credit will be granted.

Typically, a student may earn up to two (2) credits per year, with a maximum of six (6) credits throughout high school for Work-Based Learning. The credits will be elective credit. Each Work-Based Learning Plan must receive prior approval from the Guidance Counselor and Executive Director.

Is there a graduation ceremony?
GCVS hosts a formal graduation ceremony every year in Greenfield, Mass., in June. Families are invited to join us during the ceremony to celebrate your success.
Still need help? Get in touch!
For any other questions, please write us at info@gcvs.org or call us 413.475.3879