Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Pioneer Online Academy:
Q: Is Pioneer Online Academy a public school?
A: NO! This is a private, online preparatory academy for home educated students. We do not accept public school funds and we do not downgrade our material to fit public school standards.
Q: How is Pioneer Online Academy funded?
A: Through the tuition fees which are very reasonable.
Q: Is Pioneer Online Academy aligned with Common Core or any federal standards?
A: NO!! We do not downgrade our material to fit federal standards and we do not alter the course of history for political agendas.
Q: Is Pioneer Online Academy an accredited school?
A: No. All schools who want accreditation must align to Common Core. We will not lower our standards. Therefore we are not accredited.
Q: Does Pioneer Online Academy keep transcripts?
A: We keep a record of student progress and grades on a transcript of grades, however it is not an official public school transcript. Parents who have students enrolled in courses may take our "transcript preparation class" to learn how to transfer grades and scores to an official homeschool transcript, which is accepted by most universities and colleges.
Q: How long does Pioneer Online Academy keep the transcript of grades?
A: We keep the records for 180 days past the student's last login. If you have finished your courses, you should immediately download your transcript or contact our office for assistance. After 180 days of no activity, the account is deleted.
Q: What if I don't want records kept of my child's grades?
A: You must notify each instructor in writing BEFORE the child starts the course, for each separate course – that you want to opt out of grades. The instructor can excuse the student from grading, however please note: this action CANNOT be reversed. Once the student has been excused, they may not change back to a graded transcript for that course. There are no exceptions for this, it's technologically not possible with the way our LMS is set up.
Q: Where can I find the "standards" for Pioneer Online Academy's courses?
A: We don't have "standards" because we don't feel that education is one-size-fits-all. Our instructors teach the material required to help the students achieve the highest possible academic plateau for their level and to prepare them for higher learning. We don't strive for adequate, we strive for excellence. You can click on our Course Catalog, and for each course there is a summary of what the course teaches. For more information that is not on the summary, please contact us with specific questions.
Q: Why is there a broad gap in grade levels assigned to most courses?
A: Again, education is not one-size-fits-all. Because our students often come to us from a background that is accustomed to grade levels, we use them as a guideline to help parents decide if a course is right for their child. If the course states that it is appropriate for grades 4-8, then that means a student as young as 4th grade who is achieving at or above grade level should be able to comprehend the course – and – a student up to 8th grade who is working at or below grade level should be able to comprehend the course. If you have an 8th grader who is working above grade level, they can better be prepared for higher learning by seeking out our 9-12 grade level courses.
Q: What if I enroll my child in a course and it is too advanced for them or not advanced enough?
A: Parents who are active in their child's education should be able to determine by the end of the first week of assignments or lessons, that the course is not suitable for their child. Contact the instructor or administration before you start the second week of lessons and we will happily change the student to a more suitable course with no change fee. After the student has accessed the second week of lessons, there will be a change fee which gradually increases as the student accesses more lessons. If 50% or more of the lessons are accessed, there is no refund or exchange available.
Q: How are the courses administered? Are there textbooks or additional materials to buy?
A: Most courses are self-paced and use a combination of video instruction, slides, audio, and online text to instruct. There will also be printable materials, worksheets, or lab sheets. Assignments are submitted via online assignment portals which are generally auto-assessed, however some courses warrant instructor review and feedback and will ask for assignments to be submitted via a dropbox within the class portal. Most of the courses do not require a textbook, but may require a library card for books you can easily obtain at most libraries. See each individual course description for a list of additional materials needed for each individual course.
Q: What curriculum do you use at Pioneer Online Academy?
A: Our instructors write their own material and lesson plans for the most part. Sometimes instructors will use pages from outside sources as a basis for instruction or to give a different perspective, however for the majority of the material it is customized for preparatory learning. Any outside curriculum used would be shared on the course description page.
Q: Why do some courses say they have 180 hours of instruction or that they "meet the state requirements"? What state requirements are you referring to?
A: We are referring to homeschool requirements. Not all states are as loose with homeschool requirements as others. While one state may not ask for any records or statements of what you teach your children, other states are more strict and require homeschoolers to record a specific number of hours of instruction in each major subject. Some states require homeschoolers to report for testing. Some states require homeschoolers to keep portfolio samples or transcripts. We strive to help all homeschoolers succeed. If your state does not require 180 hours of instruction, then notify the instructor for that course of the things you are not interested in your child doing. That said, we do not give "busy work" but our instructors will often include optional enrichment or optional lessons for additional study. Note the word "optional" and make the best decision for your child.
Q: Is the course material secular or religious?
A: Neither. The material is oriented for academic achievement. There is no religious or biased agenda in any of the courses (unless it is specifically a religious course, which at this time we do not have any listed on our catalog). Students are encouraged to stand up for what they believe when submitting projects, writing assignments, and papers.
Q: Do you offer student forums and discussion groups?
A: Yes, we do. However there are no casual forums for students to just hang out. All forums and discussion groups are geared towards specific clubs and interests. We do this so that the moderators can keep the discussions focused and reduce cyber bullying and flaming.
Q: Who moderates the student forums and discussion groups?
A: Instructors and student mentors take turns monitoring the forums and groups. We have the capability to lock down the forums when an instructor or mentor is not available to moderate.
Q: Do you allow students to share their religious beliefs on the forums?
A: We encourage students to stand up for what they believe, and encourage them to mention religion if they feel it is appropriate to the discussion at hand. However, we discourage proselyting, flaming, baiting, cyber bullying, and trolling. That said, students may not participate in any forums without first attending the Internet Etiquette seminar, which is offered every 8 weeks via live streaming for students who are enrolled in the academy. Use of the forums is a privilege which is not connected to the fee of any particular course and therefore refunds will not be issued if a student is banned from a forum for misuse.
Q: What is the difference between a "live" course and a "self-paced" course?
A: Self paced courses are just that – the student works at their own pace. Some self-paced courses are overseen by an instructor who may ask for some assignments to be submitted via dropbox for review. But most assignments are auto-assessed. Live courses are taught by an instructor using a live stream classroom and the students meet at a specific time and day via the internet in that classroom. At this time, we only offer a few live courses (slated for Fall 2014 are Spanish, German, and Speech/Debate). All other courses are self-paced until further notice.