Today, most states offer free online high school programs, so students can learn at their own pace from the comfort of their home. For K-12 students residing in Georgia, there are a lot of free online schools for them to choose from. Among all those no-cost schools, Georgia Virtual Academy (GVA) and Georgia Virtual School (GAVS) are the most sought-after options.
As you can see, the two names are almost the same. No wonder people always mix up them. Well, this article aims to compare those two free online schools, to help you figure out which one is the better option for you.
About Georgia Virtual Academy (GVA)
Today, GVA – a virtual charter school – has changed its name to Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA). The purpose of this school is to “bring learning and innate possibility alive”. Also, it strives to help georgic youngsters reach their personal potential. Enrolling nearly 4,400 middle and elementary school students, GCA is now considered as one of the largest online schools in the United States.
Targeting homeschooled kids living in Georgia, GCA offers:
• Award-winning curriculums that can be compared to the gifted programs in the state;
• Active & supportive learning environment;
• Advanced learner program that has met Adequate Yearly Progress goals for the past two school years.
More amazingly, students are encouraged to take part in a wide range of extracurricular activities while completing their GCA courses. Normally, the school will arrange social outing every month.
Though GCA does target homeschoolers, it’s quite different from a home school program. While homeschooling, parents can choose the curriculums as they like. But GCA is a part of the public school system in Georgia, so the curriculums are determined by the Education Department of the state.
To enroll in GCA, students need to complete an online application and provide a series of documents, including:
- Copy of birth certificate;
- Your immunization record;
- Current proof of residency;
- Student Economic Status Form;
- Copy of student’s Multifactored Evaluation/504 or IEP (special education students only).
You can choose to fax the documents to 866-523-3160 or mail them to the following address within 7-10 days of completing the online application.
Georgia Cyber Academy
503 Oak Place, Suite 540
Atlanta, GA 30349
Please notice that Georgia Cyber Academy requires students to take the K12 Math and Language Arts placement tests, so that the school can determine what kinds of courses are right for you. In order to expedite your enrollment, you are recommended to start the placement test while gathering all the required documents.
Right after you complete the placement test, a specialist will contact you and help select the courses you need to complete. Once you are successfully enrolled in GCA, all the learning materials, such as CDs, books and bags of rocks and dirt, will be delivered right to your doorstep before your first day of school.
About Georgia Virtual School (GAVS)
Georgia Virtual School is a program of the Georgia Department of Education. It’s aimed at serving public, private and home schooled students across Georgia. Accredited by both SACS and CITA, GAVS is now operated in partnership with schools and parents to provide a wide selection of courses for middle school and high school students.
Boasting a number of instructors who are highly qualified and hold valid Georgia teaching certificates in their subject areas, GAVS can ensure every student a happy and successful learning experience.
Generally, the school provides career and technical courses, college preparatory curriculums and lots of electives that reflect student’s various interests. Most GAVS courses do not require textbooks or other materials. But if you’ve taken a course that does require additional learning material, GAVS will deliver the materials to you free of charge.
But remember that every student is only allowed to take up to 6 segments of state-funded courses at one time. Tuition will be incurred on additional courses. Plus, you will have to select either an A or B section of the course, as one AB course will be considered as two state-funded segments.
Please notice that GAVS is not a high school diploma program. So, you cannot get an accredited diploma from the school even though you’ve completed all the courses successfully. According to the requirements of Georgia Department of Education, in order to graduate, you must:
- Pass the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT);
- Pass the Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT).
Besides, public high school students in Georgia have to pass all of the following tests:
- English/Language Arts
- Social Studies
As you can see from above, one of the major differences between GCA and GAVS is that the former is an online school program for middle and element students, while the latter targets students in grades 6 to 12 and allows them to take single classes online.
All curriculums from GCA are tuition-free and learning materials will be sent to your home in advance. However, GAVS only allows students to enroll in up to 6 courses at one time. Taking more courses will cause additional fees.
That means if you are seeking for a full-time online learning program, GCA is surely the best choice for you. But you know, full-time online schools can not always be the right fit. GCA also comes with a few downsides, such as lack of parental control over curriculums.
And compared to homeschoolers, students taking GCA courses might have less free time and flexible schedule since teachers must have access to students at certain times during the week. So, if you’re enrolled in a pubic, private or home school but expecting to take extra courses online, GAVS might be a better option.
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