Is SSA an accredited school?
The short answer to this is no. The state of Florida does not accredit private schools in the state. There are accrediting agencies for private schools, but SSA has decided to not seek accreditation from them. Most are faith based and require a statement of faith. They also have exceptionally high fees, which would have to be passed on to SSA families. Our goal is to provide low-cost services and charging families such high fees is inconsistent with those goals. Even so, this does not reduce the quality of education received by our students as SSA is a state recognized private school with the FL DOE.
Why do I need to submit immunization and health records if I am homeschooling through SSA?
SSA is considered a private school in Florida and must comply with Florida laws for private schools. This is why these records are required.
When can I enroll in SSA?
You can enroll in SSA at any time. We are a year-round school. You will notice that there are two payment options (grades k-8 or grades 9-12) that are based on when you enroll. If you enroll between June 1 and Sept. 30, you get an early registration fee. This is discounted compared to those who enroll later, after Oct. 1. The difference in the fee charged is based on the process to transfer a student to SSA mid-year, especially those who are enrolled in a public school.
How do I select curriculum?
Curriculum and educational devices are not included in your enrollment with SSA. You can select whatever curriculum best fits your student(s) and your needs. Upon enrollment, you will receive an enrollment packet that includes curriculum options. You are welcome to select any of those options but do not have to. SSA also has an articulation agreement with FLVS so that Florida residents can take some or all of their courses online for free via FLVS. There are tons of curriculum available for homeschoolers. Usually a quick internet search of “homeschool curriculum ____ grade” will be enough for some of your options to pop up. Keep in mind your budget and how you prefer classes (online, traditional textbook, all in one, unit studies, note booking, etc.) when searching for curriculum. High school students need to select “verifiable” curriculum so that SSA can confirm grades and courses.
What is “verifiable” curriculum?
Verifiable curriculum can include several things: (1) FLVS, which verifies all classes and grades, (2) purchased curriculum from legitimate curriculum publishing companies that either grades your students work or provides specific guidance for how parents should assign grades. These curricula include clear course descriptions as well as learning and teaching methods, and (3) courses taught via tutor who assigns grades to your students work and is willing to write a statement of such and provide the final grade to SSA. There may be times when parents need to design their own course for their student. This can also be done in such a way that verifies grades. This would generally require a clear course plan, required materials for the course, course syllabus specifying how the student would be graded in the course, what assignments are required, and what constitutes the final grade in the course, along with a course schedule. Once the course has been approved by SSA, the parent can then begin the course but will need to maintain clear records on all graded assignments in order to have verification for the final grade earned for such a class.
What is a course plan?
The course plan is used to help parents plan their academic year and courses for their students. Parents enter their course plan in our reporting portal. The course plan usually includes the name of the curriculum used and can include reading lists, any course descriptions needed, and any grading plans needed. Course plans can be changed at any time as they are tentative.
What if my student is a senior this year?
That’s great! Your senior can join SSA their senior year and be able to graduate with their high school diploma. Your student will be eligible to graduate from SSA after they have completed a minimum of one full semester or 75 school days with SSA. SSA will need to verify all courses and grades earned for each academic year (9th, 10th, 11th) completed prior to joining SSA. Verifiable documentation to support students’ grades are due within 30 days of enrollment with SSA. Verifiable documentation can include, but is not limited to, official school transcripts (from FLVS, public school, or other private school), end of course evaluations (for those who were homeschooled prior to joining SSA), or portfolio reviews (for those who were homeschooled prior to joining SSA). For those transferring to SSA from a location other than Florida, verifiable documentation to accept transfer credit will be consistent with the homeschool laws of your state. The fees to verify transfer credit can be found on our fee schedule.
How many hours of school do I need to complete each day?
The answer to this depends on how you structure your homeschool. Students are required, as private school students, to document 180 days of school each year. The number of hours completed each day of the 180 days varies based on grade level: K is 3 hours a day, grades 1-3 is 4 hours a day, and grades 4-12 is 5 hours a day. Remember, these hours are based on a 180-day schedule. Keep in mind that SSA is open year-round, allowing 365 days for families to complete the school year. Some families stick to the 180-day schedule and take the summer off from school, but most do school year-round. Some do schoolwork on the weekends. Others do schoolwork in the evenings. You can structure your school year as needed but need to make sure your school hours average to the 180-day requirement. For instance, if you school year-round six days a week, you will complete around 311 school days. This is much more than the 180 minimum, meaning that you can do school for less hours each day. It will still average to the 180 minimum, but you will likely find that you actually end up spending more time doing school with your students taking this approach.
What “counts” as schoolwork?
The answer to this also depends on how you structure your homeschool. In seat instruction is usually what comes to mind when people think of schoolwork, but learning is much more than that. Learning can be experiential. Learning can be hands-on. Learning can be “student led.” Field trips can count as schoolwork. Educational free play can count as schoolwork. Interest based student led learning can count as schoolwork.
Why does SSA require quarterly grade reporting?
SSA is a private school that caters to homeschool families. We participate in the Bright Future’s scholarship, our students graduate with a high school diploma, our students apply and get accepted into colleges, and SSA works with NCAA students, etc. In order to provide these opportunities to our students, SSA needs to maintain accountability. This means that grades are reported by parents to SSA each quarter. Failure of parents to report grades means that SSA could lose the opportunity to participate in these programs. That is not fair to our students. Additionally, SSA also accepts students from most U.S. states and territories, which means we must be in compliance with their laws as well. Our requirements were designed around various state laws and the program requirements that we participate in to ensure that we remain in compliance in all of these areas.
Why does SSA require annual attendance reporting?
SSA is a private school in Florida and must follow all private school laws in the state. This means requiring that our students complete and document 180 days of school (minimum) each year.
What about end-of-year testing? SSA does not require nor administer any end-of-year testing. If parents wish their student to participate in such testing, they will need to make arrangements for their student.
How will I know if my student is progressing if end-of-year testing is not required? End-of-year testing is only one way to assess progress. Keep in mind that test results are also influenced by social pressure and test anxiety, meaning that test results often underestimate a child's ability. You will be able to determine how your student is doing by being actively involved in their education as a homeschool parent. Remember, you are the teacher too. You will know what they know and you will know what they struggle with. Also by being actively involved in their education, you will learn more about your own student. You will learn how they learn and think about the world. These are things about your child that no test can ever tell you.
Does SSA issue refunds?
All fees are per-student and payable at the time of enrollment/service. All fees are non-refundable. Payment must be received prior to receiving any services.
How are grades, attendance, and course plans submitted?
SSA uses a reporting portal for all of this. You will receive information on how to set up your account once you enroll in SSA. There is no additional fee to use the reporting portal as the fee is already included in your enrollment fee.
How much does it cost to attend SSA?
SSA is set up so that parents only pay for services they need. This helps keep costs low. You will pay a new or returning student enrollment fee at the beginning of the school year or upon enrollment. If you have a high school student any transfer credit verification fees will be paid upon enrollment. The enrollment fee is the only fee you will pay unless you request optional services or acquire a late fee for not submitting grades or attendance by the due dates. High school seniors may have additional fees based on services that are requested, such as Bright Futures processing. At the end of the senior year there is a request to graduate fee.
Can my student transfer to a public-school next year?
You can transfer to a different school at any time. We have never had any issues with students transferring to a different school. Usually, the new school will request records from SSA and that is all they need. The new school may require testing for correct grade placement or course credit for high school students. Please check with the new school prior to transferring to make sure you know what they will require upon enrollment.
My student is currently attending a public school, but we would like to enroll in SSA now. What do I need to do?
You can enroll in SSA by completing our new student enrollment form and submitting payment. You will then contact the public school and let them know you are withdrawing from the school. You will need to return any books, devices, or other materials that have been provided by the public school. Each public school is different so make sure you check with them regarding their requirements to withdraw your student. Sometimes schools will want a letter from SSA verifying enrollment. If this is the case, please let me know so I can send one.
My student is current registered as a homeschooler with my county, but we would like to enroll in SSA now. What do I need to do?
You can enroll in SSA by completing our new student enrollment form and submitting payment. You then need to make sure you have completed your last end of year homeschool evaluation and submit the evaluation, along with the required letter of termination to the county you are registered with. That's it!
Where do I drop off my student for class?
You don’t. Remember, this is a homeschooling program. You, as the parent, are the teacher and are responsible for teaching your student. Curriculum, courses, classes, and devices for educational purposes are not included in your enrollment fee with SSA.
Who will teach my student?
You will. You are the parent and take on the “teacher” role as a homeschooler. As the parent, you can hire private tutors or teachers if you like but this is not included in your enrollment with SSA.
What is the difference between registering with an umbrella and registering as a homeschooler with my county?
When you register with the county you are considered a homeschool student and work with the state to homeschool your student. You will need to keep a portfolio, schedule, and reading log and then at the end of the year you will find a teacher to review your portfolio and sign the form “passing” your student to the next grade. When you register with an umbrella school, you are considered a private school student by law. You work with the umbrella school, not the state, to homeschool your student. Each umbrella school is different and likely has different requirements for their school.
Does SSA participate in the FES (formerly Gardiner) scholarship?
SSA, like other umbrella schools, is considered a homeschool option for scholarship purposes. We do not accept funds directly from FES. Instead, scholarship recipients can request reimbursement from FES. There are two organizations that manage scholarship funding, Step Up for Students (SUFS) and AAA. Each organization has their own process for review and approval of the scholarship. Both SUFS and AAA require a letter from SSA verifying that your student is enrolled with SSA.
Does SSA participate in the Bright Futures Scholarship program?
Yes, we participate as a private school. More information about the requirements for the scholarship can be found on their website and the specifics for requirements from SSA are provided upon enrollment.
Does SSA participate in the dual enrollment college program?
Yes, we do! SSA students can participate in the dual enrollment college program with Seminole State College, Lake Sumter State College, Polk State College, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, and Jacksonville University. Please send SSA an email if you have any questions or are ready to get started. Keep in mind that each institution sets their own requirements for dual enrollment and SSA must follow those requirements.
What are SSA's educational ethics policy?
Any activity that compromises the academic integrity of SSA and undermines the educational process will be grounds for dismissal. This may include but is not limited to cheating, fabrication, unauthorized use of resources, plagiarism, engaging in academic dishonesty, falsifying student grades or records, or educational neglect.
Does SSA has a behavior policy?
Yes. In order to maintain a respectful educational relationship between SSA and families, all parents/caregivers/representatives and students are expected to conduct themselves in a responsible manner consistent with the values of integrity, open communication, and mutual respect. Parents/caregivers/representatives should always model positive and responsible behavior and communicate in an ethical manner. Behaviors that are detrimental to an effective educational relationship between SSA and families and/or which disrupt the educational process or operational procedures of SSA are considered inappropriate. Appropriate behavioral expectations should be met when interacting with SSA representatives (e.g., text, email, phone, in person, etc.) as well as any other place an SSA related event takes place. Inappropriate behavior by parents/caregivers/representatives and/or students which disrupts the educational process or operational procedures of SSA may lead to dismissal from SSA.
Can I enroll my student in SSA and another school at the same time?
That depends. You can only be enrolled in one school full time (SSA) but may be able to take select classes at another school if the other institution permits it. Both schools must agree to this partnership. However, you cannot be registered as a homeschooler with the county and SSA at the same time.
What about socialization?
This is up to each family. You should search for homeschool support groups in your area. Many times, in person meet ups and field trips are organized in those support groups. You are also welcome to join Sunshine State Secular Homeschoolers, which is organized via Facebook. There you will find field trips, coop classes, social meet ups, clubs, parties, and dances for kids and annual teen dances. Any parent in the support group can organize events. Members of the group include families enrolled in SSA as well as families who are enrolled with their county as homeschoolers or other umbrella schools.