Virtual Learning Student Handbook

General Virtual Learning Policies and Procedures
Criteria for Enrollment – Online courses can provide opportunities for students to attend anytime from anywhere; however, studies have shown that often students are unprepared for the challenges inherent with this method of delivery. The online student must take responsibility for his or her own learning. In any distance education program, the capacity for self-directed learning is crucial. While instructors and fellow students can provide some support, the online distance learner is expected to have internal motivation to manage his or her own learning during the course of study and have a basic grasp of Internet navigation skills

Students and their Parents/Guardians should consider the following before registering for a course or one of the course packages offered;

  1. Does the student have the necessary academic background in science, mathematics, writing and communications to successfully pursue these course(s) of study?
  2. Do we own or have access to a computer with Internet access and email?
  3. Is the computer a Windows, Linux or Macintosh type which will allow us to fully participate in interactive web conferences?
  4. Is the student self-directed, highly motivated, and self-disciplined and/or can the parent/guardian provide the supervision necessary to ensure consistent academic work throughout the course?
  5. Does the student try to solve problems and work through difficulties independently?
  6. Can I/We read and follow detailed instructions on our own?
  7. Are we already comfortable with using the Internet as a means of communication and research?
  8. Can the student set a personal schedule to attend or watch online classes and complete assigned work by the required dates?
Acceptable Use Agreement – Teachers and administrators of online classes support and enforce Acceptable Use of Internet Resources.  All students taking online classes are expected to conduct their communications in a professional and respectful manner. The proper use of Internet etiquette, or netiquette, is expected at all times.  Students are expected to follow the state of New Jersey general Intimidation, Harassment, and Hazing, Sexual Harassment, and Nondiscrimination policies

Computer Accessibility – Each student must own or have access to a computer with broad band internet capabilities and a broad band internet connection.   An email address is required and we suggest a Google ® email account.
Online classes require a good working knowledge of computers and the Internet.  Students are expected to be comfortable using these technologies before entering an online class. Computers must be able to access the Internet with an appropriate browser and with several plugins enabled. The BigBlueButton web conferencing system will require either a Mozilla Firefox or Google web browser.  Google appears to work better with BigBlueButton and it is the preferred web browser.

Email – Students are required to use the email account used for registration for all communications regarding their online classe(s). Students should refrain from using email accounts associated with public high schools when registering because these accounts may have communication restrictions as part of the high school’s district policy. 

Software Licensing – Software licenses are protected under copyright laws.    SMM academy uses some open source software in its operations.  Many open source alternatives to proprietary software are often available and students may use them after assessing any associated risks.

Instructional Materials – Students are responsible for instructional materials required for a class such as  AP, SAT and ACT textbooks, some software, laboratory apparatus and laboratory materials.  Whenever possible, SMM academy will provide information on appropriate, free alternatives.

Attendance – Regular attendance is required in an online class. Attendance is defined as contact between the student and teacher.  The teacher will is responsible for taking attendance and will instruct the student on the appropriate method of doin this.  Attendance records will be maintained for students who attend teaching sessions.

Inconsistent and long absences will be reported to the student’s parent/guardian.   It is expected that Parent/Guardians will monitor their children/wards’ attendance because SMM academy will not engage in the disciplining of minors with poor attendance records.  Rather, we will work with the teachers to alert Parents/Guardians of students who are at risk of performing poorly on their AP exams.
Generally, absences from class cannot be used as a means of tuition reimbursement.  We will consider extreme situations such as prolonged acute illnesses and personal family tragedies on a case by case basis.
When students are part of group for which the AP test preparation is contracted to SMM Academy, they will be required to adhere to the attendance policy of the contracting institution (such as a public or chartered school).

In the event that classes are cancelled due to the loss of internet service, or for any other reason, we will make every effort to reschedule those classes at a mutually convenient time.  In rare cases where it is not possible to reschedule live classes, recorded classes will be made available for students’ viewing.

Teachers will be required to maintain appropriate pacing of the course delivery and log all the assignments and their due dates on the course calendar in canvas.  Students are expected to consult with their course calendars to be aware of assignments and their due dates.  It is important that students consult with their teachers early to discuss any difficulties they are experiencing with completing their assignments by the due date.  Late assignments will generally result is the loss of points to be determined by the teacher.  In general, laboratory reports submitted after the due date will attract a 50% reduction in points.  Unresolved disputes between a student and a teacher regarding an assignment should be referred to the administrator. 

 Add, Drop, and Withdraw – Due to similarity of the course packages, students will find that it will generally be easy to add or drop an online course through the first month of the first semester.  The student or the parent should email the administrator with the information on which course they wish to drop/add or withdraw from and will be responsible for communicating with new teacher(s) for materials and book lists, and to make up any missed work. Students from contracting institutions should drop an online class in accordance with their home institution’s or agency’s policies.  Following the drop period, these students will follow the withdraw/pass or withdraw/fail policies of their contracting home institution.

For the Academic Year 2019 - 2020, students of SMM Academy will only be paying for their course certificate because the courses are tuition free.  For semster courses, students will have until October 15, 2019 to drop a course to recieve a full refund of their Course Certificate fee.  Students taking year-long courses will have until October 30, 2019 to drop a course to recieve a full refund of their Course Certificate fee.  After these dates, students will not receive a refund of their course certificate fee(s). In special cases of widthdrawal from a course, students and parents should contact a school administrator. 

 Grading Policy – Students taking one of the AP course packages will receive grades for each subject at the end of each semester.  Semester grades will also be posted for each subject for those students taking AP individual subjects and for the SAT and the ACT.   SMM academy will use the current grading scheme of the College Board ® for each AP and SAT course and that of the ACT for that test.  Please be advised that these grades may not correctly measure the student’s growth or proficiency due to the inherent challenges in conducting online examinations particularly for homeschooled students. 

Incompletes – Incomplete grades may be given at the discretion of the teacher.  Students from contracted institutions should refer to their home institution’s policy about the timeline for the completion of incompletes.

Report Cards and Progress Reports – Students and their parents will have access to assignment grades throughout the course on canvas.  The student’s semester report card will be completed and posted on Schooltool. The scores of students from contracted institutions will be reported as per contractual agreement.

Final exam – The student’s final exam is expected to be their AP, SAT or ACT exam.  Prior to taking these exams the students will take one or more “final” mock exams and these grades will form part of the student’s permanent record.  Students from contracted institutions will take their final exam as per contractual agreement.

Transcripts.  Transcripts will be available to students who complete at least one semester.  The first three transcripts will be free.  Additional transcripts to be sent within the United States will attract a fee.  College Board's (R) AP Policy prevents Online providers  from including AP Exam scores on their student's transcripts. Students will recieve a the course certificate for each course they take at SMM Academy.

Academic Dishonesty – Academic dishonesty in online classes will not be tolerated.  Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, dishonesty on homework or in test-taking, including the attempt to get credit for another’s work, assisting another student in such an attempt to otherwise obtaining answers illicitly or illegally.  Students engaging in academic dishonesty will receive a zero on the assignment with no option to make it up.  In addition, teachers will refer incidents of academic dishonesty to the student’s contracting institution for disciplinary action.  Parents/Guardians of homeschooled students should be especially vigilant when online quizzes are deployed in order to prevent cheating.  They should really proctor the students when they are taking quizzes and tests online.  Cheating will not help students taking standardized exams in the end, because they will not be able to do so in those proctored exams.  In general students who resort to cheating during the test preparation will not do well during the administration of the official AP, SAT or ACT exams.

Until further notice Science and Math Mentors L.L.C. will not be accepting any applications from students who are currently enrolled at the Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) in Wayne in the state of New Jersey.  This is due to a possible conflict of interest regarding some members of the teaching staff of Science and Math Mentors L.L.C.  Past students of PCTI are welcome to apply.  Any applications received from parents of current students of PCTI will be returned along with the registration fees (less financial/bank charges).  We regret this decision and ask for your understanding on this issue.