The following are important facts you should know when considering NorthStar for your accredited online learning needs.
Do the online instructors create their own lesson and assignment resources, or do the teachers use "off the shelf" previously made items created by third party software companies or even another online school?
A high majority of NorthStar courses are created by NorthStar teachers who are experts in their field. Our lessons and assignments have a very personal "flavor" to them, and they convey the respective teacher's personality, style, and expertise. When courses outside of NorthStar are found that have the same high academic standards and fill a need particularly as an elective, NorthStar may use them while again adding NorthStar teacher material and a Christian worldview.
How often can the students interact with the teachers, and how soon will the teachers respond to student questions?
Students are encouraged to interact with their teachers as needed; teachers have daily office hours as well as a calendar that allows students to schedule appointments. NorthStar teachers strive to be relational, helpful and available. Communication happens in the following ways: emails and chats within NSA's communication system, Skype chats and video conferencing. Students are required to Skype with their teachers at least once a semester but are encouraged to set up Skype appointments more often than the required meeting. Parents also have direct and daily access to the teachers through these same communication systems. NSA policy is that a teacher will respond to a student's email within twenty-four hours of the email being received, excluding holidays and weekends. Often, the response time is within a couple hours and maybe within minutes if the teacher is online at the time of the email. Students and teachers may initiate audio and video chats but most interaction is done via email messages. It is best to schedule video chats on the teacher's appointment calendar which is located inside the course in the 'teacher's office'.
What type of extra-curricular activities are there for the students to participate in online with other students?
Often times, interested families have the preconceived notion that an online program will be dry, boring, and impersonal, but it has been our collective experience that our online program is anything but dry, boring, and impersonal. Students have over 60 categories of "interest items" to participate in within our Student Cafes. They have their own student council, newsletter, and clubs to discuss and share ideas and interests.
How does the online program make available the textbooks and other materials to the student either for purchase or on loan?
Students and parents may find and purchase all of the course resources for each NorthStar course from our custom-created online bookstore, or they may choose to buy the needed course materials on their own from vendors of their own choosing by using the information found on our online bookstore, which shows all of the needed course materials organized by course name.
Are the teachers teaching their respective courses from a Bible-based worldview, or do the teachers present the courses from a humanistic and "secular" worldview?
NSA teachers instruct their courses from a traditional Protestant biblical worldview that does not avoid or attack controversial topics or authors, but rather they confront these issues and topics with critical analysis from a Christian perspective.
NorthStar uses the traditional textbook as well as e-textbooks, CDs and teacher-written material. We also include a host of other learning resources, including web pages and tools, videos, CDs, audio and video clips, streaming audio and video via the Internet, and multi-media lessons that the teachers have created themselves.
The fees include those for registration, shipping, and transcripts. Please see the Teacher-Led costs webpage for detailed fees and costs information.
May students email their work and questions to their teachers and fellow students, or must they use snail-mail or fax methods to send in their work?
NorthStar students use the FirstClass Intranet Client software for email and all social aspects of the school. Students are encouraged to email their teachers as needed. All school work is submitted through the school’s LMS.
Does the school use an "open-standards" or "strict-standards" approach in terms of the productivity software used by teachers and students to create and complete assignments, test, or projects?
NorthStar practices "strict standards" when it comes to our productivity and communications software. NorthStar students and teachers all use the software applications Word, PowerPoint, and Excel which are all part of Microsoft Office. By requiring students and teachers to create all of their work within these applications, we set the foundation for a highly creative, powerful, and compatible learning environment. Within our "strict standards" environment, our students may create multi-media and visually creative projects because we are all using the same software; we do not handicap our program by following the "open standards" approach which relegates all student work to the lowest common denominator which is usually a plain text format for their work since plain text is the lowest common denominator that all word processors can handle. We also follow "strict standards" concerning our communications software by using FirstClass Intranet Client as the "host" of our school for the reasons stated in question #1 of this list.
How often are students and parents made aware of the student's progress and status in each of the student's courses?
NorthStar students have access to their grades at all times through the school’s LMS. Students are able to see their graded assignments as well as teachers’ comments. Genius, NorthStar’s Student Information System, keeps a permanent record of all NorthStar teacher-led students’ grades.
The NorthStar program runs equally well on either the Windows or the Macintosh (10.X or newer) platforms. However, there are a few classes that do not support the Macintosh operating system. Please see course descriptions for exclusions.
NorthStar does not require the student to be online at any particular time of the day/night, nor does NorthStar require the student to be online for any minimum number of hours per day/week.
NorthStar does not have a "residency requirement" because NorthStar does not operate a physical school campus.
No, students are free to take advantage of the "anywhere, anytime" learning environment of NorthStar. Now, with that said, students are free to schedule real-time meetings with their teachers, and teachers can schedule real-time audio or text chat sessions with their students, but here, these sessions are voluntary and are for enrichment purposes.
Are the students allowed to log into the school at any time from any location to do their online work?
Yes, you can log into Buzz (BrainHoney) or NorthStar 365 days a year, 24 hours a day from any place in the world that has internet service.
Are the teachers available each day throughout the morning, day, and evening, or do the teachers offer set hours on set days during which time students may communicate with them?
Teachers have set office hours each business day. Teachers are often online at other times of the day as well, but set office hours are stated within the course, in the "teacher's office" module. Students can use the calendar also in the "teacher's office" module to schedule Skype sessions outside of the teacher's regular business hours. Teachers vary office hours in order to accommodate all time zones.
NorthStar Academy holds dual accreditation from AdvancEd through the regional office of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).
Yes, all NorthStar students may work toward earning a high school diploma. The requirements for graduation are stated in the "General Information" section. Because NSA is accredited by both CITA and SACS, students will have their NorthStar diploma recognized by virtually every university and college in the USA and Canada.
Yes, students may enroll as a part-time student in one course for just one semester, or they may enroll as a full-time student taking a full 6.0 credit course load.
NorthStar offers full programs in grades 4-12.
NorthStar Academy's CEEB code number is 252-825.
Northstar Academy's Enriched Virtual Courses are NCAA approved.