Homeschooling has been a hot topic in the U.S. It isn’t a new concept, but it is one that is placed under continuous scrutiny. The quality of education attainable at home with parents playing the role of teacher without the benefit of a teaching license is a valid argument and one that a pioneering school in Florida addresses well.
Florida Virtual School
Founded in 1997, Florida Virtual school is the nation’s first statewide virtual public high school. Today, it offers courses for all levels from elementary through high school. FLVS caters to the home school demo by providing flexible course completion schedules. About 20 percent of the school’s enrolled student body are home schooled. The remainder accounts for a large number of part-time students taking elective and general education courses in tandem with attending another school or virtual education program.
Florida Virtual School is free and offers a wide selection of high school courses. There are also student clubs and activities just like in any other high school. Teachers can even conduct classes live via Blackboard and communicate with students and teachers online or by phone.
Many popular electives including photography, personal finance management and even the classroom portion of Drivers Ed are available through FLVS. They even offer AP and honors courses along with tutoring and other academic help. This, coupled with other online resources like virtual study groups and services that provide online essay writing help, prepares students for success in all areas of academics.
The school even offers various certifications in addition to a valid state-issued diploma with various technical certificate courses also available online and free.
Virtual schools like FLVS are good options for students who cannot attend a regular public school for various reasons including prolonged illness and debilitating medical conditions. This allows students who would otherwise fall behind to remain current in their studies and helps lower the high school drop-out rates.
The Minus Column
There are some drawbacks to attending FLVS. First and foremost, the school is Common-Core, something that many homeschooling parents chose to avoid. A virtual classroom environment is also not a good fit for some students since socialization and real-time interaction are much different in a virtual environment.
There are many distractions associated with Internet-based learning that parents need to monitor so students don’t lose focus on actual coursework.
The Impact of Virtual Education in South Florida
FLVS continues to grow and shape the face of virtual online education. Its rankings are on par with other schools in the state but they do come in at the low end of average in areas of college readiness. Graduation rates are also below average, but most studies do not take into account the number of students who only take a few classes without pursuing certificates or diplomas.
In general, FLVS has paved the way for a number of virtual schools to open in the state over the past two decades with many equalling and surpassing them in rankings and performance figures.