Examining the Florida Virtual School
The largest state-sponsored online school is held up as a model, but some are questioning how well it works
As the nation's oldest and largest state virtual educator, the Florida Virtual School is often held up as a model for similar state-backed endeavors to follow when crafting a funding system and putting e-school accountability measures in place.
But at the same time, this major symbol of the virtual education movement is facing increasing scrutiny about its effectiveness as the popularity of online education has expanded in Florida and the country. Some observers of the field want more proof that the FLVS model leads to academic success for students.
Established in 1997 as a state sponsored e-school, and also designated as a school district, Florida Virtual provides more than 110 courses and grew to nearly 260,000 half-credit enrollments in the last school year. Along the way, its funding model has evolved. The school is paid only when its students successfully complete a course. FLVS receives a portion of the per-pupil funding provided to schools and districts by the state for every half-credit course a student completes. That portion is a bit less than a brick-and-mortar school would receive: a full-time FLVS student is funded at $4,840 by the state versus $6,999...
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