A recent article in The Tampa Tribune delves into the future of the 125,000-student Florida Virtual School—and how the school got to where it is today.
Members of the Florida House of Representatives K-12 Education Innovation Subcommittee are tossing around legislation that could require all students in Florida to take at least one online course before graduation—a move that could double the size of FLVS in two to three years. Lawmakers are also considering a bill that would allow for the creation of virtual charter schools in the state, which would also increase the amount of online learning taking place for students in Florida, the article said.
Not everyone is on board with requiring students to complete an online class, the article lays out. Although advocates of online education believe that students are better prepared for college by experiencing learning online, others contend that online education might not be the best fit for everyone.
One of the reasons why FLVS, which operates as its own school district, has gained as much traction as it has, in part, has to do with the cost of virtual learning, which the Florida Tax Watch, a nonprofit watchdog research group that investigates how tax payer money is used, found is less than traditional schools. But while there may be economic efficiencies in virtual schooling versus traditional brick-and-mortar schools, saving money should not be the impetus for exploring online learning, said Bill Tucker, the managing director of independent think tank Education Sector, in the article. The first concern, he said, should be quality.
Although there wasn’t much here that struck me as new, it is undeniable that FLVS has been a leader in online learning and that many state virtual schools and online educators look to FLVS for inspiration and guidance. This article does a nice job of hitting the major factors in FLVS’s success, as well as outlining the challenges the school district faces.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.