Written by Patricia Hawke for www.schoolsk-12.com

In this day and age, we are required more and more often to be technologically literate.  Florida Public Schools need to adapt to that technology or fall behind. We are becoming a mobile society, with the ability to talk to anyone at anytime from anywhere; we can even do a “virtual commute” and have an office at the park, in the coffee shop, or even at a bookstore. While some districts are slow to rise to the task, others have stepped up to the plate.
The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) was founded in 1997, and was the country’s first state-wide Internet-based public high school.  In fact, other states wishing to implement this kind of learning opportunity for their students look to FVLS as the model to follow.  This is the only one of Florida Schools where funding is tied directly to student performance. 
Leaders of the FLVS serving Florida Schools students are committed to deliver high-quality, technology-based education. They hold the following core beliefs about education:
  • Every Florida Schools student is unique, so learning should be dynamic, flexible and engaging.
  • Studies should be integrated rather than isolated.
  • Students, parents, community members, and schools share responsibility for learning.
  • Students should have choices in how they learn and how they present what they know.
  • Students should be provided guidance with school and career planning.
  • Assessments should provide insights not only of student progress but also of instruction and curriculum.
Courses are available to any and all public, private, and home-schooled Florida Schools students.  Out-of-state and international students may attend the virtual school by paying tuition. FLVS is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 
FLVS employs 380 full-time and 180 adjunct Florida Schools teachers who reside throughout Florida and some who live beyond the state’s borders. All FLVS teachers possess a valid Florida Schools teaching certificate and are certified specifically in the subject they teach.
All of this information is definitely impressive.  It is easy to imagine what kinds of students would benefit from this type of Florida Schools education.  Those Florida Schools students who are home-schooled, have various psychological challenges, social disorders, or other disabilities may find success by attending Florida Schools online.  Are there drawback?  Of course, nothing is perfect and snowy white.  Never meeting face-to-face with one’s instructor can hinder the learning process.  So much is communicated through body language, and the student would miss out on this valuable information by only studying online.  The obvious lack of social interaction with one’s peers also exists; students who attend more traditional Florida Schools have a variety of opportunities to experience activities with other kids their age. 
While there are easily recognizable, positive aspects for Florida Schools students who wish to attend a virtual school, it is also important to recognize and consider the drawbacks to never setting foot inside any of the Florida Schools classrooms that exist in the state’s 67 districts.
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit Florida Schools