Florida Virtual School: A growing enterprise
The largest and oldest state-funded online school in the nation
falls outside many traditional measures of educational success.
Florida Virtual School is the largest and oldest state-funded online school in the nation. In less than 15 years, its course enrollment has increased almost 26 times. It is expected to grow even more as Florida requires every student to take a online course to graduate high school.
Read more about why the school's success is difficult to measure.
Who can enroll in FLVS?
Any public, private and homeschool student in kindergarten through Grade 12. Public school kids make up the bulk of the population. It is free for Florida students; out-of-state and international students pay course fees. Students can enroll year-round. Students from all 67 Florida districts, 49 states and 57 countries take FLVS courses.
Why do students take FLVS classes?
Among other things, they cite making up credits, getting ahead, boosting their grade point averages with accelerated courses and scheduling flexibility.
How was FLVS started?
It was founded in 1997 by Orange County educators and Alachua homeschool parents. It was the "country's first state-wide Internet-based public high school," according to FLVS. The first classes were held in January 1998.
Is FLVS accredited?
Yes. FLVS is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and courses are NCAA approved.
Are FLVS teachers certified?
Yes. Teachers have valid Florida teaching certificates and are certified in the subjects they teach.
How is Florida Virtual funded?
Florida Virtual appeared as a recurring line-item in Florida's legislative budget until 2003-04, when it became fully funded through the Florida Education Finance Program. It is governed by Florida Statute 1002.37. Unlike other schools, Florida Virtual receives funding based on the number of courses students successfully complete rather than based on enrollment.
Roll over the bars of the chart at right to see how funding has increased.
How much does the school spend per student?
The school says it spent $4,840 per student in 2010-11, compared with the state's district average of $6,999.
How does Florida Virtual make money?
Through its Global School, it offers "franchise" arrangements and charges local school districts $50 per course enrollment so they can use the online curriculum but employ their own teachers; sells its courses to students outside of Florida for $400 per semester in the U.S. and $425 per semester internationally; contracts with other states and districts; and trains others to create their own online schools.
How many Florida districts use FLVS?
Students in all 67 counties enrolled in Florida Virtual classes during the 2010-11 school year. The highest participation came from students in Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach and Duval counties, in that order. The least participation came from Liberty, Baker and Lafayette counties.
Roll over the bars of the chart at right to see how enrollment has increased.
Who runs Florida Virtual?
A chief executive officer leads the online school and reports to a seven-member board of trustees appointed by the governor. CEO Julie Young, a former teacher turned assistant principal, has led the school since its inception. She has an annual salary of $180,000 and has a five-year contract that is automatically renewed every year. Board members reside all over the state and hold most of their meetings by teleconference.
Does anyone else offer online courses to Florida students?
Yes. There are several providers, including districts that have their own virtual programs. Other large online course providers in Florida include Connections Academy (which partners with Florida Virtual) and K12, Inc. Review the options.
How can I find out more about Florida Virtual?
Florida Virtual's web site is flvs.net.