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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.

Student achievement

While traditional schools report graduation and drop out rates, FLVS does not and instead cites course completion rates as a measure of strength. The Times attemped to compare how FLVS did versus students in traditional schools and examined the results of the Advanced Placement exam. FLVS is now moving toward end-of-course exams like all of Florida's public school districts.

Measuring student success

The legislature funds FLVS based on the number of successfully completed courses — it's called "perfomance-based funding" — the online school tracks only whether students make it through a course or not. FLVS uses a "mastery-based" educational model that allows students to resubmit work until they've "mastered" concepts and in turn have earned a passing score.

Course completion rates

According to figures provided by the school for the 2006-07 to 2010-11, about 63 percent of the time students began enrolling in a course, they stopped the process before that 28-day period had ended.

Out of the remaining 37 percent who stick with the course, students earned a passing grade 81 percent of the time. An additional 14 percent withdrew from the course and received a failing grade. Only 5 percent completed the course and failed.

Here is how the enrollment figures break down over the last five years:

*2010-11 enrollment figures are through April 2011.

What about students who drop out?

FLVS surveys students who withdraw or never activate the FLVS class they started to enroll in. This survey was sent every time a student withdrew from a course in the 2010-11 school year, so some students may have responded more than once if they withdrew from multiple courses. The survey gathered 45,839 responses, or 33 percent of all course withdrawls. Download a PDF of the exit survey.

Editor's note: This graphic has been modified from its original version to reflect responses to the question on page 25 of the exit survey summary.

Academic integrity

Florida Virtual Schools have safeguards in place to ensure students are actually completing their work instead of getting help from a parent or friend. Read Florida Virtual's full academic integrity policy

Year Proctored exams
2008-09 431
2009-10 647
2010-11 540

If a teacher suspects cheating, they can request the student take a proctored exam at any time.
These numbers show how many proctored exams were administered each school year.

Year Incidents Percent of enrollments
2008-09 6,861 2.7%
2009-10 10,858 3.3%
2010-11 17,440 6.1%

Number of student integrity incidents & violations reported each year for the last three years:

Exit Survey compared to the general Student Survey

The student survey was broken into two parts given to students in the 2010-11 school year. One survey is given as soon as a student completes her first FLVS course, and this portion had a return rate of 35,866 surveys or 30% of all the students who finished a course. The second portion is given whenever a student is 65 percent of the way through a course and includes course- and teacher-specific questions. The student survey portion had 104,637 responses, or 42% of students who completed a course.

Compared to traditional school class, the difficulty level of this online class was:

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