Updated: Jun 7
While the names of the programs are not as important as the choices, home education students, as a result of legislation passed in 2017, are able to enroll in FLVS, District Virtual Instruction Programs, FLVS District Franchises and District Virtual Course Offerings from Kindergarten through grade 12.
The 2017 Legislature also removed other restrictions on these programs so that home education students can participate part time in school district virtual instruction programs and district virtual course offerings. Home education students may also enroll full time in those programs, but they lose their home education status and are required to take all state assessments.
One of the interesting expansions to the virtual education laws, that was in the 2017 changes, is that a student, including a home education student, can select any virtual course offered by any school district in the state. A student would simply go to the school district that offers the course and sign up for the course. Here are some of the details that may be pertinent to a home education student.
Florida Virtual School FLVS Flex is the part-time (individual course) program offered through Florida Virtual School (FLVS) which is a statewide public school. FLVS also offers a full-time program, just like a district, for students in grades K-12. For those who meet state graduation requirements, they are eligible to earn a diploma, while completing all work online. The student who enrolls in FLVS Full Time becomes a public school student and must take all the required Florida assessments to earn a diploma. A home education student can take all the same courses through FLVS Flex, but is not required to take the state assessments and will not receive a high school diploma.
Virtual Instruction Programs All districts are required to provide at least one Virtual Instruction Program (VIP). Medium and large districts are required to offer three. Most of the school districts in Florida are partnered with FLVS through a franchise. The FLVS Franchise provides the district with FLVS courses, the learning platform, student support, and teacher training. Teachers are employed by the school district and could be adjunct teachers in the FLVS Franchise. As districts build up their Franchise program, they may not have enough students to employ a full-time virtual teacher, but may instead use teachers who already teach a full load at a school. If that occurs, there may be limited office hours and teacher availability. VIP programs are required to keep attendance and follow the traditional 180-day school schedule. Some use block scheduling so students complete fewer courses during a semester before starting new ones in the second semester, but students who need more time are allowed to complete the courses over the summer. Enrollment for district courses may begin as early as this spring for the 2018-19 school year. Check your district for more details.
Districts can also select state approved full-time programs, such as K-12, from the list at: http://www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/virtual-edu/provider-resources/approved-providers/
District franchises are required to collect and report immunization information for home education students enrolled in their franchise, only if they participate in activities at a brick-and-mortar school in the district (e.g., those who participate in classes, extracurricular activities, or state testing). Individual courses offered by FLVS through its franchises are also available to home education students through FLVS Flex. Home education students may choose courses offered by their district or by another state-approved private provider of virtual education in another district.
District Virtual Course Offerings If that is not complicated enough, all students, including home education students, can now choose from district-developed courses or courses offered through another district’s VIP providers. For example, if FLVS Flex in your own district does not offer German, but your student wants to take German, you can sign up for the course in Pasco County.
Or, if you want your child to take one of the K-12, Inc. courses and your district does not offer that VIP provider, you can enroll your child in Palm Beach Virtual School and take up to 3 courses. For a Florida Online Course Catalog go to: http://app4.fldoe.org/coursecatalog/
FLVS Flex FLVS Flex is a public virtual school which offers year-round enrollment with a flexible course completion schedule. Students are not limited to grade level courses.
FLVS Flex students remain eligible for all extracurricular activities at their zoned school or one that they can choose under controlled open enrollment, regardless of the number of FLVS courses they take, because they maintain their home education status. Once a home education student takes more than ½ their courses in a district program, that student becomes a public school student for the sake of athletics participation. Public school students do not have the right to participate at a private school for athletic purposes, like home education students do. Public school students have to document a certain GPA in the 16 required courses in order to qualify for Bright Futures Scholarships, however, home education students only have to achieve the ACT/SAT score and earn the required volunteer hours.
In the FLVS Flex program, your child is not required to take the state assessments unless the end-of-course exam is a course requirement, since it counts for 30% of the grade.
All FLVS students, including FLVS Flex, may participate in FLVS clubs. There are a variety of clubs that may not be available to individual home education students any other way. Home education students registered with the district can participate in some intra-scholastic and inter-scholastic activities with the school district, but not all clubs are included.
All of these virtual courses can be shown on a home education transcript. However, if a student takes a course offered by a private provider, it may not be recognized by the NCAA or the college your student decides to attend. You need to check with the district to find out if the course credit will be awarded on the student’s transcript as a district course or if the credit is issued by the private provider.
Using the transfer of credit rule, FLVS and district virtual schools will accept home education credits and award a diploma if the student enrolls in the full-time program, successfully completes 6 credits in their senior year, passes all the state assessments, and meets the course requirements for graduation.
A few issues which home education parents need to know about virtual courses. Home education parents must serve as the student’s teacher/counselor to make sure the student stays on task and completes the course. We want to make sure that home education students continue to have a good reputation for success.
Even though virtual courses are free to students, FLVS nor the district receives any funding unless the student successfully completes the course. They are not funded in the same manner that traditional public schools are. If your child is in a public school and is counted in the “head count” in October and February, the school district receives about $10,000 for the student. FLVS and districts receive less state funding for virtual students.
Note: Homeschool parents, it is really important that you make sure your child successfully completes the courses so that we can ensure that virtual education continues to be a valuable option for future home education families.
Parents are often confused about the virtual options available to students in Florida. The Home Education Foundation has worked with FLVS to create a new chart of all the virtual programs to help present these options in a clear understandable form.
FLVS has a chart on its website to compare the virtual programs: https://www.flvs.net/options. The Home Education Foundation developed a more extensive chart which includes other issues of interest to home education parents. See the chart at: flhef.org/resources. Click on the Resources link and then click on the 2017-2018 Virtual Chart.