There is a distinct difference in using the virtual courses as a supplement to a home education program and using it full time as a public school at home.
During the 2011 Session, the Florida Legislature expanded virtual education options to students both in the classroom and at home. Florida Virtual School can now offer a full time public option for K-12 grades to any public school student in the state or to any home education or private school student entering grades K-1 or 6-12. School districts can offer part-time courses of their own design or from an approved online provider to public school students taking grades 9-12 courses that are measured by an FCAT, an End of Course, or an AP exam. Blended virtual and traditional classroom programs can be provided by school districts. School Boards have now been authorized to approve Charter Virtual Schools and those will most likely be opening in some districts for the 2012-13 school year. So, if you think you are confused about what virtual options are available, who they serve, and what is offered, you are not alone. The virtual options are abundant, but don’t get confused about the fact that even though students are being taught at home, the program is not directed by their parents. Therefore, these students are not being home educated; they are public school students.
The following information was taken from: A Parent’s Guide to Choosing the Right Online Program. A iNACOL publication, February 2010. You may read the entire publication at:
How is online learning different from homeschooling?
Taking an online course or attending a full-time online school is not homeschooling. The online learning options discussed in this paper are provided by school districts, charter schools, state education agencies and other entities that are part of the public education system. Because these are public school online learning opportunities, curricula must meet state academic standards; teachers must be licensed according to state requirements and specially trained in online learning; and students must take all assessments required by federal and state laws. (Page 5)
While full time virtual education is not home education, it offers options that otherwise would not be available to parents who want to keep their children at home. There are two circumstances in which a parent may wish to consider one of the full time public virtual programs, including the FLVS FT Public, over a home education program:
when a parent of a special needs student wishes to teach their child at home and still continue receiving the ESE services that a public school is required to provide or
when a student intends to enter the military and needs to receive a high school diploma.
NOTE: Parents need to understand that the newer full time models of virtual public education, including FLVS FT Public, are more attendance driven, have more regimented classes with grade-level curriculum and require that the student take all required state assessments. This might not be a good fit for struggling students or those with special needs.
In addition to the FLVS FT Public Program, FLVS will be offering a full time program for home education students. In the FLVS FT Home Education Program, the student will be registered as a home education student with his/her school district and will retain home education status. However, FLVS, rather than the parent, will direct the student’s education, but the parent, rather than FLVS, will be required to provide the final transcript and diploma for their child. The student must complete all courses within the 180-day school year but will not have to take the required state assessments.
Parents know their child and will have to decide which of the many options will best meet their child’s needs and goals. There are trade-offs for every choice. If a parent of a public school child with special needs is considering home education, that parent will need to decide if enrolling the child in a full time virtual program in order for the child to receive ESE services is a better fit than home education.
HEF has created a chart of the virtual education options available to home education students so that parents can compare these programs. We hope this will help you clear up some of the confusion and help you make a wise choice for your child.