Keeping the Student at the Center
The 2017-18 school year marked the 20th anniversary of Florida Virtual School (FLVS). The 20-year anniversary of FLVS was not only a historic occasion for the first statewide Internet-based school in the United States, but also a significant and positive milestone for virtual education.
When founded in 1997, FLVS consisted of six teachers, four support staff, 77 enrollments, and six courses. The use of online education tools was still new for the high schoolers of 1997.
That initial small group of faculty and staff served in multiple roles at the same time, often acting as teacher, community liaison, course developer, and even legislative advocate. Technology in the late 1990s consisted of noisy dial-up modems, slow internet browsing ability, and large box desktop computers. As cellphones and emails were not yet the primary forms of communication in 1997, most of the staff relied on beepers and pay phones to speak to others while out in the field.
Today, FLVS employs more than 2,200 support staff and Florida certified instructors who use a wide variety of resources and integrated systems and have access to professional development opportunities. FLVS students are digital natives and benefit from more than 180 FLVS online courses. FLVS boasts more than 4.1 million semester completions since its inception in 1997, with more than 492,000 semester completions in 2017-18. Our students continue to outperform state averages on End-of-Course Exams and on Advanced Placement Exams.
FLVS provided courses and services to 65 school districts through 35 Florida District Franchises. In 2017-18, students attending FLVS District Virtual Schools successfully completed more than 168,800 semester completions.
In addition to working directly with Florida students, FLVS has expanded due to demand beyond state lines, providing its courseware experience to online and blended learning programs in schools and districts across the nation. This expansion ultimately allows FLVS to stretch every dollar invested in Kindergarten–12 state education programs and helps our Florida schools achieve their academic performance goals.
All that FLVS has accomplished is the result of dedicated students, instructional and administrative staff as well as the amazing parents of our students. We are grateful for the continued support from the Governor, legislators, and our Board of Trustees.
Thanks to everyone who shares our vision, FLVS has been able to show the value of online learning in providing flexible learning opportunities, improving educational outcomes, and preparing students for future success across Florida and around the world, both in the job market and transitioning to their next academic endeavor.
This article was published in the FLVS Annual Report 2017-18.