Virtual And Homeschooling Options
Florida has one of the nation’s largest home education movements, with more than 55,000 students participating. Florida Statute 1002.1 governs home education and does not require parents to hold a teaching certificate to provide home education.
Families have many choices when it comes to home education options, from courses taught by parents to learning online with Florida Virtual School® (FLVS®). As a fully accredited public school district comprised of full-time and flexible options, FLVS has an established history of successfully educating students and is an award-winning, international leader in online learning. FLVS offers more than 150 FREE courses to Kindergarten–12th grade public, private, and homeschool students. For more information, visit flvs.net.
It’s easy for parents to establish a homeschool program for their children. First, parents are required to notify the school district in their county of residence stating their intent to establish and maintain a home education program. The written notice must be signed by the parent, and include the names, addresses, and birthdates of all children who will be enrolled as students.
Notices are required to be filed in the district school superintendent’s office within 30 days of the establishment of the home education program. Consequently, if parents plan to cease home education, they are also required to provide the school district written notice of termination of the program within 30 days after termination.
To make any successful homeschool program work, parents must take on the role of educating their child. The Florida Parent- Educators Association (wwww.fpea. com) and Life of Florida Inc. (www. lifeofflorida.org) provide numerous resources.
Some counties offer and operate a variety of virtual school programs, many being affiliated with FLVS. Visit flvs.net/county-virtual-school for more information!
Parents have many responsibilities and are required to keep and maintain a portfolio of records and materials documenting the activities of their child’s homeschool progress. The portfolio consists of the following:
1. Educational activities log. This should include the type of instruction and the titles of any reading materials used in instruction.
2. Samples of any writing, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student. Parents must maintain the portfolio for two years and make it available for inspection by either the district school superintendent or the district school superintendent’s agent within 15 days after a written notice. The superintendent is not required to inspect the portfolio.
3. An annual educational evaluation. Students must also undergo an annual educational evaluation—a test—to document that their educational progress is at levels commensurate with their abilities. Parents have the flexibility of selecting the method of evaluation and are required to file a copy of the evaluation annually with the district school superintendent’s office in the student’s county of residence. The student’s annual educational evaluation must include one of the following:
A Florida-certified teacher selected by the parent can evaluate the student’s educational progress upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the student.
The student is allowed to take any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher. One example of such a test is the Stanford 9 Achievement Test.
Students can also take a state student assessment test used by the school district and administered by a certified teacher at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district. The student shall be evaluated by an individual holding a valid, active license pursuant to the provisions of s. 490.003, or students can be tested using any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the superintendent of the school district in which the student resides and the student’s parent. The superintendent shall review and accept the results of the annual educational evaluation of the homeschool student. If the student does not demonstrate educational progress at a level commensurate with her or his ability, the superintendent shall notify the parent, in writing. The parent is given one year from the date of receipt of the written notification to give the student remedial instruction. At the end of the one-year probationary period, the student shall be reevaluated. Continuation in a home education program shall be contingent upon the student demonstrating educational progress commensurate with his or her ability at the end of the probationary period.
According to the Florida Department of Education website, more than 84,000 students in approximately 58,000 families are in Home Education Programs throughout Florida. However, many homeschooling families enroll in nontraditional private schools that serve as an umbrella for their home education programs. These students aren’t registered with their local district, so they are not included in the state’s figure. So a true count of the number of homeschoolers in Florida has proved elusive. Visit www. floridaschoolchoice.org for more info.
Did You Know
Public, private, and homeschool students in Kindergarten-12th grade can take FREE courses with FLVS just by being Florida residents! How? FLVS is a public school, and public education is available at no cost to Florida students. Through online learning, students receive a high quality, technology-based education that provides the skills and knowledge they need for success in college and their career. Whether it is one class due to a scheduling conflict or multiple classes that broaden a student’s educational journey, FLVS provides the flexibility and accessibility that families need. Every course is taught by a certified teacher, who is accessible by phone, email, text, video chat, and online study sessions. FLVS serves more than 206,000 students and offers more than 150 courses including honors, Advanced Placement®, NCAA-approved core, Career and Technical Education, world language, and elective. Sign up year round at flvs.net!