Q&A Of The Day – How Many Parents Are Opting For Florida’s Virtual School?
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio
Today’s entry: I’d think that a combination of the removal of the remote learning option along with the mask mandate debate would have more parents opting for the Florida Virtual School. Do you have any stats on that?
Bottom Line: Yes, it’s certainly the case that Florida’s Virtual School is experiencing a boom in enrollment. And in fact, yesterday was the first day of school for Florida’s Virtual School students. Getting hard numbers together in real-time is a little challenging because they extended the deadline for registration right up until this week, but we have a solid idea based on recent guidance from the school. According to the most recent press release they cited...
- A 98% increase in the number of Full-Time students for the 2021-2022 school year
A 98% increase would equate to over 5,600 new students for this school year or a total of greater than 13,000 full-time students. We also know the demand was higher than the capacity for high school this year, so an untold number of students were turned away from full-time options. There’s also been a huge surge in demand for what’s called the “flex” option. This is when Florida’s Virtual School is used as a part-time supplement, most commonly in association with children who are home-schooled. This is where the total number of Florida’s Virtual School students come into focus. There was a 57% increase in flex use last year and while we won’t know about use this year until we get deeper into the school year, if we have record demand for full-time services – I’d expect record use of part-time services as well.
To provide an apples-to-apples comparison to traditional classroom education and for the purposes of funding from the state, the school breaks out its services by what are called full-time equivalents. Last year, led by a pandemic surge in demand, the school grew from 39,213 full-time equivalent students to 52,865. Based on the growth of full-time students alone this year, even if there’s little or no increase in demand for flex services, there will a record near 55,000 full-time equivalent students using Florida’s Virtual School. For comparison’s sake, if you were to compare it to Florida’s 67 school districts, Florida’s Virtual School would be the 16th largest, situated in size between Volusia and Manatee County.
While much of the demand has been generated by the pandemic, there’s another dynamic which led to regular growth prior to the pandemic, outcomes. As I recently brought you, FVS matches the state average in math proficiency, while exceeding the reading proficiency rate by 16% with higher overall graduation rates than the state’s average as well. While we’ll not know exactly how many full-time students would have used the school had they not reached capacity for high school students, it’s a given that more parents are opting for Florida’s Virtual School than ever before.