Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Andy Ross, VP Global Services, Florida Virtual Schools

The EIIF is very happy to announce that Andy Ross, Vice President of Global Services for Florida Virtual Schools, is joining the conference to speak on March 10, 2009.

To offer some insight, I link to a NACOL paper that mentions FLVS about one of their programs. I offer it as some independent insight into what the school does.

NACOL's Credit Recovery Practices review

Florida Virtual School Credit recovery courses delivered by a state-led supplemental program Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the largest online program in the United States, and one of the oldest.

In the early days of the program most of the program’s students were seeking Advanced Placement courses, accelerated learning opportunities, or scheduling flexibility. In recent years, credit recovery has become an increasingly important part of the program, to the point that nearly 20% of students in FLVS courses are seeking credit recovery, or grade forgiveness as it is referred to in Florida.

Unlike many online programs for credit recovery or at-risk students that use mostly (or entirely) a blended learning approach, FLVS primarily offers fully online, distance education courses that are self-paced. FLVS students who are recovering credit are not segregated into special class sections and mix readily with their peers. In many instances instructors are not even aware the students are enrolled in the course for credit recovery.

In addition to the fully online model led by FLVS teachers, FLVS is also partnering with nine school districts to provide online curriculum delivered by the local school district instructors. In these instances, the local school district provides the teacher of record and retains the FTE funding for the student. FLVS is also establishing physical e-learning centers in schools across the state where all types of students take FLVS courses on their school campus. FLVS provides the teacher of record and often the school provides a mentor or facilitator to provide additional assistance to the student.

“One of our challenges is to demonstrate the effectiveness of online learning for these students,” according to Brenda Finora, Public Affairs Liaison for Southwest Florida. “Some people still raise the question ‘If the students are not motivated enough to pass the course in the classroom, how can we expect them to be self-motivated in an online course?’ We find very little difference in the level
of motivation between students seeking credit recovery and other FLVS students. They all come to FLVS for specific reasons with a drive to succeed.” If motivational or behavioral issues do arise, FLVS provides counseling or refers the student back to the local school counselor to work with the student individually.

“As more data is gathered it confirms what so many of us believe, that online learning gives students seeking credit recovery the individual attention they need to be successful,” reports Cindy Lohan,eSolutions Manager for FLVS. Success rates for students recovering credit have been remarkably similar to rates for the entire FLVS student population. In the 2006-2007 school year, FLVS students who self-reported taking courses for credit recovery had a passing rate of 90.2%, similar to the 92.1% passing rate for the entire FLVS student population.

A significant number of online programs outside Florida use FLVS curriculum, and the use of FLVS online curriculum for credit recovery has risen dramatically in recent years. This growth, in part, drove the development of diagnostic testing as part of the FLVS courses. For example, pre-tests in math courses identify both the material the student has mastered and the material that is still problematic.

Diagnostic tests are being added to the FLVS courses most often needed for credit recovery.

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