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Districts prepare full-time online K-12 schools

Posted on October 6, 2008 in General News

From Palm Beach Post writer Laura Green:

Next school year, the first generation of Florida students can begin to earn a diploma from local public schools entirely online, without ever setting foot in a classroom from kindergarten through 12th grade.

A new state law requires districts to create their own full-time virtual schools, collaborate with other districts or contract with providers approved by the state.

The law is believed to be the most wide-ranging virtual mandate in the nation.

"The rest of the country will be watching to see how it goes," said Julie Young, president and chief executive officer of Florida Virtual School and a board member of the North American Council for Online Learning.

By August, school superintendents must settle everything from how to provide the needed technology to how to engage squirmy kindergartners who lack the attention span to sit at a computer for hours.

The state already funds two online schools catering to students in kindergarten through eighth grade as well as the Florida Virtual School, which offers middle and high school courses.

During the 2007-08 school year, more than 57,000 students took at least one Florida Virtual School course. But very few committed to an all-online experience.

The new law is expected to bring Web-based education to many more students and increase the number who take all of their classes in a virtual world.

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