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Digital Learning Bill brings new dimension to FLVS

Brandon Goldman
staff writer

Students who are enrolled in the Florida Virtual School full-time program will now have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities at dedicated public Florida schools, as proposed in the new Digital Learning Bill. Photo by Scott Sollazzo.

Who wants to go to school any- ways?

Earlier last year, Florida State Legislature House Bill 7197 was passed that approved the new high school requirement that re- quires all incoming freshman to enroll in at least one online course before graduation.

“It is important that we ensure our children receive a high qual- ity, technology-based education that provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to suc- ceed,” Tania Clow, Communica- tions Specialist at Florida Virtual School, said.

Florida Virtual School has been providing students a beneficial al- ternative to attending school and getting course credits since it was founded in 1997.

The ability for students to learn at their own pace helps bring a new dimension to age-old educa- tion methods.

Since its introduction, Florida Virtual has grown into an online school that offers students the ability to enroll in over 110 cours- es including honors, Advanced Placement (AP), and elective vari- ants.

“I like FLVS because it lets me work ahead at my own speed, without having to worry about other kids in a classroom that don’t work as fast as me,” Vikrant Pendharkar, sophomore, said.

   This March, the Florida Educa- tion Committee, along with the support of Senator Andy Gar- diner, created a general bill that would increase the virtual educa- tion options for students.

The bill, which is collectively called the Digital Learning (CS/ CS/HB: 7063) Bill, has recently been approved by Governor Rick Scott.

   “If they updated some of the fea- tures of FLVS, more people would want to sign up for classes,” Pend- harkar said.

One key attribute to this bill is the provision allowing full-time Florida Virtual School students the ability to participate in extra- curricular activities at dedicated public schools.

“Florida Virtual School Full Time is growing for many rea- sons, one of which is the flexibility that online learning offers athletes as well as students involved in the arts.” Clow said. “In addition, FLVS core course curriculum has been approved by the NCAA.”

   The Digital Learning Bill also challenges the new graduation re- quirements from House Bill 7197 claiming that it is unfair to those students who do not have access to a computer apart from their time in school.

“I don’t think it should be a requirement for students, but I think that they may like it and want to take more classes online,” Kenya Wright, sophomore, said.

   Other adjustments this bill makes include the expansion of the Florida Virtual program to include students who are enrolled in grades kindergarten through grade 12. This bill also expands to benefit students who are currently a part of the exceptional student education (ESE), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and other weighted educational programs.

The bill provides for funding of those students in a full-time FLVS, district virtual instruction program, or a virtual charter school if necessary.

“Many accommodations for special needs students are met by the nature of online learning, for example there are no built in distractions for students with ADD/ ADHD challenges, so they can take breaks and move around as needed,” Clow explained.

These new bills are aimed at not only expanding the Florida Virtual program, but also improving the program to make for a better student experience.

As a high school student, the Digital Learning Bill will provide students an expanded variety of class choices, and will allow students to be able to take advantage of a new and familiar electronic way of educating.

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