Patty Betoni is the Program Director of Florida’s K12 Virtual Academy and their team has received an “A” grade from the state 4 years straight with test scores consistently above the state averages. With such a track record, we had a few questions for her and how she continues to promote and improve virtual education in Florida.
How does online learning work in FL?
We used to be a statewide program, but now Florida requires each district to select an online learning provider or provide his or her own program. On one hand, that change expanded options for some students, but it gives the option to the districts, not to parents.
We only support full time enrollments. The state program, Florida Virtual School, is the only one authorized to support part time students. Florida Virtual accepts rolling enrollments but most of the districts we work with don’t.
Florida only pays for successful completion of a course–there is no funding if a student does not pass or drops.
Looks like you had another good year.
K12 Florida received an A grade for the fourth year in a row. Two providers were awarded an ‘A’ and the others received an incomplete or did not have enough students to warrant a provider grade.
We heard that one of your staff members is also receiving an award
Katie Johns, our Academic Administrator was recognized with the Pioneer in Teaching Award,
How do you promote achievement and completion?
It comes down to the relationships with families. When families pull students and decide to educate at home, they are making a life-changing decision. We build a strong teacher-student-parent triangle. Families allow us to guide them through the tough times and the teachers say that they know their students and families better than they did in the brick and mortar setting.
Some students that come to us have really struggled in school, but the longer they are with K12, the more their scores increase.
Our teachers feel part of a community; much more so then when they were in a brick and mortar school.
How many students do you serve?
About 1,400 students in 36 districts. Working with 36 districts and many different calendars can be a challenge.
Most districts have multiple providers, for example more than a third work with both K12 & Connections Academy for k-5 students.
How could more students in Florida have access to quality instruction?
We could serve more students if the state allowed multiple providers for both full and part time students statewide and allow the parents equal access to all providers to make the decision that is right for their child. The state has endorsed several quality providers and they should be allowed to serve more students.
Thank you Patty!