January 24, 2011
Do state virtual schools offer diplomas?
In the past couple of weeks we’ve been asked the same question a few times: do state virtual schools (SVS) offer diplomas?
The simple answer is: SVS do not usually offer diplomas, and they do not generally have many full-time students, if any. Most state virtual schools are supplemental course providers that work in partnership with a student’s home school district to award credit for courses, though the exact mechanics of awarding credit vary somewhat from state to state. There are a few SVS that have full-time students; you can find those in Keeping Pace on p. 23-24 in the second to last column. You will note that even these have very few full-time students; they are the exception to the rule.
Florida Virtual School is the main exception, as it runs a full-time program for students in Florida. The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP) was an exception in that it offered a full-time school when it was created. More recently, however, funding for MoVIP has been significantly cut.
In quite a few states with state virtual schools, online charter schools and district programs offer a full-time online option for students. Examples of states that have both a state virtual school and full-time online schools include Florida, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Michigan, Georgia, and North Carolina. In those states, the state virtual school and the full-time schools fill different niches and together provide a range of online opportunities to students.
A few state virtual schools have considered offering full-time schools and diplomas. In some cases the motivation for considering this option is in part to tap into the sources of per-student funding that are available to full-time schools and are not available to state virtual schools. Most state virtual schools, however, are wary of getting into a situation where they might be seen as competing with districts for students.
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