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New Fla. Law Enables Direct Full-Time Online Enrollment

The 97,000-student Florida Virtual School announced Tuesday that in-state students in kindergarten, 1st grade, and grades 6-12 will be able to directly enroll in its Florida Virtual School Full Time , FLVS FT, regardless of those students' residential school district assignment.

The ability to enroll without previously enrolling in a brick-and-mortar district is a result of the passage of Florida's Digital Learning Now Act, according to a press release. The legislation, which also mandates that high school students in the future take an online course as a graduation requirement and that all statewide assessments be delivered virtually by 2014-15, strips the requirement of prior brick-and-mortar district enrollment for students in the full-time program. For now, students in grades 2-5 will still have to meet that requirement.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law last month. Previously, students could only enroll in the full-time virtual school if they lived in approved school districts.

The FLVS FT program was launched in 2009 for grades 6-12 and later expanded to cover the K-12 spectrum. It's format is in contrast to the perhaps more-known "classic" FLVS model, which allows students to supplement brick-and-mortar coursework with online offerings that can be completed at students' own pace.

Instead, FLVS FT monitors student attendance and runs on a 180-day schedule in a manner that mirrors a brick-and-mortar district, despite offering all its instruction online. It will also begin giving its graduates a diploma to "ease the transition into college and career" during the 2012-13 school year, according to the release.

The Digital Learning Now Act bears the same name as the title of a report released last September, as well as the nonprofit collaboration—co-led by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Bob Wise of West Virginia—that authored it.

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