Commissioner talks teacher evaluations, charter schools and more with Orlando Sentinel

Commissioner Robinson sat down with members of the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board to discuss education issues, including teacher evaluations, charter schools and a variety of other topics. Check out the video for footage of the meeting.

Making it easy for military families

Guest post by Michael Kooi, executive director of Florida’s Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice

Florida is one of the states that adopted the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (MIC3), which helps children of active-duty members with eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation requirements.

With Florida’s numerous education options, we are happy to be able to provide many educational choices to meet military families’ needs – all covered under the Compact.

For example, say an active duty family relocates to another base and their two teenage children were taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes at their local public high school. In their new location, the students will have preference enrolling in the same AP classes at their new school, pending availability.

Because the Compact is nationwide, it accommodates active military families moving from Texas to Florida just the same as it applies to a family moving from Tampa to Jacksonville.

Have questions about this option? On November 16, families will have a chance to talk to state and district school choice experts in a one-on-one setting at the Florida School Choice Expo “Carousel of Choice.” If you can’t make the event, you can also find more information at

Have you ever taken advantage of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children? If so, what school option did you choose? Share with us your transition experience.

Busy families need options. Online education can help.

Guest post by Sally Roberts, DOE Educational Policy Consultant for Virtual Education

We appreciate all the feedback we received in the blog comment section, on Facebook and on Twitter regarding last week’s online education post. This blog post will feature the issue again so we can provide even more information.

Many virtual options

With three different options – Florida Virtual School Classic, Florida Virtual School Full-time and district online programs – students and families can choose which virtual offering fits their needs the best. This chart helps explain the differences and benefits of each program.


Online education provides incredible flexibility for families on the go. Florida Virtual School (FLVS) students can participate in online courses at any time and have teachers available from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. for phone calls, parent-teacher-student conference calls, instant messaging and emails. (District online courses and programs also provide flexibility for accessing online courses and curriculum. Please contact your local administrator for details) for district teacher availability.

As an example, if Jane is leaving school early to attend acting classes from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. then goes to her brother’s soccer game at 4 p.m., she can take her algebra class at 6 p.m. when she gets home and still have access to her teacher.

Personal, individualized instruction

Even though the course is online, teachers can still hold live online lessons. Say the teacher is receiving a lot of questions from students about conjugating verbs in language arts. The teacher can then schedule a live lesson so she/he can respond to students’ questions as the class is going on – just like at a brick-and-mortar school.

Preparation for the future

In addition, most post-secondary schools offer online courses, and chances are your child will be enrolled in at least one. By taking online courses in high school, your child is better prepared for their future education.

Which online course choices would fit into your child’s schedule? Do you have questions about the difference between Florida Virtual School Classic, Florida Virtual School Full-time and district online options? We welcome questions in the comment section!

Going Virtual – even more!

Guest post by Sally Roberts, DOE Educational Policy Consultant for Virtual Education

Everyone is talking about “school choice” these days, but “choice” doesn’t mean just charter and magnet schools. Starting in August, Florida students will now have more virtual education choices.

Students will have the option to take ALL their classes through Florida Virtual School Full-time. In addition, the Legislature authorized districts to now offer additional online courses for students in grades K-12 and virtual charter schools. Courses include everything from chemistry and grammar to physical education and drivers ed!

In order to better prepare our students for postsecondary education and the 21st Century workplace, all students entering ninth grade in 2011-2012 must complete at least one course through online learning. Students may take the required online high school course from Florida Virtual School, a district high school or middle school, or through dual enrollment.

Check out our Florida Virtual Public Education Options chart for a quick overview of what program would be best for your child.

How to register:

Has your child ever enrolled in an online course? If so, what was their experience like?

School Choice is Your Choice

Welcome to the Florida Department of Education’s new blog, Florida Common Ground. We hope that this blog will be a helpful resource for you, providing tips to help you with your child’s education, education news updates, event notices and much more.   We also hope this blog will serve as yet another resource to contact us here at the Department. We look forward to your questions and suggestions as we work to fuel constructive conversations around the continued progress of education reform in our state and the resulting achievement of our students.

As many parents, teachers and education leaders around the state are aware, our state’s educational landscape can be difficult to navigate at times.  In an effort to help parents better understand the educational options available for their children, the Department of Education is hosting its first-ever School Choice Expo Jan. 22 in Tampa.  If you’ve ever wanted to know more about dual enrollment or advanced placement courses, McKay Scholarships, virtual education or charter schools, this Expo will be extremely beneficial for you.  And if you can’t join us Saturday in Tampa you can still check out a live online feed of the Expo at. For more info about the event, visit

Again, thanks for checking out our new blog. See you next time!