The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting has won a Special Citation in Investigative Reporting in the Education Writers Association’s 2010 National Awards for Education Reporting.

The award-winning story, “Virtually Worthless” by FCIR Associate Director Mc Nelly Torres, focused on an important issue many students face today — whether the online high school they are considering is legitimate and issues a high school diploma recognized by colleges nationwide.

Torres’ reporting discovered that a lack of regulation at federal and state levels has allowed online private high schools to issue diplomas not recognized as valid by the U.S. education community. Dubious accrediting agencies, which give these for-profit high schools an appearance of legitimacy, are contributing to the problem, Torres reported.

“Virtually Worthless” also became the basis for a partnership between FCIR and Miami’s CBS4 to produce the report “I-Team: Flunking A High School Equivalency.”