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The Florida Statutes

The 2001 Florida Statutes

Title XVI
Education
Chapter 231
Personnel Of School System
View Entire Chapter
Section 231.17, Florida Statutes 2001

231.17  Teacher certification requirements.--

(1)  APPLICATION.--Each person seeking certification pursuant to this chapter shall submit a completed application containing the applicant's social security number to the Department of Education and remit the fee required pursuant to s. 231.30 and rules of the State Board of Education. Pursuant to the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, each party is required to provide his or her social security number in accordance with this section. Disclosure of social security numbers obtained through this requirement shall be limited to the purpose of administration of the Title IV-D program of the Social Security Act for child support enforcement. Pursuant to s. 120.60, the department shall issue within 90 calendar days after the stamped receipted date of the completed application:

(a)  A certificate covering the classification, level, and area for which the applicant is deemed qualified; or

(b)  An official statement of status of eligibility. The statement of status of eligibility must advise the applicant of any qualifications that must be completed to qualify for certification. Each statement of status of eligibility is valid for 2 years after its date of issuance, except as provided in paragraph (2)(d), and may be reissued for one additional 2-year period if application is made while the initial statement of status of eligibility is valid or within 1 year after the initial statement expires.

(2)  ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA.--To be eligible to seek certification pursuant to this chapter, a person must:

(a)  Be at least 18 years of age.

(b)  File a written statement, under oath, that the applicant subscribes to and will uphold the principles incorporated in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida.

(c)  Document receipt of a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, or a nonaccredited institution of higher learning that the Department of Education has identified as having a quality program resulting in a bachelor's degree, or higher. Each applicant seeking initial certification must have attained at least a 2.5 overall grade point average on a 4.0 scale in the applicant's major field of study. The applicant may document the required education by submitting official transcripts from institutions of higher education or by authorizing the direct submission of such official transcripts through established electronic network systems. The bachelor's or higher degree may not be required in areas approved in rule by the state board as nondegreed areas.

(d)  Submit to a fingerprint check from the Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation pursuant to s. 231.02. If the fingerprint reports indicate a criminal history or if the applicant acknowledges a criminal history, the applicant's records shall be referred to the Bureau of Educator Standards for review and determination of eligibility for certification. If the applicant fails to provide the necessary documentation requested by the Bureau of Educator Standards within 90 days after the date of the receipt of the certified mail request, the statement of eligibility and pending application shall become invalid.

(e)  Be of good moral character.

(f)  Be competent and capable of performing the duties, functions, and responsibilities of a teacher.

(g)  Demonstrate mastery of general knowledge, pursuant to subsection (3).

(h)  Demonstrate mastery of subject area knowledge, pursuant to subsection (4).

(i)  Demonstrate mastery of professional preparation and education competence, pursuant to subsection (5).

(3)  MASTERY OF GENERAL KNOWLEDGE.--

(a)  Before July 1, 2002, acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of general knowledge are:

1.  Achievement of passing scores on the College Level Academic Skills Test or other basic skills examinations required by state board rule;

2.  Achievement of passing scores on another state's general knowledge examinations;

3.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state that requires an examination of mastery of general knowledge;

4.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; or

5.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and documentation of 2 years of continuous successful full-time teaching or administrative experience during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application for certification.

(b)  Beginning July 1, 2002, acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of general knowledge are:

1.  Achievement of passing scores on basic skills examination required by state board rule;

2.  Achievement of passing scores on the College Level Academic Skills Test earned prior to July 1, 2002;

3.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state that requires an examination of mastery of general knowledge;

4.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; or

5.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and documentation of 2 years of continuous successful full-time teaching or administrative experience during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application for certification.

(4)  MASTERY OF SUBJECT AREA KNOWLEDGE.--

(a)  Before July 1, 2002, acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of subject area knowledge are:

1.  Completion of the subject area content requirements specified in state board rule and achievement of passing scores on the National Teachers Examination series, a successor to that series, or other subject area examinations required by state board rule;

2.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state that requires an examination of mastery of subject area knowledge;

3.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; or

4.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and documentation of 2 years of continuous successful full-time teaching or administrative experience during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application for certification.

(b)  Beginning July 1, 2002, acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of subject area knowledge are:

1.  Achievement of passing scores on subject area examinations required by state board rule;

2.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state that requires an examination of mastery of subject area knowledge;

3.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; or

4.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and documentation of 2 years of continuous successful full-time teaching or administrative experience during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application for certification.

(5)  MASTERY OF PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION AND EDUCATION COMPETENCE.--

(a)  Before July 1, 2002, acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of professional preparation and education competence are:

1.  Achievement of passing scores on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule, and documentation of one of the following:

a.  Completion of an approved teacher preparation program at a postsecondary institution within this state;

b.  Successful completion of an approved alternative preparation program, pursuant to paragraph (7)(b); or

c.  Completion of professional preparation college courses as specified in state board rule and successful completion of a district professional education competence program pursuant to paragraph (7)(c).

2.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; or

3.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and documentation of 2 years of continuous successful full-time teaching or administrative experience in another state during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application for certification.

(b)  Beginning July 1, 2002, acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of professional preparation and education competence are:

1.  Completion of an approved teacher preparation program at a postsecondary institution within this state;

2.  Completion of a teacher preparation program at a postsecondary institution outside Florida and achievement of passing scores on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule;

3.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state that requires an examination of mastery of professional education competence;

4.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards;

5.  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by another state and documentation of 2 years of continuous successful full-time teaching or administrative experience during the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application for certification; or

6.  Successful completion of the Department of Education's professional preparation and education competency program, outlined in paragraph (7)(a).

(6)  TYPES AND TERMS OF CERTIFICATION.--

(a)  The Department of Education shall issue a professional certificate for a period not to exceed 5 years to any applicant who meets all the requirements outlined in subsection (2).

(b)  The department shall issue a temporary certificate to any applicant who completes the requirements outlined in paragraphs (2)(a)-(f) and:

1.  Until July 1, 2002, completes the subject area content requirements specified in state board rule.

2.  Beginning July 1, 2002, completes the subject area content requirements specified in state board rule or achieves a passing score on the subject area examinations required by state board rule.

(c)  The department shall issue one nonrenewable 2-year temporary certificate and one nonrenewable 5-year professional certificate to a qualified applicant who holds a bachelor's degree in the area of speech-language impairment to allow for completion of a master's degree program in speech-language impairment.

Each temporary certificate is valid for 3 school fiscal years and is nonrenewable. However, the requirement in paragraph (2)(g) must be met within 1 calendar year of the date of employment under the temporary certificate. Individuals who are employed under contract at the end of the 1 calendar year time period may continue to be employed through the end of the school year in which they have been contracted. A school district shall not employ, or continue the employment of, an individual in a position for which a temporary certificate is required beyond this time period if the individual has not met the requirement of paragraph (2)(g). The State Board of Education shall adopt rules to allow the department to extend the validity period of a temporary certificate for 2 years when the requirements for the professional certificate, not including the requirement in paragraph (2)(g), were not completed due to the serious illness or injury of the applicant or other extraordinary extenuating circumstances. The department shall reissue the temporary certificate for 2 additional years upon approval by the Commissioner of Education. A written request for reissuance of the certificate shall be submitted by the superintendent of schools, the governing authority of a developmental research school, the governing authority of a state-supported school, or the governing authority of a nonpublic school.

(7)  PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION AND EDUCATION COMPETENCY PROGRAM.--

(a)  By July 1, 2002, the Department of Education shall develop and each school district must provide a cohesive competency-based preparation program by which members of a school district's instructional staff may satisfy the mastery of professional preparation and education competence requirements specified in rules of the State Board of Education. Participants must hold a state-issued temporary certificate. The program shall include the following components:

1.  A minimum period of initial preparation prior to assuming duties as the teacher of record.

2.  An option for collaboration between school districts and other supporting agencies for implementation.

3.  Experienced peer mentors.

4.  An assessment that provides for:

a.  An initial evaluation of each educator's competencies to determine an appropriate individualized professional development plan.

b.  A postevaluation to assure successful completion of the program.

5.  Content knowledge that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

a.  Requirements specified in state board rule for professional preparation.

b.  The educator-accomplished practices approved by the state board.

c.  A variety of data indicators for student progress.

d.  Methodologies, including technology-based methodologies, for teaching subject content that supports the Sunshine State Standards for students.

e.  Techniques for effective classroom management.

f.  Techniques and strategies for operationalizing the role of the teacher in assuring a safe learning environment for students.

g.  Methodologies for assuring the ability of all students to read, write, and compute.

6.  Required achievement of passing scores on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule.

(b)  Until July 1, 2002, each school district may use an alternative certification program by which members of the district's instructional staff may satisfy the professional education course requirements specified in rules of the state board for issuance of a professional certificate. The state board must adopt, by rule, standards and guidelines for the approval of alternative certification programs. Any program approved for use in a school district may be adopted and implemented by a school district other than the school district that developed the program. A district school board choosing to adopt an alternative certification program approved for another school district shall provide written notification of such action to the department. However, any modifications to an approved program shall be submitted to the department for approval. Each approved program must include methods for identifying each applicant's entry-level teaching competencies and must require each applicant to:

1.  Have expertise in the subject and meet requirements for specialization in a subject area for which a professional certificate may be issued under this chapter and rules of the state board.

2.  Complete training in only those competency areas in which deficiencies are identified.

3.  Complete the program within 2 years after initial employment as a member of the district's instructional staff.

4.  Achieve passing scores on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule.

Each district school board may expend educational training funds provided under ss. 231.600 and 236.081 to implement the provisions of this paragraph. The department must approve programs and systems developed to demonstrate professional preparation and education competence authorized by this paragraph.

(c)  Until July 1, 2002, each school district must develop and maintain a system by which members of the district's instructional staff may demonstrate mastery of professional education competence as required by law. Each district's program must be based on classroom application and instructional performance and must include a performance evaluation plan for documenting the demonstration of required professional education competence. Each individual employed as a member of the district's instructional staff must demonstrate such mastery within the first year after employment, unless the individual:

1.  Has completed an approved teacher preparation program at a postsecondary institution within this state;

2.  Has a valid teaching certificate issued by another state and demonstrated at least 2 years of successful full-time teaching experience in another state; or

3.  Is participating in the district's alternate certification program outlined in paragraph (b).

Each district school board may expend educational training funds provided under ss. 231.600 and 236.081 to implement the provisions of this paragraph. The department must approve programs and systems developed to demonstrate professional education competence authorized by this paragraph.

(8)  EXAMINATIONS.--

(a)  The Commissioner of Education, with the approval of the State Board of Education, may contract for developing, printing, administering, scoring, and appropriate analysis of the written examinations required.

(b)  The state board shall, by rule, specify the examination scores that are required for the issuance of a professional certificate and temporary certificate. Such rules must define generic subject area competencies and must establish uniform evaluation guidelines. Individuals who apply for their professional certificate before July 1, 2000, may demonstrate mastery of general knowledge pursuant to the alternative method specified by state board rule which must:

1.  Apply only to an applicant who has successfully completed all prerequisites for issuance of the professional certificate, except passing one specific subtest of the College Level Academic Skills Test, and who has taken and failed to achieve a passing score on that subtest at least four times.

2.  Require notification from the superintendent of schools of the employing school district, the governing authority of the employing developmental research school, or the governing authority of the employing state-supported school or nonpublic school that the applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated mastery of the subject area covered by that specific subtest through successful experience in the professional application of generic subject area competencies and proficient academic performance in that subject area. The decision of the superintendent of schools or governing authority shall be based on a review of the applicant's official academic transcript and notification from the applicant's principal, a peer teacher, and a district-level supervisor that the applicant has demonstrated successful professional experience in that subject area.

(c)  The state board shall designate the certification areas for subject area examinations. However, until July 1, 2002, an applicant may satisfy the subject area and professional education competence testing requirements by attaining scores on corresponding examinations from the National Teachers Examination series, or a successor to that series, that meet standards established by the state board. Until July 1, 2002, the College Level Academic Skills Test, a similar examination approved by the state board, corresponding examinations from the National Teachers Examination series, or other acceptable means pursuant to subsection (3) must be used to demonstrate mastery of general knowledge as required in subsection (2). All required examinations may be taken prior to graduation. An applicant who has passed the reading, writing, and mathematics subtest of the former Florida Teacher Certification Examination or has previously passed the College Level Academic Skills Test is not required to take the College Level Academic Skills Test.

(d)  If an applicant takes an examination developed by this state and does not achieve the score necessary for certification, the applicant may review his or her completed examination and bring to the attention of the department any errors that would result in a passing score.

(e)  For any examination developed by this state, the department and the state board shall maintain confidentiality of the examination, developmental materials, and workpapers, which are exempt from s. 119.07(1).

(f)  By July 1, 2002, the examinations used for demonstration of mastery of general knowledge, professional education competence, and subject area knowledge shall be aligned with student standards approved by the state board. The delivery system for these examinations shall provide for overall efficiency, user-friendly application, reasonable accessibility to prospective teachers, and prompt attainment of examination results. The examination of competency for demonstration of subject area knowledge shall be sufficiently comprehensive to assess subject matter expertise for individuals who have acquired subject knowledge either through college credit or by other means.

(9)  NONCITIZENS.--

(a)  The State Board of Education may adopt rules for issuing certificates to noncitizens who are needed to teach and who are legally admitted to the United States through the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. The filing of a written oath to uphold the principles of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida, required under paragraph (2)(b), does not apply to individuals assigned to teach on an exchange basis.

(b)  A certificate may not be issued to a citizen of a nation controlled by forces that are antagonistic to democratic forms of government, except to an individual who has been legally admitted to the United States through the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.

(10)  DENIAL OF CERTIFICATE.--

(a)  The Department of Education may deny an applicant a certificate if the department possesses evidence satisfactory to it that the applicant has committed an act or acts, or that a situation exists, for which the Education Practices Commission would be authorized to revoke a teaching certificate.

(b)  The decision of the department is subject to review by the Education Practices Commission upon the filing of a written request from the applicant within 20 days after receipt of the notice of denial.

(11)  STATE BOARD RULES.--The State Board of Education shall adopt rules as necessary to implement this section.

(12)  PRIOR APPLICATION.--Persons who apply for certification are governed by the law and rules in effect at the time of application for issuance of the initial certificate, provided that continuity of certificates is maintained.

(13)  PERSONNEL RECORDS.--The Department of Education shall maintain a complete statement of the academic preparation, professional training, and teaching experience of each person to whom a certificate is issued. The applicant or the superintendent of schools shall furnish the information using a format or forms provided by the department.

(14)  AUTHORITY OF COMMISSIONER.--The Commissioner of Education may make decisions regarding an applicant's certification under extenuating circumstances not otherwise provided for in statute or by rule. However, an applicant for certification approved by the commissioner must possess the credentials, knowledge, and skills necessary to provide quality education in the public schools.

(15)  COMPARISON OF ROUTES TO A PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE.--Beginning with the 2003-2004 school year, the Department of Education shall conduct a longitudinal study to compare performance of certificateholders who are employed in Florida school districts. The study shall compare a sampling of educators who have qualified for a professional certificate since July 1, 2002, based on the following:

(a)  Graduation from a state-approved teacher preparation program.

(b)  Completion of a state-approved professional preparation and education competency program.

(c)  A valid standard teaching certificate issued by a state other than Florida.

The department comparisons shall be made to determine if there is any significant difference in the performance of these groups of teachers, as measured by their students' achievement levels and learning gains as measured by s. 229.57.

History.--s. 517, ch. 19355, 1939; CGL 1940 Supp. 892(121); s. 2, ch. 21989, 1943; s. 19, ch. 23726, 1947; s. 1, ch. 26894, 1951; s. 5, ch. 29754, 1955; s. 10, ch. 57-249; s. 6, ch. 59-371; s. 10, ch. 63-376; s. 2, ch. 65-144; s. 59, ch. 65-239; s. 5, ch. 67-387; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 18, ch. 69-353; s. 1, ch. 70-36; s. 1, ch. 71-177; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-116; s. 10, ch. 77-121; s. 1, ch. 77-129; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 3, ch. 78-423; ss. 110, 119, ch. 79-222; ss. 1, 11, ch. 80-190; ss. 2, 4, 6, 11, 13, ch. 80-325; ss. 2, 10, ch. 80-378; s. 1, ch. 81-243; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 30, ch. 82-242; s. 3, ch. 83-265; s. 20, ch. 83-324; s. 1, ch. 84-44; s. 1, ch. 84-130; s. 2, ch. 84-272; s. 28, ch. 84-317; s. 59, ch. 84-336; s. 7, ch. 85-248; ss. 3, 15, ch. 86-156; s. 2, ch. 87-76; s. 1, ch. 88-54; s. 18, ch. 89-278; s. 2, ch. 90-285; s. 8, ch. 90-288; s. 62, ch. 90-360; s. 20, ch. 91-105; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 144, ch. 94-209; s. 30, ch. 94-232; s. 4, ch. 94-310; s. 1534, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 95-306; s. 4, ch. 95-411; s. 79, ch. 96-406; s. 1, ch. 97-4; s. 40, ch. 97-170; s. 17, ch. 97-246; s. 1, ch. 98-163; s. 4, ch. 98-281; s. 54, ch. 99-398; s. 19, ch. 2000-301; s. 8, ch. 2001-47; s. 2, ch. 2001-90.

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