(1) As used in this section, “educator preparation institute” means an institute created by a postsecondary institution and approved by the Department of Education.
(2) Postsecondary institutions that are accredited or approved as described in state board rule may seek approval from the Department of Education to create educator preparation institutes for the purpose of providing any or all of the following:
(a) Professional development instruction to assist teachers in improving classroom instruction and in meeting certification or recertification requirements.
(b) Instruction to assist potential and existing substitute teachers in performing their duties.
(c) Instruction to assist paraprofessionals in meeting education and training requirements.
(d) Instruction for baccalaureate degree holders to become certified teachers as provided in this section in order to increase routes to the classroom for mid-career professionals who hold a baccalaureate degree and college graduates who were not education majors.
(3) Educator preparation institutes approved pursuant to this section may offer alternative certification programs specifically designed for noneducation major baccalaureate degree holders to enable program participants to meet the educator certification requirements of s. 1012.56. Such programs shall be competency-based educator certification preparation programs that prepare educators through an alternative route. An educator preparation institute choosing to offer an alternative certification program pursuant to the provisions of this section must implement a program previously approved by the Department of Education for this purpose or a program developed by the institute and approved by the department for this purpose. Approved programs shall be available for use by other approved educator preparation institutes. (a) Within 90 days after receipt of a request for approval, the Department of Education shall approve an alternative certification program or issue a statement of the deficiencies in the request for approval. The department shall approve an alternative certification program if the institute provides sufficient evidence of the following:
1. Instruction must be provided in professional knowledge and subject matter content that includes educator-accomplished practices and competencies specified in State Board of Education rule and meets subject matter content requirements, professional competency testing requirements, and competencies associated with teaching scientifically based reading instruction and strategies that research has shown to be successful in improving reading among low-performing readers.
2. The program must provide field experience with supervision from qualified educators.
3. The program must provide a certification ombudsman to facilitate the process and procedures required for participants who complete the program to meet any requirements related to the background screening pursuant to s. 1012.32 and educator professional or temporary certification pursuant to s. 1012.56. (b) Each program participant must: 1. Meet certification requirements pursuant to s. 1012.56(1) by obtaining a statement of status of eligibility and meet the requirements of s. 1012.56(2)(a)-(f).
2. Participate in field experience that is appropriate to his or her educational plan.
3. Fully demonstrate his or her ability to teach the subject area for which he or she is seeking certification and demonstrate mastery of professional preparation and education competence by achievement of a passing score on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule prior to completion of the program.
(c) Upon completion of an alternative certification program approved pursuant to this subsection, a participant shall receive a credential from the sponsoring institution signifying satisfaction of the requirements of s. 1012.56(6) relating to mastery of professional preparation and education competence. A participant shall be eligible for educator certification through the Department of Education upon satisfaction of all requirements for certification set forth in s. 1012.56(2), including demonstration of mastery of general knowledge, subject area knowledge, and professional preparation and education competence, through testing or other statutorily authorized means. (d) If an institution offers an alternative certification program approved pursuant to this subsection, such program may be used by the school district or districts served by that institution in addition to the alternative certification program as required in s. 1012.56(8).
(4) Each institute approved pursuant to this section shall submit to the Department of Education annual performance evaluations that measure the effectiveness of the programs, including the pass rates of participants on all examinations required for teacher certification, employment rates, longitudinal retention rates, and employer satisfaction surveys. The employer satisfaction surveys must be designed to measure the sufficient preparation of the educator to enter the classroom. These evaluations shall be used by the Department of Education for purposes of continued approval of an educator preparation institute’s alternative certification program.
(5) Instructors for an alternative certification program approved pursuant to this section must possess a master’s degree in education or a master’s degree in an appropriate related field and document teaching experience.
(6) Educator preparation institutes approved pursuant to this section and providing approved instructional programs for any of the purposes in subsection (2) are eligible for funding from federal and state funds, as appropriated by the Legislature.
(7) The State Board of Education may adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this section.