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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XLVIII
K-20 EDUCATION CODE
Chapter 1012
PERSONNEL
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F.S. 1012.56
1012.56 Educator 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. 1012.59 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 is limited to the purpose of administration of the Title IV-D program of the Social Security Act for child support enforcement.
(a) Pursuant to s. 120.60, the department shall issue within 90 calendar days after receipt of the completed application a professional certificate to a qualifying applicant covering the classification, level, and area for which the applicant is deemed qualified and a document explaining the requirements for renewal of the professional certificate.
(b) The department shall issue a temporary certificate to a qualifying applicant within 14 calendar days after receipt of a request from an employer with a professional education competence demonstration program pursuant to paragraphs (6)(f) and (8)(b). The temporary certificate must cover the classification, level, and area for which the applicant is deemed qualified. The department shall electronically notify the applicant’s employer that the temporary certificate has been issued and provide the applicant an official statement of status of eligibility at the time the certificate is issued.
(c) Pursuant to s. 120.60, the department shall issue within 90 calendar days after receipt of the completed application, if an applicant does not meet the requirements for either certificate, an official statement of status of eligibility.

The statement of status of eligibility must be provided electronically and must advise the applicant of any qualifications that must be completed to qualify for certification. Each method by which an applicant can complete the qualifications for a professional certificate must be included in the statement of status of eligibility. Each statement of status of eligibility is valid for 3 years after its date of issuance, except as provided in paragraph (2)(d).

(2) ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA.To be eligible to seek certification, a person must:
(a) Be at least 18 years of age.
(b) File an affidavit 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 and that the information provided in the application is true, accurate, and complete. The affidavit shall be by original signature or by electronic authentication. The affidavit shall include substantially the following warning:

WARNING: Giving false information in order to obtain or renew a Florida educator’s certificate is a criminal offense under Florida law. Anyone giving false information on this affidavit is subject to criminal prosecution as well as disciplinary action by the Education Practices Commission.

(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 of Education as nondegreed areas. The State Board of Education may adopt rules that, for purposes of demonstrating completion of specific certification requirements, allow for the acceptance of college course credits recommended by the American Council for Education (ACE), as posted on an official ACE transcript.
(d) Submit to background screening in accordance with subsection (10). If the background screening indicates a criminal history or if the applicant acknowledges a criminal history, the applicant’s records shall be referred to the investigative section in the Department of Education for review and determination of eligibility for certification. If the applicant fails to provide the necessary documentation requested by the department 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 an educator.
(g) Demonstrate mastery of general knowledge, pursuant to subsection (3).
(h) Demonstrate mastery of subject area knowledge, pursuant to subsection (5).
(i) Demonstrate mastery of professional preparation and education competence, pursuant to subsection (6).
(3) MASTERY OF GENERAL KNOWLEDGE.Acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of general knowledge are:
(a) Achievement of passing scores on the general knowledge examination required by state board rule;
(b) Documentation of a valid professional standard teaching certificate issued by another state;
(c) Documentation of a valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or a national educator credentialing board approved by the State Board of Education;
(d) Documentation of two semesters of successful, full-time or part-time teaching in a Florida College System institution, state university, or private college or university that awards an associate or higher degree and is an accredited institution or an institution of higher education identified by the Department of Education as having a quality program; or
(e) Effective July 1, 2015, achievement of passing scores, identified in state board rule, on national or international examinations that test comparable content and relevant standards in verbal, analytical writing, and quantitative reasoning skills, including, but not limited to, the verbal, analytical writing, and quantitative reasoning portions of the Graduate Record Examination. Passing scores identified in state board rule must be at approximately the same level of rigor as is required to pass the general knowledge examinations.
(4) ALIGNMENT OF SUBJECT AREAS.The State Board of Education shall align the subject area examinations to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.
(5) MASTERY OF SUBJECT AREA KNOWLEDGE.Acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of subject area knowledge are:
(a) For a subject requiring only a baccalaureate degree for which a Florida subject area examination has been developed, achievement of a passing score on the Florida-developed subject area examination specified in state board rule;
(b) For a subject for which a Florida subject area examination has not been developed, achievement of a passing score on a standardized examination specified in state board rule, including, but not limited to, passing scores on both the oral proficiency and written proficiency examinations administered by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages;
(c) For a subject for which a Florida subject area examination has not been developed or a standardized examination has not been specified in state board rule, completion of the subject area specialization requirements specified in state board rule and verification of the attainment of the essential subject matter competencies by the district school superintendent of the employing school district or chief administrative officer of the employing state-supported or private school;
(d) For a subject requiring a master’s or higher degree, completion of the subject area specialization requirements specified in state board rule and achievement of a passing score on the Florida-developed subject area examination or a standardized examination specified in state board rule;
(e) Documentation of a valid professional standard teaching certificate issued by another state;
(f) Documentation of a valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or a national educator credentialing board approved by the State Board of Education;
(g) Documentation of successful completion of a United States Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center program; or
(h) Documentation of a passing score on the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT).

School districts are encouraged to provide mechanisms for middle grades teachers holding only a K-6 teaching certificate to obtain a subject area coverage for middle grades through postsecondary coursework or district add-on certification.

(6) MASTERY OF PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION AND EDUCATION COMPETENCE.Acceptable means of demonstrating mastery of professional preparation and education competence are:
(a) Successful completion of an approved teacher preparation program at a postsecondary educational institution within this state and achievement of a passing score on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule;
(b) Successful completion of a teacher preparation program at a postsecondary educational institution outside Florida and achievement of a passing score on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule;
(c) Documentation of a valid professional standard teaching certificate issued by another state;
(d) Documentation of a valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or a national educator credentialing board approved by the State Board of Education;
(e) Documentation of two semesters of successful, full-time or part-time teaching in a Florida College System institution, state university, or private college or university that awards an associate or higher degree and is an accredited institution or an institution of higher education identified by the Department of Education as having a quality program and achievement of a passing score on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule;
(f) Successful completion of professional preparation courses as specified in state board rule, successful completion of a professional preparation and education competence program pursuant to paragraph (8)(b), and achievement of a passing score on the professional education competency examination required by state board rule;
(g) Successful completion of a professional development certification and education competency program, outlined in paragraph (8)(a); or
(h) Successful completion of a competency-based certification program pursuant to s. 1004.85 and achievement of a passing score on the professional education competency examination required by rule of the State Board of Education.

The State Board of Education shall adopt rules to implement this subsection by December 31, 2014, including rules to approve specific teacher preparation programs that are not identified in this subsection which may be used to meet requirements for mastery of professional preparation and education competence.

(7) 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 fulfills one of the following:
1. Meets all the requirements outlined in subsection (2).
2. For a professional certificate covering grades 6 through 12:
a. Meets the requirements of paragraphs (2)(a)-(h).
b. Holds a master’s or higher degree in the area of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
c. Teaches a high school course in the subject of the advanced degree.
d. Is rated highly effective as determined by the teacher’s performance evaluation under s. 1012.34, based in part on student performance as measured by a statewide, standardized assessment or an Advanced Placement, Advanced International Certificate of Education, or International Baccalaureate examination.
e. Achieves a passing score on the Florida professional education competency examination required by state board rule.
3. Meets the requirements of paragraphs (2)(a)-(h) and completes a professional preparation and education competence program approved by the department pursuant to paragraph (8)(c). An applicant who completes the program and is rated highly effective as determined by his or her performance evaluation under s. 1012.34 is not required to take or achieve a passing score on the professional education competency examination in order to be awarded a professional certificate.
(b) The department shall issue a temporary certificate to any applicant who completes the requirements outlined in paragraphs (2)(a)-(f) and completes the subject area content requirements specified in state board rule or demonstrates mastery of subject area knowledge pursuant to subsection (5) and holds an accredited degree or a degree approved by the Department of Education at the level required for the subject area specialization in 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). At least 1 year before an individual’s temporary certificate is set to expire, the department shall electronically notify the individual of the date on which his or her certificate will expire and provide a list of each method by which the qualifications for a professional certificate can be completed. 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 or for 1 year if the temporary certificateholder is rated effective or highly effective based solely on a student learning growth formula approved by the Commissioner of Education pursuant to s. 1012.34(8). 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 district school superintendent, the governing authority of a university lab school, the governing authority of a state-supported school, or the governing authority of a private school.

(8) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CERTIFICATION AND EDUCATION COMPETENCY PROGRAM.
(a) The Department of Education shall develop and each school district, charter school, and charter management organization may provide a cohesive competency-based professional development certification and education competency program by which instructional staff may satisfy the mastery of professional preparation and education competence requirements specified in subsection (6) and rules of the State Board of Education. Participants must hold a state-issued temporary certificate. A school district, charter school, or charter management organization that implements the program shall provide a competency-based certification program developed by the Department of Education or developed by the district, charter school, or charter management organization and approved by the Department of Education. The program shall include the following:
1. A minimum period of initial preparation before assuming duties as the teacher of record.
2. An option for collaboration with other supporting agencies or educational entities for implementation.
3. A teacher mentorship and induction component.
a. Each individual selected by the district as a mentor:
(I) Must hold a valid professional certificate issued pursuant to this section;
(II) Must have earned at least 3 years of teaching experience in prekindergarten through grade 12;
(III) Must have completed specialized training in clinical supervision and participate in ongoing mentor training provided through the coordinated system of professional development under s. 1012.98(3)(e);
(IV) Must have earned an effective or highly effective rating on the prior year’s performance evaluation under s. 1012.34; and
(V) May be a peer evaluator under the district’s evaluation system approved under s. 1012.34.
b. The teacher mentorship and induction component must, at a minimum, provide weekly opportunities for mentoring and induction activities, including common planning time, ongoing professional development targeted to a teacher’s needs, opportunities for a teacher to observe other teachers, co-teaching experiences, and reflection and followup discussions. Mentorship and induction activities must be provided for an applicant’s first year in the program and may be provided until the applicant attains his or her professional certificate in accordance with this section. A principal who is rated highly effective as determined by his or her performance evaluation under s. 1012.34 must be provided flexibility in selecting professional development activities under this paragraph; however, the activities must be approved by the department as part of the district’s, charter school’s, or charter management organization’s program.
4. An assessment of teaching performance aligned to the district’s system for personnel evaluation under s. 1012.34 which provides for:
a. An initial evaluation of each educator’s competencies to determine an appropriate individualized professional development plan.
b. A summative evaluation to assure successful completion of the program.
5. Professional education preparation content knowledge, which must be included in the mentoring and induction activities under subparagraph 3., that includes, but is not limited to, the following:
a. The state standards provided under s. 1003.41, including scientifically based reading instruction, content literacy, and mathematical practices, for each subject identified on the temporary certificate.
b. The educator-accomplished practices approved by the state board.
c. A variety of data indicators for monitoring student progress.
d. Methodologies for teaching students with disabilities.
e. Methodologies for teaching students of limited English proficiency appropriate for each subject area identified on the temporary certificate.
f. Techniques and strategies for operationalizing the role of the teacher in assuring a safe learning environment for students.
6. Required achievement of passing scores on the subject area and professional education competency examination required by State Board of Education rule. Mastery of general knowledge must be demonstrated as described in subsection (3).
(b)1. Each school district must and a private school or state-supported public school, including a charter school, may develop and maintain a system by which members of the instructional staff may demonstrate mastery of professional preparation and education competence as required by law. Each program must be based on classroom application of the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices and instructional performance and, for public schools, must be aligned with the district’s or state-supported public school’s evaluation system established under s. 1012.34, as applicable.
2. The Commissioner of Education shall determine the continued approval of programs implemented under this paragraph, based upon the department’s review of performance data. The department shall review the performance data as a part of the periodic review of each school district’s professional development system required under s. 1012.98.
(c) No later than December 31, 2017, the department shall adopt standards for the approval of professional development certification and education competency programs, including standards for the teacher mentorship and induction component, under paragraph (a). Standards for the teacher mentorship and induction component must include program administration and evaluation; mentor roles, selection, and training; beginning teacher assessment and professional development; and teacher content knowledge and practices aligned to the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices. Each school district or charter school with a program under this subsection must submit its program, including the teacher mentorship and induction component, to the department for approval no later than June 30, 2018. After December 31, 2018, a teacher may not satisfy requirements for a professional certificate through a professional development certification and education competency program under paragraph (a) unless the program has been approved by the department pursuant to this paragraph.
(d) The Commissioner of Education shall determine the continued approval of programs implemented under paragraph (a) based upon the department’s periodic review of the following:
1. Evidence that the requirements in paragraph (a) are consistently met; and
2. Evidence of performance in each of the following areas:
a. Rate of retention for employed program completers in instructional positions in Florida public schools.
b. Performance of students in prekindergarten through grade 12 who are assigned to in-field program completers on statewide assessments using the results of the student learning growth formula adopted under s. 1012.34.
c. Performance of students in prekindergarten through grade 12 who are assigned to in-field program completers aggregated by student subgroups, as defined in the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), 20 U.S.C. s. 6311(b)(2)(C)(v)(II), as a measure of how well the program prepares teachers to work with a variety of students in Florida public schools.
d. Results of program completers’ annual evaluations in accordance with the timeline as set forth in s. 1012.34.
e. Production of program completers in statewide critical teacher shortage areas as defined in s. 1012.07.
(9) 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 of Education 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.
(c) The State Board of Education shall designate the certification areas for subject area examinations. All required examinations may be taken prior to graduation.
(d) The department shall provide procedures for an applicant who fails an examination developed by the department or by an entity under contract with the department to review his or her examination questions and his or her incorrectly answered responses to the questions. The applicant bears the actual cost for the department to provide an examination review pursuant to this subsection. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, only an applicant who fails an examination within a score range established by rule of the State Board of Education is entitled to an examination review under this paragraph or to challenge the validity of the examination.
(e) For any examination developed by this state, the Department of Education and the State Board of Education shall maintain confidentiality of the examination, developmental materials, and workpapers, which are exempt from s. 119.07(1).
(f) 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.
(g) All examination instruments, including developmental materials and workpapers directly related thereto, which are prepared, prescribed, or administered pursuant to this section shall be confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and from s. 1001.52. Provisions governing access to, maintenance of, and destruction of such instruments and related materials shall be prescribed by rules of the State Board of Education.
(10) BACKGROUND SCREENING REQUIRED, INITIALLY AND PERIODICALLY.
(a) Each person who seeks certification under this chapter must be fingerprinted and screened in accordance with s. 1012.32 and must not be ineligible for such certification under s. 1012.315. A person who has been screened in accordance with s. 1012.32 by a district school board or the Department of Education within 12 months before the date the person initially obtains certification under this chapter, the results of which are submitted to the district school board or to the Department of Education, is not required to repeat the screening under this paragraph.
(b) A person may not receive a certificate under this chapter until the person’s screening under s. 1012.32 is completed and the results have been submitted to the Department of Education or to the district school superintendent of the school district that employs the person. Every 5 years after obtaining initial certification, each person who is required to be certified under this chapter must be rescreened in accordance with s. 1012.32, at which time the school district shall request the Department of Law Enforcement to forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for federal criminal records checks. If, for any reason after obtaining initial certification, the fingerprints of a person who is required to be certified under this chapter are not retained by the Department of Law Enforcement under s. 1012.32(3)(a) and (b), the person must file a complete set of fingerprints with the district school superintendent of the employing school district. Upon submission of fingerprints for this purpose, the school district shall request the Department of Law Enforcement to forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for federal criminal records checks, and the fingerprints shall be retained by the Department of Law Enforcement under s. 1012.32(3)(a) and (b). The cost of the state and federal criminal history checks required by paragraph (a) and this paragraph may be borne by the district school board or the employee. Under penalty of perjury, each person who is certified under this chapter must agree to inform his or her employer within 48 hours if convicted of any disqualifying offense while he or she is employed in a position for which such certification is required.
(c) If it is found under s. 1012.796 that a person who is employed in a position requiring certification under this chapter has not been screened in accordance with s. 1012.32, or is ineligible for such certification under s. 1012.315, the person’s certification shall be immediately revoked or suspended and he or she shall be immediately suspended from the position requiring certification.
(11) 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 Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. 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 Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
(12) 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.
(13) STATE BOARD RULES.The State Board of Education shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536 and 120.54, as necessary to implement this section.
(14) 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.
(15) PERSONNEL RECORDS.The Department of Education shall maintain an electronic database that includes, but need not be limited to, the academic preparation, professional training, and teaching experience of each person to whom a certificate is issued. The applicant or the district school superintendent shall furnish the information using a format provided by the department.
(16) 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.
History.s. 728, ch. 2002-387; s. 43, ch. 2003-391; s. 170, ch. 2004-5; s. 16, ch. 2004-295; s. 61, ch. 2006-74; s. 30, ch. 2008-108; s. 25, ch. 2008-235; s. 104, ch. 2009-21; s. 184, ch. 2011-5; s. 41, ch. 2013-27; s. 8, ch. 2013-185; ss. 3, 4, ch. 2014-32; s. 1, ch. 2016-117; s. 4, ch. 2016-142; s. 31, ch. 2016-237; s. 8, ch. 2017-116.