The Office of Academic and Student Affairs (ASA) is highly involved in the preparation of teachers for Florida's workforce through collaborations in the SUS Colleges of Education and with nationally recognized accreditation agencies such as the National Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (NCATE). These partnerships and liaison work provide support for education graduates to complete their degrees from nationally recognized colleges of education and Florida Department of Education approved programs.
ASA also collaborates with various organizations across Florida to support efforts to increase the number of teachers entering the math, science, engineering, and technology (STEM) professions. These methods include developing and implementing statewide initiatives to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers in STEM areas with partners such as the Coalition for Improving Mathematics and Science Education (CIMS), a nonprofit organization in Florida working to improve academic preparation among students and teachers in these areas. ASA further supports programs designed to ensure that highly qualified teachers are present in classrooms with K-12 students with disabilities. Much of these efforts are done in collaboration with Florida's Professional Development Partnerships (PDP), which are designed to increase the capacity of Florida's school districts with highly qualified educators who can provide effective instructional and related services to children with disabilities.
Pathways to the Classroom
Traditional Preparation Programs
Florida offers several different pathways in which a prospective teacher may become certified and employed in a K-12 classroom. Traditional teacher preparation programs exist at ten State universities; whereby a student may complete an undergraduate degree in education from a state approved teacher preparation program. Traditional teacher preparation programs generally take at least four years to complete the undergraduate degree. Students are generally admitted to these programs at the junior year after completing all of the lower division liberal arts coursework and satisfying the common prerequisites for each program.
Individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree either in education or another field may also seek advanced degrees that may lead to certification. Several SUS institutions offer education degrees at the master's and doctoral level for teachers who want to enhance their skills or move into administrative roles within the K-12 setting. The Master of Arts in Teaching has become a popular program to enable individuals to become certified as a teacher in Florida. Masters of Arts in Teaching programs provide certifications that are also recognized by multiple states and can generally be completed in one year.
Alternative Preparation Programs
In addition to the traditional degrees offered in colleges of education, Florida has developed several alternative routes for individuals interested in teaching, but who may need more flexible options in their preparation. These alternative certification programs are designed to prepare newly hired teachers or individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree with the professional preparation needed to qualify for a Professional Certificate to teach in a K-12 classroom. Prospective or practicing teachers who hold a Florida Temporary Certificate may choose to enroll in either of the following alternative programs to complete the requirements for a Professional Certificate in Florida.
- District Alternative Certification Program. Individuals who already hold a valid degree in a specific subject area may apply for a Temporary Certificate to teach in Florida and then complete a district alternative certification program to meet the professional preparation requirements and satisfy the remaining credentials needed for the Professional Certificate. These district alternative certification programs were developed by the Department of Education to help teachers gain knowledge in educational pedagogy needed to be successful in the classroom and to gain competencies in the Twelve Educator Accomplished Practices required of all teachers.
- Educator Preparation Institute (EPI). Educator Preparation Institutes offer competency-based programs as an alternate route to certification for mid-career professionals and non-education baccalaureate degree holders. Within an EPI, individuals may obtain any or all of the following instruction:
- professional development for teachers for classroom improvement and for recertification;
- training for substitute teachers;
- paraprofessional instruction; and
- competency-based instruction for baccalaureate degree holders leading to temporary and full teacher certification.
For a complete listing of SUS institutions that offer an EPI, please go to http://www.teachinflorida.com/PreCollegiate/EPI.asp.
- Professional Training Option (PTO). Professional Training Options were developed by the Florida Department of Education as an alternative route designed to offer professional preparation in education for individuals who already hold a degree in a particular subject area or for students working towards an undergraduate degree in a content area. SUS Colleges of Education with an approved initial teacher preparation program may offer a Professional Training Option to students completing subject area degrees at their institution. Interested individuals choosing to explore this option as a method for obtaining certification will have received pre-professional level training in the Educator Accomplished Practices and competency two (2) of the reading endorsement upon completion of the PTO. Integrated school-based observations and/or participation experiences are associated with these programs.
To date, seven of the ten SUS Colleges of Education offer an approved PTO. Please visit the institution's website for more information about enrolling in a state approved Professional Training Option.
- Troops to Teachers Program. The Troops to Teachers Program offers assistance to eligible military personnel to support their career transition to the teaching profession. The program is open to retirees, active duty personnel leaving the service with six or more years of service, and Reservist/National Guard personnel with ten or more years of credited service. The Troops to Teachers Program provides information to interested individuals regarding the requirements for certification and methods to obtain employment in a K-12 classroom. It also provides financial assistance to qualified participants by either providing a stipend up to $5000 to pay for certification requirements or a bonus of $10,000 if employed in a high-need school. All eligible participants must teach for a minimum of three years if financial assistance is utilized under this program.
Financial Aid for Prospective and Practicing Teachers in Florida
Florida is dedicated to recruiting and producing highly qualified and effective teachers in its public K-12 classrooms. Prospective and practicing teachers are directed to the following resources for financial support in their educational and career endeavors.
- The Critical Teacher Shortage Student Loan Forgiveness Program (CTSLF) CTSLF provides financial assistance to eligible Florida teachers who hold a valid Florida Teacher's Certificate or Florida Department of Health License. This program is made available by state-funded dollars to assist with repayment of undergraduate and graduate student loans for eligible Florida teachers employed in critical teacher shortage areas. Participants may receive up to a maximum of $10,000 to be used towards repayment of student loans used to fund enrollment in educational courses completed prior to being hired into the critical shortage area.
- The Critical Teacher Shortage Tuition Reimbursement Program (CTSTR) CTSTR provides financial support to publicly-funded school employees who hold a valid Florida Teacher's Certificate or Florida Department of Health License by assisting them with the repayment of undergraduate and graduate educational courses that will lead to certification or endorsement in a statewide critical teacher shortage subject area. Tuition reimbursement is available for up to 9 semester hours, or the equivalent in quarter hours per academic year. Reimbursement is available for a maximum of 36 cumulative semester hours or the equivalent. Awards are made payable directly to the participating employee. Interested applicants may visit http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/SSFAD/factsheets/CTS-TR.htm for a complete listing of critical teacher shortage areas associated with this program.
- The Florida Fund for Minority Teachers (FFMT) administers the Minority Teachers Education Scholars Program, which is a collaborative performance-based scholarship program for African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and Native American students. Students admitted to a teacher education program in their junior year at any of FFMT's participating universities and colleges are eligible to apply for a $4000 annual scholarship to fund their education. Scholarships are disbursed in the fall and spring semesters in the amount of $2000 per semester. Students may be eligible to receive the scholarship for up to two consecutive years. Scholarship recipients are required to attend the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers Annual Recruitment and Retention Conference as a condition of the award.
Additional Resources for Prospective and Practicing Teachers in Florida
- Critical Teacher Shortage Areas
- Florida Statute 1004.04 - Public accountability and state approval for teacher preparation programs
- Florida Teacher Certification Requirements
- State Approved Teacher Preparation Programs
- State Approved Educator Preparation Programs
- SUCCEED Florida Grants
- Teaching Opportunities in Florida