The Florida Department of Education requires that all candidates who want to become teachers at Florida public schools and many private schools earn at least a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate mastery in three key areas: (1) general knowledge, (2) designated subject knowledge, and (3) professional preparation and education competence.
Demonstration of general knowledge in reading, writing, and mathematics has been required since 1980 for Florida teacher certification. In 1986, Subject Area Examinations were added to test demonstration of mastery in a specific subject area that a candidate wanted to teach. Florida lawmakers replaced the Florida College-Level Academic Skills Test (CLAST) in 2000 with what is currently known as the General Knowledge Test, which became effective in 2002. Passing the General Knowledge Test demonstrates mastery in the core areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. Passing the Professional Education Test demonstrates mastery of educational competence and pedagogy. By having candidates demonstrate mastery in the areas of general knowledge, specific subject knowledge, and professional preparation and education, it is hoped that schoolchildren will receive the best possible instruction for optimal educational success.
Florida offers two types of educator certificates: The Professional Certificate, which is valid for five school years and is renewable, and the Temporary Certificate, which is valid for three school years and is not renewable. The Professional Certificate is Florida’s highest educator certificate and is for graduates of Florida state-approved teacher preparation programs who have passed all three sections of the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE). The Temporary Certificate is designed for college graduates who have not passed all three sections of the FTCE and may or may not have completed a state-approved program in education. It provides time for teachers to complete all requirements for a Professional Certificate while teaching full-time. Florida also offers reciprocity for out-of-state teachers and administrators.
The Bureau of Educator Certification at the Florida Department of Education determines individual testing requirements for certification. Teacher candidates should submit an application for certification before applying to take certification examinations. After an application is on file, the Bureau will issue candidates an Official Statement of Status of Eligibility that will indicate individualized testing requirements. Candidates seeking to become certified as school administrators (i.e., school principals) will take a three-part multiple-choice and essay examination called the Florida Educational Leadership Examination (FELE).
Any section of the FTCE or FELE can be taken as a computer-based or paper-based test. Various dates and locations are offered each year for testing, and there are restrictions concerning how many examinations can be taken per test date, and in what combinations. Computer-based test results are typically available approximately two weeks after the exam date, except for French K-12, German K-12, Spanish K-12, and Speech 6-12, which are available approximately four weeks after the test date. Paper-based tests taken at regulation administrations are typically available 30 days after the test date. Exams taken at supplemental administrations are typically available 13 days after the test date.
Teacher certification scores are provided as pass/fail. Candidates who pass a test will see a “PASS” on their score report. Applicants who do not pass will receive a numeric score. Reasons for this include that licensure and certification examinations are designed to focus on precision measurement of the minimum passing score and that numeric scores are prevented from being used inappropriately (such as determining who is eligible to be hired or receive additional training, as the tests are not designed for these purposes).
Candidates must wait 31 days after retaking a failed test and submit a new registration and retake fee. Depending on the test taken, candidates may have to either retake only the subtest(s) not passed or retake the entire exam.