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Great Public Schools Criteria for Florida

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Florida.

Readiness to Learn

Full-day Kindergarten:

Child Care Credentialing: Florida Statute 402.305(3) requires the presence of one credentialed staff person for every 20 children within a child care setting. The Florida Child Development Associate (CDA) Equivalency is an accepted credential for this requirement. The credential is based upon the eight national CDA content areas listed below:

  1. Planning a safe, healthy environment to invite learning
  2. Steps to advance children's physical and intellectual development
  3. Positive ways to support children's social and emotional development
  4. Strategies to establish productive relationships with families
  5. Strategies to manage effective program operations
  6. Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
  7. Observing and recording children's behavior
  8. Principles of child growth and development

Each of the CDA content areas are an integral part of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program. The Department of Education's Early Childhood Education program was approved to be a CDA Equivalent program by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), September 1, 1998.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) is a 600-hour program, which includes the required training for entry level workers leading to the Child Development Associate Equivalency (CDAE). The ECE program is divided into 4 occupational completion points which represent occupations within the industry.

Florida voters made a strong statement in their support of a quality program for all of Florida's four-year-olds. It has been proven that quality early childhood education represents one of the best investments a state or municipality community can make. FEA supports high quality universal pre-kindergarten program, staffed with highly certified and trained teachers and a ratio of 10:1.

Florida Education Association (FEA) calls for state, local and federal cooperation to ensure that high-quality early Childhood Education is available to all who want and need it. By steadily increasing access and quality, Florida can build the early childhood education system that our students need and deserve. Following are the principles that should guide early childhood education and are advocated by the FEA:

  1. A successful pre-kindergarten program supports parents as their children's first teacher.
  2. All four-year-old children should have a free, publicly funded, high quality, universal pre-kindergarten program available to them in the public school system.
  3. Florida should generate and allocate adequate funds in addition to those used for existing education, health, administrative and development programs for all pre-kindergarten students.
  4. Florida should commit to provide meals, healthy snacks and transportation for all four-year-olds.
  5. With dedicated funding for early childhood education, public schools should be the primary provider of pre-kindergarten programs, and funding must be allocated to finance them in the same manner as K-12 schools.
  6. All pre-kindergarten teachers must possess a bachelor's degree and the knowledge, skills, and certification needed to teach students to succeed. All pre-kindergarten instructional support staff should possess at a minimum a Child Development Associates (CDA) with benchmarks to obtain an Associates of Arts degree or its equivalent.
  7. Class size in pre-kindergarten should be limited to 10 students per teacher with no more than 20 children per class with instructional support staff.
  8. All pre-kindergarten programs should be accredited and adhere to health, safety and discrimination laws.
  9. All students and programs should adhere to appropriate grade level expectations modeled after the Sunshine State Standards.
  10. A high quality pre-kindergarten program should consist of a 6-hour day and teaching and learning should occur at least 180 days.
  11.  The pre-kindergarten program should be included in a pre-k through 20 system governed and operated by the Florida Department of Education.

Source: Florida Department of Education - Florida Education Association

Office of Early Learning. House Bill 1-A was signed into law by Governor Bush on January 2, 2005, creating a program designed to prepare four-year-olds for kindergarten and build the foundation for their educational success. The program allows a parent to enroll his or her eligible child (four years old by September 1 and residing in Florida) in a free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Education (VPK) Program. The program is voluntary for children and providers.
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Education (Florida Agency Workforce Innovation)


School funding systems must provide adequate, equitable, and sustainable funding. Making taxes fair and eliminating inefficient and ineffective business subsidies are essential prerequisites to achieving adequacy, equity, and stability in school funding. ESEA programs should be fully funding at their authorized levels.
Florida has one of the ten most regressive state tax systems in the country. ( PDF, 127 pp) (ITEP, 2003)

NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps

The Florida Education Association plans to use its NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps to support its "I Pledge a Commitment to Public Education" campaign to advocate for smaller class size, adequate funding, support for schools in need, and competitive wages for teachers and support professionals in the 2007 legislative session, and will communicate FEA's perspective on closing the gaps to state policy makers. FEA also plans to engage local leaders and affiliate staff in conversations about modifying local contracts to address issues that will help close achievement gaps.

Recruitment and Retention

Florida supports policies for the recruitment and retention for hard-to-staff schools, rural schools, and high-needs subjects. It also supports loan forgiveness and tuition reimbursement programs. Florida promotes alternative routes to teacher certification, such as Educator Preparation Institutes and School District Alternative Certification and Education Competency Programs, and Troops to Teachers. In addition, Florida has several teacher recognition programs and policies and loan forgiveness programs.

State-Level Differentiated Teacher Compensation Program: Florida's Performance-Based Pay Program requires districts to base a portion of employee's compensation on performance and adopt a performance pay policy for school administrators and instructional personnel.
Florida Statutes §1012.22 (1)(c)

Special Teachers Are Rewarded (STAR) performance pay plan replaces the Effectiveness Compensation or E-Comp, which awards teachers for their performance based primarily on student academic achievement.

Beginning in the 2007-08 academic year, each district school board must adopt a differentiated pay policy for school administrators and instructional personnel. The salary schedules must allow recipients to receive differentiated pay based upon a number of district-determined factors, including, but not limited to, additional responsibilities, school demographics, level of job performance difficulties and critical shortage areas.
House Analysis of HB 7087—amending Florida Statute §1012.22
DOE: STAR Overview

For the purpose of improving the quality of instructional, administrative and supervisory services in the public schools of the state, the district school superintendent shall establish procedures for assessing the performance of duties and responsibilities of all instructional, administrative and supervisory personnel employed by the school district (Instructional Personnel Assessment Systems).
Florida Statutes §1012.34 (3);
Florida Administrative Code 6B-4.010

Differentiated Pay for Hard-to-Staff Schools: Florida law states that a portion of every teacher's pay must be based on student achievement, and school administrators and instructional personnel who demonstrate outstanding performance must be awarded a salary supplement of at least 5 percent of their individual base salary.
Florida Statutes §1012.22 (1)(c) 2 and 4
Florida Statutes §1012.34 (3)

Differentiated Pay for Rural Schools: Florida law states that a portion of every teacher's pay must be based on student achievement, and school administrators and instructional personnel who demonstrate outstanding performance must be awarded a salary supplement of at least 5 percent of their individual base salary.
Florida Statutes §1012.22 (1)(c) 2 and 4
Florida Statutes §1012.34 (3)

Differentiated Pay for High-Needs Subjects: Florida law states that a portion of every teacher's pay must be based on student achievement, and school administrators and instructional personnel who demonstrate outstanding performance must be awarded a salary supplement of at least 5 percent of their individual base salary.
Florida Statutes §1012.22 (1)(c) 2 and 4
Florida Statutes §1012.34 (3)

Financial Incentives: Florida offers scholarship programs, loan and loan forgiveness programs, and housing support for teachers.

For Hard-to-Staff Schools or Subject Areas: The Critical Teacher Shortage Student Loan Forgiveness Program (CTSLF) provides financial assistance to eligible Florida teachers who hold a valid Florida Teacher's Certificate by assisting them in the repayment of undergraduate and graduate educational loans that led to certification in a critical teacher shortage subject area.
Florida Statutes §1009.59
Florida Administrative Code 6A-20.013
DOE: Office of Student Financial Assistance

The Critical Teacher Shortage Tuition Reimbursement Program (CTSTR) provides financial support of publicly-funded school employees who hold a valid Florida Teacher's Certificate by assisting them with the repayment of undergraduate and graduate educational courses that will lead to certification in a critical teacher shortage subject area.
Florida Statutes §1009.58
Florida Administrative Code 6A-20.012

DOE: Office of Student Financial Assistance

Teacher education pilot programs for high-achieving students may be established to include a year-long paid teaching assignment — at a low-performing school — and competency-based learning experiences and shall be designed to encourage high-achieving students to pursue a career in education.
Florida Statutes §1004.04

The Teacher/Quest Scholarship Program is created for the purpose of providing teachers with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of science, mathematics and computer applications in business, industry and government.
Florida Statutes §1009.61

For Minority Teachers: Preteacher education and teacher education pilot programs may be established by state universities and community colleges to encourage promising minority students to prepare for a career in education.
Florida Statutes §1004.04 (11)

The minority teacher education scholars program is a collaborative performance-based scholarship program for African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American and Native American students that provides an annual scholarship of $4,000 for each approved minority teacher education scholar who is enrolled in one of Florida's public or private universities in the junior year and is admitted into a teacher education program.
Florida Statutes §1009.60

For Paraprofessional/Teaching Assistants to Become Certified Teachers: Each school district may adopt a program for the career development of education paraprofessionals based upon education and training advancement, and to furnish economic incentives to encourage excellence among education paraprofessionals.
Florida Statutes §1012.38

Alternative Routes to Certification Supported by the State: Military personnel interested in beginning a second career in teaching can enroll in the Troops to Teachers program which provides referral assistance and placement services.
Florida's Alternative Certification Program
Florida Statutes §1004.85 and 1012.56
Florida Administrative Code 6A-5.066

Florida offers reemployment for retired teachers. A district school board may reemploy a retired member as a substitute or hourly teacher on a non-contractual basis, or reemploy such retired member as instructional personnel on an annual contractual basis.
Florida Statutes §238.181

Induction Policies: The department of education shall concentrate on the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers. The department shall create guidelines and identify best practices for the mentors of first-time teachers and for new teacher-support programs that focus on the professional assistance needed by first-time teachers throughout the first year of teaching.
Florida Statutes §1012.05

Out-of-Field Teaching Policies: Each district school board shall adopt and implement a plan to assist any teacher teaching out-of-field. Priority consideration in professional development activities shall be given to out-of-field teachers.
Florida Statutes §1012.42

Statewide Teacher Retention-Related Policies: Florida has state policies regarding maximum class size, classroom discipline, and the use of time in a school day.
Florida Statutes §1003.03
DOE: Class Size Reduction Amendment
Florida Statutes §1003.32
Florida Statutes §1012.74
DOE: Educators Professional Liability Insurance
Florida Statutes §1012.75
Florida Statutes §1012.22 (h)

Requirements and Rights for Tenure: Each person employed as a member of the instructional staff in any district school system shall be entitled to and shall receive a written contract. All such contracts, with some exceptions, shall contain provisions for dismissal during the term of the contract only for just cause.
Florida Statutes §1012.33

State Retirement Policies: The Teachers' Retirement System is divided into five plans designated as plans A, B, C, D and E. The following are the provisions for the retirement of a member: Plan A is retirement at the age of 60 based on 35 years of service. Plan B is retirement at the age of 55 based on 35 years of service. Plan C is retirement at the age of 55 based on 30 years of service. Plan D is retirement after 25 years of service on 25 years of service provided the member has reached age 50 and that the member electing to retire under this plan shall not be eligible to receive benefits allowed by Florida Statutes §238.07(8).
Florida Statutes §238.07
Florida Statutes Chapter 238—Teachers' Retirement System
Department of Management Services Division of Retirement

Teacher Recognition Programs or Policies: The department of education recognizes The Dale Hickam Excellent Teaching Program which identifies and rewards teachers for excellence in teaching by providing incentives to seek certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and to provide salary bonuses to teachers who are board-certified.
DOE: Excellent Teaching Program
Florida Statutes 6A-10.060
Florida Statutes §1012.72

The Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education Program is established to provide salary, travel and other related expenses annually for an outstanding Florida teacher to promote the positive aspects of teaching as a career. The Teacher of the Year shall serve as the Ambassador for Education.
Florida Statutes §1012.77

The Florida Department of Education/Macy's Teacher of the Year award is also recognized by the state department of education.
DOE: Teacher of the Year Award

The district school board shall provide for recognition of district employees, students, school volunteers and advisory committee members who have contributed outstanding and meritorious service in their fields or service areas.
Florida Statutes §1012.22 (g)

Sabbatical Policies: Any member of the instructional staff of any school district may be granted sabbatical leave for a period not to exceed one year. A person who receives such leave may be paid one-half of his or her ordinary salary during the period of such leave, or in accordance with negotiated agreement or district school board policy and shall receive full benefits during such period.
Florida Statutes §1012.64

Teacher Exchange Opportunities: A temporary certificate valid for three years may be issued to an exchange teacher. The certificate shall reflect the designation of exchange teacher and shall not reflect a subject.
Florida Administrative Code 6A-4.002

License Reciprocity with Other States: Certificates from other states shall not be valid for teaching in the state of Florida. However, certificates from other states may be used to document eligibility for a Florida certificate.
Florida Administrative Code 6A-4.002 (i)

Certification/Licensure of Educators from Outside the State: Florida has two reciprocity routes for certified teachers and administrators to qualify for a Professional Certificate. Route 1 is a Valid Standard Certificate Issued by a State Other than Florida. Route 2 is a Certificate Issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
DOE: Reciprocity for Out-of-state Teachers and Administrators
Florida Administrative Code 6A-4.002 (i)
Florida Statutes §1012.56