Understanding Florida's new ESE certification requirement

During the 2013 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1108 was passed and signed into law. It added an ESE instruction component — 20 inservice hours or 1 college credit — to the professional certification requirements without increasing the total number of hours needed for recertification.

FEA has put together this flowchart and Frequently Asked Questions to help teachers understand what we do know about the new requirements.


Frequently Asked Questions about the new ESE certification requirement

Who has to do this?

Every teacher whose certificate expires after July 1, 2014 must take one college credit or 20 hours of inservice training on the teaching of disabled students.

Isn’t this requirement only for ESE teachers?

No. Beginning on July 1, 2014 and thereafter, the law requires every teacher have 1 college credit or the equivalent inservice points (20 hours) as part of their professional certificate renewal.

My certificate expires after the rule takes effect. Can I renew early?

The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) has given districts discretion in accepting applications for early renewal. Check with your district’s Personnel/Human Resources department for information about early renewal.

What does a teacher have to do?

Check your certificate expiration date. If the certificate expires on June 30, 2014, be sure to submit your renewal application documentation and fees on time.

If you renew on or after July 1, 2014 or later, the teacher must take 1 college credit or 20 hours of inservice training in teaching disabled students and be sure the college credit or inservice training is part of the application record sent to the FLDOE.

What if I miss the June 30, 2014 renewal application deadline?

The law’s clock begins on July 1, 2014. If you do not send in the required renewal fees, application and credit/training records either through your district or the FLDOE online process before June 30, 2014, you will have to comply with this new requirement.

My certificate expires on June 30, 2015. I already have enough credits/points to renew. Can I renew early so I don’t have to take the ESE course/training?

The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) has given districts discretion in accepting applications for early renewal. Check with your district’s Personnel/Human Resources department for information about early renewal. 

What courses qualify and where can I take this course or training?

The State Board of Education (SBOE) rule related to this requirement states, “Acceptable credit in the instruction of students with disabilities may be applied to retain any specialization area on the professional certificate to be renewed.” You can take an acceptable course at a college or university that offers courses in the instruction of students with disabilities. We don’t know if or when districts will be providing inservice training that will satisfy this requirement.

Do ESE teachers have to take an additional college credit or inservice training on top of their recertification renewal requirements?

No. Teachers with ESE as one of their certification fields must have the required 6 college credits/ 120 inservice points/or a combination – half of which must be in ESE to renew their certificate. They don’t have to do more. The law clearly says the requirement may not increase the total hours required for certificate renewal.

I took an ESE course as part of my college degree program. Does it count?

No. The college credit or inservice training has to have happened within the 5 year recertification period. College courses taken before or in order to get a professional certificate cannot count for renewal.

I have more than two certification areas so I have to renew them during two different renewal periods. Do I have to take the 1 hour college credit or 20 inservice training hours twice – once for each time I renew?

The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) has given districts discretion in accepting applications for early renewal. Check with your district’s Personnel/Human Resources department for information about early renewal for differing renewal periods.

I am planning on using my National Board certification to renew my Florida certificate which expires on June 30, 2015. Do I have to take the ESE course/training?

The SBOE rule permits National Board Certification in Exceptional Needs to satisfy the statutory requirement. National Board Certification in all other content areas will not. National Board teachers may use their NB certification to renew early.  The FLDOE has given districts discretion in accepting applications for early renewal.  Check with your district’s Personnel/Human Resources department for information about early renewal.

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