Preparation for the Classroom: Florida

2017 Alternate Routes Policy


The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers, as well as intensive induction support. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.

Meets in part

Analysis of Florida's policies

Florida offers several alternate route programs, including the District Professional Development Certification Program (PDCP), the Educator Preparation Institute (EPI), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), the Science Technology, Engineering, & Math program (STEM), the Professional Training Option (PTO), the College Teaching Experience, and the Professional Preparation- College Coursework program.

Coursework requirements: Florida requires that its alternate route programs provide preparation in Florida Educator Accomplished Practices, Professional Education Competencies and Skills, and state-adopted content standards, which include training on classroom management, child and adolescent development, assessment, scientifically based reading instruction, strategies appropriate for instruction of English language learners, and students with disabilities. Apart from these guidelines, the state does note outline coursework requirements, including those regarding the amount of coursework.

Induction support: Florida does not set induction support requirements at the state level for all of its alternate route programs. PDCP programs are required to support candidates through a teacher mentorship and induction component, which includes an assigned mentor who has been rated as at least effective and has completed a specialized training. The induction program must also provide weekly opportunities for 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. The induction experience must last for a candidate's entire first year in the classroom.

Florida requires that its candidates are supported by a school-based mentor and an assessor who offers opportunities to learn both as a reflective practitioner and through interactive dialogue with other teachers.

Supervised practice teaching requirements: Florida requires all alternate route program providers to offer candidates field experiences that are required to be in candidates' intended certification subject area and with a diverse population of students in a variety of settings under the supervision of qualified educators. Programs are required to assess candidates' performance in field or clinical experiences based in part on objective student achievement, however, it is unclear whether candidates are required to complete the field experience prior to becoming the teacher of record.


Recommendations for Florida

Establish coursework guidelines for alternate route preparation programs.
Although Florida does articulate coursework guidelines regarding the alignment of alternate certification coursework to Florida's pedagogical and content standards, the state should ensure that the requirements are manageable given the time constraints of a novice teacher and contribute to the immediate needs of new teachers.  Appropriate coursework should include grade-level or subject-level seminars, methodology in the content area, classroom management, and scientifically based early reading instruction.  However well-intentioned, any course that is not fundamentally practical and immediately necessary should be eliminated as a requirement.

Provide induction support to all alternate route teachers.

While Florida is commended for requiring Professional Development Certification Program (PDCP) to provide teachers with an intensive induction experience, the state should provide similar guidelines to ensure that all alternate route providers deliver similar induction experiences.  

Require opportunities for candidates to practice teach.
While Florida is recognized for providing field experiences for all alternate route candidates, the state should ensure that all candidates are provided with a supervised practice teaching opportunity prior to their placement in the classroom.

State response to our analysis

Florida was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

5B: Preparation for the Classroom 

  • Practice Teaching: The state should require a supervised practice-teaching experience.
  • Induction: The state should require that all new teachers receive intensive induction support.
  • Manageable Coursework: The state should ensure that the amount of coursework it either requires or allows is manageable for a novice teacher. Anything exceeding 12 credit hours may be counterproductive, placing too great a burden on the teacher. This calculation is premised on no more than six credit hours in the summer, three credit hours in the spring, and three credit hours in the fall.
  • Targeted Coursework: The state should ensure that all coursework requirements are targeted to the immediate needs of the new teacher (e.g., seminars with other grade-level teachers, classroom management techniques, training in a particular curriculum, reading instruction).
Preparation for the Classroom
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn the full point if all four elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if three elements are required for all alternate route programs.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if two elements are required for at least some of the state's alternate route programs.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one element is required for at least one of the state's alternate route programs.

Research rationale

Alternate route programs must provide practical, meaningful preparation that is sensitive to a new teacher's workload and stress level. Too many states have policies requiring alternate route programs to "backload" large amounts of traditional education coursework, thereby preventing the emergence of real alternatives to traditional preparation. This issue is especially important given the large proportion of alternate route teachers who complete this coursework while teaching. Alternate route teachers often have to deal with the stresses of beginning to teach while also completing required coursework in the evenings and on weekends.[1] States need to be careful to require participants only to meet standards or complete coursework that is practical and immediately helpful to a new teacher.[2] That is, while advanced pedagogy coursework may be meaningful for veteran teachers, alternate route coursework should build on more fundamental teaching competencies such as classroom management techniques, reading instruction, or curriculum delivery.

Most new teachers—regardless of their preparation—find themselves overwhelmed by taking on their own classrooms. This is especially true for alternate route teachers, who may have had considerably less classroom exposure or pedagogy training than traditionally prepared teachers.[3] States must ensure that alternate route programs do not leave new teachers to "sink or swim" on their own when they begin teaching. It is critical that all alternate route programs provide at least a brief student teaching or other supervised practice experience for candidates before they enter the classroom, as well as ongoing induction support during those first critical months as a new teacher.[4]

[1] Constantine, J., Player, D., Silva, T., Hallgren, K., Grider, M., & Deke, J. (2009). An evaluation of teachers trained through different routes to certification. Final Report. NCEE 2009-4043. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from
[2] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from
[3] Greenberg, J., Walsh, K., & McKee, A. (2014). Teacher Prep Review: A review of the nation's teacher preparation programs. Retrieved from
[4] For a further review of the research on new teacher induction, see: Rogers, M., Lopez, A., Lash, A., Schaffner, M., Shields, P., & Wagner, M. (2004). Review of research on the impact of beginning teacher induction on teacher quality and retention. Retrieved from