Special Education in Florida
Despite having several densely-populated urban and suburban areas, Florida manages to serve its students with disabilities well, earning the highest rating of “Meets Requirements” from the U.S. Department of Education for its ability to provide special education services. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 13.9 percent of Florida students have Individualized Education Programs, nearly one percent above the U.S. average of 13 percent. Florida employs nearly 10,900 special education teachers to serve its 4,253 public and 446 charter schools, which are organized into 67 school districts. There are also 1,714 private schools in the state. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) oversees public education in the state; its Bureau of Exceptional Education & Student Services administers programs and coordinates services for students with special needs. While the teacher shortage areas change annually, they commonly include a range of specialties in special education.
The certification section of the DOE website provides information regarding requirements for teaching in Florida.
Levels of Teacher Licensure
Special Education Teaching Degrees in Florida
U.S. News & World Report ranks the graduate special education programs at the College of Education at University of Florida among the top 10 of its kind in the United States. Located in Gainesville, the university’s Special Education Program includes certificate-only options, as well as DOE-approved bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral courses of study in special education with an emphasis on teacher preparation or research. The department’s Unified Elementary ProTeach Program is a five-year track resulting in a master’s degree and teaching certificate. Participants can opt for a dual certification in Special Education (K-12). Part-time students can enjoy the flexibility of the graduate-level Online Teach Well Program. The post-master’s Specialist in Education program is also fully online.
For profiles of all the schools in Florida that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The DOE offers several alternative routes to certification. Florida’s Alternative Certificate Program supports new hires who hold a Temporary Certificate with programs that help them earn a Professional Certificate. Participants must demonstrate subject area mastery. The DOE also recognizes graduates of the American Board, a program that provides an intensive online 10-month training program to would-be educators so that they can obtain certification quickly, even while working in classrooms.
Special Education Teaching Jobs in Florida
Special Education Teaching Jobs in Florida
- The DOE’s Professional Development in Florida website explains the DOE’s requirements for earning professional development units, while its Teach in Florida’s Teacher Support Resources webpage features recommendations for where to earn them.
- Florida School Leaders is an official DOE provider of training for new and veteran teachers.
- The DOE’s Exceptional Education & Student Services department maintains the Professional Development Portal for Educators of Students with Disabilities, which provides information about face-to-face and online trainings in behavior support, curriculum and instruction practices, policy, community support, screening, evaluation, assessment and transition.
- A project of the Office of Special Education at the University of Florida, the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development seeks to increase commitment to teaching students with disabilities and improve teacher quality with a focus on mentorship.
Florida Special Educator Professional Groups
- The Florida Education Association (FEA), affiliated with the National Education Association, is the state teacher’s union. It advocates for its over 140,000 members, which include educators and staff at public schools, as well as retired teachers and students preparing to work in Florida’s public schools.
- Special education policy and how it translates to public and charter school practice is the focus of DOE’s State Advisory Committee for the Education of Exceptional Students.
- Disability Rights Florida is an advocacy group supporting Floridians who have disabilities.
Florida Special Education Bloggers
- Extra Special Teaching: A K-2 resource room teacher in Florida shares her experiences and favorite sources of curriculum and teaching tools.
- 3D Learning Blog: The focus is on innovative learning strategies for students with dyslexia and other learning differences.
- Just for Teachers: The DOE’s monthly e-newsletter keeps Florida teachers in the loop about the latest state educational initiatives and policies.