In a unique program called voluntary prekindergarten, Florida offers free education to all four-year-old children before they head into kindergarten. With 80 percent of four-year-olds in Florida attending this program, preschool teachers there have many opportunities to work with these young people.
Florida Preschool Teacher Requirements
|Average Salary for Florida Preschool Teachers (2016)*||$27,480 (Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education)|
|Required Degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Fields||Prekindergarten/Primary Education, Preschool Education, Early Childhood Education|
|Testing Requirements||GK; Subject Area Exam in either Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3 or Preschool Education (Birth-Age 4)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Begin an Approved Prekindergarten or Preschool Education Program
Some courses within these majors, which are meant to prepare future early childhood teachers, may focus on:
- childhood development
- assessing young children
- language arts
- school and family community
To earn their bachelor's degree, students must meet all university-mandated requirements. Universities may require at least a C or better in major classes in order to prove comprehension. Some also require future teachers to study a foreign language, as some students are likely to be from non-English speaking homes. Students may need to work on a professional portfolio demonstrating their progress and acquired skills. Approved programs arrange for students to complete the 10 weeks of fieldwork observing and interacting with children in a preschool setting required by the state of Florida, such as in a student teaching internship.
Schools may require students to pass specific Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) in order to progress within the program. These tests include the General Knowledge Test (GK) and a Subject Area Exam (SAE), either the Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3 or the Preschool Education (Birth-Age 4), depending which age group you wish to work with; passing the GK and one of the SAEs is a state requirement. Additionally, some schools require the FTCE Professional Education Test as well.
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Step 2: Pass the GK
As its name suggests, the FTCE General Knowledge test assesses the sort of broad-based knowledge aspiring preschool teachers will need in order to be effective at their jobs. The GK is broken into four subtests:
- an essay
- 40 multiple-choice questions on the English language
- 40 multiple-choice reading questions
- 45 multiple-choice questions about math
This test costs 130 dollars. The essay requires a passing score of eight out of 12 points, while the others each require a 200 to pass.
Step 3: Pass the Education Exam
After passing the GK, potential preschool teachers in Florida can then take one of two exams. The first is called the Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3. This test is broken into four subtests, each consisting 50 to 60 multiple-choice questions that take about one hour to complete:
- Developmental Knowledge
- Language Arts and Reading
Test takers have to receive at least a 200 on each subtest to pass this exam, and it costs 200 dollars.
The second exam is called Preschool Education (Birth-Age 4) and also costs 200 dollars. There are 120 multiple-choice questions, and a 200 is a passing score. Topics include, but are not limited to:
- curriculum knowledge
- supporting children's development
- typical and atypical development
- best practices for working in culturally diverse communities
Step 4: Apply for a Teaching Certificate
The Florida Department of Education requires all applicants for a teaching certificate to supply official transcripts from their teacher education program. There is also a 75 dollar processing fee the first time an individual applies.
Step 5: Complete and Pass Background Check
Applicants must submit their fingerprints to be screened by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI. The teaching certificate will be issued 30 days after prints are collected and verified as cleared.