At last week’s State Board of Education meeting, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran officially announced that the Florida Department of Education has cleared its educator certification backlog.
On January 21, the Department had a backlog of 31,666 applications in-hand and eligible for an evaluation, 15,290 of which had been in the department’s possession longer than the statutory limit of 90 days.
Commissioner Corcoran gave the Department 120 days (by close of business May 21) to clear this backlog. As of May 14, 2019, all of those applications have been completed. Additionally, Commissioner Corcoran confirmed that the Department is also now in compliance with the 90-day processing limit for all those applications received since January 21.
Commissioner Corcoran said, “It is simply unacceptable to keep our teachers and schools waiting, because that ultimately means our students are waiting. We’re grateful for our staff who answered this challenge, the nights and weekends they gave to make this happen, and their renewed sense of purpose to serve our educator workforce. And we’re grateful for the collaboration with the district superintendents who work with us every day to ensure that time-sensitive teacher certification applications are prioritized. Now we will look towards our next goals, completing applications within 60 days and eventually 30 days, rather than the statutory limit of 90 days.”
In January, Commissioner Corcoran ordered a review of the current operating procedures and immediately implemented the following actions, which were instrumental in accomplishing this monumental task:
- Addressed a leadership deficit in the Bureau of Educator Certification;
- Reassigned several staff members to the bureau to quickly reduce the application time and clear the backlog;
- Designated a single point of contact within the department for superintendents to report any issues they may encounter, which are then immediately addressed; and
- Prioritized time-sensitive requests and requests from district superintendents.