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AVON PARK, Fla. — Jan. 14, 2020 — South Florida State College’s (SFSC) Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (BSEE) was recently granted reaccreditation from the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). Continuing accreditation has been granted through 2024—for five years, the maximum number of years allowed.
The BSEE program was initially granted accreditation in 2014. In 2013, the need for teachers in elementary schools in Highlands, Hardee, and DeSoto counties became clear, as positions opened up through teacher retirements and the growth of school enrollments. After getting the final stamp of approval from the FLDOE to add the degree program, SFSC admitted its first class of 12 students in fall term 2014. In May 2020, SFSC will have graduated 52 teachers since the beginning of the program. To date, 98% of SFSC’s BSEE graduates have been employed as teachers within the College’s tri-county district.
“The accreditation, and in this case, our reaccreditation means that the program is complying with all the standards that the Florida Department of Education requires,” said Dr. Maday Leon, lead instructor for SFSC’s BSEE program.
Some of the standards addressed during the site visit that took place in April 2019 are that curriculum is research-based and that the program maintains a close relationship with the districts in which students complete their internships and, eventually, become employed.
“It’s important for prospective students to know that when they select a bachelor’s program in elementary education in Florida, they should make sure that the college is accredited with the FLDOE
For SFSC’s students, graduating from our program means that their degrees would be validated by the FLDOE,” Dr. Leon said. “At some institutions, when a student graduates and they apply for teacher licensing, they’re denied. They’re then required to take additional courses because the college or institution doesn’t offer necessary courses.
“In our case, SFSC’s students graduate with the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Reading endorsements. When they graduate, they don’t have to go back and take those courses. They can renew their teaching certificates every five years.
“Accreditation provides a framework that allows our teacher preparation program to continue self-assessment and improvement by applying rigorous standards in research practices,” Dr. Leon said. “This reaccreditation tells us that the program is going in the right direction to prepare the students to be high quality teachers which, ultimately, helps our community.”
To apply to the BSEE program, prospective students must have completed their associate degree or higher. The state also requires that applicants pass the General Knowledge Test of the Florida Teacher Certification Examination before they enroll in the program. For complete application requirements and more information about the program, visit the SFSC website at southflorida.edu or call Dr. Maday Leon at 863-784-7154.