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  1. Gradebook

Florida Board of Education cuts costs of teacher certification tests

‘It’s so common sense,’ says board member Ben Gibson, an adviser to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

After months of complaints over the state’s teacher certification exams, which have cost thousands of educators their jobs, the Florida Board of Education agreed to reduce the fee teachers pay for retakes.

Among the changes:

• Registration to retake one of the four General Knowledge subtests will drop from $150 to $32.50.

• First-time registration for all subject area exams will drop from $200 to $150, and retakes will drop from $220 to $150.

• First–time registration for the full battery of Prekindergarten/Primary or Elementary Education tests will drop from $200 to $150.

The move comes not long after the previous administration declined to change the testing system, and while lawmakers consider the possibility of eliminating some of the tests altogether.

Related coverage: Florida House takes steps to eliminate controversial teacher test

“This is such a small thing the board can do to help our teachers, and it’s so common sense as well,” said board member Ben Gibson, who has advised Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Chairwoman Marva Johnson said she appreciated that the change would help teachers “without lowering the rigor.”

The move found support from Brevard County English teacher Vanessa Skipper, a member of the Florida Education Association executive cabinet, who was the only member of the public to speak to the board.

“This is one positive step in the direction of retaining great educators,” Skipper said.

She agreed with Gibson that small but meaningful changes are needed to continue improving Florida education. She also mentioned the need to increase teacher pay, suggesting that also might help stem the shortage of applicants for teaching vacancies across the state.

In related news, deputy chancellor Paul Burns told the board that the department has made a significant dent in the backlog of teacher certification and recertification applications that had piled up over several months.

Burns said commissioner Richard Corcoran had authorized six permanent and three temporary assignments to the certification bureau to catch up on the 15,000 requests and then remain up to date afterward. He anticipated clearing the list by May 31.

“I’m sure the school districts are excited to hear that,” Johnson said.