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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Educator Licensure - Overview of Current System and Proposed Next Steps

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
December 9, 2016


This memo updates the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on the progress of our initiative, in collaboration with the field, to streamline and reduce the regulatory burden in two sets of regulations dealing with educator licensure: Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7.00) and License Renewal Regulations (603 CMR 44.00). At the Board meeting on December 20, 2016, we will discuss the current licensure system and proposed revisions.

The current licensure system is a tiered system that allows for various points of entry into the profession and requires all educators to advance to a Professional license and then renew it every five years to maintain an active license. The foundation of this tiered system was first introduced in 1994 legislation, following the Education Reform Act of 1993. Prior to this tiered system for educator licensure and license renewal, only one type of license (also known as teacher certification) was issued and there was no requirement for license renewal or ongoing professional development.

The attached document provides an overview of each license that the Department offers, referring to the applicable statute and regulatory language. Below is a summary of the current licensure system.

Most licenses require the individual to hold a bachelor's degree and earn passing scores on the appropriate Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) exam. All license holders must be of sound moral character and pay the required licensure fee.

Potential Points of Entry:

  • Temporary License - Is valid for one calendar year and intended for an educator who has been employed for at least three years outside of Massachusetts under an educator license.
  • Preliminary License - Is valid for five years of employment, and generally available only to teachers. Advancing to an initial license is the next step for teachers with a preliminary license.
  • Initial License - Is valid for five years of employment and can be extended for an additional five-year period. In addition to a bachelor's degree and passing the appropriate MTEL exams, the initial license requires completion of an approved preparation program or an alternative route to licensure approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Possession of a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement is required to obtain a first Initial license in a core academic area.

Licensure Advancement:

  • Professional License - Is valid for five calendar years and requires the individual to have completed: at least three years of employment under the Initial license, induction and mentoring, and either a master's degree or another approved option.
  • License Renewal - Professional licenses are renewed by accruing at least 150 professional development points (PDPs) for a primary license and 30 PDPs for additional licenses. A primary license requires a minimum amount of professional development in the content area of the license, in SEI/English as a Second Language, and in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and instruction of students with diverse learning styles.

The Department's work to streamline the regulations and reduce the regulatory burden is in alignment with Governor Baker's Executive Order 562. Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske and staff of the Department began this work in the spring of 2016 by convening the Working Group for Streamlining Educator Licensure Regulations and Policies. In early fall, a survey related to proposals was launched and over 900 responses was received. I am pleased with the work done to date and the level of engagement by the field. Our objective is to streamline the system through changes that will simplify the process for applicants/educators, school districts, preparation programs and the Department, while enhancing the effectiveness of the educator workforce for the benefit of the students we serve.

Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske, Brian Devine, Director of our Office of Educator Licensure, and Liz Losee, Director of Educator Preparation and Assessment will be at the December 20 Board meeting to present information on the survey results, potential revisions, and next steps.


Download Word Document
Massachusetts Licensure System Overview

Last Updated: December 13, 2016
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