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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

English Learner Education Programs: Proposed Regulatory Amendments to 603 CMR 4.00, 7.00, 14.00, 31.00, and 44.00

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
Date:
June 15, 2018

At the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) on June 26, 2018, I will ask the Board to vote to adopt the proposed amendments to 603 CMR 4.00 (Vocational Technical Education Regulations), 603 CMR 7.00 (Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations), 603 CMR 14.00 (Education of English Learners Regulations), 603 CMR 31.00 (Massachusetts Certificate of Mastery Regulations), and 603 CMR 44.00 (Educator License Renewal Regulations). These amended regulations are designed to improve the instruction of English learners (ELs) in career vocational technical education programs, implement the Language Opportunity for Our Kids Act, Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2017 (LOOK Act), and align certain provisions of these regulations with the corresponding provisions of the educator licensure regulations that the Board adopted in June 2017. For an overview of the LOOK Act, please access the March 16, 2018 Memo to the Board. For the complete text of the LOOK Act, please refer to SessionLaw: Acts of 2017 Chapter 138.

In March 2018, the Board voted to send the proposed regulatory amendments out for public comment. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) has reviewed the public comments received and has revised the proposed regulatory amendments as needed.

Stakeholder Engagement

In addition to soliciting written public comments, Department staff engaged stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth. For example:

  • Between May 7 and 9, 2018, Department staff facilitated four English Learner Education Regulations parent meetings in Lawrence, Holyoke, Southbridge, and Brookline that were organized by school districts. Approximately 100 parents, teachers, and parent liaisons attended the meetings. Interpretation was provided by the Department. Participants in each location engaged in discussions about the proposed regulations, especially the English Learner Parent Advisory Councils and the provision in the LOOK Act that provides school districts with flexibility to choose an alternative instructional program that best fits the needs of their ELs, while ensuring accountability through Department oversight. After the presentations, district staff encouraged parents to submit public comments on the proposed regulations. For example, parents in Southbridge and Holyoke were provided Chromebooks in order to complete the public comments survey immediately after the presentation. The Department also sent the presentations and their translations to all district EL leaders for their use with parents of ELs.
  • In addition, at various points during the public comment process, the Department conducted face-to-face meetings, webinars, and phone conference presentations for EL directors/coordinators, union leadership (AFT-MA, MTA), the Massachusetts Language Opportunity Coalition leadership, superintendents, assistant superintendents, other directors, and representatives from institutions of higher education. During such meetings and presentations, the Department received input on the proposed regulations and encouraged submission of public comments.

Comments and Responses

The Department received public comments from 130 commenters. Most of the comments were from teachers (63 percent), school and district administrators (20.5 percent), and parents and community members (8.3 percent). Faculty and staff of higher education institutions, college students, elected officials, and statewide associations, including the Massachusetts Language Opportunity Coalition (LOC), Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), and American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts (AFT-MA), also provided written comments regarding the proposed regulations.

Our analysis of public comments indicated that there is broad support for proposed regulations that allow districts to provide English Learner Education (ELE) programs other than Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) and that describe the application process for new ELE programs. Most of the concerns and recommendations submitted through the public comment process addressed the proposed implementation timelines for career vocational technical educators to earn the SEI Endorsement and the proposed criteria for earning the State Seal of Biliteracy. Respondents submitted fewer comments regarding the proposed establishment of the Bilingual Education Endorsement, the process for approving new ELE programs, and the English Learner Parent Advisory Councils.

A summary of the public comments and the Department's responses to them is attached. The "Summary of Public Comments and Responses Report" also includes an executive summary analysis of the comments. A copy of the complete text of the public comments is available electronically. Below is a brief summary of the key proposed changes made as a result of the public comments submitted to the Department:

Summary of Key Proposed Changes

SEI Endorsement for Career Vocational Technical Educators

  • Timelines have been updated to postpone the effective date for the proposed SEI Endorsement requirements for career vocational technical educators from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021. These proposed changes will provide career vocational technical educators with more time to obtain the SEI Endorsement.
  • While it did not require a change to the proposed regulations, the Department plans to commence the no-cost SEI Endorsement courses in early 2019, rather than fall 2018, to provide more advance notice to career vocational technical educators who will need to take such courses. Additionally, the Department will establish a working group to assess the feasibility of incorporating the SEI Endorsement course into the 21 college degree credit pathway to professional licensure for career vocational technical educators.

Seal of Biliteracy

  • The proposed regulations retain grade 10 ELA MCAS performance as a criterion for demonstrating a high level of proficiency in English, but also add options for students who are required to complete an Educational Proficiency Plan to earn the Competency Determination. Those students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in English by achieving a minimum score or level determined by the Commissioner on a nationally recognized and readily available English proficiency assessment approved by the Department.
  • The proposed regulations have been further changed to reflect that the minimum scores or levels on foreign language proficiency assessments must be aligned to higher education standards for awarding advanced credit by examination and ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
  • These revised proposed criteria should create additional options for students to earn the State Seal of Biliteracy, and afford former and current English learners more opportunities to demonstrate English proficiency.
  • The Department plans to review the criteria as needed to ensure that the award remains consistent with a high level of proficiency as stated in M.G.L. c. 69, ยง 1Q.
  • The Department will, in guidance, establish levels of distinction for the State Seal of Biliteracy.

Bilingual Education Endorsement

The Department proposes to reduce the number of hours of field-based experience that an educator needs to earn the Bilingual Education Endorsement from 150 hours of field-based experience to 75 hours. The recommendation to reduce the required hours is based upon the limited number of bilingual education programs where prospective candidates for the Bilingual Education Endorsement can obtain field-based experience.

Next Steps

Prior to the beginning of the school year, the Department will issue guidance to assist school districts with implementing the amended regulations. At the upcoming Board meeting, Department staff from the Center for Instructional Support, the Office for Career/Vocational Technical Education, the Office of Educator Licensure, and the Legal Office will be available to answer your questions.

 

Enclosures:

Download Word Document
603 CMR 4.00 — clean version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 4.00 — redline version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 7.00 — clean version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 7.00 — redline version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 14.00 — clean version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 14.00 — redline version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 31.00 — clean version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 31.00 — redline version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 44.00 — clean version
Download Word Document
603 CMR 44.00 — redline version
Download Word Document
Summary of Public Comments and Responses Report
 
Motion to Adopt Proposed Regulatory Amendments


Last Updated: June 18, 2018
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