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Proposed Amendments to 603 CMR 7.00 - Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
April 19, 2012


I am presenting to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education this month, for discussion and a vote to solicit public comment, proposed amendments to 603 CMR 7.00, the Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the regulations and bring them back to the Board for a final vote in June 2012.

The Board and Department have made educator effectiveness a priority, to help educate all students for college and career readiness and close achievement gaps. This work is supported by and consistent with the federal Race to the Top grant to the Commonwealth. Our goal is to see to it that every classroom in the Commonwealth is staffed by an effective educator and schools and districts are organized to support student achievement and success. To that end, the Board adopted new Educator Evaluation Regulations in June 2011 and new Administrative Leadership Regulations in December 2011, as two components of a comprehensive system to support educator development across the career continuum.

The proposed amendments to the Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations that are presented this month will advance educator effectiveness in the following ways:

  1. Proposed standards for the English as a Second Language educator license. The proposed amendments would revise the subject matter knowledge requirements for the English as a Second Language (ESL) license to reflect current research on teaching ESL. These changes are a companion to the RETELL initiative we launched in February 2012, to strengthen teaching and learning for English language learners.
  2. Proposed standards for program approval, professional licensure, and other matters. The proposed amendments would:
    • Build an outputs-driven approval process for educator preparation programs with reporting requirements to support a new accountability system for all educator preparation programs;
    • Revise the requirements for the professional license to allow content-specific pedagogy courses (e.g., how to teach math concepts to students) as well as content courses (e.g., mathematics) to be used for professional licensure;
    • Increase the number of hours of practical, field-based experience that educators are expected to have in preparation for licensure;
    • Clarify exemptions regarding the requirement to hire licensed personnel.

The proposed amendments also make some editorial changes for clarity and include a phase-in for new requirements.

A. English as a Second Language

Sheltered English Immersion (SEI), the model for delivering instruction for English language learners in Massachusetts, has two essential components: sheltering content and English as a Second Language (ESL). The proposal to establish an SEI endorsement, which the Board voted to send out for public comment in February, focused on the sheltering content component. The revisions being proposed here will update the subject matter knowledge and skills requirements for the ESL educator license.

The current requirements for the ESL license have been in effect since 2006 and the ESL Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) has been in existence since 2004. Since then, there have been notable changes in the field of English language learner education as well as important advances in research that are not consistently reflected in all teacher preparation programs in the Commonwealth. We need to update and strengthen the subject matter knowledge requirements for ESL teachers as an additional component to our RETELL initiative, which seeks to close the proficiency gap for English language learners.

The proposed regulations address recent developments in the fields of academic language and English literacy development. In addition, for the first time, the subject matter knowledge requirements will contain a section on socio-cultural and socio-emotional considerations in the teaching of ESL. The proposed regulations also introduce the requirement of a 150-hour internship for educators who wish to add an ESL license. Finally, the requirements for this license will include additional topics to be addressed in teacher preparation programs although these topics will not be covered on the ESL MTEL.

The RETELL initiative has been the subject of numerous meetings and forums that the Department has convened over the past several months and is continuing to hold through the spring with various educational organizations and other interested parties. Through the Office of the Attorney General, we are also in ongoing discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice about the RETELL initiative. The discussions to date have been constructive.

B. Educator Preparation Program Approval and Other Matters

Over the past four years the Department has worked collaboratively with a group of educator preparation programs to create, pilot and implement a continuous improvement, outcomes-based, data driven program approval process. This included a pilot cohort of 12 sponsoring organizations and a second cohort that consisted of 15 organizations. In addition, over the past 6 months we reached out to and received feedback from national organizations (National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Education Sector, Education Trust, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), and the Center for American Progress), researched practices in other states, surveyed and met with school and district administrators, and held several forums and surveys with our educator preparation programs. Their feedback informed these proposed regulations.

The proposed changes to program approval and reporting support our goal to strengthen educator preparation programs in Massachusetts and build a web-based accountability system. These changes reflect national trends and the Obama Administration's Plan for Teacher Education Reform and Improvement. One part of that comprehensive plan focuses on the impact of preparation programs through reporting and state accountability systems outlined in three categories of outcome-based measures:

  1. Student growth of elementary and secondary school students taught by program graduates;
  2. Job placement and retention rates; and
  3. Surveys of program graduates and their principals as to whether the program provided necessary skills for success in the classroom.

These three measures are built into the proposed changes that analyze the effectiveness of preparation program by measuring candidate and program completer effectiveness, using data such as evaluation ratings along with the above measures (1-3). These changes appropriately focus on the results that educator preparation programs demonstrate, rather than looking solely at inputs such as course syllabi.

With adoption of these regulations, the Department would change the types of data we collect from preparation programs. By analyzing the data from the programs along with other data such as school employment data and teacher evaluation results, we will be able to identify low- and high-performing programs and present the information to the public in a user-friendly, online format.

In addition, these proposed changes will:

  • Require educator preparation programs to work in partnership with districts and schools to support the needs of the districts;

  • Ensure pre-service educators work with effective educators by requiring that supervising practitioners have an evaluation rating of proficient or higher in order to be eligible to serve in that capacity;

  • Increase the hours of field-based experiences to span the full school year, to better prepare individuals to be effective beginning in their first year of employment. This will enable educators to demonstrate acquisition of the new Professional Standards and Indicators for Administrative Leadership or the Professional Standards for Teachers, and give them the opportunity to participate in the opening and closing of the school and all events that occur during a school year;

  • Align with the national direction for educator preparation by: (1) including new accountability measures with increased annual reporting requirements; and (2) shifting from a five-year to a seven-year approval cycle with interim review options;

  • Create new program approval standards that have been field tested with two cohorts of preparation program providers to be used as the basis for program approval, using effectiveness indicators for each standard and performance measures that will be included in the Department's Guidelines for Program Approval;

  • Enable the Department to identify programs that need intervention or support, provide technical assistance to low performing programs, and where necessary, close programs that fail to improve.

Professional Licensure Requirements

In addition to the proposed program approval standards, I am presenting changes to the professional licensure requirements that will allow content-specific pedagogy courses (e.g., Developing Math Practices for Number, Operations, and Algebraic Reasoning) to count towards professional licensure. These proposed changes recognize that teachers need to have both strong content knowledge and pedagogical skills to be effective teachers and that there are instructional strategies specific to many content areas.

These changes were vetted through the Educational Personnel Advisory Council (EPAC) and with educator preparation programs and are widely supported.

Clarifying Exemptions to Licensure

These proposed regulations clarify the circumstances in which school districts are permitted to employ unlicensed personnel. We are coupling these changes with the changes we are making to our administrative process for hardship waivers to comply with a December 2011 state court decision. The decision addressed the process for school and district officials to obtain hardship waivers in cases where they seek to employ educators who do not yet hold a Massachusetts educator license. Under the educator licensure statute (G.L. c. 71, s. 38G) the commissioner may, upon request of a superintendent, grant a one-year exemption (waiver) from the requirement to employ a licensed educator when compliance with the licensure requirement "would in the opinion of the commissioner constitute a great hardship in securing teachers for that school district." Based on the court decision, we are changing the waiver system to ensure that it is consistent with state law, uses available resources efficiently, and serves the needs of school districts and approved private special education schools.

These proposed regulations include a new requirement that an educator who is to be employed under a waiver must meet minimum requirements established by the Department. Additionally, since the licensure law allows school districts to employ temporary substitutes who are not licensed, we are proposing to limit the definition of a temporary substitute to an employee who is hired for less than 90 consecutive school days to take the place of a regularly employed educator who is absent.

Other Proposed Changes

The proposed amendments also make some editorial changes for clarity and include a phase-in for the new program approval requirements and programmatic changes required for ESL preparation programs. In addition, they make other minor changes to the regulations to better support the needs of students, schools, and districts.

Proposed amendments are indicated by underline (new language) or strikethrough (deleted language). Sections of the regulations that are not being changed are omitted. For the complete text of the current Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00.

Claudia Bach, Director of the Department's Office of Educator Preparation, Policy and Leadership (EPPL); Brian Devine, Director of the Licensure Office; Esta Montano, Director, Office of English Language Acquisition & Academic Achievement, Liz Losee, Assistant Director of the Office of EPPL; and Debra Comfort, Associate General Counsel, will be present at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed amendments to the regulations. We plan to bring them back to the Board for final action in June 2012.


  • Draft Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 - clean version and strikethrough version Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
  • Motion to solicit public comment

Last Updated: April 23, 2012
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