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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Proposed Amendments to 603 CMR 7.00 - Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval: Adding an Endorsement for Serving Students on the Autism Spectrum

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
April 17, 2015

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In July 2014 the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law Chapter 226 of the Acts of 2014, An Act Relative to Assisting Individuals with Autism and Other Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities. The law directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a teacher license endorsement in autism in order to meet the unique and complex educational needs of students on the Autism Spectrum. I recommend that the Board vote on April 28 to solicit public comment on proposed regulations to create the endorsement. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment and bring the regulations back to the Board for final adoption in June 2015.

A copy of the relevant sections of the law is attached. A full copy of the law is available on the 189th General Court of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts website. The law directs the Board to develop the autism endorsement for licensed special education teachers. In the proposed regulations, I am recommending that this endorsement also be available to early childhood teachers, elementary teachers, and teachers licensed in core academic subject areas. I am making this recommendation because the research indicates inclusion in general education classrooms and whole school activities results in improved outcomes for students with disabilities, and general educators may have an interest in developing expertise in addressing the unique needs of the growing number of students on the autism spectrum in their classrooms. I am particularly interested in hearing from the public on this recommendation.

An endorsement, in this case, is an optional form of recognition and does not result in a requirement that all individuals employed to work with students with autism must seek and obtain such an endorsement. However, because school districts have authority to establish additional requirements (beyond the licensure requirements) for their employees, they may choose to require candidates to hold or be eligible for such an endorsement.

Since the law was enacted in 2014, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has worked in collaboration with Massachusetts Advocates for Children and other stakeholders to draft the proposed regulations, which include the following elements:

  • Prerequisite license and experience;
  • Subject matter knowledge (the Department will issue guidelines to further define key knowledge for this endorsement);
  • Field-based experience;
  • A "grandfather" provision for teachers who have been primarily serving students with autism; and
  • Renewal requirements

A copy of the proposed regulatory language is attached. The complete text of the current Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 can be found on the website.

Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner for Accountability and Partnerships, will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

Enclosures:

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Sections 23, 24, 31, and 32 of Chapter 226 of the Acts of 2014
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Proposed Draft Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 (Autism Specialist Endorsement)
 
Motion


Last Updated: April 21, 2015
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