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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:
June 18, 2015

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At the April 28, 2015 meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to 603 CMR 7.00, Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, relating to the new autism endorsement. The Department received 32 comments from individuals and organizations during the public comment period. We have made some revisions to the proposed regulations based on the comments. The enclosed public comment report summarizes the comments and the Department's responses.

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 to establish a teacher endorsement in autism in order to meet the unique and complex educational needs of students on the Autism Spectrum. A copy of the relevant sections of the law is attached.

Although the law directs the Board to develop the autism endorsement for licensed special education teachers, I am recommending that this endorsement also be made available to early childhood and elementary teachers as well as teachers licensed in core academic subject areas. We received some comments opposed to making the endorsement available to non-special education teachers. Having considered those comments, I am still recommending that the endorsement be available to the broader range of teachers, as long as they meet the standards. My recommendation is based on the fact that many students on the Autism Spectrum are being educated in inclusive settings with non-special education teachers and students, and research shows that inclusive settings yield the best results. The availability of the endorsement should encourage general education teachers as well as special education teachers to expand their knowledge and skills to work with students with autism.

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, school districts have authority to establish additional requirements (beyond the licensure requirements) for their employees, and districts may choose to require candidates to hold or be eligible for such an endorsement.

This is a new endorsement that the Department developed in collaboration with Massachusetts Advocates for Children and other stakeholders. The requirements align with the new law. The proposed regulations define the following:

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

The changes from the April 2015 draft regulations, based on public comment, include:

  • A change in the title of the endorsement from Autism Specialist Endorsement to Autism Endorsement;
  • Requiring teachers who have experience working with students with autism to complete 75 hours of field-based experience to qualify for the endorsement. The original proposal did not include any field-based experience as a requirement for such teachers to qualify for the endorsement.
  • Adding language to clarify that the required field-based experience must take place in a school setting.

A copy of the proposed regulatory language is attached. For the complete text of the current Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00, see 603 CMR 7.00: Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval.

Marcia Mittnacht, State Director for Special Education; Liz Losee from our educator preparation team; Debra Comfort, Associate General Counsel; and Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner for Accountability and Partnerships, will be available at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

Enclosures:

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Excerpts from Chapter 226 of the Acts of 2014
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Public Comment Report
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Proposed Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 (Autism Endorsement) - strikethrough version
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Proposed Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 (Autism Endorsement) - clean version
  
Motion



Last Updated: June 22, 2015
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