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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Regulations on Autism Endorsement for Educator Endorsement (603 CMR 7.00)

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
September 11, 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 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.

At the June 23, 2015 meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education reviewed public comments on the proposed amendments to 603 CMR 7.00, Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, relating to the new autism endorsement. We received 32 comments from individuals and organizations during the public comment period and three of the original commenters also provided comments at the Board meeting in June.

We made additional revisions to the proposed regulations based on the comments from the public and the Board. The enclosed public comment report summarizes the comments and the Department's responses. I have highlighted the four areas that received comment from both the public and the Board below:

  1. There was concern about the proposal to make the endorsement available to both special education and general education teachers. As a result, we have revised the regulation and I am recommending that in this initial phase, the endorsement be available only to licensed special education teachers who meet the requirements. I have asked Department staff to develop a plan to seek input from stakeholders on the use of the endorsement in the field and educators' experience with the endorsement, including whether and how it should be expanded to general education teachers in the future. I continue to strongly believe that since many students with autism are educated in our public schools, often with much of their instruction provided by general education teachers, training and knowledge about teaching students with autism should not be limited to special educators.

  2. We received a number of comments asking that the voluntary nature of the endorsement be included in the regulations. In response, we have added new language stating that all licensure endorsements are voluntary, with the exception of the two SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) endorsements, although nothing in the regulation limits the authority of school officials per state statute to require the endorsement or other qualifications for educators, in addition to basic licensure.

  3. We also received substantial feedback regarding the alignment of the license renewal cycle for teachers who hold multiple licenses and/or endorsements. The Educator Licensure Office is currently investigating whether or not the current renewal system, ELAR, can be modified to provide all educators the option of aligning the renewal dates for any or all of their licenses or endorsements. Since this is an administrative operational matter, no changes to the regulations are necessary.

  4. Lastly, we received comments requesting use of alternative pathways, such as a review panel, as an alternative way to meet coursework and other prerequisites for this endorsement. In response, the revised regulation anticipates two new alternative pathways: one for teachers who hold a comparable autism endorsement or license from another state1 and one that allows a candidate to demonstrate subject matter knowledge by passing a Department-approved assessment.

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

Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner for Accountability and Partnerships; Debra Comfort, Associate General Counsel; and Brian Devine, Administrator of the Educator Licensure Office, will be available at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

Attachments:

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

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Last Updated: September 16, 2015
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