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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Proposed Amendments to Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7.00); Educator License Renewal (603 CMR 44.00); and Certification of Supervisors of Attendance (603 CMR 13.00)

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
June 16, 2017

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At the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on June 27, 2017, I will ask the Board to vote to adopt the proposed changes to the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7.00), Educator License Renewal (603 CMR 44.00), and Certification of Supervisors of Attendance (603 CMR 13.00). The motion to adopt the revised regulations is attached.

On February 28, 2017, the Board voted to send the proposed regulations out for public comment. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has reviewed the comments and revised the proposed amendments as needed. Your materials include a summary of the comments and revisions. All the comments are available for the Board to review.

Background on regulatory review process

Consistent with Governor Baker's Executive Order 562 calling for a statewide regulatory review, the licensure proposals are intended to streamline the regulations and licensure system, close loopholes, clarify certain provisions, and reduce regulatory burden. The Department began this work to streamline the regulations by creating a 17-member Working Group for Streamlining Educator Licensure Regulations & Policies which met in 2016 and discussed and vetted a series of proposals to streamline the regulations while operating within the existing statutory structure. The Department surveyed educators regarding the Working Group's recommendations; the survey elicited over 900 responses. The revised regulations we are presenting to the Board for action on June 27 reflect changes incorporated as a result of the surveys we conducted and comments received during the public comment period.

Public comment on the proposed revisions

The Department opened the public comment period on March 10, 2017 and accepted feedback on the regulations until May 1, 2017. The Department issued a survey for public comment and also accepted comments via email, mail, or fax. Overall, the majority of the comments supported the proposed revisions. Attached to this memo are several documents related to the public comment the Department received, including two summary documents that include action taken as a result of the feedback provided. In addition, you will also find all of the individual comments submitted during the public comment period, including letters from the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts (AFT-MA), Massachusetts Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE), Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) and others.

Summary of proposed changes

Most of the proposed changes can be categorized as streamlining, closing loopholes, or reducing regulatory burden. Below are several examples of proposals included in the revised regulations in each category:

  1. Streamlining licensure regulations - Several proposals are aimed at "cleaning up" the regulations while others look to simplify the process and provide educators with additional options.

    Examples:
    1. Provide greater flexibility in the professional development an educator can participate in for purposes of license renewal, rather than directing the content for their professional development (603 CMR 44.06).
    2. Condense multiple and repeated references to completing approved programs into one option and move descriptions of the differences among various types of programs to guidelines (603 CMR 7.05 & 603 CMR 7.04(2)(c)).
    3. Simplify access for experienced out-of-state educators to receive a temporary and initial license and change the validity period for a temporary license from one calendar year to one year of employment (603 CMR 7.02 & 7.04(2)(d)).
  2. Closing loopholes - The focus here is on balancing requirements among candidates and eliminating aspects of the system that do not encourage continuous growth and development.

    Examples:
    1. Grant one preliminary license that is valid for five years of employment, requiring the educator to complete an approved route to advance to the initial license within that period of time regardless of how many subjects and grade levels of preliminary license are held. (603 CMR 7.02 & 603 CMR 7.05).
    2. Require out-of-state principal license applicants to complete and pass the performance assessment for leaders (PAL) to attain a principal license if they have less than one year of experience as a principal/assistant principal. (603 CMR 7.09).
    3. With the development of the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework, it became evident that our current instructional technology teacher license was insufficient to support college and career readiness initiatives. As a result, we have shifted the instructional technology license to a specialist teacher license and developed a new DLCS teacher license. The subject matter knowledge (SMK) requirements for both of these licenses have been updated and will be included in the Subject Matter Knowledge Guidelines that will go out for public comment in July 2017.
  3. Reduce/eliminate unnecessary burden - The goal here is to simplify and clarify the licensure process for districts, aspiring educators, and educators adding or advancing licenses.

    Examples:
    1. Move the detailed subject matter knowledge requirements out of the regulations and into guidelines so that when Curriculum Frameworks are updated, then the licensure requirements, requirements for preparation programs, and MTEL exams can be updated seamlessly. (603 CMR 7.06).
    2. Condense the principal/assistant principal license from three levels (PreK-6, 5-8 and 9-12) to two levels (PreK-8 and 5-12) to align to the structure for other licenses and provide more flexibility in hiring. (603 CMR 7.04(3)(a)).
    3. Eliminate a separate set of regulations relating to certification of supervisors of attendance (603 CMR 13.00) while updating and defining the requirements for this position. 603 CMR 7.15(9).

Expanding Eligibility for Autism Endorsement

In addition to these examples provided above, the Department is proposing to expand the eligibility for the Autism Endorsement to teachers who have earned credits related to special education. The endorsement was approved by the Board in September 2015 and is currently available only to teachers holding a special education license. The Department received mixed comments on the proposal to expand the endorsement to general education teachers. Support for the expansion came from Massachusetts Advocates for Children, among others, on grounds that expanding the pool of teachers who can earn the endorsement through training and experience will help to promote inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education setting.

We believe that giving more teachers the option to learn about educating students with autism and to qualify for the endorsement will benefit students and the schools that serve them. The Autism Endorsement is an optional professional credential and is not required for legal employment. With this change, teachers not currently licensed in the area of special education may obtain the endorsement and enhance the education and supports that students with autism receive in all domains, including the general education setting. The option for a general education teacher to earn the Autism Endorsement will not supplant the services or specially designed instruction called for in the student's Individual Education Program (IEP).

Clarifying Process for License Sanctions

The proposed changes to license actions (603 CMR 7.15(8)) are intended to clarify, streamline, and make the regulations consistent with long-standing practices of the Department's Office of Professional Practices Investigations ("OPPI"). OPPI helps ensure the safety of students in the Commonwealth by conducting investigations of licensed educators alleged to have engaged in misconduct that calls into question their sound moral character and by seeking license sanctions when warranted. For example, OPPI investigates educators alleged to have engaged in misconduct, such as sexual contact with students, lewd communications with students on social media, or providing alcohol to students.

State law gives the Commissioner broad authority over public K-12 education, as well as the power and duty to grant educator licenses and sanction educator licenses for cause, pursuant to standards and procedures established by the Board. G.L. c. 69, §§ 1A, 1B, 1I; G.L. c. 71, § 38G. Pursuant to this broad legal authority, Massachusetts school districts are required to provide the Commissioner with relevant records and information necessary to investigate alleged misconduct, without the need for subpoenas. School districts have complied with this obligation for decades. Timely access to relevant materials is critical to the fair and efficient processing of educator misconduct matters.

In every case, the Department provides and will continue to provide full due process rights to licensed educators who are alleged to have committed misconduct. Those rights include the right to a hearing before an impartial hearing officer. In all cases, educators under investigation by OPPI may retain an attorney to represent them. In response to a comment received from the MTA, the Department has included new language in the final regulations providing that when the Department issues a notice of probable cause to impose discipline, the notice will state that the educator may retain an attorney.

The Department received comments reflecting concern about the proposed addition of the phrase "misconduct that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, discredits the profession, brings the license into disrepute, compromises student safety or the integrity of the student-educator relationship." This proposed change was meant to clarify rather than expand the types of misconduct that could lead to license sanction. In light of the expressed concern, the Department has deleted this proposed change in the final regulations.

Similarly, as a result of comments, we have deleted from the final regulations the proposed change specifically referencing criminal cases that are continued without a finding, even though some other licensing agencies do reference them in their regulations. The current regulations refer to  deferred adjudication& and the Department has consistently interpreted this phrase to include criminal cases in which a criminal defendant has admitted to sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilty and received a continuance without a finding.

The enclosed summary of comments and Department responses provides information about which proposed amendments are included in the final regulations and which ones have been revised or removed. The removal of some of the proposed amendments to 603 CMR 7.15(8) does not affect, change, or narrow the Commissioner's legal authority. For example, the removal of a reference to misconduct that "compromises student safety or the integrity of the student-educator relationship" from the final regulations in no way limits the Commissioner's legal authority to impose a license sanction if an educator's actions compromise student safety or well-being.

The revised regulations that I am presenting to the Board on June 27 will help to streamline our licensure system while maintaining high standards for our workforce. I recommend that the Board vote to adopt the proposed changes to Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7.00), Educator License Renewal (603 CMR 44.00), and Certification of Supervisors of Attendance (603 CMR 13.00).

Department staff will be present at the Board meeting to answer your questions, including: Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske, Liz Losee, Director of Educator Preparation and Assessment, and Associate General Counsels Lucy Wall and Arabela Thomas.

Enclosures:

  
Draft Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 - clean version and strikethrough version
Download MS WORD Document
Draft Regulations for the Certification of Supervisors of Attendance, 603 CMR 13.00 - strikethrough version
Download MS WORD Document
Draft Regulations for Educator License Renewal, 603 CMR 44.00 - clean version
Download MS WORD Document
Draft Regulations for Educator License Renewal, 603 CMR 44.00 - strikethrough version
Download MS WORD Document
Major Themes from Public Comment and Actions related to the Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval regulations, 603 CMR 7.00
Download MS WORD Document
Major Themes from Public Comment and Actions related to the Educator License Renewal regulations, 603 CMR 44.00
  
Comprehensive Public Comment Report (including all comments received for all draft regulations)
  
Motion to adopt the regulations


Last Updated: June 20, 2017
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