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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:
February 27, 2017

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This month I am presenting to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for discussion and a vote to solicit public comment, proposed amendments to 603 CMR 7.00, the Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations; 603 CMR 44.00, Educator License Renewal; and 603 CMR 13.00, Certification of Supervisors of Attendance. This follows the briefing the Board received at the December 20, 2016 Board meeting about our current educator licensure system and proposed changes.

Promoting educator development is one of the agency's core strategies. These proposals are intended to streamline the regulations and licensure system, close loopholes, clarify certain provisions, and reduce regulatory burden. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed regulations. I anticipate returning to the Board for a final vote in June 2017.

Background on regulatory review process

Governor Baker's Executive Order 562 called for a statewide regulatory review. The Department has used this process to renew discussions about the educator licensure system, which led to the creation of a 17-member Working Group for Streamlining Educator Licensure Regulations & Policies. Over a two-month span in spring 2016, the Working Group discussed and vetted a series of proposals aimed at streamlining the current regulations while operating within the existing statutory structure. Following this work, the Department surveyed educators regarding the Working Group's recommendations. The survey ran from September 22-October 20, 2016, and elicited over 900 responses. The recommendations were viewed favorably; only one proposal received less than an 80 percent approval rating. Results of the survey are included in the Board packet.

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 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. 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).

In addition to these examples provided above, I would like to call the Board's attention to several specific proposals that are being presented to you: 1) expanding eligibility to obtain the autism endorsement to "general" educators; 2) clarifying the process relating to license sanctions; and 3) separating Digital Literacy/Computer Science and Instructional Technology licenses.

Expanding Eligibility for Autism Endorsement

The Board voted in September 2015 to adopt regulations creating the optional Autism Endorsement for special educators. At that time the Board also directed the Commissioner to investigate expanding eligibility for the newly created optional Autism Endorsement to general educators. As a result, the Department invited key stakeholders to participate in an Autism Endorsement workgroup meeting in March 2016. Invited stakeholders included representatives from Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC), the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-MA), and representatives from institutions of higher education.

Based on feedback from the Board and this workgroup, the Department developed a survey to solicit stakeholder feedback on this potential expansion and on various options for the expansion. This survey was disseminated widely to key stakeholder groups, posted on our website, and published through the Commissioner's Weekly Update and Twitter. The Department received 451 responses to the survey in May and June of 2016. Sixty-one percent of respondents indicated that they believe the endorsement eligibility should be expanded to general educators, and approximately 70 percent of respondents indicated that there should be some prerequisite special education coursework for general educators seeking the endorsement. Please see the attached summary of key findings from the stakeholder engagement process.

The Department has also received strong support for expanding eligibility for the endorsement from stakeholder groups, including public comment from MAC at the December 2016 Board meeting, and a letter of support from the state Autism Commission, which is comprised of autism experts, providers, advocates, and state leaders appointed by the Governor to continue efforts to improve and expand treatment, resources, and insurance coverage for individuals with autism.

Therefore, we propose that the Board solicit public comment on the proposal to expand eligibility for the autism endorsement to all licensed educators who previously have earned a minimum of three graduate credits related to special education(603 CMR 7.14 (5)).

Clarifying Process for License Sanctions

State law gives the Commissioner the power and duty to grant educator licenses and to revoke educator licenses for cause, pursuant to standards and procedures established by the Board in the regulations. The proposed amendments to the license revocation section, 603 CMR 7.15(8), would clarify certain provisions that provide due process for licensed educators and align with Department practices. Specific proposals include:

  • State explicitly that the Commissioner may issue license sanctions less than revocation or suspension, such as a reprimand. This change provides the Commissioner flexibility to impose lesser sanctions in cases in which a revocation or suspension is not warranted.

  • State explicitly that license sanctions may be imposed if a license holder compromises student safety or the integrity of the student-educator relationship.

  • Clarify that the term "convicted of a crime" includes a continuance without a finding and other dispositions of criminal matters not specifically listed in the regulations.

  • Remove the "Investigatory Subpoena" provision of the regulations and reflect in regulation the requirement that educators and school administrators provide the Department with information and documents relating to an investigation of misconduct.

  • Clarify other provisions. For example, the regulation on the Department's periodic notice to school superintendents about license actions is revised to include heads of charter schools and virtual schools, who are routinely notified of disciplinary actions but are not currently listed in the regulations.

Digital Literacy/Computer Science and Instructional Technology

Based on feedback and comments received at the December 2016 Board meeting and additional outreach conducted by Department staff, I propose that we maintain an instructional technology license. The main function of an instructional technology specialist is to enable improved student and educator access to high-quality new learning models, supported by technology, that prepare them for student and school success. As a result, we are proposing to move the instructional technology license from a teacher license to a specialist teacher license. In addition, the proposed new Digital Literacy/Computer Science (5-12) license will ensure that students engaged in computer science classes at the middle school and high school levels are taught by an educator who has demonstrated appropriate subject matter knowledge in digital literacy and computer science.

In the enclosed documents, proposed amendments are indicated by underline (new language) or strikethrough (deleted language). For the complete text of the current regulations, see:

View HTML Page
603 CMR 7.00
View HTML Page
603 CMR 13.00
View HTML Page
603 CMR 44.00

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 2017. We believe these proposed changes will help to advance the goal of having highly effective education leaders in every school and district throughout the Commonwealth.

Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske; Brian Devine, Director of Educator Licensure; Liz Losee, Director of Educator Preparation and Assessment; and Associate General Counsel Lucy Wall will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

Enclosures:

Download MS WORD Document
Draft Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 - clean version
Download MS WORD Document
Draft Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 - strikethrough version (redlined version)
Download MS WORD Document
Draft Regulations for the Certification of Supervisors of Attendance, 603 CMR 13.00 - strikethrough version (redlined 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 (redlined version)
Download MS WORD Document
Results of Streamlining Licensure Survey
Download PowerPoint Presentation
Educator Licensure & Renewal: Proposed Amendments to Regulations
 
Autism Stakeholder Engagement Data
 
Motion to solicit public comment

Note:

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Last Updated: February 27, 2017
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