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Ed Prep Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Dear Colleagues,

As we close out another week of navigating within this current reality, we hope you, your loved ones, and your candidates are staying well — physically, emotionally, and mentally. We are in this together and remain committed to working collectively to ensure all children, especially those who need the most, have access to effective teachers and leaders. We are grateful for all you do on behalf of students across the Commonwealth.

In alignment with previous guidance we have issued over the past month since Governor Baker issued a state of emergency (see below), we continue to explore opportunities for additional flexibility for approved Sponsoring Organizations while maintaining a high bar for candidates to receive a comprehensive preparation that will set them up to be able to be successful in the licensure role. The guidance below shall be used alongside existing guidance provided.

As we previously shared, please continue to visit DESE's webpage created specifically to address the impact of COVID-19 for schools and districts across the Commonwealth; it will continue to be updated as the situation evolves.

Subject Matter Knowledge and Pre-Practicum Guidelines — Implementation Timeline

Per the August 2018 Implementation Memo Download Word Document, Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK) Download Word Document and Pre-Practicum expectations Download Word Document have been set to go into effect by September 2020. Recognizing all the hard work that has happened in support of these shifts, organizations should continue actively moving towards implementing these expectations as fully as possible as soon as possible. For those who have made all necessary updates, we will collect signed Statements of Assurance Download Word Document and accompanying crosscutting matrices (attached Download Word Document) by August 17, 2020, instead of the original May 1, 2020 deadline.

If you are unable to meet this timeline given the impacts of the current state of emergency, we are committed to working with organizations on a case by case basis to maintain momentum towards making these changes. For any organization that anticipates delays in full implementation, we are asking that

  • By August 17, 2020, submit a one-two page plan outlining concretely what your organization will do and by when, such that these SMK and pre-prac expectations will be fully in place by June 2021.
    • Upon receipt of this plan, we will schedule a phone conversation between your organization's Dean/Executive Director and the Ed Prep team to discuss your plans and implications related to the delay in implementation. If you would like to have this conversation prior to the August 17, 2020 submission deadline, please reach out to

In considering this flexibility, it is important to note that MTEL updates, based on the updates to the SMKs, will remain on track Download Word Document as much as possible since these assessments are taken by any educator entering the MA system, including those seeking to teach under a provisional license. Providers who have not enacted the full set of shifts necessary to support candidates on these assessments will need to put additional supports and structures in place.

Issuing a practicum waiver due to COVID-19 — additional guidance regarding data collection

In order to allow organizations to approach the statewide extenuating circumstances with more flexibility while also monitoring the impact of the widespread use of waivers, we implemented an extended practicum waiver policy that requires accompanying data collection Download Excel Document. Through this data collection, we seek to understand the extent and depth of impact on candidates who are ultimately endorsed despite deviations from the approved program of study. Below is additional clarity regarding this data collection requirement:

  • Organizations should be considering individual rationale for each candidate when issuing a waiver, rather than issuing a "blanket waiver" for all candidates. For each individual candidate, we expect to understand the implications of the situation on their specific case. This includes:
    • If any required practicum hours are waived due to this situation, including hours in practicum settings that do not use MA curriculum frameworks.
    • If a candidate logs hours under the supervision of someone who is not their originally designated Supervising Practitioner.
    • If certain components of the practicum assessment (e.g. CAP) are not completed.
  • Through this data collection, we are not seeking documentation of all the evidence that you have used to determine a candidate's readiness. Instead, we are looking to understand your rationale for why you issued a waiver for one candidate versus another as specifically and concisely as possible. It is insufficient to list all candidates and simply provide the same blanket rationale such as: "Practicum hours were waived as a result of Candidate's inability to complete their hours due to Governor Baker's closing of schools on March 15 2020." Instead, for example, we might see:
    • Candidate A — 100 practicum hours, two observations, student feedback/learning measure waived; in the formative assessment met readiness thresholds for 5 of 6 elements. Through mixed reality simulation and reflection, demonstrated readiness on final element.
    • Candidate B — 150 practicum hours (including 30 hours of full responsibility), formative assessment, two observations, student feedback/learning measure waived; evidence collected through two observations, pre-prac experiences, additional course assignments, and 20 hours virtual small group teaching with student learning measures met, demonstrated readiness across all elements.

SEI Endorsement Field Based Experiences

While organization's SEI Endorsement coursework can be completed in a fully online format per our previous guidance, the required SEI-specific field experiences should still be incorporated into the approved preparation program. Given the current challenge with securing the necessary field experiences, these can happen separate from the semester when candidates complete coursework.

2020 State Annual Report and Title II: 2018-2019 data

We are able to offer additional flexibility with data reporting this year. The deadline for both the federal Title II and MA State Annual Report has been extended to Friday, May 29th, 2020.

As a reminder, we combine these two collections into one survey and later separate it to meet federal and state reporting requirements. You should have received your organization's unique link to the survey with pre-populated data. Please let us know if you have any questions or trouble accessing the survey at


We do not anticipate any delays in licensure processing times this summer. As has been the case previously, the most effective route for expediting licensure is through submitting an electronic batch, which is still available to organizations.

  • Official copies of college transcripts must show the Registrar's signature, degree conferred, and date of degree conferred, as always. Electronic transcripts must also include a Registrar's signature.
  • Organizations that confer Bachelors degrees will soon gain access to a Bachelor Degree Verification option in ELAR, in lieu of providing an official undergraduate transcript. Communication regarding this verification process will be provided in the coming weeks.
  • For those of you who support candidates with the process to add a license outside of program approval, the 150 hours of experience in the role of the license sought is not subject to the same practicum waiver flexibilities offered above, and online hours will not count towards this requirement.

We continue to work with Evaluation Systems of Pearson on readiness plans when testing sites come back online. Currently, all Pearson test centers are closed through the end of April.

Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL)

We are in the process of analyzing the impact of school closures on licensing for candidates who have been in the process of finishing PAL. Please know that PAL scoring is still operational at this time. If candidates have completed their tasks, they may submit them by the next PAL scoring deadline, 5/21/2020, to receive a score by 6/18/2020.

  • For candidates who have nearly completed a task, their decision to submit should depend on the individual and where they are in the submission process. The PAL Candidate Handbook Download PDF Document should serve as a helpful reference to candidates and providers considering this decision. Each candidate should assess what they have already completed and what remains. It is possible that what they have left might not require them to be in a school setting and they can provide compelling evidence through what they have already accomplished, or that they could complete the final steps virtually. We recommend that you work with individuals to assess where they are in the task completion process to see if they would be able to meet the requirements with what they have completed. Candidates should not submit incomplete tasks. We have not changed the requirements within the evidence rubrics at this time, please see the PAL Candidate Handbook Download PDF Document.
  • Many of the PAL tasks include requirements that can be completed in a virtual setting. For example:
    • In PAL Task 2, the professional learning group might be conducted in a virtual setting, supporting individual teachers as they try out new practices or take steps to improve existing instructional practices and share their experiences with the group might be based on virtual lessons.
    • In PAL Task 4, submissions with virtual working groups and family/community engagement events may be used.
    In both of these cases, the handbook does not state that small working groups or family/community engagement events must occur in person. If a candidate is able to have an event virtually that still meets the guidelines in the rubric, then they could choose to move forward that way.
  • Per our previous communication (on April 2, 2020), Task 3 requires that PAL candidates upload two videos, among other things. The two videos include: 1) a classroom observation and 2) a feedback session focusing on that classroom observation where both the PAL candidate and the observed teacher are visible. On a temporary basis, candidates may submit videos of virtual classroom observations and/or feedback sessions conducted virtually. If a candidate is working with a teacher who has a previously recorded classroom observation, the candidate may base their feedback on that previous recording as long as it fulfills the requirements for PAL videos. Candidates must submit a recording of both the classroom and the feedback session, whether they are virtual or not, as they are critical elements for PAL. All confidentiality rules still apply and virtual feedback sessions must still ensure that both the PAL candidate and observed teacher are visible in the recording.

We understand that this will not alleviate all concerns you may have or be receiving from your candidates. Please know that we are actively seeking other forms of relief for candidates who have been impacted by the ongoing situation. Please continue to monitor our website for updates; we will also be responding to questions about PAL on upcoming weekly calls (see below).

Educator Preparation Open Weekly Meeting

In order to continue providing an open communication channel with Educator Preparation Providers, we have been and will continue hosting weekly hour-long Zoom meetings on Tuesdays from 10:00am-11:00am through the end of April. During these conversations, we will provide any updated guidance we have at that point; this will also serve as a platform for organizations to collaborate, brainstorm, and troubleshoot the ways in which you are navigating through this situation. Please use this link to log into the weekly meeting, or email for call-in information.

Again, we thank you for continuing to navigate this situation in a way that maintains the best interest of kids while being responsive to your candidates' situations. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with additional questions or thought partnership and to let us know what is happening in your context.

In Partnership,
Meagan Comb, Director of Educator Effectiveness
Sandra Sarucia, Manager of Educator Preparation

Last Updated: April 24, 2020

Contact Us

Parents and guardians questions can be directed to

MTEL questions can be directed to

Questions related to educator licensure in Massachusetts, please call the Licensure Call Center: 781-338-6600, Hours: Monday-Friday 9am–1pm & 2pm–5pm.

Helene Bettencourt
Associate Commissioner
Phone: 781-338-3120

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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