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Education Laws and Regulations

603 CMR 4.00:
Vocational Technical Education

Section:
4.02:
4.03:
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4.03: Program Approval Criteria

Each school district requesting full approval of a vocational technical education program shall demonstrate that the program meets the following approval criteria:

(1) Organization

(a) Each vocational technical school district and agricultural school shall employ a vocational technical superintendent and vocational technical principal licensed pursuant to 603 CMR 4.00.

(b) Each school district that conducts five or more approved vocational technical education programs in public comprehensive high schools must employ a licensed vocational technical supervisor/director of vocational technical education to plan and supervise the programs. A supervisor/director of vocational technical education who is assigned to a single school within a district shall report to the principal of that school. The supervisor/director reports to the superintendent in cases where the supervisor/director supervises programs in more than one school in the district or supervises programs that are not under the principal.

(c) Each school district seeking approval for a vocational technical education program shall demonstrate that the program has been planned in consultation with the following advisory committees:

  1. Program Advisory Committee
    Each school committee shall appoint a Program Advisory Committee for each program area under its control. The Program Advisory Committee shall consist of representatives of local business and industry related to the program, organized labor, postsecondary institutions, parents/guardians, students and representatives from registered apprenticeship programs if the program area has such registered programs; provided however, that no member of the school committee, or other school official or school personnel shall serve on the committee. Every effort shall be made to ensure that membership on the Advisory Committee includes females, racial and linguistic minorities, persons with disabilities and individuals in occupations nontraditional for their gender who are representative of the particular district or community served by the school. The members shall appoint a facilitator who in most cases would be a program teacher or a program supervisor/director. The Program Advisory Committee shall meet at least twice per year. Meetings shall comply with the Open Meeting Law, M.G.L. c. 39, § 23B. It shall be the responsibility of the Program Advisory Committee to advise, assist and support school personnel in order to improve planning, operation and evaluation in its program area. Such advice shall be based on adequate and timely information as to workforce and job development demands or job market trends, technological developments, training alternatives and other factors affecting the quality of the program.

  2. General Advisory Committee
    Each school committee shall appoint a General Advisory Committee for all vocational technical education programs under its control. The General Advisory Committee shall include, but not be limited to, chairpersons of the program advisory committees. Every effort shall be made to ensure that membership on the General Advisory Committee includes females, racial and linguistic minorities, persons with disabilities and individuals in occupations nontraditional for their gender who are representative of the particular district or community served by the school. The General Advisory Committee shall meet at least twice per year, provided that one of the meetings is with the school committee. Meetings shall comply with the Open Meeting Law, M.G.L. c. 39, § 23B. It shall be the responsibility of the General Advisory Committee to advise the school committee, based on adequate and timely information, as to the planning, operation and evaluation of vocational technical instruction provided by programs under its control. The chief administrative officer of the school committee, or designee, shall act as facilitator to the General Advisory Committee.

(2) Control Each school district that conducts one or more vocational technical education programs shall be under the control of a school committee.

(3) Location (Facilities) and Equipment

(a) Each vocational technical education program shall be conducted in facilities that meet current occupational standards.

(b) Equipment shall be industry validated to meet current occupational standards and be sufficient in quantity and variety to allow students to attain competencies necessary for the occupation and the Certificate of Occupational Proficiency and to enable each student, or student team, to work continuously.

(c) The facilities shall meet all applicable building and safety codes and shall be inspected by building and safety officials per applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations.

(d) The school shall develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health plan to safeguard the safety and health of all students and school personnel. The regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governing work sites shall serve as the minimum standards for safety in the vocational technical education program. The plan should include provisions for safety inspections of all facilities, safety training for all students and staff and the use, storage and disposal of toxic and hazardous materials.

(4) Program of Study and Methods of Instruction

(a) The program of study shall:

  1. be based on the applicable Vocational Technical Education Framework and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks;

  2. include competency-based applied learning that contributes to a student's higher order reasoning and problem solving skills;

  3. integrate academic and technical instruction through the efforts of technical and academic teachers who share responsibility for the development of the knowledge and skills of their students;

  4. be articulated, where appropriate, with postsecondary education programs including registered apprenticeship programs;

  5. include program specific work-based experience wherever appropriate and feasible;

  6. meet National Occupational Program Approval Standards as set forth in "Guidelines for Vocational Technical Education Programs and Educator Licensure;"

  7. meet state board/agency approvals, accreditation association approvals as set forth in the "Guidelines for Vocational Technical Education Programs and Educator Licensure;"

  8. include related instruction that shall be primarily taught by licensed vocational technical teachers in the specific program area. Academic teachers may assist in the delivery of related instruction components when their particular expertise will enhance the instruction;

  9. 1be free of bias and stereotyping;

  10. include a comprehensive safety and health plan, which includes safety training for all students and staff;

  11. be taught by appropriately licensed teachers; and

  12. be scheduled so that vocational technical shop instruction, if scheduled as a full school day, does not exceed ten consecutive full school days. Shop instruction scheduled for ten consecutive full school days or less must be scheduled for at least the same number of full school days of academic instruction before beginning another schedule of shop instruction. This provision is effective September 1, 2005.

(b) A Program of Studies including both academic and technical programs and courses and the admission policy shall be published and a copy shall be provided to each student and parent/guardian.

(c) The vocational technical education program shall include a process for assessing and documenting the attainment by each student of the technical and academic competencies. Assessment methods may include portfolio and performance assessment.

(d) Career guidance and placement services shall be provided to each student and shall include assessment of all vocational technical students to determine individual vocational technical and academic aptitude, interest and learning styles and assistance with the development of a four-year career plan based on the assessments. Services shall be provided to assist each student in making the transition to the workforce, postsecondary education and apprenticeship programs.

(e) School districts that offer five or more approved vocational technical education programs shall provide a minimum of a one half year exploratory program approved by the Department for all incoming ninth graders. The programs shall meet the standards in the guidelines for exploratory programs included in the "Guidelines for Vocational Technical Education Programs and Educator Licensure."

(5) Qualifications of Personnel

(a) All personnel in the vocational technical education program including academic teachers shall have an appropriate educator license in accordance with the requirements set forth in 603 CMR 4.00 and 7.00.

(b) Non-licensed substitute teachers and teacher (instructional) aides shall be supervised by an appropriately licensed vocational technical teacher while serving in a vocational technical laboratory and shall not be allowed to supervise students using hazardous equipment.

(c) The Commissioner may exempt a school district for any one school year from the requirement to employ individual vocational technical education personnel licensed under 603 CMR 4.00 upon the request of a superintendent for a waiver and demonstration to the Commissioner that the district has made a good-faith effort to hire licensed personnel. Persons employed under waivers must demonstrate that they are making continuous progress toward meeting the requirements for licensure in the field in which they are employed. During the time that a waiver is in effect, service of an employee of a school district to whom the waiver applies shall not be counted as service in acquiring Professional Technical Teacher status.

(d) The Commissioner may deem a district to have a critical shortage of licensed vocational technical teachers for the purpose of M.G.L. c. 32, § 91 (e) upon request of a superintendent and demonstration that the district has made a good-faith effort to hire personnel who have not retired under M.G.L. c. 32. A district deemed to have a critical shortage of licensed technical teachers for the purposes of M.G.L. c. 32, § 91(e) may employ retired vocational technical teachers subject to all laws, rules and regulations governing the employment of teachers. The period of determination of a critical shortage of licensed vocational technical teachers shall not exceed one year, but a district may seek to invoke this provision in consecutive years upon a new demonstration of a good-faith effort to hire personnel who have not retired. The Commissioner shall notify the Teachers' Retirement Board of each determination of a critical shortage made for the purposes of M.G.L. c. 32, § 91(e). In each instance when, after a good-faith effort, a district is unable to hire a licensed vocational technical teacher who has not retired under M.G.L. c. 32, the superintendent of the district has discretion to choose whether to seek a waiver, pursuant to 603 CMR 4.03(5)(c) or to seek a determination of critical shortage, pursuant to 603 CMR 4.03(5)(d).

(e) Persons with special expertise related to the vocational technical area of instruction who can strengthen the vocational technical education program may be employed without a vocational technical teacher license. Such persons shall work in concert with, and under the direct supervision of, an appropriately licensed vocational technical teacher at all times.

(6) Admission of Students

(a) Each vocational technical school and comprehensive school which is selective in terms of admission to its secondary vocational technical programs shall develop and implement an admission policy that is consistent with the Department's "Guidelines for Admission Policies of Vocational Technical Secondary Schools and Comprehensive Secondary Schools" that are incorporated into 603 CMR 4.00 by reference. The policy must be approved by the Department prior to implementation. The policy shall be published in the Program of Studies and a copy shall be provided to each student applicant and their parent/guardian. The policy must include the following:

  1. The criteria to be used in selecting students and the process for application and admission to the school. Each selective vocational technical secondary school in Massachusetts shall use a combination of selection criteria to determine which applicants have an ability to benefit, and therefore be admitted to the school unless the school opts to use first come-first served or a lottery for admissions. The criteria used shall include academic grades, attendance record, discipline/conduct record, recommendations from the sending-school school counselor, and may include a student interview, provided however, that no one criterion exceeds 50% of the total. Resident students who meet the minimum requirements for admission shall be admitted prior to acceptance of any non-resident students seeking the same course of study. Schools shall condition admission on a student having been promoted to the grade that they have been admitted to enter. Schools may condition admission on a student having passed courses in English Language Arts or its equivalent and mathematics for the school year immediately preceding their enrollment in a selective vocational technical school or program;

  2. A description of the Exploratory Program;

  3. The criteria and process to be used in selecting students for admission to particular vocational technical education programs commonly referred to as vocational technical majors within the selective vocational technical secondary school or comprehensive secondary school; and

  4. A Review Process and an Appeal Process. A process at the school district level for students and parents/guardians to review and appeal the decision to deny the student admission to the school or program shall be included. The district shall maintain documentation as to the specific admission requirements that were not met, and must provide such documentation to the Department or to the student's parent/guardian upon request.

(b) Non-resident students. Students who reside in cities and towns not maintaining approved vocational technical education programs in the vocational technical program area sought by the student may apply for admission to a school of another city, town or district offering the desired instruction as set forth in M.G.L. c. 74, § 7.

  1. Students who reside in cities and towns that do not maintain an exploratory program may apply for admission to a school of another city, town or district offering an exploratory program. Ninth grade students who reside in cities and towns that offer an approved exploratory program shall attend the exploratory program provided by the district of residence; provided however, that students may apply for non-resident admission for the purpose of exploring specialized agriculture and natural resources programs designated by the Commissioner and not available in the student's district of residence.

  2. Non-resident students shall submit an application of admission to the receiving school no later than March 15 of the preceding school year and shall be subject to the admissions criteria of the receiving school. A non-resident student must submit a copy of the application to the district of residence no later than April 1 of the preceding school year. Upon receipt of the application, the superintendent in the district of residence must either approve or disapprove the application and submit it to the receiving school and the non-resident student's parent/guardian within 10 school days of receipt. If the application is disapproved, the reason for disapproval must be clearly stated. The non-resident student's parent or guardian may request that the Department review the disapproval. The request for a review and any supporting documentation shall be submitted in writing to the Department no later than May 1. The decision of the Commissioner shall be final. In making his decision, the Commissioner shall take into consideration the following:

    1. The availability of a comparable program that is closer in proximity to the non-resident student's residence.
    2. Whether the cost of providing transportation to the non-resident student would exceed the resident district's prior-year average non-resident transportation cost.

  3. Once a non-resident student has been accepted to a receiving school for an approved vocational technical program and has been approved by the district of residence or the Department, the city or town of residence shall pay tuition to the receiving school at the rate established by the Department. The receiving school shall notify a non-resident student in writing that admission is program specific and that a change in program by a non-resident student will require the submission of a new application of admission. The non-resident student is entitled to the same rights and privileges of students who reside in the receiving school district. The non-resident student has the right to remain in the receiving school until completion of his/her secondary program. If the non-resident student requires additional time to complete the program and a resident student would have been offered the right to continue until completion at the expense of member districts, the city or town of residence must continue to pay tuition for the additional time. If a non-resident student leaves the program but returns within one year, the student shall be entitled to be reinstated if that privilege would have been extended to a resident student. Schools must pro-rate the tuition if the student attends for less than a full year.

  4. In instances where there is no tuition agreement in place between sending and receiving districts, the commissioner shall establish tuitions rates for the purposes of M.G.L. c.74, s.7C. In calculating and establishing said tuition rates the commissioner:

    1. Shall base the calculation on actual expenditures made by the receiving district during the most recent fiscal year for which such expenditures are available to the Department, adjusted for inflation in any subsequent year prior to the year of enrollment for which the tuition is to be paid. Said inflation adjustment shall be made in a manner consistent with calculations of inflation for foundation budgets pursuant to M.G.L. c.70.
    2. Shall establish a maximum tuition cap based on a percentage of the per pupil foundation budget rate for vocational technical students. Beginning in fiscal year 2017 the established cap shall not exceed 125% of the per pupil foundation rate.
    3. May, in instances where the receiving district has been authorized to operate a facility that serves a high percentage of non-resident students, establish a capital construction and renovation increment to be added to the tuitions paid on behalf of non-resident students attending the school. In calculating any such increments, the Commissioner shall use the actual expenditures for this purpose, as reported by the district for the year for which the non-resident tuition was calculated, divided by the total school enrollment. Students who reside in a city or town that is a member of a district which offers at least five approved vocational technical programs shall not be required to pay more than 75% of the calculated per pupil amount. The capital construction and renovation increment shall not be subject to the cap established in pursuant to 603 CMR 4.03 (6)(b)4.b.
    4. May approve the addition of increments to tuitions for non-resident students enrolled in special education programming. Such increments must be consistent with those approved for use as part of school choice special education calculations pursuant to 603 CMR 10.00. Any special education increment to non-resident tuitions shall not be subject to the cap established pursuant to 603 CMR 4.03 (6)(b)4.b.

(c) Each school shall have a code of conduct which shall include standards and procedures for suspension and expulsion of students in accordance with M.G.L c. 71, § 37H. The code shall be published in the Student Handbook and a copy shall be provided to each student, parent/guardian. Expulsion for reasons not included in the code shall not be allowed.

(d) Each school with postsecondary vocational technical education programs shall develop and implement an admission policy for the postsecondary programs. The policy must be approved by the Department prior to implementation.

(e) Each school that admits postgraduate students shall develop and implement an admission policy for the postgraduate openings. The policy must be approved by the Department prior to implementation.

(f) In order to provide students and their parents with information on the availability of vocational technical education, a school shall release the names and addresses of grade 7 and grade 8 students no later than October 15 of each year to authorized school personnel of a regional vocational school district if the city or town in which the school is located is a member of the regional vocational school district; provided that the school shall give public notice that it releases this information and allows parents and eligible students, as defined by 603 CMR 23.02, a reasonable time after such notice to request that this information not be released without the prior consent of the eligible student or parent.

(7) Employment of Students (Cooperative Education)

(a) Vocational Technical Cooperative Education Programs must be approved by the Department prior to implementation.

(b) Each approved program shall:

  1. be supervised by a person holding a Vocational Technical Cooperative Education Coordinator license or Vocational Technical Teacher license in the cooperative education program area;

  2. enroll only those students who are enrolled in an approved vocational technical education program and who have demonstrated the acquisition of the knowledge and skills in the applicable Vocational Technical Education Framework and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks associated with at least one and one half years of full time study in the vocational technical cooperative education program area, and in no case enroll students earlier than midway through the junior year;

  3. be offered only during time not scheduled for academic classes during the school year, and may include summer programs;

  4. provide students the opportunity to acquire knowledge, and develop skills not acquirable in a school-based setting but acquirable in a work-based setting;

  5. provide competency-based assessments;

  6. provide students with continuous supervision by the employer;

  7. provide students with vocational technical credit;

  8. provide a written agreement between the school, employer, student and parent/guardian delineating the conditions of the employment including, but not limited to, hours, wages and time-off. The agreement shall include the skills to be acquired by the student. The employer shall agree to meet all applicable requirements of state and federal labor laws and regulations including, but not limited to, those addressing worker compensation insurance, equal employment opportunity and occupational safety and health;

  9. provide a safety and health orientation specific to the site for all employee-students; and

  10. provide sufficient supervisory visit time between the student, employer and the school's cooperative education coordinator or appropriate vocational technical teacher. Supervision shall be coordinated to allow for the joint participation by all parties including the vocational technical teacher. The school's cooperative education coordinator or vocational technical teacher shall conduct regular supervisory activities at the work site to ensure that the agreement is being followed and to update the student's competency attainment file.

(8) Expenditures
Each school that conducts one or more vocational technical education programs shall ensure that resources are adequate to enable the programs to meet current industry and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations with respect to facilities, safety, equipment and supplies.



Last Updated: March 11, 2015
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