How Continuous Progress is Calculated for an Additional Licensure Hardship Waiver
Hardship Waivers are granted to districts seeking to employ an individual who is not appropriately licensed for the role. Districts may do so upon demonstrating that they have made a good-faith effort to hire a licensed or certified personnel. Hardship waivers are good for a period of one school year. If a district wishes to employ a non-licensed individual on a hardship waiver for additional years, they must 1) demonstrate annually the good-faith effort made to hire a licensed or certified person and 2) provide documentation that the individual is making continuous progress toward meeting the requirements for licensure. Below are the ways in which districts and individuals may satisfy these two requirements.
Prior to decisions about hiring and assignment associated with educators on a waiver, DESE suggests that districts use the student learning experience report (SE321 & SE322) in Edwin Analytics to consider the impact of trends in student/teacher assignment on various sub-groups and individuals within your schools.
Districts applying for a hardship waiver may do so beginning on April 1st of each year (though the actual period of the waiver is July 1 – June 30th). Detailed directions for applying for a waiver can be found at: Process to Request a Waiver for Educator Licensure. In general, however, DESE expects the following to justify that a good-faith effort was made:
- Job posting posted for at least 2 weeks (beginning after January 1 or no more than 6-months from application date)
- List of all licensed individuals who applied
- Reasons/rationales those individuals were not hired, rationale must address what knowledge, skills or ability the licensed candidate was lacking.
- Explanation of why unlicensed individual is qualified for the role
Continuous progress is only required for individuals wishing to be employed on a hardship waiver in the second and subsequent years of that waiver. Below are the ways in which an individual, or a district on behalf of the individual, may demonstrate continuous progress.
Complete at least one aspect of the licensure requirements for the role
This can include any of the following:
- Passing a Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL)
- Passing a subtest of an MTEL or one or more Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL) tasks
- SEI Endorsement requirement completed and approved
- *Meeting a "coverage of..." competency through 10 Professional Development Points or 10 hours of mentored experience (see Competency Review Guide and Form )
*These activities are only applicable to documenting progress for certain license applications where completion of a seminar is an option, and/or a competency review is specifically required. Licenses that may require a competency review include: General Science 1-6, History 1-6, Digital Literacy & Computer Sciences, Library, Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities, Teacher of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, Teacher of the Visually Impaired.
- Enrollment and progress in or completion of an MTEL preparation course or equivalent effort to deepen knowledge and/or skills aligned with MTEL test objectives (e.g., college course in the subject area, district-run sessions, etc.)
- Enrollment and progress in or completion of an approved preparation program
- The assignment of a subject-matter expert/coach and the additional district support (e.g., release time or financial incentives) to provide at least 25 hours of content-specific coaching in the individual's classroom. This support is in addition to any standard induction and mentoring support provided to first-year educators. Documentation of this would include a letter from the district outlining the supports in place as well as a time log signed by the individual on the waiver and the assigned subject-matter expert/coach.
- Additional MTEL or PAL attempts, even if unsuccessful as long as there are supports in place to improve performance moving forward (such as e-g above)
In addition to demonstrating continuous progress through one of the requirements above, districts need to confirm that the educator has received an evaluation rating of at least "needs improvement" or higher in the preceding school year.
Please note activities that were accepted toward a previous year waiver cannot be counted to document continuous progress towards the current-waiver request; (i.e., no "double dipping"). For example, an educator takes a course in the spring semester and completion of that course is considered/counted towards the approval of the second-year waiver. Should that spring semester fall within the acceptable window of time for a third-year waiver, that course would not be able to be counted towards progress of both the second- and third-year waiver. Other acceptable activities that took place within the acceptable window of time, beyond the course, could be used towards continuous progress of a third waiver. If an educator is enrolled in a program that spans multiple years, this program could "count" towards more than one year, assuming that the program affirms the individual is making continuous progress towards licensure.
Special Education Waivers
Starting with the 2018-19 school year (7/1/18 and on), first time waiver applications for special education licenses require an additional assurance from the district stating that the waiver candidate is either 1) enrolled in an approved MA educator preparation program for the license sought or 2) being supported through the Structured Guidance & Supports (SG&S) process.
For additional year special education waivers, the Office of Educator Licensure will verify which option was selected in the previous school year and will require documentation of continuous progress associated with either option.
Documentation of Continuous Progress for Special Education Licenses:
If "enrollment in an approved educator preparation program" was selected in year 1 of the waiver then the district must submit the following two letters:
- A letter on official college/university letterhead signed by the Registrar or Head Administrator indicating the educator is actively enrolled in the approved educator preparation program for the specific licensure field. And
- A letter signed by the Superintendent/Executive Director on official school or district letterhead stating, "From [Start Date – End Date], [District] provided intensive supervision that consisted of structured guidance and regular ongoing support/teacher mentoring program for [educator] and [he/she] received high-quality professional development that was sustained, intensive, and classroom-focused."
If "supported through the SG&S process" was selected in year 1 of the waiver then the district must submit the completed three-page SG&S Form appropriate to the license sought.
A person who has not yet met the full requirements for SG&S can still demonstrate continuous progress via options a-h listed above.