Elementary Teachers- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Elementary Teachers

To:Superintendents, Principals, and Educators
From:Commissioner of Education, David P. Driscoll
Date:November 13, 2006

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I am writing to clarify for schools and educators the types of teaching assignments that are appropriate for teachers holding an Elementary 1-6 or K-6 Teacher license.

Elementary 1-6/K-6

As the requirements for proficiency in subject matter have become more rigorous, we need to reiterate and clarify when the generalist Elementary 1-6/K-6 Teacher license is appropriate for a classroom assignment and when it is not. Teachers possessing only an Elementary 1-6/K-6 Teacher license:

  • may teach or team teach two or more subject areas;
  • may not have a teaching assignment that covers a single subject area where there is a more appropriate license.

The policy is consistent with the fundamental requirement that teachers must possess the license that affords the best fit with their teaching assignment. The Department has offered Elementary level subject matter licenses in general science, history and mathematics since October 2003. These are the appropriate licenses for assignments that cover one of these subject areas.

I am providing districts and educators holding only an Elementary 1-6/K-6 Teacher license with a two-year transition period after which teachers holding this license may not teach only one subject area where there is a more appropriate license. Superintendents and principals intending to employ an educator in a role not obviously defined by an existing license must determine the most appropriate license by comparing the actual duties and responsibilities of that role with the license requirements.

Districts can use this first year to:

  • identify those teaching a single subject only;
  • hold a meeting with the impacted teachers and discuss the options available to them;
  • plan for assignments that are appropriate for teachers who hold only an Elementary 1-6 or K-6 Teacher license by the 2008/2009 school year (no waiver is needed prior to 9/08), and
  • provide direction and support to affected teachers.

Educators who hold only an Elementary 1-6/K-6 Teacher license can use this first year to:

  • seek assignment to a multi-subject instructional setting (where such options are available);
  • transfer to a teaching assignment that is appropriate for the license(s) they hold;
  • apply for licenses that might be a better fit for classes/instructional settings that are more available to them (currently, passing the appropriate MTEL subject matter test(s) qualifies a licensed teacher to add most Initial or Professional Teacher licenses).

This clarification is consistent with a prior memorandum for educators holding the Elementary K-8 or Middle School Teacher license:

Elementary K-8 / Middle School Teacher

In October of 2004 the Department issued a memorandum regarding the Middle School Teacher License and the K-8 Teacher License. As stated in that memo, the K-8 license is appropriate for assignment to a single subject area. However, possession of the K-8 license alone does not guarantee the degree of subject knowledge mastery we believe is needed to move all of our students to the proficient level. Please visit http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=2134 to review this information.





Last Updated: November 17, 2006



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