Update on Educator Preparation and Licensure Reform
|To:||Educator Preparation Program Coordinators and Deans, Superintendents, Principals, and Educator Licensure Candidates|
|From:||David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education|
|Date:||June 30, 2007|
|Purpose:||To provide an update with regard to:|
- proposals to reform and restructure educator preparation and licensure,
- the process and timeline for implementing new regulations, and
- the Department's continued support for current requirements.
Proposals to reform and restructure educator preparation and licensure:
Over a year ago, the Department initiated discussions regarding the need to transform the Commonwealth's educator preparation and licensure system. Our goal in engaging educators and policy leaders in these discussions was to gain the input and insight needed to create a system that is more streamlined and successful in supporting educator effectiveness. The discussion continues, and in April 2007 an update on progress was presented to the Board of Education.
Commissioner Driscoll has identified the following three conditions that will be essential to the success of the new system:
- Adequate and strategically directed funding;
- Significant levels of coordination in support of new teachers / educators;
- The readiness of school districts and educator preparation institutions to assume new and expanded roles and responsibilities in partnership with each other and with the Department.
The new system needs to be both strategic and systemic. Its success will depend on new and interdependent roles for the state, for schools and districts, and for institutions of higher education.
The process and timeline for implementing new regulations:
As the Department continues shaping the details of a new system to prepare and license future educators, discussions and working sessions with professional organizations and other strategic partners will continue. Regulatory elements to enable key changes will be discussed, developed, and proposed. One area of consensus has already emerged: new approaches to preparation, licensure and support for new teachers/educators cannot succeed without adequate, and in some cases, significant new resources. For example, the research is clear that quality induction and mentoring are the single best predictor of increased retention and accelerated effectiveness of new teachers. These key components to complete preparation and support the initial years in the classroom are expensive, but ultimately very cost effective. Currently, no dedicated stream of funding supports these functions with the result that they are implemented very unevenly. The Department has, therefore, concluded that the new system can only be "rolled out" by launching pilot partnerships as funding becomes available. The new system will need to demonstrate its performance and cost effectiveness before we can expect adequate funding for statewide implementation.
The Department's continued support for current requirements:
In the meantime, the ongoing work of preparation programs and educator licensure candidates must not stand still. Programs that have state approval under the current regulations will need to continue to enroll educator licensure candidates. Candidates for the Initial and Professional licenses will need to continue with preparation activities. Until such time as new regulations have been approved, these activities will continue to proceed with guidance from the current Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00.
In this climate of discussion and change, the Department wishes to offer the following assurances to the public. First, changes in the licensure regulations will be phased in gradually over the course of several years. They will begin in pilot stages and then expand to more widespread implementation, as adequate funding is identified. Second, there will be a period of adjustment, to provide both programs and candidates the opportunity to plan ahead, and during which current routes to licensure will still be viable. Program providers and candidates will not be surprised or penalized because regulations have changed. Finally, the phased-in implementation period will provide candidates who work in good faith to meet current standards with a clear pathway to the license they are pursuing, whether or not they are caught mid-stream at the time of regulatory change.