Update on Category Trainings and RETELL Initiative

To:Superintendents, Principals, Directors of Charter Schools, Approved Private Special Education Schools, Educational Collaboratives, and Institutional Programs
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Commissioner
Date:April 11, 2012

The Department has received inquiries regarding how teachers who have or will soon complete the Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) category trainings will be affected by the RETELL (Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners) initiative. Due to our ongoing discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice, we cannot yet definitively answer all of these questions. We can, however, provide answers to two immediate questions.
  1. Will completion of part or all category trainings count toward the SEI Teacher and Administrator Endorsements? (These endorsements will be required for core academic teachers and their supervisors should proposed amendments to the licensure, license renewal, and education of English learners regulations be adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at its May 2012 meeting.)

    The Department intends to acknowledge and honor the effort, commitment, and accomplishments of educators who completed category trainings 1, 2, and 4. [Note: category training #3 is related to administration of the MELA-O and is not an integral component of SEI instruction.] Educators who have completed two or more of these trainings will not be required to complete the full course of study approved by the Department to qualify for an SEI Endorsement. Instead, they will be able to qualify for the endorsement by completing a subset of the course that covers only the proposed new knowledge and practice standards that were not addressed by the category trainings they completed. A final draft syllabus for the model SEI Endorsement course will be ready in the near future. At that time, the Department will be able to provide more details regarding the "gap" between what was already covered by category trainings and the new model course.

  2. What is the "cut-off date" for completion of category trainings that will count toward the SEI Teacher and Administrator Endorsements?

    August 31, 2012.
    The Department originally indicated that all category trainings should end no later than June 30, 2012, based upon U.S. Education Department (USED) findings related to Title III funding. However, a recent Department survey completed by many districts revealed the following:

    • 27 districts have scheduled category trainings for almost 800 teachers in summer 2012.
    • The funding that will be used to pay for most of this training was already budgeted during the current school year and some districts have already executed contracts with vendors to provide these trainings.
    • 20 of the 27 districts will use funding other than federal Title III funds to pay for these category trainings.
    Summer provides an important opportunity to engage educators in professional development. While we expect to pilot the new model SEI course this summer, it will not be available for statewide implementation until this fall. Therefore, districts planning to provide category training to educators who will be able to complete two or more of the categories (1, 2, and/or 4) by August 31, 2012, and that are using funding sources other than Title III, may do so. On behalf of the school districts that anticipate using Title III funds for training this summer, the Department has submitted a request to USED asserting that because current school year Title III grants are in effect through August 31, 2012, the funds should be available to be used to pay for category training through that date. We are optimistic that our request will be approved, and we will provide an update as soon as we receive an official response from USED. Assuming the response is positive, districts that had cancelled summer category trainings based upon preliminary information from this Department may wish to consider reinstating the training. We apologize for any confusion.
If you have questions about category training or the RETELL initiative, please contact David Nieto in the Office of English Language Acquisition & Academic Achievement at 781-338-3572.

Last Updated: April 17, 2012

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