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Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL)

Implications of Assignment to a RETELL Cohort for SEI Training

To:Core academic teachers and administrators assigned to a RETELL cohort year for SEI training
From:Jonathan Landman, Assistant Commissioner for Teaching and Learning
Date:January 10, 2013

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The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (the Department) has established SEI Teacher and SEI Administrator Endorsements in order to strengthen and improve the academic achievement and growth of English Language Learners (ELLs), the lowest performing student subgroup in our state.

If you are receiving this letter, your district has identified you as a core academic teacher 1 who provides instruction to ELLs, and anticipates that at some point in the next several years, you will be asked to sign up for, or be assigned to take an SEI Endorsement course. Please read this memorandum carefully, as it contains very important information about the course and your educator license.

At whatever point your district enrolls you in an SEI Endorsement course, your district will transmit that information to the Department to confirm your assignment to a RETELL cohort year. For example, if you are assigned to take the SEI Endorsement Course in fall 2013, then 2013-2014 is your RETELL cohort year. Each cohort year begins on September 1, and ends on August 31 of the following year.

Your assignment to a cohort year will have important implications for your continued licensure and, by extension, your employability as an educator in Massachusetts.

Under CMR 14.07(2):

Educators assigned to a cohort must meet the requirements for an SEI endorsement within the time period designated for their cohort. Educators who fail to earn an endorsement by the time designated for their cohort, shall not be eligible to advance or renew their educator license under 603 CMR 7.00 and 603 CMR 44.00 until such educators earn an SEI endorsement... .

It is critically important to understand that once you are assigned to a cohort, you must earn the SEI endorsement within the time period designated for your cohort, or you will not be able to advance, renew, or extend your license until you obtain the endorsement. Educators who do not earn the SEI endorsement within the time period designated for their cohort will have to earn the endorsement at their own expense.

ESE has committed to giving every core teacher assigned to a cohort one - but only one - no-cost opportunity to participate in either the SEI Endorsement Course, or in a shorter SEI Endorsement Bridge Course for teachers who have completed two or more Category trainings (from Category 1, 2 or 4). The Bridge Course options will become available in fall 2013. Likewise, each administrator supervising core academic teachers will have one no-cost opportunity to participate in the Administrators' Endorsement course.

Besides completing the approved course of study, the following are the only other routes to earning the SEI Endorsement:

  1. Possession of an ESL/ELL license;
  2. Passing an SEI MTEL test (please note that this test is in development and the Department anticipates that it may be available in March of 2014); or
  3. Possession of an applicable degree, for example: bachelor's or graduate level degree in Applied Linguistics, Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), Language, Literacy and Culture.

Educators who neither complete the SEI Endorsement course as part of their assigned cohort, nor qualify for the endorsement by completing one of the other approved routes during their cohort year, may face serious consequences related to their educator license(s). Attachment A to this letter provides examples of how these provisions may apply to you.

Teachers will earn 67.5 PDPs for the full-length SEI Endorsement course. ESE is pleased to announce that the PDPs earned through successful completion of any version of the SEI Endorsement course can be applied to license renewal content area requirements. Further, educators who earn most or all of the PDPs required to renew their license before applying the 67.5 SEI PDPs will benefit from a new exception to the current licensure renewal policy that expires "surplus" PDPs at the end of the educator's renewal cycle. PDPs earned through the SEI Endorsement course that are in excess of the required 150 PDPs to renew a license can be carried forward to the next license renewal cycle.

We realize that educators may face challenges meeting these strict timetables, and we recognize that this pressure can create hardships for some among us whose personal circumstances make it particularly difficult to participate in the SEI Endorsement course when assigned to do so. In July 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice found that the Commonwealth had violated the civil rights of ELLs by failing to require adequate training of teachers who provided sheltered English instruction. As a result, the Department accelerated the pace and nature of work on SEI training that the Department had already planned to undertake. The guidance document (posted at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/retell/) developed by the Department for districts, educators and educator preparation programs, anticipates the need for consultation prior to enrolling educators in a specific year of an SEI cohort. In addition, the regulations provide for a hardship exception allowing an extension of time to obtain the SEI Endorsement, but the standard for such waivers will be high. Under CMR 14.07(2), "Hardship shall consist of serious illness or injury, or other circumstances that are beyond the control of the educator and impede the educator's ability to complete the requirements for an SEI endorsement."

We ask for your understanding and flexibility throughout this process. The SEI Endorsement Courses will prove a rich and important learning experience for the Commonwealth's educators, and as we learn to implement the effective practices promoted in the course, our ELLs' access to academic learning will be transformed. This inspiring outcome promises to be the payoff for the hard work and challenges ahead.

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Last Updated: April 9, 2013
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