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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Professional Development Point (PDP) Eligibility

    1. What are the types of PD activities that are eligible for PDPs?
    2. What are the minimum requirements for professional development activities that are eligible for PDP's?
    3. Does the Department convert university or college credits to PDPs? How many PDPs do they earn?
    4. Does the Department convert university or college credits to PDPs? How many PDPs do they earn?
    5. Can I earn PDPs for attendance at a professional conference?
    6. Can I earn PDPs for attending professional development offered by a for-profit educational organization?
    7. Can I earn PDPs for attending professional development offered or sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education?
    8. Can I earn PDPs for professional development that I design myself?
    9. May I earn PDPs as a trainer/presenter of a professional development course/workshop or seminar?
    10. If I am not working in a public school, am I required to have written pre-approval by ESE for professional development activities before I enroll?

  2. Verifying PD Provider Approval

    1. With the changes to the ESE review and approval process for registered PD providers, are PDPs still only accepted from registered providers?
    2. How do I know if a PD provider is approved to issue PDPs?
    3. How do I know if professional development offered online by a provider can be applied toward license renewal?
    4. Is professional development offered by a provider from another state eligible for Massachusetts PDPs?

  3. Educators' PDP Recordkeeping and Documentation

    1. I am looking for a record of the PDPs I have earned in the past few years. Does the Department have this information?
    2. When should I start to collect Professional Development Points (PDPs)?
    3. Are we still required to maintain an Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP), now that the educator evaluation system has changed and Professional Practice Goals are part of that system?
    4. I am working in a private school. Do I still need to complete a PD plan?

  4. For Schools and Districts

    1. Can our district award PDPs for participation on committees/teams?
    2. What information should be listed on a PDP certificate?
    3. What is the process that a school or district administrator should use to request a copy of a provider's application?

  5. For Providers

    1. What are the content areas in which we may offer PDPs?
    2. Do all professional development providers have to register with the state through an approval process or are some providers automatically registered?
    3. Does a registered PD provider's approval expire?
    4. Given the changes made to the review and approval process in May 2015, does my status as an approved provider still end in June 30?
    5. I was approved in the summer of 2014 and told that my status expires in 3 years. Do these changes affect my expiration date?
    6. My application was reviewed and approved by ESE staff in 2014 prior to these changes; will the registry make note of that?

  6. For Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs)

    1. IHEs were listed as automatic providers of professional development points on the PD website before. Why did this change?
    2. IHEs must submit a "statement of assurance" in order to become a registered PDP Provider. What does this involve?
    3. We offer PDPs for supervising practitioners. Will we be able to continue this under the new guidelines?
    4. My IHE offers Continuing Education Unites (CEUs) and/or credit-bearing courses to educators. Do we need to register with the Department as a PD Provider?
    5. When will the registration become available?

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  1. Professional Development Point (PDP) Eligibility

    1. What are the types of PD activities that are eligible for PDPs?

      A wide range of PD activities can qualify for PDPs, including but not limited to: (1) ongoing participation in job-embedded activities (e.g. mentoring/coaching, professional learning communities); (2) participation in a series of short-term activities in a given topic that equal 10 hours (e.g., workshops, seminars), and (3) long-term activities (e.g., university courses). Please see Appendix B in the Recertification Guidelines Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document for additional examples.

    2. What are the minimum requirements for professional development activities that are eligible for PDPs?

      PDPs may only be awarded under the following conditions:

      1. The professional development is offered by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), a school district, an educational collaborative, or a provider that is registered with ESE (See question B2).
      2. The professional development must be at least 10 hours per topic.
      3. The professional development must include an assessment of learning (this may be an end-of-course assessment or an observable demonstration of learning).
      4. The professional development participant has met the provider's criteria for mastery.

    3. Does the Department convert university or college credits to PDPs? How many PDPs do they earn?

      Yes, as a general rule of thumb, one clock hour of an eligible professional development activity equals one PDP. This also applies to academic credit for upper-level or lower-level undergraduate courses.
      Generally, 1 credit =15 hours = 1.5 CEUs = 15 PDPs.
      However, there are a few exceptions:

      1. Upper-level undergraduate course (when substantially new to the educator) or approved equivalent = 1 semester hour = 22.5 PDPs
      2. Graduate-level course or approved equivalent = 1 semester hour = 22.5 PDPs
      3. Audits of undergraduate or graduate course or approved equivalent=1 semester hour = 7.5 PDPs
      For more information on how university or college credits convert to PDPs, see the p. 3–4 of the Recertification Guidelines Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document.

    4. I was told that I may be able to convert certificates of attendance for less than 10 hours of PD into PDP's. How do I do that?

      Educators may "bundle" several activities together when reporting their PDPs, provided they can demonstrate that these activities are related/similar in topic. To use PDPs for license renewal, an educator must accrue at least 10 hours of professional development about that topic. The easiest way is to do this is to select PD offerings that are at least 10 hours in length. (Note: You cannot receive PDPs via bundling unless you complete an additional follow-up activity demonstrating proficiency. See Question A2 for more information.

    5. Can I earn PDPs for attendance at a professional conference?

      PDPs are no longer awarded for attendance at a professional conference. However, an educator could receive PDPs if (1) the conference spans two or more days, and allows for attendance at a series of sessions/workshops on the same or similar topic totaling 10 hours or more and (2) if attendance results in a final product that would serve as an assessment of learning, such as developing a school-based activity or curriculum, or publishing written material.

      Educators who attend a professional conference for less than 10 hours in a given topic may extend their learning to reach the required 10 hour minimum by developing a final product, such as the examples listed above. They may also "bundle" conferences on the same topic, but must still develop a final product, such as a resource that is published by the school or district.

    6. Can I earn PDPs for attending professional development offered by a for-profit educational organization?

      Yes, as long as the organization is registered with ESE as a PD provider and as long as the professional development meets the minimum expectations (see question A2).

    7. Can I earn PDPs for attending professional development offered or sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education?

      Yes, ESE may offer 1.5 PDPs per clock hour for professional development programs that it sponsors as long as the programs meet the minimum expectations (see question A2).

      Note: For ESE-sponsored activities that do not have a pre- and post-content assessment, only 30 PDPs can be counted toward recertification in a five-year cycle. For more information about PDP requirements please see the Recertification Guidelines Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document.

    8. Can I earn PDPs for professional development that I design myself?

      Educators may earn PDPs through an educator-designed professional development activity that results in a professional product that is related to the academic discipline of the educator's license, including published written materials such as a book, journal article, book chapter, dissertation, or thesis. Educators may also earn PDPs for developing and implementing an activity for students, parents or teachers that incorporates the learning standards of the curriculum frameworks. For more information, please see the Recertification Guidelines Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, p.6–7.

    9. May I earn PDPs as a trainer/presenter of a professional development course/workshop or seminar?

      Educators who develop and present a professional development workshop or seminar are eligible to receive twice the number of PDPs that are given to participants, with the presenter receiving a minimum of 10 PDPs and a maximum of 24 PDPs. These points may be counted the first time the training is provided in a five-year cycle.

      Note: Educators are eligible to receive 30 PDPs the first time they make a presentation at a professional conference in a five-year renewal cycle. If a presentation is repeated, it is not eligible.

    10. If I am not working in a public school, am I required to have written pre-approval by ESE for professional development activities before I enroll?

      No, there is no such requirement. If you are not working in a public school, but may use PDPs toward licensure renewal in the future, be sure to maintain records of PDPs as you earn them.


  2. Verifying PD Provider Approval

    1. With the changes to the ESE review and approval process for registered PD providers, are PDPs still only accepted from registered providers?

      This is true, with the exception of automatic providers (school districts and collaboratives). Other providers are still required to complete an application that generates the information used for the registry. This detailed information allows Massachusetts educators to determine for themselves if a provider's professional development is relevant to their needs. A district or school administrator may submit a request to ESE for the complete application.

      Please note: the PD Provider Registry shows the topics for which providers are approved to provide PDPs; educators cannot receive PDPs from these providers for other topics. In addition, the PD must be part of an ongoing five-year cycle individual professional development plan (IPDP) consistent with the educational needs of the school and/or district.

      If ESE receives several complaints about a provider, the Department may consider removing the provider from the registry.

    2. How do I know if a PD provider is approved to issue PDPs?

      PDPs may be awarded by — or under the auspices of — ESE, school districts, or educational collaboratives. All other professional development providers are required to register as a provider with ESE. Educators can search for PDP Providers that are approved by ESE through the searchable PD Provider Registry.

      Note: Organizations and programs that grant university/college credits or CEUs (and not PDPs) are not required to register with the Department. However, if a university program or CEU-granting organization wishes to provide PDPs specifically, the organization or university program must register with ESE. For more information visit the Guidelines for Professional Development Providers webpage.

    3. How do I know if professional development offered online can be applied toward license renewal?

      If you will receive graduate or undergraduate credits for successful completion of the online program, the credits must be earned by an accredited college or university or from a PD Provider who has registered with ESE, in order to convert the credits to PDPs. You are advised to research the program online to learn about the program's accreditation.

      If the PD is a brief webinar or training then it is unlikely to count as it would not meet the minimum requirement for PDPs (see question A2).

      With the exception of accredited colleges and universities who will be awarding credits, ask the online PD provider if they are registered with ESE and ask for their provider number.

      Note: Some online PD providers will partner with institutions of higher education to give educators the option of earning graduate credits. In this case, the credits can be converted to PDPs, at the same rate as they would be for in-person courses.

    4. Is professional development offered by a provider from another state eligible for MA PDPs?

      Yes, as long as the PD provider is a registered PD provider with ESE and is offering professional development that meets the minimum expectations (see question A2). It is also important that the PD is part of an ongoing individual professional development plan consistent with the educational needs of the school and/or district.

      If educators earn credits from out-of-state, accredited colleges or universities, the educators can convert these credits to PDPs at the same rate as they would for in-state institutes of higher education.


  3. Educators' PDP Recordkeeping and Documentation

    1. I am looking for a record of the PDPs I have earned in the past few years. Does ESE have this information?

      ESE does not keep records of PDPs. It is the educator's responsibility to keep records of PDPs. As stated in the regulations, "Due to the fact that an applicant may be randomly selected for a PD Audit, it is important that an educator hold on to their PD verification for 5 years from date applying to renew." For more information, see the regulations on Documentation and Recordkeeping.

    2. When should I start to collect Professional Development Points (PDPs)?

      Educators may start earning PDPs for their first renewal cycle upon the issuance of a Professional license. For subsequent renewal cycles, only PDPs earned after the previous expiration date are eligible. Activities older than five years from the date of application may not be counted. However, there is an exception for RETELL courses Download PDF Document  Download MS EXCEL Document (p. 10).

    3. Are we still required to maintain an Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP), now that the educator evaluation system has changed and Professional Practice Goals are part of that system?

      An IPDP is still required. For more information about how certain activities undertaken pursuant to the development of an Educator Plan may meet the requirements for an Individual Professional Development Plan, please visit the Educator Evaluation FAQ webpage.

    4. I am working in a private school. Do I still need to complete a PD plan?

      Educators who wish to maintain their professional licensure, and who are employed in schools other than Massachusetts public schools, still need to develop an Individual Professional Development Plan and successfully complete the requisite number of PDPs within a particular five-year validity period. Supervisor approval and endorsement of the plan is optional for educators who are not employed in a Massachusetts public school. However, ESE highly recommends that educators seek such approval to ensure that the professional development activities in the plan are consistent with school and district goals.

      Please review the information found at Advancing/Renewing a License.


  4. For Schools and Districts

    1. Can our district award PDPs for participation on committees/teams?

      A district's decision to award PDPs for team meetings and committees should be based on (1) the intended purpose and content of the meeting, and (2) whether or not it meets ESE's minimum definition of professional development (See question A2.) If the committee work does not add up to 10 hours or more on a particular topic or if there is no observable product of learning, then the activity does not meet ESE's minimum definition of professional development.

    2. What information should be listed on a PDP certificate?

      A PDP certificate must contain the following information:

      • PDP Provider organization's name
      • PDP Provider's registration number (not applicable to school districts and collaboratives)
      • total hours of participation
      • date of completion
      • a one- to two-sentence description of purpose/objective(s) of PD
      • brief description of the assessment of learning
      • the signature of the PDP provider

      As an example, we have provided a template PDP certificate Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document.

    3. What is the process that an administrator should use to request a copy of a provider's application?

      Requests should be submitted to profdev@doe.mass.edu, and should include the provider's name and content area.


  5. For Providers

    1. What are the content areas in which we may offer PDPs?

      The following are the content areas that providers can select on the PDP Provider application. Additionally, you can choose "other" and name your content area.

      • Arts
      • Career/Vocational Technical Education
      • College & Career Readiness
      • Comprehensive Health
      • Curriculum & Instruction - General
      • Data & Assessment
      • English Language Arts
      • English Language Learners
      • Foreign Language
      • History/Social Studies
      • Instructional Technology/Digital Literacy
      • Leadership & Administration
      • Mathematics
      • Safe & Supportive Learning Environments
      • Science, Technology & Engineering
      • Special Education
      • Supervising Practitioner
      • Supporting Additional Learning Time

    2. Do all professional development providers have to register with the state through an approval process or are some providers automatically registered?

      According to ESE regulations 603 CMR 44.03(2) (b), school districts and collaboratives are automatic PDP Providers, and do not have to register with ESE.

      In addition, based regulations 603 CMR44.02, university and college credits may be converted into PDPs. Therefore, university and college PD programs/courses that only issue credits or CEUs are not required to register with ESE. However, if a university/college wishes to offer a program or course that only provides PDPs, they must register with ESE. For more information on how university and college credits are converted to PDPs, see p. 3–4 of the Recertification Guidelines Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document.

      All other PD Providers who wish to award PDPs must apply to become registered with ESE. See the webpage for providers for more information.

    3. Does a registered PD provider's approval expire?

      Approval to award PDPs is granted for three years. Registered providers must renew their application every three years if they wish to continue issuing PDPs.

    4. Given the changes made to the review and approval process in May 2015, does my status as an approved provider still end in June 30?

      The deadline for re-applying as a PDP Provider was Fall 2015. If you have not applied under the new PDP Provider approval system, you must do so in order regain status as a PDP Provider.

    5. I was approved in the summer of 2014 and told that my status expires in 3 years. Do these changes affect my expiration date?

      Not at this time.

    6. My application was reviewed and approved by ESE staff in 2014 prior to these changes; will the registry make note of that?

      Yes. Provider numbers beginning with S indicate that the review was done in spring (or in the initial summer period) while those that begin with F indicate that the review occurred in the fall. The provider number also includes the year of the review. Therefore, any application from a provider that begins with S2014 or F2014 indicates that the application was reviewed and approved by ESE staff.


  6. District/School Responsibilities

    1. IHEs were listed as automatic providers of professional development points on the PD website before. Why did this change?

      When ESE began revising the PD Provider guidelines, our goal was to clarify who needed to register with the Department. We reviewed the regulations 603 CMR 44.03 (2) and found that it explicitly stated two entities were not required to register with the Department: School districts and collaboratives. As a result, the guidance shifted to align with the current regulations.

    2. IHEs must submit a "statement of assurance" in order to become a registered PDP Provider. What does this involve?

      The PD registration form for IHEs will require IHEs to provide contact information and a brief program description, and to check off the content area categories for which they provide PD. The registration contains an assurance stating that the IHE will provide PD that is aligned or will be aligned with the Massachusetts PD Standards.

    3. We offer PDPs for supervising practitioners. Will we be able to continue this under the new guidelines?

      Yes. As indicated in the Recertification Guidelines Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, you may offer PDPs to supervising practitioners.

    4. My IHE offers CEUs and/or credit-bearing courses to educators. Do we need to register with ESE as a PD Provider?

      IHEs do not need to register in order to provide CEUs or credit-bearing courses, as these are automatically converted to PDPs. However, if an IHE wishes to offer shorter programs as PD, but not as a full course, they should register with the Department so that educators can earn PDPs for their participation.

      Please note that an IHE must be accredited in order to provide credits that convert to PDPs. An IHE that offers CEUs must be recognized as a PD Provider by IACET in order to provide CEUs that convert to PDPs.

    5. When will the registration become available?

      Registration for IHEs is open year-round, and statements of assurance are reviewed monthly. The registration form is available on the webpage for PD Providers.




Last Updated: October 7, 2016
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