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Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL)

RETELL - SEI Endorsement and Professional Development

Superintendents of Schools, Principals, Charter School Leaders, and Statewide Professional Organizations
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
December 7, 2012


The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (the Department) has received questions from districts about the new Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsement and associated professional development requirements, and their relationship to licensure, license renewal, and continued employability within school districts. The purpose of this memorandum is to address these issues as well as the related question of whether districts or individual educators are responsible for the costs of the professional development necessary to meet these new requirements.

I. Background

The SEI endorsement is a key part of the state initiative called Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL), to close proficiency gaps for ELL students. The SEI endorsement is a criterion for licensure, or license renewal, advancement or extension in these circumstances:

  • As of July 1, 2014, all applicants for an initial license as a core academic teacher,1 or as a principal/assistant principal or supervisor/director, must obtain the SEI endorsement applicable to their role. 2

  • Incumbent core academic teachers of ELLs (referred to as "SEI teachers" in the rest of this memorandum) who are assigned to a cohort 3 for SEI training during the period covering SY 2013 4 through SY 2016, must obtain the SEI endorsement in order to renew, advance, or extend their license, subject to a hardship exception. The same is true of principals/assistant principals and supervisors/directors who evaluate or supervise these teachers (referred to as "SEI administrators"). 5

  • Educators who are not required to be assigned to a cohort are not subject to the SEI endorsement requirement before July 1, 2016. As of July 1, 2016, every SEI teacher and SEI administrator must either hold the SEI endorsement or obtain it within one year of assignment.

  • In addition to the SEI endorsement, as of July 1, 2016, every licensed educator must earn at least 15 Professional Development Points (PDPs) related to SEI or English as a Second Language, and at least 15 PDPs related to training in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and instruction of students with diverse learning styles, in order to be eligible to renew his or her license. 6

II. Responsibility for Ensuring that Educators meet SEI Endorsement and Professional Development Requirements

SEI Educators

Licensing and license renewal are state functions through which the Department certifies that an individual meets the basic requirements to teach or conduct other educational functions in the public school. It is the responsibility of the educator in the first instance to meet the state's requirements for licensure and license renewal, including, where applicable, the SEI endorsement requirements. These standards are an important step in closing the proficiency gap for ELLs and are necessary to meet our obligations under federal and state law.

This means that as of July 1, 2014, applicants for an initial license as a core academic teacher, principal/assistant principal, or supervisor/director are responsible for earning the SEI endorsement required for the license. Likewise, it is the responsibility of every SEI teacher and SEI administrator assigned to a cohort to earn the SEI endorsement or else lose the ability to renew, advance, or extend the educator's license until the educator obtains the endorsement, absent a showing of hardship. Finally, all educators must plan to acquire 15 PDPs in SEI or ESL and meet other license renewal requirements if they intend to seek to renew their license on or after July 1, 2016.

Recognizing that the training required of incumbent SEI educators is more extensive than other license renewal criteria, the Department has arranged funding for Department-approved instructors to provide the SEI course to cohort members at no cost to them during the SY 2013 to SY 2016 transition period. We are working with districts to make this training available to their SEI teachers and administrators. (See discussion below.) If SEI educators do not avail themselves of the no-cost opportunity to earn the SEI endorsement, they will have to earn the endorsement at their own expense through other means, so they can renew, extend or advance their license.


Districts have three major roles and responsibilities in this effort:

  • to facilitate the SEI training for educators in the district cohorts;

  • to update the district professional development plan, as provided under G.L. c. 71, §§ 38G and 38Q, if necessary to address the 15 PDPs in SEI or ESL as well as the 15 PDPs related to instruction of students with disabilities that are needed for license renewal; and

  • no later than July 1, 2016, to employ and assign SEI teachers who meet the state standards to classrooms with ELLs, and qualified administrators to evaluate and supervise these teachers consistent with 603 CMR 7.15(9) and 603 CMR § 14.07 (3) and (4).

Districts are responsible for working with the Department and their educators to facilitate the SEI cohort training at the local level. This responsibility includes working with educators to develop training schedules based on local needs, and making facilities available for training. The Commonwealth is providing and paying for the SEI endorsement course and instructors at no cost to educators who are enrolled in a cohort. Sections 38G and 38Q of chapter 71 do not obligate school districts to remunerate educators for their participation in the SEI endorsement course.

Sections 38G and 38Q of chapter 71 require each district to develop a professional development plan for all staff and establish a budget for professional development that does not exceed the district's foundation budget. Section 38Q states that any district with ELLs must, in its plan, "provide for the training for teachers in second language acquisition techniques for the re-certification of teachers and administrators." As with past license renewal requirements, the district's professional development plan is the vehicle for providing a no-cost option for educators to fulfill the new requirement of 15 PDPs in SEI or ESL and the 15 PDPs related to instruction of students with disabilities.

The overarching responsibility of districts with respect to RETELL is to strengthen teaching and learning for ELL students. One component necessary to meet this responsibility is the hiring and assignment of properly licensed teachers to SEI classrooms. To that end, as of July 1, 2016, no core academic teacher shall be assigned to provide sheltered English instruction to an ELL unless such teacher either holds an SEI endorsement, or will earn such endorsement within one year from the date of assignment. Similarly, no building administrators shall have responsibility for evaluating or supervising SEI teachers unless such administrator either holds an SEI endorsement, or will earn such endorsement within one year of the commencement of such supervision or evaluation. 7

In assigning ELLs and core academic teachers to classes on or after July 1, 2016, districts must ensure that ELLs have access to the full range of instructional opportunities available within the school. In the near term, this may entail assigning ELLs to core academic teachers who do not yet hold the SEI endorsement, and who will be expected to earn it within one year. Over time, every core academic teacher and administrator will hold the SEI endorsement. School officials should be aware of the demographics in their district, and trends in student growth, and be ready to meet the needs of ELL students with sufficient numbers of staff who meet state standards.

The Department is aware that in districts that have no ELLs, there may not be an SEI-endorsed teacher for one or more newly enrolled ELL students. In that situation, the district's responsibility is either to hire one or more SEI-endorsed teachers for the students or assign the students to a teacher with the expectation that the teacher will obtain the SEI-endorsement within a year. In these instances, school officials must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the ELL students are assigned to SEI-endorsed core academic teachers in subsequent school years. 8

I hope this information is helpful and welcome your questions as well your ideas for improving the teaching and learning of ELLs. If you have questions about this memorandum, please contact the Department at and put "December 7 memo" in the subject line.


Last Updated: December 7, 2012
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