The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Timeline and Process for Educator Licensure Policy Review

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
October 10, 2014

The Board and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have made educator effectiveness one of our agency-wide priorities, with the goal of ensuring that every classroom in the Commonwealth is staffed by an effective educator, and that schools and districts are organized to support student achievement and success. At the October 21st Board meeting, we will discuss our initiatives to upgrade our licensure requirements and the connections to educator preparation. This memorandum provides background for the discussion.

Among the Board's powers and duties, state law authorizes the Board to adopt standards for certifying (licensing) educators, and to adopt principles of educator evaluation. Under those authorities, the Board has adopted, and periodically updates, the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval. In June 2011, the Board adopted a new framework for educator evaluation, including Regulations on Educator Evaluation, designed to promote growth and development for leaders and teachers; place student learning at the center; recognize excellence in teaching and learning; set a high standard for professional teaching status; and shorten timelines for improvement.

The Department carries out the Board's regulations and policies by providing information, professional development, and technical assistance to school districts, educators, and preparation programs. See, for example, the resources and quick reference guides posted on our educator evaluation website. We also encourage school districts and educators to integrate educational initiatives in a coherent way that strengthens teaching and learning; for example, by connecting educator evaluation with curriculum (including the 2011 Massachusetts curriculum frameworks in English language arts and math) and student assessment initiatives.

At the October Board meeting, I will update you on the Department's progress on reviewing our educator licensure policies and the timelines for the work.


We seek to develop a world class licensure system that secures the most effective teachers and administrators for our workforce; will be feasible, sustainable and streamlined for candidates, educators, school districts, educator preparation programs and the Department; is well aligned with other educator effectiveness policies and that promotes high quality teaching and student learning.

To this end, the Department has been examining current policies and regulations for alignment and to ascertain to what extent they support this vision. We believe it is essential to align our educator effectiveness policies to promote a well-integrated system that provides support and meaningful feedback along the career continuum from entry into the profession to continuation. This work is supported by our Race to the Top grant and by Massachusetts' participation in the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP), a network of seven states selected by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

The Department committed to working with partners to explore possible changes to the licensure and license renewal policies to better align with the state's current educator effectiveness policies. The Department selected a vendor, The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and The Keystone Center to support this work. The vendors work with the Department to design and facilitate a process of engaging stakeholders to ensure the perspectives and experiences of Massachusetts educators, and those involved in preparing, hiring, and supporting them inform this effort.

Stakeholder engagement has been a critical part of this work. In May and June 2014, the Department convened 25 focus groups with more than 300 educators across Massachusetts. The full report and the executive summary from that first phase of outreach have been posted on our website. I have attached the Executive Summary of the report for your reference.

The Department will convene further conversations with stakeholders in October and November to solicit input on a set of draft guiding principles and policy options that the Department is developing based on feedback in the first round of stakeholder engagement and research on best practices. Five forums in different locations throughout the state will be open to all educators. Participants will be asked to share their thoughts on the pros and cons of various draft policy options that could advance those guiding principles for a new system of licensure. Additionally, the Department will conduct focus groups to discuss the guiding principles and the draft policy options.

At the Board meeting, Associate Commissioner Heather Peske and I will provide additional information about the licensure policy review and redesign work.

Looking Ahead

Based on this next round of policy discussions this fall, you can expect a memo in February 2015 that describes the findings from the stakeholder engagement. We will bring this memo to the Board for discussion. Additionally, we anticipate that by this time next fall, we will have some policy recommendations for the Board to consider.


Executive Summary, "Redesigning Massachusetts' Educator Licensure and License Renewal System, Stakeholder Engagement Report"