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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Charter School Technical Advisory 20-1: Educator Qualifications in Commonwealth and Horace Mann Charter Schools

To:Charter School Leaders
From:Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:March 3, 2020

*This advisory replaces Charter School Technical Advisory 17-1: Educator Qualifications in Commonwealth Charter Schools

Charter School Technical Advisory 20-1 was last updated June 18, 2020

This technical advisory provides guidance regarding educator qualifications in Commonwealth charter schools1. It is intended to clarify the requirements of the charter school statute in Massachusetts, G.L. c. 71, § 89; the charter school regulations, 603 CMR 1.00; the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and the state statute governing the education of English Language Learner (ELL) students, G.L. c. 71A, as amended in 2002; and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as they apply to Commonwealth charter schools.
 

Qualifications and Licensure Requirements for Massachusetts Charter and Traditional Public Schools


Qualifications and License Requirements for Massachusetts Charter and Traditional Public Schools

Section 1: Overall Qualifications Requirements

GeneralTraditional Public and Horace Mann Charter SchoolsCommonwealth Charter Schools
  • General Teacher Qualifications

All positions require appropriate MA educator license or
DESE-approved waiver (see Licensure Hardship Waiver below).

A licensed educator may be employed for a maximum of 20% of educator's time in a role and/or at a level for which the educator does not hold a license (not applicable to ESL).

MA educator license required only for ESL teachers.

All Commonwealth charter teachers must either have an appropriate license or pass required MTEL(s) within first year of employment in a teacher role at the Commonwealth charter school.

Charter schools, at their discretion, may require teachers to pass additional matter tests as a matter of employment.

A bachelors (or higher) degree is required for teachers.

Section 2: Qualifications for Administrators

The term administrator includes, but is not limited to, principals, assistant principals, directors, coordinators, and other supervisors.

Traditional public school and Horace Mann charter school administrators must possess an appropriate Massachusetts administrator license for the role. Commonwealth charter school administrators are not required to be licensed but must be qualified to perform all duties.

All principals, assistant principals, directors, coordinators, and supervisors who evaluate and/or supervise core academic teachers2 who provide sheltered English instruction (SEI) to students who are English learners (EL), must earn a SEI Teacher or SEI Administrator Endorsement within one year of commencing such supervision or evaluation. This ensures that educational leaders have essential knowledge and skills necessary to support SEI classrooms and the academic success of students who are ELs.

Except at Commonwealth charter schools, an ELE (English learner education) administrator whose primary responsibility3 is oversight of ELE programs must possess a teacher license in English as a Second Language (ESL), English Language Learners (ELL)4, or a Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) endorsement.

A special education administrator is required to be licensed in a traditional public school and in a Horace Mann charter school. A Commonwealth charter school must employ an administrator of special education who is qualified to perform all duties, regardless of whether the administrator is supervising a teacher who is not independently qualified to administer special education services. To be qualified, an administrator of special education must either:

  • Hold a Massachusetts special education license or equivalent issued by another state, or
  • Demonstrate the qualifications to perform all of the duties of the administrator to uphold all federal and state special education laws.

In addition, if the special education administrator is supervising or evaluating a teacher who provides SEI to a student who is an EL, the administrator must either:

  • Hold an SEI Teacher or Administrator Endorsement, or
  • Earn the SEI Teacher or Administrator endorsement within one year of the commencement of such supervision or evaluation.

This ensures that educational leaders have essential knowledge and skills necessary to support SEI classrooms and the academic success of students who are dually identified as ELs with disabilities.

Principals, Administrators, and SupervisorsTraditional Public and Horace Mann Charter SchoolsCommonwealth Charter Schools
  • Principal, Supervisor, Assistant Principal

Must possess appropriate license for role and level of position.

For example:

  • if employed as a high school principal, holds a Principal/Assistant 9–12 or 5–12 license,
  • if employed as a supervisor of {subject area, i.e. mathematics}, holds the Supervisor/Director — Core {subject area, i.e. mathematics} license.

A principal or assistant principal who supervises or evaluates a core academic teacher*, who provides SEI instruction to an English learner, must hold an SEI Teacher or Administrator Endorsement, or earn the endorsement within one year of commencing such supervision or evaluation.

*See definition of Core Academic Teacher under the teacher section below

No license required.

A principal or assistant principal who supervises or evaluates a core academic teacher* who provides sheltered English immersion (SEI) instruction to an English learner must hold a SEI Teacher or SEI Administrator Endorsement or earn the endorsement within one year of commencing such supervision or evaluation.

*See definition of Core Academic Teacher under the teacher section below

  • Special Education Administrator

A special education administrator is required to be licensed.

An administrator who supervises or evaluates a core academic teacher* who provides SEI instruction to an English learner must hold an SEI Teacher or SEI Administrator Endorsement or earn the endorsement within one year of commencing such supervision or evaluation.

*See definition of Core Academic Teacher under the teacher section below

A special education administrator is not required to be licensed.

The administrator of special education must be qualified to perform all duties, regardless of whether the administrator is supervising a teacher who is not independently qualified to administer special education services.

To be qualified to perform all duties as an administrator of special education, an administrator of special education must hold either:

  • A Massachusetts special education license or equivalent issued by another state, or
  • Demonstrate the qualifications to perform all of the duties of the administrator to uphold state and federal laws.


  • English as a Second Language Administrator

An ELE (English learner education) administrator whose primary responsibility11 is oversight of ELE programs must possess a Supervisor/Director - Non-Core license with a teacher license in:

  • English as a Second Language (ESL),
  • English Language Learners (ELL)12, or
  • Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) endorsement

Supervisors who evaluate core academic teachers* providing SEI to ELs must have or obtain their SEI endorsement.

*See definition of Core Academic Teacher under the teacher section below

An ELE Administrator is not required to be licensed.

Supervisors who evaluate core academic teachers* providing SEI to ELs must possess or obtain their SEI endorsement.

*See definition of Core Academic Teacher under the teacher section below

  • Career Vocational Technical Administrator/Supervisor

Principals, assistant principals, or supervisor/directors who supervise or evaluate teachers of Career Vocational Technical Subjects* assigned to teach English learners must:

  • earn a SEI Teacher or SEI Administrator Endorsement, or
  • earn the endorsement within one year of commencing such supervision or evaluation.

* See definition of Career Vocational Technical Teacher under the teacher section below


Effective July 1, 2021
Passed by BESE June 26, 2018

Not Applicable

Section 3: Qualifications for Teachers

In general, except for teachers of English as a second language (ESL), teachers in Commonwealth charter schools, including special education teachers, are not required to be licensed.

Within a teacher's first year of employment5 in a teaching role6 at a Commonwealth charter school, however, teachers must either:

  • pass the relevant subject matter knowledge Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) test(s), as well as the Communication and Literacy Skills test, or
  • be licensed to teach in Massachusetts7

In addition, the Education of English Learner regulations8 require that all core academic teachers responsible for the education of one or more students who are ELs to hold a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Teacher Endorsement within one year of employment.

These qualifications are required for staff with the title of teacher and/or who are acting as a teacher9.

Qualifications for Special Education Teachers

All staff implementing specialized instruction included in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) must meet the qualifications for a service delivery provider established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)10.

The qualifications to deliver specialized instruction independently are the teacher must:

  • Hold a valid in- or out-of-state license or its equivalent as a special education teacher for the appropriate grades and severity level, or
  • Have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in an approved special education program.

Specialized instruction provided by staff who do not meet the above qualifications must be delivered under the direct supervision and oversight of an individual who is independently qualified to deliver special education services. For direct supervision, the supervisor must be physically proximate and readily available to the teacher on an ongoing basis throughout the day and whenever the teacher is delivering direct, specialized instruction to student(s) with disabilities. Direct supervision does not refer to, for instance, whether an individual is the teacher's supervisor on an organizational chart or conducts the teacher's evaluation. Additionally, consultation alone is insufficient to meet the requirement of direct supervision. This supervision must be documented in students' Individualized Education Plan in Grid A.

Qualifications for English as a Second Language Teachers

Every charter school that enrolls English learners must have the appropriate number of licensed ESL teachers to deliver an adequate English language education program. Every ESL teacher in a charter school must be licensed.
 

TeachersTraditional Public and Horace Mann Charter SchoolsCommonwealth Charter Schools
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher
    Grades PreK–6; 5–12

All ESL teachers or teachers of EL students must have obtained a MA educator license in:

  • English as a Second Language (ESL) or
  • English Language Learner (ELL)13 or
  • Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) endorsement

Every district must have at least one part-time or full-time ESL/ELL/TBE teacher on staff.

Licensed ESL teachers are automatically eligible for SEI endorsement but must apply for it.

All ESL teachers or teachers of EL students must have obtained a MA educator license in:

  • English as a Second Language (ESL) or
  • English Language Learner (ELL)14 or
  • Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) endorsement

ESL teachers or teachers of EL students must be appropriately licensed in order to serve students identified as English learners. Unlike some core academic teachers, ESL teachers do not have a year to earn this licensure.

Licensed ESL teachers are automatically eligible for SEI endorsement but must apply for it.

  • Two-Way Immersion (TWI)* or Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) Teacher
    *or Dual Language Education

A core academic teacher* who provides instruction to an English learner in a bilingual education setting, such as two-way immersion or transitional bilingual education program, must be properly qualified in the field and grade level of the assignment, and hold the appropriate endorsement, as follows:

  • A teacher responsible for instruction provided in a language other than English must hold the Bilingual Education Endorsement
  • A teacher responsible for instruction provided in English must hold the Bilingual Education Endorsement or the SEI Teacher Endorsement

*See definition of Core Academic Teacher under the teacher section below


Effective July 1, 2018

  • Core Academic Teacher of English Learners (ELs)

All core academic teachers* assigned to teach English learners are required to earn the Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Teacher Endorsement. Any teacher without a SEI endorsement has one year from date of assignment to teach ELs to earn the endorsement. The school must take all reasonable steps to ensure student is not assigned to non-endorsed teachers in subsequent years.

If a teacher fails to earn the endorsement within one year, the teacher can no longer teach any EL students until the endorsement has been earned, irrespective of whether it is a student new to them or not.

*"Core academic teacher" shall mean early childhood and elementary teachers, teachers of students with moderate disabilities, teachers of students with severe disabilities, and teachers of the following academic subjects: English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, civics and government, economics, history, and geography. (603 CMR 14.07)

  • Career Vocational Technical Teacher

All teachers of Career Vocational Technical Subjects* assigned to teach English learners are required to earn the Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Teacher Endorsement. Any teacher without the SEI endorsement has one year from date of assignment to earn the endorsement.

If a teacher fails to earn the endorsement within one year, the teacher can no longer teach any EL students until the endorsement has been earned, irrespective of whether it is a student new to them or not.

*Career Vocational Technical Subjects: For purposes of Sheltered English Immersion, such subjects shall include automotive technology, carpentry, culinary arts, engineering, exploratory, masonry, information technology, and any other subjects listed by the Department in guidance.


Effective July 1, 2021
Passed by BESE June 26, 2018

Not Applicable

  • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities
    Grades PreK–4

(Resource room, inclusion classroom, sub-separate program, but not including students with severe special needs)

Teachers required to hold one of the following licenses:

  • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK–8)
  • Special Needs N–9 or PreK–9; level depends on teaching license
  • Teacher of Special School and Classes K–12

*The previous "Early Childhood: Students with and without disabilities (K–2)" license is no longer offered and is not considered a special education license. The Early Childhood: Students with and without disability (K–2) license does not qualify a teacher to be a special education teacher.

Teachers are qualified to teach independently if the teacher holds one of the following qualifications for the appropriate grade and severity level:

  • MA special education license as noted for districts/Horace Mann charters (in the middle column to the left) or
  • Special education license or equivalent issued by another state or
  • Documented completion of approved undergraduate or graduate program in special education

If a teacher does not hold any of the qualifications above, the teacher may only deliver specialized instruction if:

  • The teacher is under the direct supervision and oversight* of an educator who holds an initial or professional special education license, or is otherwise qualified as per above;

And

  • Must pass the following MTELs within the first year of employment:
  • Communications and Literacy Skills test
        and
  • MTEL subject area tests

* For direct supervision, the supervisor must be physically proximate and readily available to the teacher on an ongoing basis throughout the day and whenever the teacher is delivering direct, specialized instruction to student(s) with disabilities. Direct supervision does not refer to, for instance, whether an individual is the teacher's supervisor on an organizational chart or conducts the teacher's evaluation. Additionally, consultation alone is insufficient to meet the requirement of direct supervision. Supervision must be documented in IEP Service Delivery Grid A.
 
  • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities
    Grades 5–8 or 9–12

(2 or more subject areas in resource room, inclusion classroom, sub-separate; but not including students with severe special needs)

Teachers are required to hold one of the following licenses:

  • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities PreK–8 or 5–12, level depending on grade(s) taught or
  • Special Needs PreK–9, N–9 and 5–12, level depends on teaching license and grades taught or
  • Teacher of Special Schools and Classes K–12


  • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities
    Grades 5–8 or 9–12

(1 subject area, in resource room, inclusion classroom, or sub-separate program, but not including students with severe special needs)

Same as Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities qualifications above,

    and

Subject area license

Same as Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities qualifications above,

    and

Must pass the following MTELs within the first year of employment:



  • Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities
    All grade levels

(IEP team determines if student has severe special needs; may be in an inclusion, resource, or sub-separate classroom.)

Teachers required to hold one of the following licenses:

  • Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities
  • Intensive Special Needs, All levels


See requirements for Special Education Teacher (2 or more subject areas) for — PreK–4 and 5–8, 9–12 above

Section 4: Qualifications for Student Support Personnel

Student Support PersonnelTraditional Public and Horace Mann Charter SchoolsCommonwealth Charter Schools
  • School Social Worker/ School Adjustment Counselor
    All grade levels
  • Must hold a DESE license as School Social Worker/School Adjustment Counselor


  • Must hold appropriate license issued by Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Work or Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health Professionals
  • A DESE license as School Adjustment Counselor is not required


  • School Psychologist
    All grade levels
  • Must hold a DESE license as School Psychologist


  • Must hold appropriate license issued by Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health Professionals as Educational Psychologist, national certification from the National Association of School Psychologists, or receive a passing score on the National School Psychology exam.
  • A DESE license as School Psychologist is not required


  • Related Service Provider
    All grade levels
    (e.g. OT, PT, SLP, LCSW)
  • Must hold current Massachusetts professional license issued by appropriate licensing board


  • Must hold current Massachusetts professional license issued by appropriate licensing board


  • Nurse
    All grade levels


  • Must hold current Massachusetts professional license issued by appropriate licensing board
  • Nurse must hold a registered nurse's license but does not need to hold a Professional Support Personnel license as a school nurse


  • Mental Health Counselor Intern
    All grade levels
  • Pre-masters: May see clients only when there is an approved supervisor or contract supervisor on site. In the temporary absence of either, a supervisee may see clients so long as an emergency contact is on site
  • Post-masters: approved supervisor or contract supervisor does not always have to be onsite; provision of emergency contact must be in place
  • Supervisors must conduct regular evaluations of the intern's internship or practicum performance
  • Supervisor must be Licensed Mental Health Counselor who is employee of, or has contract with, district


  • Pre-masters: May see clients only when there is an approved supervisor or contract supervisor on site. In the temporary absence of either, a supervisee may see clients so long as an emergency contact is on site
  • Post-masters: approved supervisor or contract supervisor does not always have to be onsite; provision of emergency contact must be in place
  • Supervisors must conduct regular evaluations of the intern's internship or practicum performance
  • Supervisor must be Licensed Mental Health Counselor who is employee of, or has contract with, district


  • Substitute Teacher
    All grade levels and subjects, including special education and English learner education

Temporary (≤ 90 days)
Long-term (> 90 days)

  • Massachusetts has no minimum qualifications for substitutes covering fewer than 90 consecutive days in the same role; local district determines qualifications.
  • After a substitute has served 90 days in a position, the district may assign a different substitute to the same position for 90 additional days.
  • Long-term substitute teacher license requirements are the same as those applicable for a permanent teacher in the same position unless granted a hardship waiver.


  • Massachusetts has no licensure qualifications for substitutes covering fewer than 90 consecutive days in the same role.
  • All teachers, including long-term or permanent substitutes, must be licensed or pass required MTEL(s) within first year of employment.


  • Paraprofessionals, Aides, Instructional Assistants, etc.
  • Local district determines qualifications.
  • There are no specific educator qualification requirements for educational support staff who are not lead core academic teachers. All educational support staff must receive direct supervision from a licensed teacher.
  • Local district determines qualifications.
  • There are no specific educator qualification requirements for educational support staff who are not lead core academic teachers. All educational support staff must receive direct supervision from a qualified teacher.

Section 5: Waivers

WaiversTraditional Public and Horace Mann Charter SchoolsCommonwealth Charter Schools
  • Licensure Hardship Waiver
    All positions

  • Critical Shortage Waiver
    Retired educators only

The district applies for the waiver from DESE on behalf of the teacher by following instructions for logging waiver request in ELAR and submitting requested evidence that a good faith effort has been made to hire licensed personnel.

School districts interested in hiring a retired educator to fill a critical shortage position must fill out and submit an application and supporting evidence in hard copy.

  • Hardship Waivers are granted for one academic year, expiring on June 30.
  • Critical Shortage Waivers are issued in six-month increments
  • Educators employed under Hardship Waivers must demonstrate that they are making continuous progress toward meeting the requirements for licensure in order for an additional waiver to be granted after one year.


Commonwealth charters are not required to hire licensed educators, except for ESL teachers.

Since Commonwealth charters are not required to hire licensed educators, they cannot experience a hardship due to a lack of licensed educators. For that reason, Commonwealth charter schools are not eligible for hardship waivers, except for ESL teachers.

Commonwealth charter schools (not teachers) theoretically might request and receive a hardship waiver for an individual ESL teacher, under 71, § 38G, and 603 CMR 7.15(13). However, schools should be very cautious in pursuing this. To make such a request assumes that the school has been unable to employ an ESL teacher who is licensed. Given the language in the Equal Educational Opportunities Act ("EEOA") at 20 U.S.C. § 1703(f), the school potentially risks some liability for failing "to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers."

 


1 Please note that this advisory does not address educator qualifications in Massachusetts Horace Mann charter schools because, pursuant to G.L. c. 71, § 38G, employees of a Horace Mann charter school are employees of the school district and are therefore subject to the same licensure and other requirements as other district public school educators. The table below includes some educator qualification requirements for Horace Mann charter school, but it not comprehensive.

2 "Core academic teacher" shall mean early childhood and elementary teachers, teachers of students with moderate disabilities, teachers of students with severe disabilities, and teachers of the following academic subjects: English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, civics and government, economics, history, and geography. (603 CMR 14.07)

3 Primary responsibility is at least 50 percent of time on oversight of the ELE program.

4 This license is no longer obtainable, but is valid in the field.

5 Employment after August 10, 2000.

6 If this person is under direct supervision of a qualified teacher, they need not be licensed. If this person is acting as a teacher, they are subject to these requirements.

7 603 CMR 1.06(4); see also G.L. c. 71, § 89(ii).

8 603 CMR 14.07

9 See the Paraprofessionals, Aides, Instructional Assistants, etc. section for requirements of staff working under the direct supervision of a qualified teacher.

10 34 CFR 300.156(a)

11 Primary responsibility is at least 50 percent of time on oversight of the ELE program.

12 This license is no longer obtainable, but it is valid in the field.

13 This license is no longer obtainable, but it is valid in the field.

14 This license is no longer obtainable, but it is valid in the field.

Last Updated: June 18, 2020

 
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