Ed Prep Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Guidance for Educator Preparation during the ongoing COVID-19-related State of Emergency

Issuing a practicum waiver for Spring 2020 due to COVID-19

We understand you will need to navigate practicum situations on a case-by-case basis depending on your unique context. As you know, all state-approved educator preparation programs have the authority to extend waivers when appropriate for a specific candidate, based on program needs and a specific candidate's experiences (see Program Approval Guidelines, p. 21). As always, in each decision to issue a waiver, organizations must carefully consider the benefits of waiving requirements and the impact it will have on the candidates' preparation experience and ultimately, their effectiveness with and impact on kids. Given the current statewide extenuating circumstances, in order to allow organizations to approach this situation with more flexibility while also monitoring the impact of wide-spread use of waivers, through the end of the 2019-20 school year we expanded waiver guidance to include the following:

  • More than half of the total practicum can be waived, assuming waived hours would have been accumulated as of March 6, 2020 (see below for additional information).
    • This includes hours of full responsibility and split practicum requirements
  • Practicum settings can include those that do not use the MA Curriculum Frameworks (e.g., if a student goes home to Utah and there is an option for the candidate to complete part of their practicum at a local school).
  • Organizations can issue a waiver even if the situation does not fall within the provider's current articulated written waiver policy.
  • In exploring whether to waive practicum hours, please consider the full extent of evidence you currently have regarding a candidate's proficiency in elements assessed throughout the program experience.
    • For initial teacher candidates: In order to endorse candidates this semester, there needs to be a final determination on whether the candidate is "ready to teach" based on summative CAP ratings using required CAP Summative Evaluation Form. To make these determinations, the source and window of evidence can be expanded beyond what is in current CAP guidelines (e.g, from pre-practicum, mixed-reality, video-observations at new placement site, etc.). You will still be required to report on, at least, summative performance ratings for each candidate endorsed, formative ratings can be waived. Other required CAP forms should be completed as best as possible given the situation with each individual.
    • For non-teacher candidates: Please continue to complete practicum assessment documentation as fully as possible. At the least, in order to endorse completers there needs to be a clear decision on readiness for the role based on evidence collected throughout the practicum.

This extended waiver policy requires accompanying data collection, due to DESE by August 20, 2020. Through this data collection, we seek to understand the extent and depth of impact on candidates who were ultimately endorsed despite deviations from the approved program of study. Below is additional clarity regarding this data collection requirement:

  • Any organization that issues a waiver due to COVID-19 must track the following information and submit it to DESE by August 30, 2020:
    • Candidate Name and MEPID
    • Type of waiver issued (e.g. practicum hours)
    • Rationale for waiver, which should be specific to that individual's situation
  • Organizations should be considering individual rationale for each candidate when issuing a waiver, rather than issuing a "blanket waiver" for all candidates. For each individual candidate, we expect to understand the implications of the situation on their specific case. This includes:
    • If any required practicum hours are waived due to this situation, including hours in practicum settings that do not use MA curriculum frameworks.
    • If a candidate logs hours under the supervision of someone who is not their originally designated Supervising Practitioner.
    • If certain components of the practicum assessment (e.g. CAP) are not completed.
  • Through this data collection, we are not seeking documentation of all the evidence that you have used to determine a candidate's readiness. Instead, we are looking to understand your rationale for why you issued a waiver for one candidate versus another as specifically and concisely as possible. It is insufficient to list all candidates and simply provide the same blanket rationale such as: "Practicum hours were waived as a result of Candidate's inability to complete their hours due to Governor Baker's closing of schools on March 15 2020." Instead, for example, we might see:
    • Candidate A — 100 practicum hours, two observations, student feedback/learning measure waived; in the formative assessment met readiness thresholds for 5 of 6 elements. Through mixed reality simulation and reflection, demonstrated readiness on final element.
    • Candidate B — 150 practicum hours (including 30 hours of full responsibility), formative assessment, two observations, student feedback/learning measure waived; evidence collected through two observations, pre-prac experiences, additional course assignments, and 20 hours virtual small group teaching with student learning measures met, demonstrated readiness across all elements.

Licensure Implications — MA Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) and Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL)

  • As you know, passing scores on MTELs or PAL are state requirements for individuals seeking licensure and are not a state requirement for any aspect of program completion or approval. Individuals seeking licensure may be impacted due to test center and PK-12 school closings.
  • We know many of you have connected these licensure assessment requirements throughout your programs either at admission or as checkpoints along the way. We encourage you to approach your existing policies regarding these requirements with flexibility, given that some candidates will not have access to complete these assessments during the time when they originally planned to take them, even though many test centers have re-opened.
  • Governor Baker signed special legislation creating an emergency license to help aspiring educators looking to join the profession, people who hold a license in one category (teacher, administrator, specialist teacher, or professional support personnel) who have been prevented by COVID-19 from qualifying for a license in another category, and school districts looking to bring on new hires. It will be valid for employment in the 2020-21 school year, expiring on June 30, 2021.

Educator Preparation 2020-21 Guidance Advisory

As you continue to make plans to address the 2020-21 school year and reimagine what it looks like to prepare educators in this pandemic/post-pandemic world, please review this advisory outlining DESE expectations and temporary flexibilities offered in 2020-21. We appreciate your extensive input via recent Zoom meetings and survey, and we are grateful for your patience as we worked through all the components you see outlined in the advisory.

Navigating field-based experiences in 2020-21

We are encouraging schools and districts to see educator preparation candidates (e.g., prospective teachers, administrators, school counselors) as an extension of their workforce, who ca provide added capacity to meeting students' needs. We encourage districts to view candidates as essential to the return-to-school effort and to leverage the variety of ways they can support the needs of their school community (see one-pager, "Leveraging Student Teachers ," for additional context). Not only will this be critical to prevent educator shortages in the future, but candidates can serve as a key component to supporting in-service teachers and students to effectively engage in teaching and learning this year through any approach (i.e., in person, hybrid, remote) a school takes. We encourage districts to identify ways to allow candidates access to virtual platforms that will be used by your school/district, for example by providing them with a district-specific email address, and to work with ed prep partners on the flexibilities regarding practicum that we've granted them this year. You may consider sharing this language and/or the one-pager with your school and district partners as you work to secure practicum placements this fall.

Educator Preparation Monthly Meeting

In order to continue providing an open communication channel with Educator Preparation Providers, we have been and will continue hosting monthly hour-long Zoom meetings on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 10:00am–11:00am. During these conversations, we will provide any updated guidance we have at that point; this will also serve as a platform for organizations to collaborate, brainstorm, and troubleshoot the ways in which you are navigating through this situation. Please use email for the meeting schedule and login information.

Last Updated: November 3, 2021

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