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Office of Educator Licensure

ABE Laws and Regulations

The Statute

The board of education shall grant certification to teachers of adult education who possess such qualifications as prescribed by said board. The board shall define standards and competencies commensurate with attainment and renewal of such certificates not later than September 1, 1999. The commissioner of education shall have authority to grant, upon application, adult education certificates which shall be valid for five years to teachers of adult education who possess qualifications prescribed by said board. Each education certificate shall be renewable every five years thereafter upon successful completion of an individual professional development plan that meets standards established by said board. Said board shall establish policies and guidelines for approval for fulfilling the professional development requirement. Nothing herein shall be construed to require certification of teachers of adult education. A certificate issued by the commissioner may be revoked for cause pursuant to standards and procedures established by said board. Said board shall have the authority to promulgate, amend and rescind such rules or regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. [M.G.L. c. 69 § 1H]

Definition of Terms

The definitions for these guidelines are those used in 603 CMR 47.01 in addition to the following:

ABE Programs. ABE programs sponsor the delivery of ABE services or instruction below the post-secondary level for individuals who have attained 16 years of age; are not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law; lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable the individuals to function effectively in society; do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and have not achieved an equivalent level of education; and/or are unable to speak, read, or write the English language. Additionally, these programs have a coordinator, more than one staff person, and an identified curriculum, and have designated time for staff development. ABE programs could include, but are not limited to, the following: instruction in adult basic education; ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages); education for the homeless; family literacy; workplace education programs; volunteer tutoring services; and citizenship instruction. The following are examples of types of organizations that deliver ABE programs and services:

Community-Based Organizations. These programs are run by private, non-profit organizations that are recognized under IRS law 501(3)(C) and may provide a variety of social services that may include educational programs.

Community Colleges. Community colleges are public, post-secondary educational institutions that also offer transitional and adult basic education programs, which may include ESOL; these programs may be supported by funding from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Services within these programs are available to students who have not achieved the skills and knowledge expected of a high school graduate or are unable to function effectively in English.

Correctional Facilities. These programs are housed within public correctional facilities such as county houses of correction (CHOC's), Massachusetts Correctional Institutions (MCI's), and the Office of Community Corrections, and are funded either by state or federal funds.

School Districts. These programs are housed within school districts and are duly authorized by local school committees and typically funded locally and by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Federal agencies refer to these programs as Local Education Agencies (LEAs).

ABE Review Panel Coordinator. The individual(s) identified by the Department responsible for training, scheduling, and interfacing with review panel members. The coordinator supervises and schedules ABE review panel trainings and meetings.

Adult Secondary Education (ASE). A program of study for adults that, at minimum, covers the knowledge, skills, and abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics in 9th to 12th grade level equivalents.

Applicant. An individual who has completed the appropriate paperwork, provided the requisite documentation and application fee, and passed the appropriate teacher test(s) to be considered for licensure.

Candidate. An adult basic education teacher who is participating in an approved ABE teacher preparation program or whose application has been approved by the Department for review by the ABE Panel Review for Licensure.

Coursework. College or university coursework is one type of professional development that may be used as evidence in fulfillment of the teacher standards for the professional license. (See also: Professional Development.)

Coursework Statements. If using coursework to demonstrate a professional standard, candidates must write a statement in which they address how the coursework fulfills the standard in response to prompts provided by the Department within the evaluation rubric.

Curriculum. The planned content of an instructional program, which answers the "what" and the "why" and contains objectives for the program of study and lesson plans and materials designed to meet the program's objectives.

Demonstration. A candidate's evidence of proficiency drawn from actual teaching practice that meets the criteria for relevant standards. The form and character of the demonstrative evidence must fit the prompts provided in the evaluation rubric closely to enhance validity and reliability and minimize confusion or subjectivity.

Developmental Education. Instruction in reading, writing, numeracy, and language development that is conducted within a post-secondary educational program and that is considered preparatory for that program.

Educator Preparation Program. A program approved by the Commissioner to prepare individuals for educator licensure.

Evaluation Rubric. The criteria by which the contents of candidates' performance portfolios will be evaluated by a panel review.

Evidence. The documents or materials to be submitted as proof of having met a requirement or requirements within the guidelines. Unless otherwise noted, all evidence listed must be submitted.

Evidentiary Documentation. The products or the "proof" that the candidate knows how to use this knowledge in practice.

Explanatory Statements. Statements made by the licensure candidate within their performance portfolio, in response to prompts provided by the Department in the evaluation rubric, about the "what," "why," and "how" that they are providing to demonstrate proficiency of an individual teacher standard. Explanatory statements are required for each standard.

Field-Based Equivalent. A period of supervised teaching in an ABE program that meets the requirements outlined in 603 CMR 47.05. The duration of any equivalent to field-based experience (pre-practicum, field survey, practicum) should be no fewer hours than provided for the practicum in 603 CMR 47.05. Supervised teaching experiences may partially or fully cover the requirements for the field-based experiences.

Five Years of ABE Teaching Experience. Five years is understood to be a minimum of 2,400 instructional hours in an ABE program, also known as the part-time equivalent. If a practitioner is working full-time in an ABE program, but teaching is only a part of his or her job, then the practitioner must use the part-time equivalent.

Incorporate. To include knowledge or the application of skills specifically identified by the teaching standards in practice and to do so in ways that enhance and sustain the educational gains of learners.

Instructional Hours. The time spent in direct instruction with ABE learners. Instructional hours do not include preparation time. To qualify for Route 3, candidates will need to hold a current Massachusetts teacher's license and to verify a minimum of 480 instructional hours. To qualify for Route 4, candidates will need to verify 2,400 instructional hours. Instructional hours must be verified by current or previous supervisor(s) via an ABE Teaching Verification Form.

Learning Environment. The setting in which ABE instruction takes place. For example, a family literacy program, a workplace education program, a correctional facility, or a homeless shelter.

Learning Objectives. Statements of specific observable or measurable learner behaviors. The ability to measure the outcome of objectives is helpful to both the teacher and the learner to know whether the objective was met.

Lesson Plans. Components of a curriculum that outline a specific set of learning objectives and how they are to be accomplished by learners within an identified period of time (e.g., one hour, one session). A series of lesson plans consists of three or more consecutive lesson plans that are part of a larger curriculum. A series of lesson plans will help evaluators to understand how the candidates' learning objectives and activities build upon one another to form effective instruction.

Native Language Literacy Instruction. Literacy instruction that occurs in the adult learner's native language, if the learner's native language is not English.

One Year of ABE Teaching Experience. One year is understood to be a minimum of 480 instructional hours in an ABE program, also known as the part-time equivalent. If a practitioner is working full-time in an ABE program, but teaching is only a part of his or her job, then the practitioner must use the part-time equivalent.

Professional Development. Anything that offers academic credit or professional development points (PDPs). Professional development may include, but is not limited to, credit and non-credit courses, workshops, and seminars. In order for professional development to be awarded PDPs, it must meet the Department's guidelines (e.g., a minimum of ten contact hours on a topic, include an evaluative component).

Proficiency. The minimum knowledge, skills, and abilities an adult basic education teacher must demonstrate to be considered minimally competent in a particular teacher standard.

Reflection on Practice. Candidates for licensure are required to demonstrate their ability to examine their practice critically as a way of ensuring that ABE teachers have the skills necessary to analyze, adapt, and learn through their experiences in the ABE classroom.

Syllabus. An outline or other brief statement of the main points of the contents of a curriculum.

Tutoring. One-on-one or small group teaching; fewer than five adult learners.

Guidelines for Applicants for Provisional Licensure

1. Regulations

In accordance with 603 CMR 47.00: Licensure of Adult Basic Education Teachers and Preparation Program Approval, applicants for the ABE teacher's license in Massachusetts must demonstrate the successful application of the professional standards for ABE teachers as set forth in 603 CMR 47.08 of the regulations.

2. Criteria for Application

  1. Submission of a completed Application for the Massachusetts Adult Basic Education Teacher's License.
  2. Submission of an official transcript verifying a bachelor's or a master's degree.
  3. Passing score on the Communication and Literacy Skills Test.
  4. Passing score on the ABE subject matter test.

Last Updated: September 30, 2018

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