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Office of Educator Licensure

Advancing or Extending a License

Impact of a Restricted Status (RETELL/SEI) on Advancing, Extending, or Renewing a License

Between 2012 and 2016, Massachusetts core academic teachers assigned to a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) cohort should have earned the SEI Teacher Endorsement within the time designated; otherwise, their core academic license or licenses became restricted. A restricted status prevents an applicant from advancing, extending, or renewing their core academic licenses. Obtaining the SEI Teacher Endorsement lifts the restricted status.

Impact of a Conditional Passing Score on Advancing, Extending, or Renewing a License

Between March 7, 2009 and June 30, 2012, individuals may have earned a license (Elementary, Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, Visually Impaired) through a score somewhere from 227-239 on the Mathematics portion of the General Curriculum test. Such a score is a conditional passing score. All candidates issued a license through a conditional passing score must earn a score of 240 or above on the Mathematics portion of the General Curriculum test or a passing score on any of the following mathematics MTEL (Mathematics, Mathematics (Middle School), or Mathematics (Elementary) in order to be eligible to advance, extend, or renew their license.

A conditional passing score test result appears in yellow in ELAR.

Advancing a License

Issue and Expiration Dates:

Each license issued has a specific period of validity. Educators are expected to take note of the amount of time for which each license is valid and work toward advancement of each license to its next stage, i.e., from Provisional to Initial or from Initial to Professional. Licenses at the Professional stage must be renewed every five years or else they become inactive/invalid.

Validity Dates by License:

  • Temporary license – valid for one year of employment (cannot be extended; must advance to Provisional or Initial)
  • Provisional – valid for five years of employment (cannot be extended, must advance to initial). Starting on July 1, 2019, individuals who hold more than one Provisional license will have no more than five total years of prospective employment under the Provisional licenses.
  • Initial – valid for five years of employment (may be extended once, must be advanced to Professional)
  • Professional– valid for five calendar years (renewable every five years thereafter)

How to Advance a License:

To advance a license from one type to the next type: Provisional to Initial; Initial to Professional; you will need to apply for the new type of license and send in all required documentation verifying that the requirements for the new/advanced license have been met.

To determine the requirements for a particular type of license, please use our Licensure Requirements Tool.

The quickest way to apply for the new/advanced license is through the Educator Licensure And Renewal (ELAR) system.

Calendar Years (Professional Licenses Only):

A Professional license is valid for five (5) calendar years. Time elapses regardless of employment status under this license.

Calculation of "Years of Employment" (For Temporary, Provisional, and Initial Licenses):

Time elapses only while actually employed by a school or district (that requires a license in the state of MA) and is used to calculate total years of employment with respect to how long a Temporary, Provisional, or Initial license remains valid. For example, if an educator works under an Initial license (in a MA school requiring that license) for one (1) year and is then released or goes on maternity leave, that educator’s license remains valid for an additional four (4) years upon his/her return to teaching.

Extending an Initial License

(Note: Initial Administrator licenses cannot be extended)

The Initial license is valid for five years of employment and may be extended at the discretion of the Commissioner for an additional five years. Educators who have been employed under an Initial license, are in their fifth (5) year of employment, and have not yet satisfied the requirements for advancing to the Professional license; have the option of applying for an Extension of their Initial license. 'Under a license' is defined here as meaning; "employment in the role and at the grade of the license from the date it was issued".

How to Apply to Extend an Initial License

The quickest way to apply for an Initial Extension license is through the Educator Licensure And Renewal (ELAR) system; complete the application and make payment. Submitting a hard copy of the application is an option, but takes significantly more time to process.

Please refer to the Extension of Initial License Guide and Template for a form that may be used to verify that you plan to meet requirements for the Professional license.

Renewing a Professional License

Professional licenses are valid for five (5) calendar years and must be renewed in order to remain active. Professional licenses that are either one (1) year from expiring or currently on inactive status can be renewed only if the required number of Professional Development Points (PDPs) has been earned.

Regardless of when an educator is expected to renew their professional license, if employed the educator must obtain final approval of their individual professional development plan by their supervisor; the educator must have a minimum of 10 PDPs in a topic area in order to use the PDPs towards license renewal. Each additional license that an educator renews requires 30 PDPs in the content area of each license to be renewed.

How to Renew a Professional License:

The quickest way to renew your Professional license is through the Educator Licensure And Renewal (ELAR) system. After you log into the ELAR system, select the Apply to renew your professional level license link on your Welcome to ELAR home page. Follow all of the prompts, pay the required fees ($100 for primary license, $25 for additional licenses), and your license(s) will be renewed automatically.

Do not send in any of your supporting documentation (verifying the attainment of the required PDPs) unless you are selected for an audit. If selected for an audit, you will be required to submit documentation in support of the license(s) that you renewed.

Please note that the Office of Educator Licensure no longer sends out hard copies of newly approved or renewed licenses.

Professional development activities shall be identified by the educator and supervisor during the development of, and review of, the Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)* in order to better support student achievement. Individual professional development plans must include at least 150 PDPs that break down as follows:

  1. At least 15 PDPs in content (subject matter knowledge)
  2. At least 15 PDPs in pedagogy (professional skills and knowledge)
  3. At least 15 PDPs related to Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) or English as a Second Language (ESL)
  4. At least 15 PDPs related to training in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and the instruction of students with diverse learning styles
  5. The remaining required 90 PDPs may be earned through either "elective" activities that address other educational issues and topics that improve student learning, or additional content, and/or pedagogy.

Information on SEI/ESL and Special Education course offerings can be found at: New DESE Resource: Free Online Courses on Inclusive Practice and Guidebook for Inclusive Practice

*As indicated in 603 CMR 44.04(1)(c), the same plan can be utilized to satisfy license renewal and educator evaluation.

Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) and its impact on Renewal:
The SEI Endorsement requirement is at the center of the Department's RETELL initiative to transform the teaching and learning of ELLs across the Commonwealth.

  • All incumbent core academic teachers of ELLs, must earn a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Teacher Endorsement, and
  • All incumbent principals/assistant principals and supervisors/directors who evaluate core academic teachers of ELLs must earn an SEI Administrator Endorsement.

Application & Guidelines


Professional Development

Educators looking for current Department PD offerings should consult the DESE-sponsored offerings page.

Educators are required to earn 150 professional development points (PDPs) in order to be recertified in their primary area of licensure, and 30 PDPs for each additional license. Generally, 1 clock hour of professional development activity is equal to 1 PDP, although Advanced Academic Studies and some Department professional development can award 1.5 PDPs for each hour of activity. Please consult the professional development Frequently Asked Questions if you have additional questions.

Additional professional development guidelines and tools:

Last Updated: January 27, 2022

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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