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The Department has moved to 135 Santilli Highway in Everett. The Department's office and Licensure Welcome Center are open. The new location has free parking and is a short walk from the Wellington station on the MBTA's Orange Line.
Office of Educator Licensure

Glossary of Terms



Academic Discipline Appropriate to the Instructional Field of the License
The subject matter knowledge specified in appropriate provisions of 603 CMR 7.06 for teacher licenses and in 603 CMR 7.07 for specialist teacher licenses.

Administrative Apprenticeship/Internship
A comprehensive field-based learning experience (for a minimum of 300 or 500 hours, depending upon the license sought) in the role and at the grade level of the license sought. The candidate should be guided by a trained mentor who; holds a valid professional license in the same role and level, has worked under that license for 3 years (these employment years may have occurred under the Initial and or Professional license), has been rated as proficient in his/her most recent summative evaluation, , and is willing to supervise the candidate. The district must also provide seminars, workshops, and other opportunities for candidates to address the Professional Standards for Administrators set forth in 603 CMR 7.10 and prepare candidates for a Performance Assessment for Initial License. Such experience should be regularly spaced over the course of an academic year and may be completed as a paid or unpaid apprenticeship or as an internship while the candidate is employed as an acting administrator.

Advanced Academic Study
These typically graduate-level courses, are worth 22.5 Professional Development Points (PDPs) per semester hour (or college credit) when taken for credit and 15 PDPs per semester hour (or college credit) when not taken for credit. However, educators not pursuing college credit will still receive 22.5 PDPs per credit when the entity offering the course provides the educator with a statement verifying that the activity was equivalent to a college or university course and that the work that the educator completed was the same as the work that qualifies other participants for academic credit. This document must be on official letterhead and signed by the college or university professor.

A paid or unpaid field-based experience of at least one semester in the role and at the grade level of the license sought, in a classroom with a supervising administrator who holds a Professional license.

Approved Educator Preparation Program
Within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; a preparation program that has been approved by the Commissioner to prepare individuals for educator licensure in Massachusetts. Such programs may be offered by public and private higher education institutions, districts, collaboratives, and non-profit organizations. The fundamental purpose of the state approval of educator preparation programs is to assure the public that all teachers and other educators who complete these programs in Massachusetts, are prepared to educate our PreK-12 students according to the learning standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Find a MA approved educator preparation program.

Outside of Massachusetts, a preparation program that has been approved by the government body such as a governor-appointed commission or standards board charged with overseeing teacher-preparation programs, or that has been accredited by one of the following: the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), or the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).


Bachelor's Degree
A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree from an accredited college or university resulting from the completion of an undergraduate program in which the student has satisfactorily met the requirements for a major in one or more academic subjects in the arts or sciences.


When applying for an educator license, one of three groupings: Academic PreK-12 (applies to teacher, teacher specialist, professional support personnel, or administrator), Adult Basic Education, or Vocational Teacher Education.

Communication and Literacy Skills Test
The test of communication and literacy skills included in the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL).

Competency Review
A Competency Review is used in the licensure evaluation process for determining whether the subject matter knowledge or "Coverage of" requirements for a license have been adequately met and appropriately verified in a specific field for which there is no subject matter knowledge test (MTEL), where the MTEL does not capture some of the subject matter knowledge competencies, and elsewhere as required.

Content is the subject matter of the license area.

Core Academic Subjects
The following are considered CORE ACADEMIC SUBJECTS: English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics & government, economics, arts, history, and geography.

Core Academic Teachers
For purposes of sheltered English immersion instruction and the needed SEI Endorsement, it would impact core academic teachers of early childhood, and elementary, teachers of students with moderate disabilities, teachers of severe disabilities, and teachers of the following academic subjects: English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, civics and government, economics, history, and geography.


The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).


Any person employed by a school or school district in a position requiring a license.

Educator Preparation Program
An educator preparation program is a program approved by the DESE that prepares individuals for a specific field and grade level of licensure. These programs provide the necessary tools & skills for individuals who are seeking careers in education, in addition to satisfying the requirements for state licensure. Please note that possession of a bachelor's or master's degree in education does not necessarily equate to an approved educator preparation program. Find a MA approved educator preparation program.

Educator Licensure And Recruitment (ELAR)
This system is a DESE online resource that allows current and prospective Massachusetts educators to complete most licensure-related transactions. Once logged-in to ELAR, applicants can apply for or advance a license, renew a Professional license, check the status of a license/application, make a payment, view a description of what documents have been scanned into their file, request a hard copy of their license (duplicate), update contact information, view correspondence sent from the Office of Educator Licensure, and print unofficial license information.

The action taken by a sponsoring organization when a candidate has successfully completed an approved educator preparation program, and thereby endorses you as having been prepared through their approved program for the license field and grade level.

An Endorsement is a supplementary credential issued to an educator licensed under 603 CMR 7.00 or a credential issued to an individual otherwise required by law or regulation to obtain such a credential, indicating satisfactory knowledge and skills to perform services in the area(s) specified.


When applying for an educator license, the discipline or subject matter knowledge area within a Category. For example, in the Academic/Pre-K-12 Teacher category, possible fields include: biology, elementary, moderate disabilities, dance, etc.


Grade Level
When applying for an educator license, the particular grade or range of grades in which the license will be valid for employment. There are several possible grade-level combinations, including, but not limited to: All, PreK-8, and 8-12.


Idle Status
Individuals who are no longer actively seeking a license have the option at any time to place their license application temporarily in Idle Status in order to make that application inactive. Additionally, if an application has been in 'pending' status for two years, ELAR automatically changes the application status to Idle.

Prior to a pending application moving into the Idle Status, the Department will notify applicants via email 45 days in advance of the status change, and during that time, individuals can log into ELAR, go to the Inquiry Page (Check Status History/Make a Payment), and select the 'Stop status change to idle button' If they do not wish to get the idle status for such pending applications.

The Idle Status can be removed and the application made active again via a written request using an 'Application Status Change: Remove Idle Status' form.

When a professional license expires, it becomes Inactive and will remain Inactive for up to 5 years if not renewed. The number of PDPs required to renew an Inactive license is the same as if the license was Active. In addition, a Massachusetts public school district may newly employ an educator under an Inactive license as long as the educator renews their Inactive license within 2 years from the date of hire. Educators who are currently employed in the role of their license and allow this license to go Inactive are no longer eligible for legal employment unless the school district is issued a waiver.

Should a license remain Inactive beyond 5 years and the educator does not renew the license, the license then becomes Invalid. An educator may not be employed under an invalid license, until he or she renews the license, unless the school district receives a waiver from the Department. 150 PDPs are needed to renew each license that is in an Invalid status.

Induction and Mentoring Program
A planned program of professional support for new teachers and administrators provided by the school district; including orientation, opportunities for classroom observation and conferencing, and peer group meetings.

Initial Extension
Educators who have worked in a Massachusetts public school under an Initial license for more than 4-1/2 years and have not yet satisfied the requirements to advance an Initial license 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". Note Initial Administrator licenses cannot be extended. See the Extension of an Initial License Guide and Template for additional information.

Initial License
An educator license issued to a person who has completed a bachelor's degree, passed the applicable Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure, completed an educator preparation program approved by the Commissioner, and met other eligibility requirements established by the Board. The Initial license is valid for five years of employment and may be renewed, one time only, at the discretion of the Commissioner for an additional five years. This license is equivalent to a provisional with advanced standing educator certificate as defined in M. G. L. c. 71, § 38G.

A paid or unpaid, supervised, and mentored field-based experience, outside of an approved program, in the role and at the grade level of the license sought. Interns must be evaluated through a Performance Assessment for Initial Licensure, using Department guidelines.

Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)
An Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP) is a five-year plan developed by an educator that outlines the professional development activities for the renewal cycle of the educator's license(s). The IPDP should focus on the educator's goals for strengthening his or her content knowledge and professional skills in his or her license area(s) and for remaining current with other educational developments. The IPDP also should identify the expected goals for improvement in teaching and learning to be achieved over the five-year period.


The range of grades within which a given license is valid.

Any credential issued to an educator under 603 CMR 7.00. The terms "license" and "licensure" as used in 603 CMR 7.00 are equivalent to the terms "certificate" and "certification" as used in M. G. L. c. 71, § 38G.

Licensure Requirements Tool
This is an online tool found on the DESE website that allows you to determine the requirements for a particular license.


An educator who has at least three full years of experience under an Initial or Professional license and who has been trained to assist a beginning educator in the same professional role with his or her professional responsibilities and general school/district procedures. In addition, a mentor may assist an experienced educator who is new to a school, subject area, or grade level. A mentor may also assist an educator who is participating in a performance assessment or a district-based program for licensure. A mentor who works with an educator who is completing and administrative apprenticeship/internship must be trained as a mentor and hold a Professional license in the same role that the educator who is completing the administrative apprenticeship/internship is seeking.

Massachusetts Education Personnel ID (MEPID)
A unique identifier assigned to all educators and to school district staff in Massachusetts. MEPIDs were developed as part of the Education Personnel Information Management System (EPIMS) and enable the collection of educator and staff data at the individual level from school districts to the Department.

A MEPID will be assigned to anyone who creates a profile in ELAR. Once an applicant creates a profile, their MEPID can be found in the Personal Information section on the Inquiry Activity – Summary page in ELAR. To get to this page, login to ELAR (can be accessed at from the Licensure webpage) and click on the Check license status and history, make a payment link on the Welcome to ELAR screen. The MEPID number should be located right above your name. If you do not see your MEPID number please call the Office of Educator Licensure's Call Center at (781) 338-6600 between the hours of 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm M-F.

Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL)
The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) was initiated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 1998 as part of our statewide education reform initiative for educators seeking Pre-K to grade 12 academic licenses. The MTEL includes a test of communication and literacy skills as well as tests of subject matter knowledge. The tests are designed to help ensure that Massachusetts educators can communicate adequately with students, parents/guardians, and other educators and that they are knowledgeable in the subject matter of the license(s) sought. MTEL includes tests for candidates seeking vocational technical and adult basic education licenses.


NASDTEC Interstate Agreement
The agreement sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) concerning reciprocal licensing of educational personnel among participating jurisdictions. Massachusetts participates with every state and the District of Columbia through the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement to accept candidates' state approved educator preparation program or possession of the equivalent of at least an Initial license/certificate and three years of employment under such valid license/certificate during the previous seven years. Please note that the interstate agreement does not exempt candidates from degree, testing and/or prerequisite requirements applicable to the Massachusetts license sought.

'Not Ready' Status
A 'Not Ready' Status indicates that your application is not in queue to be evaluated. An application might be 'Not Ready' for any of the following reasons:

  • Application payment has not been received and/or processed. Helpful Tip: If the applied date is blank in your ELAR Profile, then the payment has not been processed.
  • An official transcript has not been received and/or scanned. Helpful Tip: Log into ELAR, click on 'Check license status and history, make a payment' and under the 'Activity History' table, select the 'View documents' option. If no official college transcript appears, the transcript(s) have not been received or have not been scanned.
  • The Department has not received notification of a passing score on the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL. Note: test results are sent directly by the Testing Company.
    • Helpful Tip: You can view MTEL test Pass/Fail/NA results in your ELAR profile. Log-in to ELAR, click on 'Check license status and history, make a payment' and under the 'Activity History' table, select the 'View Test Results' option. If passing scores on the Reading and Writing Subtests have not been received, then that may be the reason for the 'Not Ready' status.

Please note: The Department is unable to evaluate an application that has a 'Not Ready' Status.


Panel Review
The process used by the Department for reviewing and recommending candidates for Initial licensure who have substantial experience and formal education relevant to the license sought but have not met the specific license requirements (This option is only available for certain professional support personnel and administrator licenses.)

Professional Development Point (PDP)
A unit of measurement of professional development activities. For example, one clock hour is equivalent to one PDP; one undergraduate semester hour (or college credit) is equivalent to 15 PDPs; one graduate semester hour (or college credit) is equivalent to 22.5 PDPs; and one Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is equivalent to 10 PDPs.

Pending Status
A pending license status indicates that a license application has been reviewed and correspondence has been sent/generated to the educator/educator's file outlining the outstanding requirements that need to be verified to complete the application.

Pedagogy is the art of teaching and the development and application of professional skills directly related to instruction and instructional effectiveness. Definitions of the pedagogical and other professional knowledge and skills required of all educators are outlined in 603 CMR 7.08: Professional Standards for Teachers, and 7.10: Professional for Standards Administrators.

Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL)
A performance-based assessment system for principals seeking initial licensure. This assessment is aligned to the new professional standards for administrative leadership as well as the associated indicators. Unlike standard paper and pencil tests, PAL includes performance assessment tasks that more closely reflect the authentic work of school leaders and can be completed as part of the preparation and licensure pathway.

Practicum/Practicum Equivalent
A field-based experience within an approved traditional or alternative practice-based educator preparation program in the role and at the level of the license sought, during which a candidate's performance is supervised jointly by the sponsoring organization and the supervising practitioner and evaluated in a Performance Assessment for Initial License. Refer to 603 CMR 7.04 (4) for the required amount of practicum hours. The duration of any equivalent to a practicum shall be no fewer hours than provided for the practicum in 603 CMR 7.04 (4). An equivalent to a practicum may, in some cases, include an apprenticeship, the initial five-month period of service as teacher or administrator of record under a Preliminary license, or others approved by the Department.

Primary vs. Additional Area License
When educators renew more than one Professional license, they must designate one of those licenses as the Primary Area License. Most educators select the license that most closely matches their current or anticipated area of employment. Educators may only choose one Professional license that is eligible to be renewed to be their Primary Area License. Any remaining Professional licenses being renewed are considered Additional Area Licenses. A Primary license designation may be made/changed only at the time of a renewal. A total of 150 Professional Development Points (PDPs) is required to renew a Primary license. Each Additional license to be renewed requires 30 PDPs. However, if the status of the professional license is invalid, 150 PDPs are required to renew an invalid license, even if it is not being renewed as the Primary license.

Professional License
The licensure stage that an Initial license is advanced to. An educator license issued to a person who has met the requirements for an Initial license in that field as well as the requirements established by the Board set forth in 603 CMR 7.04 (c), 7.09, or 7.11. A professional license is valid for five calendar years and renewable for additional five-year terms as set forth in 603 CMR 44.00.

Provisional License
A license issued to a person who holds a bachelor's degree and has passed the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) and met other eligibility requirements established by the Board in 603 CMR 7.04 (2) and 7.09 (1). The Provisional license is valid for five years of employment. An educator who holds one or more provisional licenses may be employed under said license(s) for no more than five years in total.

Performance Review Program for Initial Licensure (PRPIL)
An alternative to the traditional college or university approved program (Only applicable to certain licenses). A performance review that may satisfy the requirements for a practicum/practicum equivalent based on eligibility requirements, portfolio review, supervision and mentoring during an internship, and the completion of a Performance Assessment for Initial License.


'Ready for Review' Status
This ELAR status indicates that an application is in queue, ready to be evaluated or that there are new/additional documents in an individual's ELAR profile still needing review by an evaluator.

RETELL Initiative
Our state's top priority in K-12 education is to improve outcomes for all students and ensure that all public high school students graduate college and career ready. ELLs are the state's fastest growing group of students, and, as a group, experience the largest proficiency gap when compared to their native English speaking peers. In order to strengthen instruction and better support the academic achievement of ELLs, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary adopted new regulations in June 2012. These new regulations, requiring that all incumbent core academic teachers of ELLs earn a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Teacher Endorsement by July 1, 2016, are at the centerpiece of the Department's Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL) initiative to transform the teaching and learning of ELLs across the Commonwealth.


Sheltered English Immersion (SEI)
Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Instruction is intended to address the academic and social needs of non-English-speaking students in a challenging and nurturing environment, to assist students in developing English Language proficiency while maintaining and fostering pride and interest in their native cultures as well as in American culture, and to encourage parents and guardians to become involved in their children's educational program and the school community at-large, as set forth in M.G.L. c. 71A, §2.

The goal of an SEI program is to provide English Language Learners (ELLs) with a comprehensive curriculum in all content areas as students' English language skills are developed. Instruction is provided by teachers who are specially-trained in English language acquisition or applied linguistics – as well as in their content areas. Teachers use curricula and methodologies specifically designed to promote English language skills while teaching content area curricula.

Subject Matter Knowledge Requirements
Topics from the content of a discipline or field. These topics do not necessarily coincide with academic courses or imply a specific number of credit hours.


Temporary License
An educator license issued to a person who holds a valid license or certificate of a type comparable to at least an Initial license in Massachusetts from another state or jurisdiction, and who has been employed under such license for a minimum of three years and has met the requirements set forth in 603 CMR 7.04 (2) (d). It is valid for one year and is nonrenewable. Service under a Temporary license shall be counted as service in acquiring professional teacher status at the district level, contingent upon the educator passing the applicable licensure tests.

When applying for a license, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers five (5) kinds: provisional (Adult Basic Education-only), temporary (for out-of-state applicants only), preliminary, initial, and professional. Each TYPE is valid for a specific period of time and requires either advancement (provisional, temporary, preliminary, initial) or renewal (professional only) by the end of its allotted time period.

Last Updated: September 30, 2018

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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