Teaching In-Field Reporting and Guidance

To:Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, Assistant Superintendents, Principals, and Human Resources Directors
From:Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:January 13, 2020 (Updated February 18, 2020)

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is preparing to release district and school data on whether educators are teaching "in-field." Collecting and reporting this data is a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, and we hope the data will be useful to you as you make decisions about teacher assignments and future hires.

In order to link teacher course assignments to individual teacher licenses, we developed a Massachusetts Educator License Mapping Tool that, for the first time, links educator licenses to courses. We developed this with significant input from the field, a year of piloting and revision, as well as external research to check underlying assumptions about the role of a license and teacher efficacy with students.

In anticipation of releasing the in-field data publicly later this month, we will make your district's data available to you through a Dropbox in the Security Portal starting January 16th.

When the data is made public later this month as part of School and District Report Cards and in the Teacher Data section of our School and District Profiles, it will include the following categories, which we calculated as described below:

  • Percent of in-field teachers (new): For 2018-2019, the percent of teachers who are licensed in the subject/s they teach for 80 percent or more of their work assignments. An educator can work outside their licensed field for a maximum of 20 percent 1 of their time.
  • Percent of teachers not on a waiver or provisional license: Percent of teachers with a temporary, initial or professional license. Note: The 2017-2018 data is already public online.
  • Percent of licensed teachers: Percent of teachers who hold a temporary, provisional, initial, or professional license in the district. Note: This data is not tied to a teacher's assignment, and the 2019 data is already public online.
  • Percent of teachers who are considered experienced: Percent of teachers who have been teaching in a Massachusetts public school for at least three years.Note: The 2018 data is already public online.

If you have questions or concerns, please email educatordevelopment@doe.mass.edu.

As a result of the new in-field and out-of-field designations, we have clarified and updated previous guidance regarding teaching assignments for teachers who hold a generalist license for Early Childhood, Elementary or Middle School. These generalist licenses were not designed to have a teaching assignment that covers a single subject area where there is a more appropriate license, such as General Science 1-6, Math 5-8, etc. In place of previous guidance, districts and school leaders should consider the following when determining the most appropriate teacher license for a particular course assignment:

  • Schools and districts are best positioned to determine the hiring and assignment of the most appropriate teachers;
  • The 20 percent rule outlined in the licensure regulations 603 CMR 7.00 provides flexibility;
  • The Department issued new Subject Matter Knowledge Guidelines that outline the content associated with each license and districts should consider the content associated with each license area;
  • For legacy 2 license areas, such as Elementary K-8, affected by this policy shift, there will be a two-year implementation period. This means that educators with an impacted legacy license should either work towards getting the appropriate license or be reassigned as needed so that by December 2021, they are appropriately licensed/assigned for the subject area(s) they are teaching.

If there are specific questions related to this updated guidance, please contact the Licensure Office via the Commissioner's Licensure Hotline, 781-338-3065.

As mentioned above, the in-field data will be publicly reported later this month on School and District Report Cards. This spring, the in-field data will also be incorporated into the Student Learning Experience Report in Edwin. Once the in-field data is included, the report will show any equity gaps that exist for economically disadvantaged students, English learners, students with disabilities, and students of color in terms of patterns of assignment to effective, experienced, and in-field educators. This data must be used to inform district improvement plans.

Additional details:

Mapping Tool

In creating the Massachusetts Educator License Mapping Tool, we carefully consulted the subject-matter knowledge requirements associated with each license and engaged with stakeholders in the field to inform early first drafts. Through the 2018-2019 pilot year, we identified several linkages that raised questions and identified gaps affecting the number of educators who appeared to be out of field but were not. As a result, the most current version of the mapping tool reflects several important changes, including:

  • Educators with a moderate disabilities and/or severe disabilities license are considered "in-field" for all courses within the grade span and content areas for the license. (That is, a teacher with a PreK-8 Moderate Disabilities license will be "in-field" when teaching a grade 5 math course but "out-of-field" if teaching grade 4 music).
  • Legacy licenses are appropriately reflected in the crosswalk.
  • Some specific courses were updated with additional licensure fields deemed appropriate. (For instance, a teacher with a Business license will be "in-field" when teaching a marketing course).
  • Updates to the courses that an Early Childhood or Elementary teacher is "in-field" for teaching (e.g., an Elementary teacher is not "in-field" when teaching Music).

The Department will continue to collect input on the mapping tool to ensure that it continues to reflect the evolving nature of courses and licensure. If you have additional feedback on the tool, please email: educatordevelopment@doe.mass.edu.

Please note that while the mapping tool can serve as guidance to districts in considering hiring and assignment of individual educators, it does not prohibit a district from assigning an out-of-field educator to a course.

Student Learning Experience Report

The Student Learning Experience report in Edwin provides insight into inequitable patterns of assignment and access to excellent educators within your district. This data informs your school/district strategic planning and is monitored through the federal grants and district review processes. Student experiences with "out-of-field" teachers is one category that will be included in this report in the spring; this data is derived directly from the mapping tool mentioned above.

Because this report centers on student experiences with educators, any assignment to an educator not appropriately licensed for that course, as detailed in the mapping tool, is considered an out-of-field experience. This is true even if the educator is generally counted as "in-field" for purposes of public reporting as allowed under the 20 percent rule. If there are specific questions about this, please email: educatordevelopment@doe.mass.edu

As a companion to the Student Learning Experience Summary (SE321) and Detailed (SE322) reports and in response to feedback from the field, DESE has created an additional report that allows districts to see out-of-field assignments by individual teacher (SE821). It is important to note that this report should be used carefully in relation to the updated licensure and employability guidance.

The Department encourages the continued use of insights from the Student Learning Experience report when making student assignment decisions.

1 The 20 percent rule: 603 CMR 7.15 (9) (a) states that "A person holding a license may be employed for a maximum of 20% of his/her time in a role and/or at a level for which s/he does not hold a license". For assignments beyond this 20 percent, districts may choose to pursue a waiver with the Department. For purposes of the Student Learning Experience report, which counts student experiences, not overall teacher load, this 20 percent allowance is not factored in. As such, even though an educator may be licensed appropriately and allowed to teach that single course outside of their licensure area, the student experience will still count as being with an "out-of-field" educator.

2 Legacy licenses are licenses that had been in the Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations, 603 CMR 7.00, but are no longer licenses that can be newly earned, e.g. Political Science/Political Philosophy.

Last Updated: February 20, 2020

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