The OAPL program aims to support Massachusetts educators in strengthening their knowledge base for learning how to engage all students in scientific thinking that moves learning about science (memorizing facts) to figuring things out through phenomena-driven instruction that is collaborative and relevant to students lives that meets the vision of the Curriculum Frameworks.
DESE is pleased to offer Massachusetts PK–12 educators and administrators high-quality professional development in science topics, from highly qualified providers. Choose from a range of vetted options — all at no cost to educators.
DESE has carefully reviewed and approved professional learning opportunities focused on science. Massachusetts educators who qualify can enroll in these courses for free and will also receive either a stipend or teacher substitute reimbursement upon completing the course.
Sign up for our STEM Newsletter to receive updated OPAL information or contact OAPLscience@mass.gov with any questions.
OPAL courses vary in length and delivery method. Courses will be listed as in-person, virtual, or hybrid. Check course details carefully before registering. Course listings are subject to change. Check with course provider for the most updated information.
Additional details and course descriptions can be found in the course catalog .
Becoming a Next Gen Science Teacher
Principals Learning and Networking for Science
Oceans, Climate Science, and Big Data
Course Informational Flyer
See course catalog for enrollment.
Introduction to Phenomena-Driven Instruction
Using Formative Assessment to Shape Instruction
Currently reserving dates for January – August. See course catalog for enrollment.
Engineering is Elementary® for Kindergarten
Engineering is Elementary®
Professional Learning Retreat
Enrollment: see course catalog
Building the Storyline, Grades 3–5
Building the Storyline, Grades 9–12
Whales Tails, Turtle Hurtles and Migration Phenomena
Engaging Students in the Engineering Process Using Sensors — Course Full
Contact Wade Institute for Science Education
Graduate credit available for additional fee
* Early Access is a three-day period during which only certain educators may enroll in an OAPL courses. See the FAQ below for more details on who is eligible.
** It may take up to 120 days to receive stipends from course completion.
Disclosure Statement: Reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Our office is not responsible for and does not in any way guarantee the accuracy of information in other sites accessible through links herein. DESE may supplement this list with other services and products that meet the specified criteria.
OAPL courses are open to all Massachusetts PK–12 public and charter school teachers or administrators whose work relates to science and engineering. This includes classroom teachers, ESL teachers, special education teachers, principals, STEM coach, STEM coordinator, district administrators, etc. OAPL courses are not open to higher education faculty or administrators at this time.
Yes, charter school educators can participate in the courses. Educators in Commonwealth charter schools are deemed state employees for the purposes of the Massachusetts ethics law (G.L. c. 268A). These employees will need to complete and file a section 7(b) ethics disclosure form if the course they are taking offers a stipend, because they will be considered to have a financial interest in a state contract. As the contract is not for personal services, the last page of the form does not need to be completed. Here are the 7(b) disclosure form and instructions for completing the form . Educators with questions can contact the Massachusetts Ethics Commission at email@example.com or call the State Ethics Attorney of the Day hotline at (617) 371-9500. Educators at Horace Mann charter schools who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement with the school district should consult with their employers or the Massachusetts Ethics Commission to determine whether a 7(b) disclosure is required.
No, Massachusetts higher education faculty are not eligible to participate in courses at this time.
Yes, educators employed by local school districts and educational collaboratives can participate in the courses. There are no disclosures required under the Massachusetts ethics law (G.L. c. 268A) for these individuals.
There is no cost to educators. Course costs are being paid by DESE.
Participation in OAPL courses is totally optional. This professional learning opportunity is being provided by DESE, as an optional resource for educators. There is no requirement to participate and OAPL does not impact licensure or relicensure.
Course names and enrollment information will be posted to this page as it becomes available. Educators should enroll in approved OAPL courses directly through the course provider. Educators do not need to contact or work with DESE to enroll. Choose the course that interests you from the available list and enroll directly through the course provider. Please note that space is very limited, and enrollment will occur on a first-come, first-served basis.
Early Access is a three-day period during which certain educators get priority access to enroll in an OAPL course. After the three-day period, Early Access is over and any eligible educator may enroll. Early Access applies to educators who hold an emergency license and are currently employed in an eligible role and/or are currently employed in one of the districts listed below.
Educators who hold an emergency license and are currently employed in an eligible role in one or more of the following fields may enroll during the early access period.
Educators who are currently employed in an eligible role in one of the following districts also have Early Access:
Due to enormous interest, educators may only enroll in one course at this time. Please review the various courses and select the one that best fits your interests and availability.
The available PDPs will vary by course. If you are interested in receiving PDPs, please explore the courses listed above that interest you to learn more about the PDPs each course provider is offering. DESE will not be directly issuing any PDPs for OAPL courses.
Some courses may offer college credits for an additional fee. If you are interested in receiving college credits, please explore the courses listed above that interest you to learn more. Contact the provider with additional questions. DESE will not be directly paying for college credits.
It is recommended that educators communicate with their school and/or district administration about their interest in OAPL courses. Grade-level teams, school-based teams, or district-based teams may decide to enroll and take a course together. Educators may enroll in OAPL courses independently and individually if they so choose. DESE will not be communicating with or reporting back to schools or districts about OAPL course enrollment.
Courses are open and available now and are offered during and after school hours. Please check dates and times before registering for a course. All the courses currently being offered will be completed on or before August 31, 2023. Pending funding and educator feedback, DESE may extend this program into next school year.
Educators that complete OAPL courses offered during the school day will be eligible for substitute teacher reimbursement.
Educators that complete courses that take place after school hours are eligible to receive a stipend upon completion of the course. The stipend ranges from $150–450 depending on course length. Educators should learn about course requirements, including class attendance requirements and required assignments, before enrolling in any course.
In order to receive your stipend, you must complete the course in which you enrolled. Course completion is determined by the course provider. Your stipend will be issued by your course provider after you have completed the course. For details on exactly how and when a stipend will be paid out, educators should contact their course provider. DESE does not monitor or control course completion or issuance of stipends. If you have stipend concerns, please contact your course provider.
Please contact your course provider with any questions about course enrollment, requirements, or stipend.
Course providers will report information to DESE about educators who enrolled in OAPL courses, including but not limited to your name, district or charter school where employed, and whether the course was completed. Educators in OAPL courses will also be required to participate in a survey of knowledge before and after taking their course(s) and an end-of-course online survey. Results will be shared with DESE. All information collected will be used for evaluating the effectiveness of the OAPL program and will not affect individuals' employment or licensure. No personal identifying information about educators in OAPL courses will be shared with schools or districts.
Educators will be asked to complete a feedback survey at the end of each OAPL course. DESE invites educators to share feedback which will inform the operation of this program. For individual issues, please contact your course provider.
Please contact your course provider with any questions about course enrollment, requirements, or stipend. If you have any additional questions about OAPL, please contact OAPLscience@mass.gov .
Last Updated: February 28, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.