Licensure Changes Approved by BESE

In a short meeting on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the proposed amendments to educator preparation programs, educator licensure and licensure renewal.

The full set of final amendments is available as part of the June 2017 BESE documents.

The MTA is pleased to see that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education rescinded the proposed changes to 603 CMR 7.15. The final proposed regulations do not include the expansion of the commissioner’s disciplinary authority by allowing license actions for “misconduct that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, discredits the profession, brings the license into disrepute, compromises student safety or the integrity of the student-educator relationship.”

We continue to note with concern DESE’s elimination of the subpoena requirement for licensure investigations.  Under the proposed regulation, an educator under investigation could face loss of licensure by resisting compliance, even if the request was over-broad or would result in the disclosure of personal, medical, confidential or otherwise privileged information that is irrelevant to DESE’s inquiry.  Given these privacy concerns, we continue to believe that the subpoena procedure is the most appropriate method of conducting licensure investigations and should not be eliminated by the proposed regulations

Changes to Educator Licensure & Renewal

The MTA is also pleased to see that DESE has adopted a number of provisions in the proposed regulations supported by MTA that will strengthen educator licensure and the teaching profession.

These include:

  • Inclusion of a 30-day period of public comment for all guidelines issued under 603 CMR 7.00 and 603 CMR 44.00. This language will ensure future proposed changes to educator preparation programs, subject matter knowledge requirements and licensure renewal guidelines will include the opportunity for public input.
  • Limit the number of years an educator may be in the classroom without any educator preparation by capping the number of years a teacher may be employed under a Preliminary/Provisional license to five years.
  • Changing the name of the Preliminary license to Provisional matches the statutory language while also signaling to the field that the Provisional license is a short-term license issued to individuals who have not yet demonstrated completion of Massachusetts educator licensure requirements.
  • Rebalancing the required distribution of Professional Development Points (PDPs) required for renewing a Professional license. The new distribution of PDPs will reduce the number of required content-area PDPs to 15 PDPs. Many career educators found that meeting the 60-90 PDPs in the content area requirement burdensome and costly. Educators will now be have the flexibility to focus on pedagogy, emerging practices in the field and district-initiatives and apply their professional learning to licensure renewal. Additionally, educators will still have the flexibility to apply content-area PDPs to their license renewal application if they choose to do so.
  • Adoption of language that clarifies the requirements for the Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP) as part of licensure renewal under 603 CMR 44.05.

Changes to PRPIL

The MTA supports the expansion of 603 CMR 7.05(2) Route Two – Performance Review for Initial Licensure (PRPIL) to include additional areas of licensure. PRPIL is a critical pathway for educators who have completed out-of-state or other educator preparation programs that do not meet the Massachusetts educator preparation program approval requirements.

The MTA is concerned that DESE still requires administrator approval as part of the application for PRPIL where administrator approval is not required for entry into any other licensure route.

The MTA anticipates that DESE will put forward revised guidelines related to PRPIL that will further align the requirements for entry and completion of PRPIL to the requirements for all other approved educator preparation programs.

The MTA is disappointed that several areas of the proposed changes to the regulations continued to be included in the final package.

The final regulations remove language that will required approved programs leading to a Professional license to be part of a master’s degree or higher level program. The DESE had proposed including such language as part of the proposed regulatory changes in February 2017, but that language was removed in the final proposed changes in June 2017. It is our understanding that language will be included in future guidelines that continue to require approved programs for Professional licensure to be part of a master’s degree or higher level program. The MTA continues to support the option of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification as a non-graduate degree route to the Professional license.

The MTA continues to be concerned that proposed changes to pre-requisite requirements for the Autism Endorsement will result in a reduction of services for students with Autism. Allowing educators who do not hold a pre-requisite license in the field of special education to qualify for the Autism Endorsement goes beyond the statutory requirements for the creation of the Autism Endorsement and will result in the substitution of a licensed special education teacher for a general education teacher in providing services to students under an IEP or 504.

DESE included language that will exempt administrators from the Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL) where individuals have completed out-of-state administrator preparation programs and have only one year of experience in the role of any school administrator. No such exemption is allowed for experienced school administrators from within Massachusetts.

Specific Changes

CEPP is preparing additional guidance for educators regarding the implementation of these new provisions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

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