Alternative Licensure - for when you want credit for what you already know - and don’t have time to take a ‘step back’

Posted by Mat Kirby

As you know, Massachusetts' teachers holding a Provisional license* are expected to advance to an Initial license during their fourth or fifth year of teaching. The traditional route to licensure (Route 1) requires grad school, intensive study and student-teaching scenarios. For some people, like Katherine Flynn, this felt like a ‘step back’. An experienced Special Educational Needs teacher, just three classes away from her Masters in teaching, Katherine started to research alternative ways to achieve licensure – quickly:

The thought of the student teaching component of the traditional route didn’t appeal – I had been teaching every day for five years at this point. What I liked about the PRPIL route was it took into account things I’d already accomplished. Class Observations instead of student teaching fitted in with what I was already doing. And I could evidence what I’d already learned about education through my portfolio. I’ve been able to achieve the licensure I needed more quickly than I originally thought possible. And I’ve now got time to invest in other studies that will advance my career.”

The Performance Review Program for Initial Licensure (PRPIL) program is designed to offer a framework for demonstrating that Massachusetts teachers hold the pedagogical skills required to remain in the classroom as described in the Candidate Assessment of Performance (CAP). This framework includes a prerequisite requirement of 120 hours of training in pedagogy and a total of four classroom observations (two announced and two unannounced). Each enrolled teacher also compiles a portfolio. Katherine explains:

“As a teacher, you never expect to have a full weekend, you’re always doing some coursework. In my case, my masters and courses on teaching English Language Learners. But did I find putting together my portfolio of evidence overly demanding? No, I didn’t. I liked that I could use my prior experience and achievements as evidence in my portfolio.”

One of the key benefits of PRPIL is that it draws on your prior experience, so whatever your route to teaching, and whatever your experience in the classroom, your dedicated Mentor and Instructional Consultant will work one on one with you to take your teaching to the next level.

Katherine, whose background is in Psychology, was previously a Case Manager for children before being invited by the organisation that she worked for to become a teacher at their onsite-school. As a teacher in a Special Education setting where they teach grade level, Katherine’s focus is on the social and emotional support and structures that students need to develop. Much of her work is ensuring that each student has his or her needs met appropriately. Always dedicated to developing her teaching as well as her training in pedagogy, Katherine chose the PRPIL route with Class Measures because she was confident it would help her become a better teacher:

“During my Mentor’s visits he’d spend an hour observing, and then just as long providing feedback, reassurances, and suggestions for improvements. He was always available throughout the process – answering those little questions that pop up when you’re compiling your portfolio. He helped by sharing sample portfolios and really went above and beyond to support me. I knew he wasn’t there to ‘catch me out’ – he was there to help me become a better teacher.”

A year on from achieving her Initial Licensure, we asked Katherine whether she would recommend PRPIL to other teachers that hold a Provisional license and already have lots of experience in the classroom. This is what she said:

“Yes! Definitely! For anyone who has been teaching and spending lots of time in the classroom, or who, like me, is on the path to a Masters – PRPIL makes a lot of sense. Much more so than the traditional routes to licensure."

"There’s no redundancy in PRPIL. It gives credit to things you’ve already done. You’re not expected to practice skills you’ve already mastered, or spend time in the classroom re-learning things you already know. PRPIL respects what you know and is designed to take your teaching to the next level.”

 Katherine then added this testimonial, recommending Class Measures who operate the PRPIL program on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE): 

“My entire experience of Class Measures has been really positive… from when I first applied over the phone, I felt reassured that I would be supported through the process and that I would achieve my Initial licensure in as short a time frame as possible. It really was a great experience from start to finish.”

So if you’ve been teaching full-time for nearly 5 years and need a fast route to licensure that takes into account your experience – and will help you become a better teacher - follow this link to see if you’re eligible to apply for PRPIL 

* A Provisional license is good for 5 years of full-time teaching beginning in the month in which you actually begin teaching. For part-time teachers, progress toward the five-year mark is prorated accordingly. The Provisional license was previously known as the Preliminary license.



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