Massachusetts teachers seek an alternative, faster route to Initial Licensure as emergency ‘grace period’ comes to an end

Posted by Class Measures

Holding an Initial License as a teacher in Massachusetts opens up your career prospects significantly, and is mandated after five years teaching on a Provisional License. Yet updating your license during the pandemic, like most aspects of teaching and learning, has been a challenge. It’s why the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) issued an emergency licensure order when teachers could not attend classes to earn the credits and fulfill the criteria they needed to advance. Having been extended once, from June 2021 to June 2022, the ‘grace period’ is now coming to an end, to ensure all teachers are appropriately licensed going forward.

What does the end of the emergency licensure order mean for teacher licensure?

As a result, there has been an upsurge in the number of teachers needing to advance to their Initial License, quickly, before their provisional expires and they are unable to teach. Antoinette Pearson, Director at licensure program administrator, Class Measures, summarises:

"Needless to say, Covid-19 has put a significant strain on teachers in Massachusetts – and the Department of Education that licenses them. The leniency that teachers were granted during shut down mode is coming to an end and it is understood that there will be no additional time allowed for provisional licenses that have expired, beyond June 2022.

"This means there is currently a mad blitz to renew licenses, so that teachers don’t face a penalty, or worse, lose their teaching positions. This is likely to result in an administrative backlog, so the sooner you fulfil your criteria and get your licensure application in to MA DESE, the better. Our advice to teachers is to investigate your licensure route options, today, and start the process as soon as possible.”

The alternative licensure route for Massachusetts educators

Traditional licensure programs, where you take classes at College or University are ideal if you are seeking a Masters degree, or additional credits, as well as your license. However, they require time out from leading the classroom, to spend time studying in the classroom. Which is why the only alternative route that is available to teachers in Massachusetts – the Performance Review Program for Initial Licensure, or PRPIL – is an increasingly popular program.

If you are busy teaching whilst seeking your license, the PRPIL program leverages this experience. You do not need to attend additional night classes, nor submit coursework. The program requirements are completed as you teach, with the support of a mentor, and you can go at own pace. Typically it takes 6-9 months to complete, but can be completed in as little as 4 months, making it a particularly favorable route for teachers who need to advance quickly. The fact it costs less than half the other routes (<$2500) is another reason that many teachers are choosing PRPIL, and the number of applications for the program is currently very high, as Antoinette explains:

"Given the number of teachers currently teaching on an emergency license order, we are experiencing an influx of applications this fall. Although there is no limit to the numbers of teachers we can put through the program, there is an administrative element, for both Class Measures and the MA DESE, to process program endorsements, and this can take several weeks. So whilst you may have completed the program before your license expires, you may not receive your new license in time if you leave it too late.”

When should teachers apply for the Initial License program?

So when can you apply, what are the PRPIL program criteria, and what does it involve

You can apply anytime when you have completed three years of teaching under a valid MA Provisional (formerly known as Preliminary) non-vocational teaching license, and:

  1. Have completed 120 hours of educational coursework or training related to the pedagogy of teaching.
  2. You are currently teaching in the subject and grade level of the Provisional license being advanced.
  3. Have found a mentor from your school or district who holds an Initial or Professional license in Massachusetts.
  4. Have been recommended by your current principal.
  5. Hold an SEI Endorsement from DESE
  6. And for Music Teachers only - are able to present evidence verifying all subject matter topics listed in the Subject Matter Knowledge for Music document.

PRPIL is specifically designed to improve the quality of your teaching and throughout the program, you will work with the support of two experienced educators: a mentor chosen by you, and an Instructional Consultant recruited and trained by Class Measures. Together, you will complete a total of five classroom observations and you will also need to compile an ePortfolio to demonstrate that you are exhibiting competence in the standards through your regular classroom teaching. (You can read more on the Class Measures website.)

A natural program choice for those who are committed to the field of teaching, more and more teachers are now seeking early Initial Licensure to enhance their career prospects. Antoinette concludes:

“This alternative pathway is becoming such a popular option that we now have teachers who are approach their third year of teaching who already want to apply for the PRPIL program, but we have to make them wait till they hit their third year anniversary! They know that having their Initial License makes them much more credible and marketable, and will advance their career… for them, PRPIL makes perfect sense.”

If you need to advance to your Initial License with the PRPIL program, Class Measures strongly advises that you do not wait until a month before your provisional expires to enroll. Be pro-active, and apply to the PRPIL program ahead of the next October 31st deadline.




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