DESE Professional License

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is responsible for licensing all professional educators including teachers, psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, speech language pathologists and many other professional positions in the Needham Public Schools. You can apply for your license and maintain your license through your ELAR account at DESE. It is very important for you to be familiar with your ELAR account which houses your demographic data, schools attended, license information and status, as well as other important documents that have been scanned into your file such as correspondence from DESE, MTEL test scores and other important documents. At the bottom of your profile, you will find all of this information.

Whether you are applying for a new license or renewing an existing license, it may take many months for DESE to process your request. Please plan accordingly.
Your license allows you to teach in Massachusetts, and every public school system is required by law to employ only teachers with an appropriate, valid license. Please be sure your license is always up to date and in good standing. The Director of Human Resources will assist you at any time you need help in understanding the process or to help navigate the DESE.

Certain educators and administrators are required to be Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsed if you had an ELL in your classroom beginning in the 2013-2014 school year to the present day. Please carefully review Needham's SEI web page for a comprehensive review of the requirements.

Your license is one of four types:

Temporary: You are a licensed teacher from another state and have taught under ANY license for at least three years. This license is good for one year and is not renewable. You must take the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) which consists of the Communication and Literacy and subject matter tests.

Provisional: You have not completed a teacher training program at the undergraduate or graduate level, but passed the MTEL tests. This license is good for five years, and it is not renewable. Within the five years, you must complete a teacher preparation program. Some licenses require a competency review such as special education, school guidance counselor, school psychologist and other specialist licenses.

Initial: You have completed teacher preparation program at the undergraduate or graduate level. This license is good for five years, and can be extended for an additional five years. In order to move to the professional license, you must teach under that license for at least three years, complete a mentor/induction program, 50 hours of mentoring beyond the mentor/induction program, and a Master's degree containing 12 credits in your license content area. If you already hold a Master's degree, you must demonstrate that you have taken 12 graduate credits in your content area (i.e. if you are a math teacher, you must complete 12 graduate credits in mathematics - not pedagogy). In addition, you are required to submit a letter to the DESE from Needham's Human Resources office that you have taught under the license for at least three years, completed the mentor/induction program and 50 hours additional mentoring. The DESE provides more information regarding the requirements to move from the initial to the professional license on their website.

For those who have completed any master's or higher degree or other advanced graduate program in an accredited college or university, at least 12 credits of graduate level courses in subject matter knowledge or pedagogy based on the subject matter knowledge of the Professional license sought; these may include credits earned prior to application for the license.

Educators who hold an initial license will notice an asterisk under the expiration column. The asterisk indicates your license is valid for five years of employment. The clock begins when you start working under your license. If you do not teach immediately, or take a leave from your position, you have five full years to work under that license.

Professional: This is the level of licensure that all educators aspire to and are required to reach. The professional license is good for five years. Every five years, you must renew your license and certify that you have completed 150 PDPs, 80% of which must be in your content/content pedagogy. In addition, you must complete 15 PDPs in Special Education and 15 PDPs in English Language Learners as part of your 150 PDPs. If you stop teaching and do not renew your professional license, the status will shift to inactive after five years. You may teach under an inactive license for two years, at which time you must complete the 150 PDP requirement.

Every educator at the professional stage is required to maintain an Individual Professional Development Plan outlining your professional goals and how they connect to the school and district goals. The Plan allows you to record and track your PDP's.

The Needham Public Schools can apply for a waiver if an applicant does not hold one of the above licenses. The district must certify they could not find an appropriately licensed teacher. A waiver is good for one school year, and the district can only apply for a second year waiver after they have determined they could not find an appropriately licensed teacher. The waiver candidate must demonstrate to the DESE continuous progress to be considered for a second year waiver.

To determine all requirements for any teaching license, visit the DESE Licensure Help Online.

Professional Teacher Status
Professional Teacher Status (PTS) in Massachusetts is part of the Education Reform Act of 1993. Individual public school districts have authority to award PTS and not the DESE. Under the law, "teachers who serve for three consecutive school years shall be considered a teacher, and shall be entitled to professional teacher status."

It is important to note that in order to work towards PTS, teachers must hold a license at the temporary, preliminary, initial or professional level. Those teachers on a waiver cannot consider that year toward PTS, nor can teachers who start at any time during the school year other than the first day of school. It is important to note the law requires three full consecutive years in the district in order to earn PTS.

Other information related to your DESE license:
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