Massachusetts eases licensing burden for emergency teachers

With thousands of teachers holding pandemic-era emergency licenses, state officials have created a network of support centers to help educators earn more traditional credentials.

The five regional centers will help approximately 4,000 emergency licensees obtain their provisional or initial licenses by providing “all-round support,” including mentoring and coaching throughout the licensing process, the Healey administration announced this week. Teachers can also receive free help preparing for the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure as well as vouchers to cover the cost of the MTELs.

“Many emergency license holders are committed members of their school community. And we are committed to helping them stay there. These centers are our investment in their future by supporting educators to stay in the profession they love while helping them meet necessary licensing requirements,” Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler said in a statement Tuesday. “It is my hope that emergency licensed educators will take advantage of the mentorship and financial support opportunities and remain in education for many years to come.”

The centers are located at Bridgewater State University (for educators in Norfolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties); the educational services organization Class Measures (Suffolk County educators); Salem State University (Essex County); Stonehill College (Worcester and Middlesex Counties); and Westfield State University (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties).

Emergency licenses became available in June 2020 to accommodate teacher candidates who were unable to complete their traditional training due to the pandemic, state officials said.

According to a Boston University study, about 5,800 people received emergency licenses between June 2020 and May 2021. The alternative license helped increase teacher diversity, with approximately 23 percent of original licensees identifying as Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian or other; About half of the licensees were white, according to the study.

“The emergency educator license was an important tool that helped prevent a sudden teacher shortage during the pandemic,” said Russell Johnston, acting commissioner of elementary and secondary education. “The department is committed to helping emergency license holders transition to more traditional licenses and stay in the profession.”

Anna Harden

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