Great Public Schools Criteria for MassachusettsGreat Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.
Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Massachusetts.
Readiness to Learn
The Massachusetts School Improvement Act of 1985 established a state-funded public schools early childhood program for children at-risk. This Act gave rise to the Community Partnerships for Children (CPC) initiative, which was expanded in 1993 to coordinate services offered by all early care and education programs within a community. In 1996, a focus on services for three- and four-year-olds from working families was introduced. Children are eligible from the age of two years, nine months until the locally determined kindergarten-entrance age. Parent fees are based on a sliding scale and scholarships are available to families with incomes up to 100 percent of the state median income (SMI). Once all children from these families are served, the community may then offer services to children from families earning up to 125 percent of the SMI. Children in families with higher incomes are also eligible to be served if they have other risk factors such as low birth weight or a parent with a disability. The CPC preschool programs must be inclusive and serve children with and without disabilities.
- State Policy: A definition of the minimum number of hours for full-day kindergarten is not specified in Massachusetts state statutes. Districts are not required to offer full-day kindergarten and children are not required to attend. Massachusetts provides additional funding for full-day kindergarten.
- Definition, District Offering and Pupil Attendance: Massachusetts requires 450 hours per year of half-day kindergarten and 900 hours per year for elementary schools.
- Funding: Massachusetts provides more funding for full-day kindergarten than for half-day kindergarten.
(Education Commission of the States [ECS] Kindergarten Database, 2007)
Recruitment and Retention
Massachusetts has state policies that support financial incentives for educators; policies also support hard-to-staff schools, minority teachers, routes to alternative certification, induction policies as well as maximum class size. In addition, state policies encompass requirements for tenure, teacher recognition, and certification/licensure of educators from outside the state
Financial Incentives Offered: Massachusetts offers scholarship programs, loan and loan forgiveness as well as signing bonuses to enhance its statewide teacher recruitment policies. In addition, teachers who have attained National Board Certification receive a bonus as part of a statewide teacher compensation policy.
Hard-to Staff Schools or Subject Areas: The Massachusetts Initiative for New Teachers (MINT) is an intensive teacher preparation program that recruits and trains recent college graduates and mid-career professionals with the expertise and commitment to teach a high-demand subject area in a high-need school district. MINT will only accept candidates who commit to teach in one of these districts. MINT participants earn their Massachusetts teaching credentials - an Initial license - through an intensive summer training initiative, followed by an on-going support and assessment program during their first year as a teacher of record in a public school. The Department of Education will award full tuition scholarships to accepted candidates who commit to teach for three years in one of the designated high-need districts.
For Minority Teachers: The Massachusetts Initiative for New Teachers (MINT) especially focuses on the recruitment of African-American, Latino, Native Americans and Asian-American candidates needed to reflect the population of students served in the Massachusetts urban schools.
Alternative Routes to Certification: Massachusetts offers five routes to teacher certification, three of which apply to alternative certification. They are:
- Route Two is for teacher candidates who receive their preparation in approved post-baccalaureate programs, including approved alternative programs.
- Route Three is for teacher candidates who hold a Preliminary license, serve in a school and are either hired as teachers of record or are serving an apprenticeship in a classroom under the direct supervision of a teacher who holds an appropriate license.
- Route Four is the Performance Review Program for Initial Licensure process for teacher candidates who hold a Preliminary license, are hired as teachers of record, and are working in a district that does not have an approved program for the Initial license.
603 CMR 7.05
Teaching Opportunities for Retired Teachers: The Commissioner of Education may determine that a district has a "critical shortage" upon the request of a superintendent and demonstration that the district has made a good-faith effort to hire non-retirees and has been unable to find them.
603 CMR 7.03 (2)(b).
Session Laws 2000 Chapter 114
Induction Policies: School districts must provide an induction program to all educators in their first year of practice. The regulations also outline the basic components that every Massachusetts ' district induction program should have in place.
603 CMR 7.12
Maximum Class Size Policies: School councils have the authority to establish education goals for the school that are consistent with local educational policies. School councils must submit annually a "school improvement plan" which, among other elements, includes an assessment of class size and student-to-teacher ratios.
Use of Time in School Day: School councils have the authority to establish education goals for the school that are consistent with local educational policies.
Other Statewide Retention-Related Policies: The Master Teacher Corps Program/National Board Certification is intended to help retain high-quality, experienced teachers in the teaching ranks and to develop a corps of highly qualified mentors. Massachusetts offers numerous Fellowships and Awards for teachers to pursue alternatives to traditional in-service training for pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. The awards recognize and honor teaching excellence, innovative classroom practice, and exceptional leadership.
A Teacher's Guide to Fellowships and Awards
Requirements for Tenure: A teacher must have served in the public schools of a school district for the three previous consecutive school years shall be considered a teacher, and shall be entitled to professional teacher status. The superintendent of said district, upon the recommendation of the principal, may award such status to any teacher who has served in the principal's school for not less than one year or to a teacher who has obtained such status in any other public school district in the commonwealth. ("Tenure" is referred to as "professional teacher status".)
Teacher Recognition Programs or Policies: The Massachusetts Department of Education annually honors exemplary educators through various recognition programs, including Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Christa McAuliffe Fellowship and the Master Teacher Program.
Massachusetts Educator Recognition Programs.
Teacher's Guide to Fellowships and Awards
Teacher Exchange Opportunities: The Massachusetts Department of Education supports several exchange programs for teachers such as the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program.
Teacher's Guide to Fellowships and Awards
Certification/Licensure of Educators from Outside the State: Route Five is for candidates from outside Massachusetts. Ca ndidates seeking licensure under Route Five shall meet the following requirements:
- Completion of a state-approved educator preparation program in a state with which Massachusetts has signed the NASDTEC Interstate Contract.
- Completion of an educator preparation program sponsored by a college or university outside Massachusetts that has been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
- Possession of a Regional Credential.
- Possession of the equivalent of at least an Initial license/certificate issued by a state with which Massachusetts has signed the NASDTEC Interstate Contract and three years of employment under such license/certificate during the previous seven years.
- Passing score on the Communication and Literacy Skills test.
- Passing score on the subject matter knowledge test(s) appropriate to the license sought, where available, based on the subject matter knowledge requirements set forth in 603 CMR 7.06 and 7.07.
603 CMR 7.05 (5).
603 CMR 7.06.
603 CMR 7.07