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Flexible licensing proposal could address teacher shortage in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).
Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

To address a teaching shortage in the state, Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is proposing more flexible regulations in certain high needs subjects.

Currently, Massachusetts teachers with professional licenses are required to participate in a 150 hour internship to teach students with disabilities or English as a Second Language.

Proposed changes would allow classroom teachers to obtain a provisional license in those fields, before they complete an internship.

At this month's board meeting, Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said the proposed amendments to state licensure would let more educators teach in fields where school districts are reporting major staffing challenges.

"This would allow traditional teachers an easier pathway to get a license in Special Education or ESL, or it would create some relief in a new license for [school] nurses and things like that," Riley said.

Board members voted unanimously in favor of the proposals. After a public comment period, a final vote is expected in June.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."