Setting the Stage for Future Educators

Home E 50th Anniversary E Setting the Stage for Future Educators
Article Author: Kathy Levesque
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: June 17, 2024
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“A licensure program can set the stage for someone’s future as an educator, and we know that an excellent educator can change students’ lives for the better.” Dr. Cecelia Buckley, Former Director, CES Licensure Programs.

A shortage of teachers in the early 2000s led to the start of the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES)  licensure program as an alternative path to prepare educators to achieve their teaching licenses. In 2002, funding became available in the form of a federal grant, the Transition to Licensed Teaching (TTLT) program was born under the direction of Dr. Len Lubinsky. CES began by working with the Massachusetts DOE on licensure programs for teachers of special education and reading, and for school administrators (supt, principal, supervisor/director). Through partnerships with urban districts around the state (and later suburban and rural districts closer to the agency’s home base in western Massachusetts), CES provided a subsidized pathway to licensure for teachers willing to commit to teaching in a partner district. 

In the early days, courses were developed through a collaborative process between Dr. Lubinsky and experts in the field, often drawn from the ranks of the agency’s member districts. Working together to develop course syllabi that aligned to state requirements and met the immediate needs of aspiring educators, these master teachers brought their expertise to teacher candidates. Soon after, CES partnered with Fitchburg State University to provide teacher candidates with the opportunity to take their CES courses for graduate credit, and by enrolling in the University’s Graduate Program, to earn an M.Ed. alongside their teaching license.

Collaborations have always been an integral part of the Licensure program’s work. In 2012, CES became a part of a collaboration funded by a five-year federal grant. The Transforming Education and Schools for English Learners (TESEL) grant partnered CES with three urban school districts and Fitchburg State University to develop capacity in districts to support English learners in their districts. CES’s main role in the project was to provide a subsidized pathway to licensure in English as a Second Language (ESL) for paraeducators in the districts as well as supporting district teachers to earn an additional license in ESL. The project increased the capacity of the districts to meet the needs of their English learners through licensure, professional development for teachers, and support for district administrators and Fitchburg program faculty.

In 2016, CES expertise in special education was recognized when we were selected by Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide coursework for teachers seeking their provisional or additional Moderate Disabilities license. With a long history of providing special education services, CES trained educators and aspiring educators in current promising practice in special education through the Massachusetts Licensure Academy. State funding allowed candidates to take two of the three courses required for the provisional or additional Moderate Disabilities license for free. Over the two years of the program, educators participated in these courses to support their pursuit of the Moderate Disabilities initial license.

For the past five years, CES has been engaged in social justice and equity work (SJE) across the agency. This SJE work is critical to a mission to develop and foster educational excellence and opportunities for all learners. The CES Licensure Program staff and faculty are deeply engaged in the work and actively seek out ways the program can better support building a more diverse workforce and create spaces where teachers of the global majority feel safe and supported. Since 2014, CES has been an active member of a regional group, the Diverse Teacher Workforce Coalition. The coalition has received funding to support pathways to licensure for black and Latinx paraeducators. In 2023 the licensure program transitioned to a co-management model of leadership as a way to put elements of our social justice and equity values into practice.

What does the licensure leadership team see down the road for the program? Thanks to a recent grant, the program will be offering access to free MTEL preparation services and support for reduced tuition rates for a pool of qualified candidates. Through the limited program, the hopes are to begin addressing some of the obstacles to becoming licensed teachers face, especially by teacher candidates of the global majority. Among these are disparities in pass rates on state tests required for licensure with respect to race/ethnicity and first language.

Additionally, the CES Licensure Program hosted a brand new course for our faculty and practicum supervisors called Equity-Centered Pedagogy in K-12. The intention behind this course is to engage instructors and field experience supervisors in dialogue around the ways the educational system has oppressed students of the global majority and proactive ways that teachers can oppose these habits of oppression through culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining pedagogies. Participants expressed that their work in the course is enabling them, “to create learning experiences that include all learners and guide students through creating authentic products that reflect equity-centered practices.” Through this new course and in many other ways, the CES Licensure program is looking forward to the future, and continues to evolve, in order to better build candidate competencies as anti-racist educators and leaders.

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