Teachers and those who seek to become educators may soon see a shift in how Massachusetts credentials its educators and tracks those requirements through a new registry.
The Board of Early Education and Care (EEC) met Tuesday to discuss how it could relax some of the early education teacher credentialing policies to increase the pipeline of people willing to take jobs in daycares and after-school programs.
Part of that solution is an online registry that Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy called “a hub for our educator information,” intending to streamline how potential and current educators upload, share and store credentialing information, with the ability for the state to conduct analytics on those and where successes and pitfalls lie.
“We will be building a professional registry that will allow educators and our programs to help upload that information in a much more real time way,” she said.
The board on Aug. 31 voted to give Aigner-Treworgy authority to adjust early education teacher credentialing policy in an effort to get more applicants.
Recruiting early education teachers is impacting capacity and quality of EEC facilities, according to a May 2021 survey of 35 EEC center directors by the nonprofit Neighborhood Villages. Less than 25% of candidates reviewed are qualified for open roles. Those that do make the cut often reject offers for high-paying roles elsewhere. This staffing shortage decreases classroom hours available to families.
“We have indeed a workforce crisis, we have a shortage, but we also have the long overdue opportunities for real innovation to both support today's dedicated and resilient workforce while bringing others into this fabulous field,” said EEC Board Chair Nonie Lesaux.
While she didn’t go into detail on what major adjustments will occur to early child education credentials, Aigner-Treworgy said those “policies and operational flexibilities” would be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
She said the state will be releasing a policy that will include additional credentials educators can submit to be considered for licensure. While the list of potential credentials will be longer and offer more elasticity to documents people can submit, Aigner-Treworgy said it will not reduce qualifications. The list of new documents has not been released.
She said the board had heard public comments on people wishing there would be improvements on DESE licensure, including the inclusion of “coursework that may not be traditional EEC course of study.”
Trying to find alternative routes to “document that competency” to teach is something that’s at the forefront of the board’s efforts, said Aigner-Treworgy.
The platform will be accessible to educators, people applying for certifications and the state.
“Over the course of the year, we'll be using that to launch and support a background integration, training and professional development,” she said. The registry will be rolled out in three stages through early 2022.