Bilingual Education Endorsement

On November 22, 2017, Governor Baker signed into law the Language Opportunity for Our Kids Act (LOOK Act). The new law, among other things, aims to provide districts with more flexibility as to the language acquisition programs they choose to meet the needs of English Learners (ELs) while maintaining accountability for timely and effective English language acquisition. For an overview of the LOOK Act, please click here.


Q: What constitutes Bilingual Education?

A: An educational program that involves teaching academic content in two languages, English and another language. Program types determine the varying amounts of each language used in instruction. Bilingual education programs include dual language education or two-way immersion and transitional bilingual education programs, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71A, § 2, and any other bilingual program types that may be approved by the Department.


Q: What does the law say with regard to bilingual education?

A: According to 603 CMR 7.15(9)(c):


  1. A core academic teacher assigned to provide instruction to an English learner in a bilingual education setting must be properly qualified in the field and grade level of the assignment, and hold the appropriate endorsement (i.e. Bilingual Education Endorsement or the SEI Endorsement).
  2. A principal, assistant principal, or supervisor/director who supervises or evaluates a core academic teacher assigned to provide instruction to an English learner in a bilingual education setting must hold the Bilingual Education Endorsement or the SEI Endorsement.



Q: What are the Core Academic teaching fields for Bilingual Education?

A: For purposes of Bilingual Education, core academic teaching fields are early childhood, elementary, English, moderate disabilities, severe disabilities, reading, mathematics, general science, biology, chemistry, earth science, earth and space science, political science/political philosophy, history, humanities, Mathematics/science. That means, if you teach any of these in a bilingual setting in another language (i.e. Spanish or Portuguese), then you will need to obtain the Bilingual Endorsement.


Q: A core academic teacher assigned to provide instruction to an English learner in a bilingual education setting must be properly qualified in the field and grade level of the assignment and hold the appropriate endorsement. What does properly qualified mean?

A: Properly Qualified means that a teacher must hold the appropriate (Field and grade level) core academic license. For example, Math 5-8. A math teacher providing instruction in a language other than English must hold the Bilingual Education Endorsement (BEE) associated with the language of instruction and the Math 5-8 teacher license. In lieu of the BEE, possession of a valid Transitional Bilingual Education license or Transitional Bilingual Learning endorsement associated with the language of instruction is acceptable.


Q: How do I know if I am required to hold the Bilingual Education Endorsement?

A: This chart should tell you what you need based on your position:

Big picture

Q: I am a world language teacher. Do I need to get the Bilingual Endorsement?

A: No. This does not apply to you.


Q: I am an administrator. Which endorsement should I get?

A: A principal, assistant principal, or supervisor/director who supervises or evaluates a core academic teacher assigned to provide instruction to an English learner in a bilingual education setting, such as dual-language education or two-way immersion program, or transitional bilingual education program, must hold the Bilingual Education Endorsement or the SEI Endorsement.


Q: If I possess a valid Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) license or a Transitional Bilingual Learning (TBL) endorsement issued by the Department, can I earn a Bilingual Education Endorsement for the same target language of the credential I hold?

A: No, the credential held serves the same function as the Bilingual Education Endorsement sought.


Q: If I possess a valid Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) license or a Transitional Bilingual Learning (TBL) endorsement issued by the Department, can I earn a Bilingual Education Endorsement for a different target language then that of the credential I hold?

A: Yes, the Bilingual Education Endorsement earned would be in a different target language; thus serving an additional function.


Q: How do I earn the Bilingual Education Endorsement?

A: Individuals who apply and satisfy the requirements noted within 603 CMR 7.14 (3) earn the Bilingual Education Endorsement. There are four different pathways available depending on your situation.


Q: What is Pathway 1?

A: This pathway is for educators who have experience in bilingual education settings. If you satisfy the following requirements, you can be “grandfathered in” (known as the “grandfather clause”).


Q: How do I satisfy Pathway 1?

A: In order to satisfy Pathway 1, you must complete ALL of the following:


  1. Obtain a passing score on a foreign language MTEL
  2. Have at least three years of employment experience in a bilingual education setting;
  3. Demonstrate that he or she meets the relevant subject matter knowledge and skills requirements (complete the Bilingual Education Endorsement: Demonstration of SMKs Form); and
  4. Apply to the Department and complete the requirements in 1-3 above by June 30, 2020. See 603 CMR 7.14(3)(c).



Q: Can I get reimbursed for taking the foreign language MTEL?

A: Yes! You can find the Billhead in TalentEd Records → Blank Docs → Billhead: Recertification Reimbursement


Q: I am in my third year of teaching core content in a foreign language in a bilingual setting. Does Pathway 1 apply to me?

A: Yes! By June 30, 2020, you will be all set, so apply under Pathway 1.


Q: I am confused by the Bilingual Education Endorsement: Demonstration of SMKs Form. Where do I get that?

A: Once you apply for the Bilingual Endorsement under Pathway 1, DESE will send you the Bilingual Education Endorsement: Demonstration of SMKs Form. You will need to complete Part I and send it to the Office of Human Resources, and we, along with the Office of Bilingual Education, will complete Part II.


Q: What am I supposed to include in Part I of the Bilingual Education Endorsement: Demonstration of SMKs Form?

A: In essence, you are looking for examples from your practice (think “evidence” for the Supervision and Evaluation Instrument). Look for lesson plans and home communications and provide links. One piece of evidence can fit multiple categories. Here is a sample that includes the indicators for each SMK requirement.


Q: Is Part II of the Bilingual Education Endorsement: Demonstration of SMKs Form the only place that verifies my years of employment in a bilingual setting?

A: It appears so. However, if you would like an Employment Verification Letter as well, please let the Office of Human Resources know.


Q: Some of my experience has been in different schools. What do I do?

A: You will need to contact your other districts for employment verification letters, which will need to be provided to us so that we can complete Part II of the Bilingual Education Endorsement: Demonstration of SMKs Form.


Q: Can the three years of employment in a bilingual education setting by June 30, 2020, that may exempt individuals from certain requirements for the Bilingual Education Endorsement occur outside of Massachusetts?

A: This employment may occur in any public or private (Prek-12) bilingual education setting in the United States.


Q: For this employment in a bilingual education setting to count for the Bilingual Endorsement, did I need to be employed in the role of a teacher?

A: Yes. This employment must be in the role of a teacher.


Q: As of the end of this school year, I would have been teaching core content for fewer than 3 years in a foreign language in a bilingual setting. Can I be grandfathered in?

A: No. You must choose Pathway 2, which is available to all educators.


Q: What do I do in order to satisfy Pathway 2?

A: To satisfy Pathway 2, you must:

(1) Obtain a passing score on a foreign language MTEL test;

(2) Demonstrate required subject matter knowledge and skills by successfully completing a Department-approved course of study for providing bilingual education; and

(3) Complete at least 75 hours of field-based experience in a Pre-K through grade 12 bilingual education setting.


Q: Where can I find approved courses of study for providing bilingual education?

A: Currently, there are approved courses of study at UMASS Amherst, Boston College, Bridgewater State College, and Lesley College, and the DESE is in the process of reviewing other proposed courses of study. The links provided in this answer include contact information.

Q: How will I get the 75 hours of field-based experience in a bilingual education setting?

A: Seventy-five hours of field-based experience in a Pre-K-–12 dual language education or transitional bilingual education program, two-way immersion program, or other bilingual education setting are required for the endorsement. Field-based experiences for the bilingual education endorsement should be organized, coordinated, and assessed by the Sponsoring Organization. A plan for providing candidates field-based experiences, including the goals and objectives of these experiences, must be included by the Sponsoring Organization in the program submission and approved by DESE. Programs should identify a means by which to assess candidates during their field experience and opportunities to demonstrate the competencies identified in the subject matter knowledge requirements. Ordinarily, educators who complete a DESE-approved course of study will satisfy the requirement for field-based experience through that course of study.


Q: I have been teaching content in a foreign language in a bilingual setting for the past two years. Does that count towards the 75 hours of field-based experience in a bilingual education setting?

A: We believe so, but so far there has been no guidance from DESE on this point.


Q: I taught content in a foreign language in a bilingual setting in another state. Which Pathway is right for me?

A: Pathway 3. This pathway is available to educators prepared outside of Massachusetts. To satisfy it, you must:


  1. Obtain a passing score on a foreign language MTEL test; and
  2. Possess an out-of-state license/certificate/endorsement that is comparable to the Bilingual Education Endorsement or completes a comparable bilingual education educator preparation program.



Q: Can I just take an MTEL in order to receive the Bilingual Endorsement?

A: No. Currently, a test assessing the subject matter knowledge and skill requirements of the Bilingual Education Endorsement is not established. The Department will post additional information about this option when a test is established; DESE anticipates that this pathway (Pathway 4) will be available to all educators starting in 2020. To satisfy this pathway, you will need to:


  1. Obtain a passing score on a foreign language MTEL test;
  2. Obtain a passing score on the Bilingual Education MTEL exam, which is in development and is anticipated to be available in 2020; and
  3. Complete at least 75 hours of field-based experience in a PreK through grade 12 bilingual education setting.



Q: How much does it cost to apply for the Bilingual Education Endorsement?

A: There is a $25.00 application fee for this endorsement. The quickest and easiest way to apply for a Massachusetts educator credential is via the Educator Licensure And Renewal (ELAR) portal. First-time users of the ELAR portal will need to create a profile prior to submitting an electronic application via ELAR.


Q: Can I get reimbursed for the Bilingual Endorsement?

A: Yes! You can find the Billhead in TalentEd Records → Blank Docs → Billhead: Recertification Reimbursement.


Q: I need to take the Spanish or Portuguese Foreign Language MTEL as one of the requirements for the Bilingual Endorsement. Can I get reimbursed?

A: Yes! You can find the Billhead in TalentEd Records → Blank Docs → Billhead: Recertification Reimbursement.


Q: Will I need to renew the Bilingual Education Endorsement eventually?

A: Yes. The Bilingual Education Endorsement shall be valid for five calendar years. Teachers, principals, assistant principals, and supervisor directors required to hold the Bilingual Education Endorsement must keep the endorsement valid.


Q: How will I go about renewing the Bilingual Education Endorsement?

A: The Bilingual Education Endorsement is valid for five calendar years and may be renewed for successive five-year terms upon successful completion of 15 professional development points (PDPs) in the content area related to the Subject Matter Knowledge of the Bilingual Education Endorsement. Individuals may also apply these 15 PDPs toward renewing a Primary license. The Subject Matter Knowledge of the Bilingual Education Endorsement may be found here.


Q: How much does it cost to renew the Bilingual Education Endorsement, and can I renew it if I do not hold a Professional license?

A: There is a $25.00 application fee for this endorsement, even if it is your first/only license/endorsement application.


Q: I hold a Bilingual Education Endorsement in a specific target language. How do I earn an additional Bilingual Education Endorsement in a different target language?

A: You may earn an additional Bilingual Education Endorsement in a different target language by achieving a passing score on a relevant foreign language test acceptable to DESE. The Bilingual Education Endorsement is issued for the specific foreign language in which the educator has demonstrated proficiency. For example, Bilingual Education [Spanish] Endorsement. So if you hold a Bilingual Endorsement in Spanish, you can take the Foreign Language Portuguese MTEL and get an additional Bilingual Endorsement in Portuguese.


Q: What about a waiver?

A: Since this Bilingual Education Endorsement requirement is new in our state, the waiver process was designed to provide districts with some needed flexibility. To be granted a waiver, we must demonstrate that we made a good faith effort to hire personnel with the Bilingual Education Endorsement, or the TBL Endorsement or TBE license but were unable to find a candidate with the appropriate credentials who is qualified for the position. The waiver is valid for a period of one school year and may be renewed at the Commissioner’s discretion.

Q: Where can I get more information?

A: Please contact the Department’s Office of Educator Licensure at 781-338-6600.