Information for Candidates

Licensure candidates follow a program-specific approved course of study. Program designs vary, yet all emphasize the importance of field experiences and incorporate them throughout the course of study. Field experiences are sequenced and structured in order to provide candidates opportunities to develop over time. Candidates are informed of the requirements by program faculty and through the appropriate handbooks and/or course syllabi. Information regarding the process for licensure is given through a licensure orientation session conducted by the Educator Licensure Office (ELO).  Each program has specific requirements for transition points on the path to licensure.

The following topics pertain to commonly asked questions by candidates as well as serve as general guidelines for the unit’s field experiences. Please remember that programs vary in their implementation of field experiences.

  1. Placement for Practicum 
  2. Site Selection
  3. Application Process and State Requirements
  4. MTEL Requirements
  5. Timeline for Field Experiences
  6. Supervision and Support during Practicum
  7. Documentation of Field Experiences in Tk20
  8. Assistance for Candidates
  9. Career Planning

1.  Placement for Practicum

Placements are determined by the individual programs. To initiate a pre-practicum or practicum placement, a student would complete all program requirements for entry to practicum and get permission from their program faculty. A pre-practicum is a course that must be registered for. Pre-practicum expectations and procedures vary by program.

Content area faculty members and/or clinical faculty members make recommendations for placements. If the student and sponsoring practitioner agree with the recommendation, the school administrator’s approval is sought.  See the “Types of Field Experiences” section for information and forms for the pre-practicum and practicum as well as the Educator Licensure forms.

Practicum usually follows a successful pre-practicum experience. The responsibility for arranging the practicum placement rests with the University, not with the candidate. Most programs consider candidate requests for specific placements, however, the final decision rests with program faculty. In order for the practicum to commence, the L2 form must be completely filled out and the administrator must confirm that the supervising practitioner meets all requirements.

Candidates should not contact a possible site directly unless they have consulted with program faculty. Schools and districts have specific placement procedures which must be followed.

2.  Site Selection

In any given year, there are often candidates in field experiences in over 100 different school sites in more than 50 towns and cities in Massachusetts.  There are many considerations to take into account regarding placement, such as the candidates’ needs, area of focus and course requirements.  In a practicum site, candidates must be able to work towards proficiency on all the standards, as outlined in the CAP or organization standards.  Sites must have the capacity for this work, for example working with diverse student populations, including English language learners (ELLs), as well as the willingness of the site to allow our candidates to take full responsibility of the classroom or caseload.

Candidates are expected to provide their own transportation to and from their site.  All course requirements must be maintained during field experiences as most courses are carefully integrated within the field experiences. 

3.  Application Process and State Requirements

Some sites may have individual requirements for students before they begin their field work, which may include applications and always include background criminal record checks. Please consult with your program faculty in order to determine the recommended way to apply. 

All sites require a CORI (Criminal Offense Record Information) check before a student may begin working individually with P12 students. The CORI is filled out by the candidate at the school or district as part of the placement approval process. Additionally, the state requires a federal background check, SAFIS (Statewide Applicant Fingerprint Identification Services), for any person who will be working with children in any unmonitored situation.  Commonly referred to as “fingerprinting,” this process is required for all student teachers.  Program coordinators have detailed information available for candidates.

Previous criminal offenses may render a licensure candidate unable for certain, or all, sites.  Please consult confidentially with the Educator Licensure Office early in your program (or even prior to applying) if you have any concerns. There are ways to request a personal CORI or SAFIS report but this is rarely necessary.

4.   MTEL Requirements

Passing the Communications and Literacy Skills Test of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) is a requirement in all educator licensure programs, and an admissions requirement in some. Subject matter MTELs must be passed prior to practicum. Check with your subject matter advisor for the appropriate timeline for you. As some candidates do not pass the tests on their first attempt, remember to schedule in enough lead time to retake the tests if you do not pass. It is recommended that you take the subject matter MTEL at least several months prior to the planned start of the practicum. Candidates are required to upload their passing MTEL score to Tk20. The Educator Licensure Office has more information on the College of Education MTEL webpage.

5.  Timeline for Field Experiences

Field experiences should cover a range of time periods within the school year.  It is recommended that candidates participate in the site orientation events, faculty meetings and training days for the school faculty. If this is not possible, it is the candidate’s responsibility to find out all school site requirements, trainings and other necessary site information and policies.

The number of hours per week that a candidate is in a pre-practicum or practicum is related to the type of experience and program design. For example, a pre-practicum can range from as little as 8 to as many as 40 hours per week. For practicum, candidates can expect to be in the schools for the full day, 5 days a week.

Most programs mandate more hours for the practicum than the minimum required by the state. 

Candidates must meet the program’s expectations for hours, not the minimum stated in the state regulations. Otherwise, the candidate will not be considered as having successfully completed the program. Please find out from your program faculty the exact requirements of your specific program.

6.  Supervision and Support during Practicum

Supervising practitioners are PK-12 site faculty members who supervise the candidates through their practicum. Faculty strive to find placements for candidates with supervising practitioners who exemplify the essential qualities of the program and the underlying philosophy of the unit. Supervising practitioners need to be current in the field, sensitive to the needs of candidates and students, have high expectations of candidates, and able to develop candidates’ skills to support learning for all students. To qualify as a supervising practitioner, teachers must hold a Massachusetts license in the area for which they are supervising and have three years of teaching experience.  A qualification is that they are rated as proficient or higher on their last school district rating.

Program supervisors and supervising practitioners jointly support, supervise and evaluate candidates during their practicum using the Candidate Assessment of Performance (applicable for pre-service teachers). Goal-setting, evaluation and reflection take place during three formal meetings: (a) an initial three-way meeting to discuss goals for the experience; (b) a second three-way meeting to discuss progress, review goals, and create plans of action for the last half of the semester; (c) a final three-way meeting to complete final assessment and discuss the mentoring process as a whole. Additionally, program supervisors conduct observations of student teachers throughout the practicum.  There are often pre-observation activities and post-observation reflections assigned by the program. 

7.  Documentation of Field Experiences in Tk20

Programs require candidates to document their field experiences through online Tk20 Field Experience Binders or Portfolios. In early field experiences, coursework and pre-practicum, candidates may upload assessments or documentation.  During the practicum, Tk20 is utilized extensively in order to demonstrate progress throughout the practicum and evidence of meeting the standards.  Please see the College of Education’sTk20 web page to log-in.  Information and tutorials are available at the Tk20 Support Blog.

8.  Additional Assistance for Candidates

For candidate support beyond the academic team, there are several services offered for University students including the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (for counselling and other support) and the Learning Resource Center (for academic and study skills assistance). If candidates are unsure of where to turn to for support, they are encouraged to consult with their program coordinator or the field experience specialist. 

All University students who have any disability can register at Disability Services. This is suggested for students who may need long-term or short-term accommodations as well as students who are diagnosed with a disability but may not need accommodations at the present time.  For students to receive any accommodations, they must be registered at Disability Services, have met with Disability Services staff and have provided documentation of their disability.  Accommodations may be provided at the University and also at the field experience site, if applicable. 

9.  Career Planning

Career Services can assist current candidates in their job searches as well as skills for applying and interviewing for positions.  We encourage all candidates who are interested in education jobs in Massachusetts to attend the MERC Education Career Fair in the spring prior to graduation.  Our candidates can get information on this through Career Services. Furthermore, please see SchoolSpring for extensive postings across the state and the country.

We wish you many wonderful adventures on your road to becoming an educator and your future career path!

 

If you have a question that you believe should be a part of this website area, please email the Field Experience Specialist