Sheltered English Immersion: New Teacher Licensure Requirements

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the state agency that issues teacher licenses, recently announced changes in teacher licensure requirements that impact teacher preparation programs, including Wheelock's. We have created this web page to keep students, faculty, alumni, partner schools, and agencies in the community informed about Wheelock's comprehensive response to these rapid changes in educator preparation in Massachusetts.

Context of the New Teacher Education Rules

The Civil Rights Division of the United States Justice Department has found that Massachusetts was not meeting the learning needs of English language learners.  Teachers were not required to be prepared to work effectively with this growing population of children who are still learning English along with academic content and principals were not required to assure that teachers employed had the content knowledge and skill to teach all students effectively, including ELLs.  These findings by the Justice Department are the basis for new federal requirements that DESE began implementing as of June 1, 2014.  These changes assure all public school teachers in the Commonwealth are prepared to use Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) knowledge and strategies.

The Wheelock Education Faculty supports new state requirements that will strengthen our students' skills in teaching English language learners.

Who Do These Changes Affect?

These changes affect all Wheelock undergraduate and graduate students in programs that lead to the following licenses:

  • Early Childhood Teacher of Students with and without Disabilities (PreK-2)
  • Elementary (1-6)
  • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8)

What Are the Changes and When Do They Take Effect?

Undergraduate and graduate students who complete initial teacher preparation programs at Wheelock and qualify for licensure after June 1, 2014 are required to complete new course work in order to be licensed in Massachusetts. The new requirements include coursework that is focused on theory and teaching strategies that are effective with learners who are not yet proficient in English. These new courses have been incorporated into Wheelock students' program requirement sequence. Students who meet the new requirements apply for an additional state "endorsement" added to their license to indicate they are prepared to use  Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) strategies. Students should apply for the SEI endorsement at the same when they apply for their initial license.  (Modifications have been made as needed to current courses in the program for the Teacher of Reading license.)  The SEI endorsement is issued upon successful completion of the initial licensure program. 

Wheelock students who completed their program and applied for licensure prior to June 2014, are not required to complete any additional course work, although all in service teachers will be required to hold the SEI endorsement by July 1, 2016.  At this time, due to state regulations, Wheelock is only able to provide the endorsement to students who successfully complete the courses as a part of an initial licensure program.

Sheltered English Immersion Courses

The DESE's SEI initiative is called Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL). On the RETELL website, you will see references to a state-created SEI course, which was designed by DESE officials and has been provided for current teachers in selected districts with high numbers of students who are not yet proficient in English.

The state-offered course will not be offered at Wheelock College. Instead, Wheelock had a team of faculty who developed our own course in SEI that is required in each Wheelock preparation program that is approved by the state for an initial license in Early Childhood (PreK-2), Elementary Teacher (1-6), or Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8).  The Wheelock course was evaluated and approved by the state as meeting or exceeding the state and Justice Department requirement in content and demonstrated practice.

The reason for developing our own course is that Wheelock faculty team is committed to ensuring that Wheelock students gain the same level of content knowledge, skills, and competency in SEI as they do in all of our other teacher preparation curricula. 

The course is offered in Fall and Spring semesters.  Any Wheelock student in an initial teacher preparation program is eligible to take the course when they have met the prerequisites and corequisites.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the new state requirements or Wheelock's new courses, please contact:


Mary McCormack
Dean of Student Success

inspire a world of good

200 Riverway, Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Contact Us | 617-879-2000

© 2017 Wheelock College is a registered trademark.