Equity & Excellence for English Learners

Massachusetts SEI Endorsement Course Survey


Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speaker of Other Languages (MATSOL), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), is conducting a third-party, independent survey of Massachusetts educators to evaluate and review the Massachusetts Sheltered English Instruction (SEI) Endorsement Courses for teachers and administrators. 

The goal of the survey is to gather feedback on course content and materials and on the course’s effectiveness in meeting instructional goals. Information gathered from this survey will support DESE’s future revisions of the SEI Endorsement Course.

Who should participate?

We invite participation by educators who have experience or familiarity with the SEI Endorsement Courses (Teacher, CVTE and/or Administrator courses), including:

  • Instructors of the SEI Teacher, CVTE and Administrator Endorsement courses offered by DESE-approved PD providers as well as instructors in SEI Teacher Endorsement Courses in college and university teacher preparation programs;
  • Teachers, administrators and other educators working in the Massachusetts public schools;
  • Providers of professional development or coaching in Massachusetts;
  • Faculty in teacher preparation programs in Massachusetts;
  • Researchers of Massachusetts public schools.

The survey will be open from February 27 to March 12, 2023.

Higher Ed for All

Affordable high-quality public higher education is essential to expand opportunity  in all of our communities and create a more equitable and prosperous Commonwealth, including multilingual students.

MATSOL has joined the Higher Ed For All Coalition to advocate for fully funded community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses. The Coalition proposes the following actions to knock down the barriers that too many potential college graduates encounter – and to create a public higher education system that demonstrates its respect for workers by providing fair wages and working conditions.

The coalition’s goals include:

  • A debt-free college plan that covers not just tuition and fees but also living expenses, including food and housing
  • Expansion of existing programs that support student success and address staffing shortages
  • Recruitment and retention of high-quality and experienced faculty and staff – and make it possible for them to meet the needs of their students, particularly those who face the most significant challenges
  • Return to the historic model of public funding for public buildings on college and university campuses and include faculty and staff when assessing campus needs

Advocacy Day at the State House

Tuesday, February 28
10:30am – 2:30pm
Massachusetts State House

Free round-trip bus transportation is available from: UMass Amherst, Ludlow Park & Ride, Auburn Park & Ride, Mass College of Liberal Arts, Greenfield Community College, Fitchburg State College, Bridgewater State College, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, & Salem State. (You will receive a link to sign up for a bus after you register).

MATSOL Board of Directors – Call for Applications

Do you want to help shape the future of MATSOL?

Are you passionate about promoting equity and excellence in the education of English learners?

Submit an application to join the MATSOL Board of Directors! 

MATSOL seeks a diverse range of committed and energetic members of MATSOL with a passion for our mission to take a leadership role, work on behalf of the organization, and represent MATSOL members and stakeholders.

The MATSOL board encourages members to apply:

  • who have a strong commitment to racial justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • who are from backgrounds not historically represented on the Board of Directors including diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds.
  • who represent different educational sectors serving English learners (including but not limited to PK12, higher education, adult education), job types, and at different stages of their careers.
  • who represent diverse professions and experiences within the field of education of multilingual learners.

Deadline to apply: March 1, 2023

Advocacy Alert! Public comment on proposed changes to MCAS requirement for graduation

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to put the following regulatory changes out for public comment. The proposal is to raise the MCAS passing standard for the high school Competency Determination starting with the class of 2026 (this fall’s ninth graders) and changes to the Educational Proficiency Plan and other supports for students’ academic success.

MATSOL is planning to submit comments on behalf of our organization and we are asking for your input and examples to include in the comment. Submit your input to MATSOL via this form to help inform our response: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CYMHW67

You can also submit comments directly to DESE by following this link: https://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=26763. Comments are due June 3, 2022.

DESE Board of Education Request for Public Comment on MCAS Proposal:

The proposed amendment would establish a new competency determination standard in English language arts, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering for students in the classes of 2026–2029.

Board members expressed particular interest in comments on:

1. The proposed new standard for students in the classes of 2026–2029:

  • Students in the classes of 2026–2029 would be required to earn a scaled score of 486 (the scaled score just beyond the midpoint within the Partially Meeting Expectations achievement level category) on the ELA, mathematics, and STE MCAS tests to earn their competency determination in those subjects.
  • Students in the classes of 2026–2029 who earn a scaled score of at least 470 (the lowest scaled score in the Partially Meeting Expectations achievement level) would not be required to take an MCAS retest or file an appeal, but they would be required to complete an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) in ELA and/or mathematics.

2. Whether a standard should be set now for students in the class of 2030 and beyond, and if so, whether the standard should be Meeting Expectations on the high school MCAS exams.

3. The proposed changes to the Educational Proficiency Plan and other supports for students’ academic success:

  • A requirement that the school provide a student’s EPP to their parents/guardians on an annual basis
  • A requirement to describe the tutoring or other individualized academic supports the student will receive
  • The establishment of different expectations for the EPP for students who are actively enrolled and successfully progressing in the Mass Core curriculum, an approved Chapter 74 vocational-technical program, or a designated Early College or Innovation Pathway program
  • Clarifications to the types of courses and assessments required in a student’s EPP
  • Clarifications around the expectation for adult learners, students who have exited high school without a CD, seniors who have already completed all their required courses in the relevant subject matter, students who are not continuously enrolled or are enrolled in an alternative program, and students who enroll in senior year

State Seal of Biliteracy Update for Class of 2022

Graduating students in the Class of 2022, who were not able to take 10th Grade ELA MCAS due to the pandemic, now have the opportunity to earn the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy. Legislation passed in December allows 2022 graduates who earn the modified competency determination in ELA to also satisfy the English language criteria for the award. Read more!

2021 MATSOL Award

Congratulations to Gail Ball, who has been honored with the 2021 Anne Dow Award for Excellence & Creativity. Gail is EL Department Head at Worcester Public Schools.

The Dow Award is given annually to a professional who has made outstanding efforts that reflect enthusiasm and creative, energetic, independent thinking. Specific criteria vary from year to year, to reflect the many facets of Anne Dow’s career and interests.  The 2021 award was given for promoting diversity, equity & inclusion for multilingual students and families.  The award is supported by the Anne Dow Family Foundation.

Help Wanted: Virtual Conference Host

Temporary, part-time contract position. Must be available May 24 through June 4, 2021 from 10AM – 5 PM (EDT)

MATSOL is looking for an upbeat professional to support presenters on our digital conference platform during the 2021 MATSOL Virtual Conference, which brings together educators of English Learners from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to share expertise and best practices. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to learn more about TESOL and EL education!

The conference will use ZOOM Meeting Pro integrated with the Whova conference platform. MATSOL will provide a ZOOM account for hosts to use during the conference.


  • Act as the primary support person for presenters assigned to you during the conference week.
  • Manage attendees in large meetings (up to 100 or more) to ensure presentations go smoothly.
  • Set up ZOOM Meeting and the Whova features before sessions start.
  • Do a tech check with presenters 15 minutes before each session. 
  • Start and stop recording the session.
  • Play conference introduction video and introduce the presenter.
  • Monitor chat and Q&A and relay questions to the presenter. Assist presenters as needed by sharing links, launching polls, etc.
  • Create breakout rooms (if applicable).
  • Remain professional and upbeat throughout the presentation.
  • Troubleshoot any problems during a presentation.
  • Remain in communication with MATSOL team throughout the conference. 


  • Experience facilitating large group meetings and presentations with the ZOOM Pro meeting platform, including using breakout rooms, chat, Q&A, polls, YouTube livefeed etc. 
  • Experience with a virtual conference platform is a plus.
  • Computer or laptop with reliable high-speed internet connection (Two devices, such as a dual monitor or a laptop plus tablet or phone is preferred).
  • Proficient with computers and technology and able to learn new systems quickly.
  • Professional, upbeat demeanor with good communication skills.

Time commitment: 

  • Week of May 24, 2021: Independently review and complete training materials and participate in at least two live training sessions (M/W/F 10-11AM)
  • Tuesday-Friday, June 1-4, 2010: Host up to three conference sessions per day between 10am to 5pm, with breaks in between sessions.

Location: Remote

Stipend: $500.00

Application closed

MATSOL is a nonprofit professional association of educators of English learners in Massachusetts. Our members include educators in PK-12 schools, adult basic education, workplace programs, private language schools, and institutions of higher learning, as well as pre-service and in-service teacher educators. MATSOL is the state affiliate of TESOL International Association.

Testing Equity for English Learners

Date: April 6, 2022

To:  Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

From: Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL) and Multistate Association for Bilingual Education (MABE)

Re:  Testing Equity for English Learners

While we applaud the decision of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to allow students in grades 3-8 to take the MCAS tests remotely this spring, the policy does not address the inequity of in-person testing required for English Learners. In addition to MCAS, English Learners take an annual English proficiency test, ACCESS for ELs, which is only administered in-person. As a result, while their peers have the option to complete all testing remotely, English Learners, many of whom live in communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, still need to go into school buildings for in-person ACCESS testing. This is an inequitable policy that favors some students over others.  

Additionally, as many students return to in-person learning for the first time all year, we believe that students will benefit from more time for academic learning, language development, and social-emotional support, not on taking tests. We call on the Department to immediately postpone the ACCESS for ELs testing for this school year, as allowed by federal guidance.

For a more detailed explanation of our concerns, please see the statement from MATSOL and MABE “2021 ACCESS for ELs Testing” (Dec 8, 2020), which was created with input from our membership.

Below are the action items we requested in the statement. Although conditions have changed since our first statement was released, the concerns detailed in the statement have not been addressed.

  1. School districts should not be penalized for low student participation in the ACCESS for ELs test during the pandemic. As of this date, the Department has not decided about how lack of participation will affect district accountability measures. Likewise, schools and teachers should not be penalized if students do not meet English Proficiency Benchmarks. The Department needs to address how students’ English Learner Success Plans will be impacted.
  2. If the testing goes forward, the Department should provide Districts with a clear message to send to families stating that if a family does not feel safe sending their child to school for testing, they do not have to take the test and that the student and family will face no negative consequences. The Department should assist districts with this communication by providing the message in English and translated into the most common languages. Families can then decide what is best for their child.
  3. Under current guidelines, students can only exit EL programs with a minimum ACCESS score, along with other relevant data including local assessments, MCAS, grades, observations, and the WIDA Performance Definitions to determine “whether students can perform ordinary classroom work in English.” This year, districts should be allowed to use other evidence of language proficiency to reclassify ELs and exit them from EL programs without the ACCESS score.

Read our December 8 statement “2021 Access for ELs Testing” here.

See our Letter to the Editor in The Boston Globe, April 9, 2021 https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/04/09/opinion/in-person-test-an-unfair-burden-english-learners/

Equity for the 2021 Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy

Date: March 5, 2021
To: Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

We are writing about an urgent issue for current high school seniors who wish to earn the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy (SSBL) but did not achieve the required score on the 10th Grade ELA MCAS. As English language, dual language and world language educators implementing the awards in school districts throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we urge the Department to allow students who achieve the Competency Determination (CD) under the temporary regulations approved in January 2021 to also satisfy the English Proficiency criteria for the State Seal of Biliteracy.

Before the pandemic, any student earning the CD through an Educational Proficiency Plan had the opportunity to also satisfy the English proficiency criteria for the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy. The same policy should hold under the temporary CD regulation for students who cannot come to school buildings for in-person testing.

Read the full letter...

Massachusetts Language Opportunity Coalition
Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL)
Multistate Association for Bilingual Education, Northeast (MABE)

Update on 2021 ACCESS for ELs Testing

MATSOL and MABE sent a letter to the MA Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education on December 8, 2020 urging DESE to cancel 2021 ACCESS for ELs testing. The letter summarized the concerns expressed by our members about about health and safety, equity, test validity, and use of resources, and stated that going forward with testing this school year will have a negative impact on English Learner students and families, furthering educational inequity. Read the MASTOL/MABE statemement here.

We received a reply from Commissioner Riley on January 4, 2021, acknowledging but not really addressing our concerns and stating that the testing will go forward:

[T]he decision to waive statewide testing must be made by both the U. S. Department of Education and the State Legislature, since these tests are required by both state and federal laws. See e.g., G.L. c. 71A, § 7; 20 U.S.C. § 6311; 34 C.F.R. § 200.6(h). The U.S. Department of Education has indicated that they do not anticipate granting any assessment waivers this school year, in recognition of the adverse consequences to students and schools for not assessing and reporting students’ levels of knowledge and skills during the pandemic. Additionally, public health experts acknowledge that schools are among the safest environments for children, so the plan is to assess EL students in the schools they normally attend, following proper health and safety protocols. Read the Comissioner’s letter here.

In addition to the MATSOL/MABE letter, a coalition of legal organizations — Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy, Inc. (META), Center for Law and Education, and Lawyers for Civil Rights, Boston — also sent a letter to the Commissioner calling for cancellation of the test.

The undersigned are public interest legal organizations that represent immigrant students
and families. We write today to urge that you take courageous and important action and
postpone the in-person administration of the WIDA ACCESS test for English language learners (ELL) during the COVID-19 pandemic. As public health data amply demonstrates, these students and their families are uniquely and disproportionately at risk of contracting the disease and the WIDA ACCESS in-person testing – which entails multiple separate test administrations over multiple days – places the students at imminent health risk and harm. We respectfully ask that DESE issue guidance to all schools in the Commonwealth concerning ELL students, particularly to inform parents, in English and relevant home languages, that in-person ACCESS testing at this time is voluntary and that parents and students will be not be punished, disciplined, penalized, reported or otherwise sanctioned for their legitimate COVID-19 safety concerns. Read the letter.

WIDA also responded to a letter from the legal groups about testing:

WIDA is not the entity that decides whether testing is delayed or cancelled. States are the
organizations that make those decisions, in consultation with local schools, many of which are meeting face-to-face with safety procedures in place. Read the WIDA letter.

MATSOL and MABE will continue to montior the situation and explore options fo supporting members and their students.