Certification Requirements to Become a Math Teacher in Massachusetts

Follow the steps in this guide to learn how to become a certified math teacher through the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education:

Earn a Degree in Mathematics and Participate in an Educator Prep Program
Pass the Testing Requirements
Apply for Certification to Teach Math in Massachusetts
Renew and Upgrade Your License to Teach Math in Massachusetts

Tomorrow’s leaders of the technological and engineering sectors in Massachusetts are the students of today. Thanks in large part to the dedication of the state’s certified math teachers; Massachusetts’ high school students ranked first in the nation with the highest average ACT exam scores in 2013.

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Prospective math teachers are held to a high standard when applying to become licensed in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the agency that issues teaching licenses in the state, maintains these high standards to ensure only the most qualified applicants are allowed to teach in the state’s public schools.



Step 1. Earn a Degree in Mathematics and Participate in an Educator Prep Program

All prospective math teachers must earn a bachelor’s degree at minimum in the field of mathematics. If you are just beginning your education, you will have the opportunity to choose a math degree combined with an educator prep program designed to confer a license to prospective math teachers in the state.

These programs typically start with a focus on advanced mathematics offering courses that include:

  • Calculus
  • Geometry
  • Advanced algebra
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Statistics and probability

After spending several semesters developing your expertise in the field of mathematics, you will begin taking courses that focus on pedagogy, mathematics lesson planning, and math education strategies.

The educator prep component of your degree program will also include a student teaching program where you will be able to put your theoretical knowledge of teaching to the test in the classroom under the guidance of an experienced math teacher.

Alternate Routes to a Teaching License

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You may also find yourself in the situation of having already earned at least a bachelor’s degree in math that didn’t include an educator preparation program. If this is the case you have two options:

  • Gain admission to, and complete one of the approved educator preparation programs located throughout Massachusetts available at the post-bachelor’s level. There are 43 post-bachelor’s educator preparation programs for math teachers in grades 8-12, and 41 for those teaching grades 5-8. You may also find a program that offers a master’s degree in education that will also confer eligibility for a teaching license.
  • There are also 123 alternative educator preparation programs in Massachusetts designed for candidates who already hold at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. These differ from traditional educator preparation programs in that instead of a student teaching segment, you will be mentored during on-the-job training as a math teacher. This will follow an initial intensive pedagogical segment.

Out-of-State Math Teachers

If you are a math teacher from outside of Massachusetts, under most circumstances you will be eligible for a Massachusetts teaching license if you fall into one of these categories:

  • You completed an approved educator preparation program in your home state
  • You have been working as a licensed math teacher in your home state for at least three years



Step 2. Pass the Testing Requirements

Another of the essential requirements to qualify for math teacher jobs in Massachusetts is testing. To be eligible for a teaching license you must pass two exams that are part of the state program Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL):

  • Communication and Literacy Skills Test
  • Mathematics Test

Communication and Literacy Skills Test

The Communication and Literacy Skills Test is made up of two sub-tests in reading and writing. These exams are designed to make sure all teachers in Massachusetts are able to communicate at a basic level using these skills. You can expect the following on each test:

    • Reading:
      • 42 multiple-choice questions covering subjects such as:
        • Definition of words and phrases
        • Interpreting graphs
        • Identifying main ideas and supporting details
        • Point of view and purpose
        • Writing patterns
        • Critical thinking


  • Writing:
    • 35 multiple-choice, 7 sentence corrections, and 2 open response questions:
      • Correcting errors in sentences
      • Grammar usage
      • Sentence structure
      • Creation of a composition and summary

Mathematics Test

As a prospective math teacher, you will need to complete one of the following options for mathematics testing, depending on which grades you intend to teach:

Both tests are arranged in a similar format, however the test for grades 8-12 goes into greater detail:

  • 4 hours allowed for completion
  • 100 multiple-choice and 2 open response questions on the following subjects:
    • Operations and number sense
    • Relations, patterns, and algebra
    • Calculus, trigonometry, and discrete mathematics
    • Data analysis; statistics and probability
    • Measurement and geometry



Step 3. Apply for Certification to Teach Math in Massachusetts

When you have completed the steps up to this point you will be ready to submit an application for licensure. You can do this via the online application portal known as the Education Licensing and Recruitment (ELAR) System. Alternatively, you can submit the following to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Educator Licensure on 75 Pleasant Street in Malden, zip code 02148:

  • An application packet
  • $100 application fee
  • Transcripts showing that you have at least a bachelor’s degree and have completed an approved educator preparation program
  • Proof that you have passed your MTEL exams

When you are filling out your license application, you will most likely be applying for what is known as an Initial License if you have met the traditional requirements up to this point. However depending on your circumstances you may apply for a different type of license:

  • Preliminary License if you are completing an alternate educator preparation program
  • Temporary License if you are a licensed math teacher from out-of-state with at least three years of teaching experience and have not yet completed the MTEL exams

Online applications are processed the fastest, and if you apply online you can also check the status of your application by way of the ELAR System. If you mailed in your application packet, you can contact the Licensure Call Center to check its progress at (781)-338-6600.

Once you receive your teaching license for mathematics you will be ready to go to work. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers an online employment portal for math teachers looking for jobs across the state.



Step 4. Renew and Upgrade Your License to Teach Math in Massachusetts

The Initial License is valid for five years, during which time you are encouraged to upgrade to a Professional License. If needed, you may renew your Initial License once for an additional five years by demonstrating that you have been employed as a math teacher and by attesting that you will work to attain a Professional License.

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You are eligible to upgrade your Initial License to a Professional License once you have met these requirements:

  • Been employed as a math teacher and held an Initial License for at least three years
  • Maintained a good and moral character throughout this period of time
  • Completed a teacher induction program with an acceptable performance review

Each district in Massachusetts is tasked with creating its own teacher induction program, so these can vary throughout the state. However they should adhere to the following general guidelines:

  • Contain an orientation program for new incoming teachers
  • Assign you to a math teacher who is a trained mentor sometime during the first two weeks of your employment
  • Provide you with a support team that will assist you as you develop as a new teacher and perform evaluations of your teaching performance, which includes your mentor
  • Establish blocks of time when your mentor can observe you teaching math in the classroom

Professional License

Once you have attained a Professional License it will be valid for five years. Renewing this requires you to complete a process that involves Professional Development Points and a Professional Development Plan. This plan can include working towards a master’s degree.

You will start developing your Professional Development Plan three months after receiving your Professional License. This will outline how you plan to obtain the necessary Professional Development Points over the next five years to be able to renew your Professional License. Your plan will be reviewed at least every two years to ensure you are on track to meet the renewal requirements.

Beginning in July 2016, you will need to attain 150 Professional Development Points in order to renew your Professional License. These must be earned according to the following categories:

  • 60 points directly related to the subject of mathematics, with a total of at least 90 points relating to this or pedagogical development
  • 15 points relating to teaching students with disabilities and unique learning styles
  • 15 points relating to English as a Second Language (ESL) or Sheltered English Immersion (SEI)
  • 10 points in a single mathematical topic

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