The Minnesota Professional Educators Licensing and Standard Board (PELSB) on Thursday approved criteria for Tier 2 Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) and for “not acceptable” in Tier 1 licensure.

PELSB staff will now integrate these changes into the full proposed rule draft to forward to the Governor’s office and then to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Should the Judge accept these changes as being “clear and unambiguous” without triggering a 30-day comment period for a “substantial change,” the new teacher license rules would be formalized in five weeks in early October.

SLP Tier 2 Criteria

In regard to SLP Tier 2 licenses, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Barbara Case provided PELSB the choice of proposing no Tier 2 criteria or proposing “reasonably clear criteria” for Tier 2 licenses. Learn more

At the board meeting, MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan proposed Tier 2 criteria for initial license and renewal criteria to the board. Sarah Mittelstadt, director of Southern Plains Cooperative and a licensed SLP teacher testified in support. Part of her testimony included her own story of starting as a bachelor’s SLP in McCloud West and journeying for seven years to St. Cloud to earn her Master’s Degree. She also testified as a SPED Director on how hard it was to recruit Master’s level teachers to southern Minnesota.

Representatives from the Minnesota Speech and Hearing Association (MNSHA) spoke in opposition. An important part of their testimony was that universities have changed their programs and now do not do any clinical practice as part of the undergraduate programs whereas in the past they did.  The clinical practice is now in the Master’s level programs.

After much discussion, PELSB on a 6-1 vote approved language very close to that proposed by MREA.  Candidates for Tier 2 SLP licensure must:

  1. Hold a BA in communication disorders or speech language hearing sciences or,
  2. Hold an SLPA certificate and a Bachelors Degree.

The advantage of Tier 2 criteria is that applications go to the licensing staff for approval and do not need to be approved on a case-by-case basis by PELSB. See details on proposed language below.

Tier 1 Criteria

The statute regarding Tier 1 teacher licensure stipulates that to issue a Tier 1 license, “the district or charter school has posted the teacher position but was unable to hire an acceptable teacher with a Tier 2, 3, or 4 license for the position.” (122A.181, Subd 1, (3) ii)

Judge Case rejected PELSB’s original proposal that “not acceptable” be left to the applying district to determine and insisted that PELSB “must make it clear to districts, applicants, and the general public exactly what will constitute an unacceptable higher tiered candidate.”  (ALJ Report paragraph 191, p. 41)

PELSB Executive Director Alex Liuzzi met with many stakeholders in the week prior to the meeting and proposed five criteria (details below) to define “not acceptable.” These would be the criteria that would allow licensing staff to approve a Tier 1 application. Director Liuzzi stated repeatedly  that applying districts can always apply for a Discretionary Waiver for any rule, including this one, and apply to the PELSB directly for a Tier 1 license.

After much discussion, proposed amendments, and a cross between a pep talk and lecture from Director Liuzzi to the board that it is their job to regulate who is licensed in the state of Minnesota, PELSB approved the five criteria on a 4-2 vote.

The package of proposals was approved on a 6-2 vote just before 10 pm.

More Details on Tier 2

The proposed language for rule 8710.6000 are as follows:

The hiring district must:

  1. show that the position was posted for at least 15 days on the board-approved statewide job board;
  2. show that no Tier 3 or 4 licensed speech-language pathologists applied for the position;
  3. provide justification for why no alternative options for having a licensed speech-language pathologist are available;
  4. provide support and supervision from a Tier 3 or 4 Licensed SLP

The applicant must:

  1. Hold a BA in communication disorders, or speech language hearing sciences or,
  2. Hold an SLPA certificate and a Bachelors Degree,

For Tier 2 SLP Renewals, the draft language would include language to this effect:

  1. For the 2nd and 3rd renewals the provider [of the Master’s degree program] must certify that meaningful progress has been made towards completion of the program…
  2. For the first renewal an applicant may submit evidence of having applied for a Master’s program in Speech Language Pathology and a rejection letter from the provider, or have the provider certify that meaningful progress has been made toward completion….

Note:  This allows Tier 2 license holders four years to be accepted into a Masters program, as they are difficult to enter.  The hiring district can always ask for a Discretionary Waiver to the full board should these conditions for renewal not be met.  Tier 2 licenses can be renewed three times for a total of eight (8) years. 

Acceptable Applicant Definition

  1. The position was posted for at least 15 days on the board-approved statewide job board;
  2. Meets one of the following:
    • No Tier 2, 3 or 4 licensed individuals applied for the position
    • No Tier 2, 3 or 4 licensed individuals accepted the position
    • At least one of the following for each Tier 2, 3 or 4 licensed applicants that may have accepted the position:
      • Tier 2, 3 or 4 applicants did not evidence fluency in language required for the position
      • Tier 2, 3 or 4 applicants identified an unwillingness to abide b or inability to apply the pedagogical model of the district or school
      • Tier 2, 3 or 4 had disciplinary action with the board or final disciplinary action in a district
      • Tier 2, 3 or 4 applicants identified an unwillingness to abide by culturally responsive teaching principles
      • Tier 2, 3 or 4 applicants had references that indicated an unwillingness or ineligibility to re-hire the applicant, including the applying district.
  1. On the application to be completed by the district, it will state “If the district found concerns with a Tier 2, 3 or 4 licensed applicant not identified in this list, they can ask for a Discretionary Variance.”
    Note: Discretionary Variances must be approved by PELSB itself.