What is the Overall Goal of MELS?
The primary goal of MELS is the electronic validation of out-of-state credentials and related information that is valuable to each jurisdiction's credentialing process. This would include the almost instantaneous validation of credentials, employment, and preparation records for out-of-state educators who apply for a certificate or license. MELS will eliminate the need for letters of confirmation from other jurisdictions. ELS is envisioned as the logical next step for the jurisdictions with modern credentialing systems.
In addition, MELS would mitigate an existing problem shared by Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) and State Educator Certification Agencies (SECAs), specifically, being unable to track program completers once they leave the state. The new CAEP standards as well as the pending regulations from the U.S. Department of Education require EPPs to survey all program completers and to also be able to confirm employment. Any type of comparison between in-state EPPs would be difficult when an EPP close to a state border is unable to confirm employment for the significant percentage of its program completers who seek employment out of state.
Who will benefit from MELS?
MELS can eventually benefit all SECAs and EPPs since they all share the issues associated with not being able to track out-of-state program completers.
This initiative specifically addresses CAEP Standards 4 and 5 (two of the five CAEP Standards). A reading of the indicators quickly reveals how an EPP would be at a significant disadvantage (or possibly hold an unfair advantage) in how it documents meeting these standards if it was unable to locate a significant portion of its program completers.
What Information is Exchanged Through MELS?
Each SECA will have full control of the data it shares; however, the agreement to participate will stipulate that only information that is available to the public should be shared through MELS.
How is the Information Shared?
MELS will utilize a web-based "inquiry protocol” that makes a request to a central NASDTEC-maintained "hub” that relays the inquiry to participating states. The "inquiry” will consist of encrypted data sufficient to identify an educator in state public records.
Each participating state will establish a "listener protocol” using a web service. When a "listener” state receives a request, it will automatically query its public records to see if the educator is employed in that state. If employment is not found, a "not found” indicator will be returned back to NASDTEC. If records are found for the educator, the listening state will return a record back to NASDTEC.
The NASDTEC hub receives an "answer response” from each "listener” where data are found, aggregates the responses, and returns a single response to the original inquirer. No data records will leave the home state, and no data records other than transaction logs will reside in the NASDTEC hub program. Each state will utilize the returned data within their own systems according to their own business processes.
Costs to Participate in MELS?
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) has provided important leadership by developing the basic programming that each state will need to participate. The programming template will be provided at no cost to each jurisdiction. The only cost to the participating SECA will be the costs associated with having programmers connect the template to its certification and employment data system. The only additional cost to each SECA will be the annual fee to provide for a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate.