What You Should Know about the MTEL

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education brought into practice The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) program in the year 1998, in order to select eligible candidates for the PreKindergarten to grade 12 (PreK-12) educator licenses. Later, in the year 2004, vocational technical and adult basic education licenses were also included in the MTEL program. This article provides an overview of the test, its types, format etc.

The MTEL Test Types

Depending upon the kind of education license and the specific subject license that you need to obtain, the MTEL test types and requirements varies as well. For instance, if you are aiming for an educator license for grades 5 to 12 in the Earth Science subject, then you need to obtain passing scores in tests that assess your general academic education skills as well as in tests that evaluate your subject knowledge in Earth Science. The three main MTEL test types are:

  1. The Academic (PreK-12) Education Tests:

    Candidates seeking education license in order to teach students from PreKindergarten to grade12 need to pass the Academic (PreK-12) Education tests. The test requirements are:

    • Communication and Literacy Skills Test
    • Subject Matter Knowledge Tests

    The communication and literacy skills test is aimed at assessing the communication level of the candidate. As an aspiring educator you are expected to communicate freely and thoughtfully with students, parents and co-educators. Hence, it is important for you to meet the passing requirement of this test. Apart from communication skills, you need to prove your expertise in the subject of your preference such as Biology, History etc. which is evaluated by the subject matter knowledge tests.

  2. The Vocational Technical Education Test:

    If you are planning to become a vocational technical teacher, then you need to pass the vocational technical education test. The licensure requirements include the following tests:

    • Vocational Technical Literacy Skills Test or Communication and Literacy Skills Test
    • Written and Performance Subject Matter Test

    As explained earlier, a test to measure the communication skills of the candidate is required for this licensure type as well. The test scores of both the vocational technical literacy skills test and the communication and literacy skills test are accepted as a part of the licensure requirements. The written and performance subject matter test is a test of knowledge in the chosen vocational subject area.

  3. The Adult Basic Education Test:

    The adult basic education test is one of the licensing requirements to obtain the adult basic education license. The test requirements include:

    • Communication and Literacy Skills Test
    • Adult Basic Education Subject Matter Test

    Similar to the other two tests, the first test assesses the communication skills of the candidate whereas the latter measures the candidates' expertise in the specific adult basic education subject.

The Test Format

The MTEL tests mostly consist of multiple-choice questions in which answer choices are provided and you need to choose the most appropriate answer from the given choices. A few questions are open-response questions, that is, you are required to write an essay on a given topic or summarize a given essay.

Most of these tests are offered in the paper format. From September 2012 onwards a few tests are provided in the computer-based format, which are:

  • Communications and Literacy Skills - Reading and Writing Subtests
  • Early Childhood
  • English
  • Foundations of Reading
  • General Curriculum - Mathematics and Multi-Subject Subtests
  • History

The Test Duration

Each MTEL test is four hours in duration. For tests in the computer-based format, an additional 15 minutes is provided for the purpose of completing a non-disclosure agreement and a tutorial about the computer-based test.

The Test Scoring

Unlike most other tests which evaluate the test scores against the scores of other candidates, the MTEL test assesses a candidate's test score based on a standard set by the state. In order to pass a test, your final estimated score in each subject need to be 240 or above.

To summarize, effective communication skills and subject matter knowledge are the two important assessment criteria of all the MTEL programs that make a part of the education licensure requirements.

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