Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

MA DESE’s Only Preferred MTEL Course Vendor

April 1st, 2020 | Comments Off on MA DESE’s Only Preferred MTEL Course Vendor | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

MTEL prep

No one disputes the fact that there is more and more pressure on public school educators to make a difference in the lives of the children they teach, no matter what level of professional experience they have. This applies to both elementary and secondary school students and first year and experienced teachers.

New teachers are most often targeted for improving their skills to ensure that they are as ready as they can be for their experience in the classroom. PrepForward is pleased to be a part of that preparation process. As one of the premier vendors for MTEL courses, PrepForward offers courses for educators to enhance and excel in their skills for educating students in classrooms across Massachusetts. PrepForward was chosen as MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s only preferred vendor for MTEL preparation courses. One important aspect of our work with MA DESE is to increase diversity in the teacher workforce.

We are committed to providing teacher preparation courses that aid educators in boosting their teaching skills before they even enter the classroom. This has the added benefit of equipping teachers to help students grow academically and to achieve student success in the classroom for those who may not be on the average spectrum. Students benefit from teachers who have a greater skill set and teachers benefit from increased knowledge to reach all types of learners.

The online classes we offer are designed so that, upon completion, educators can pass the MTEL exams. All courses introduce detailed lessons, full-length practice tests, question explanations, instructor support, 24-hour access, and interactive applications. Courses include general curriculum classes for general and middle-school mathematics, reading, and communication and literacy skills in reading and writing.

Since our program is an approved provider for the MA Department of Education, our courses are available for professional development points, as well. We are pleased to have helped thousands of educators across Massachusetts pass their MTEL exams.

MTEL Comm & Lit – Finding the Purpose and Meaning of Text

March 7th, 2019 | Comments Off on MTEL Comm & Lit – Finding the Purpose and Meaning of Text | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

You will need to be highly capable in navigating complexities in written text to pass the MTEL Communications and Literacy Skills Test. At the heart of every piece of writing is a message, either stated or unstated. Readers who can identify the author’s purpose, point of view, and audience (Objective 3) are best equipped to get at the “real” meaning. On licensure tests, time is also a factor. So now you need to be both speedy and highly competent with textual nuances.

Try these strategies:
• Connect every test question to a test objective.
The MTEL does not set out to disguise the intent of the questions. Look in the question for the specific, targeted vocabulary from one of the stated test objectives. Questions for Objective 3 will likely ask, “the purpose,” “the main purpose,” “the audience of,” or “the point of view.” Be wise to questions that substitute a synonym or derivative such as, “main reason” or “is intended to.”

• Dissect for purpose.
You can safely assume that every word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph of the texts is included by design. When a question states, “Information in paragraph 2 is intended to __,” you’ll need to be able to size up quickly what would be missing if that paragraph were omitted. General classification of text “to entertain,” “to persuade,” or “to inform” will be insufficient.

• Think DOK wheel.
Whatever your personal feelings about the usefulness of the DOK (depth of knowledge) wheel, it is a tidy list of verbs that state intent and purpose. It contains words such as classify, illustrate, dispute, and assess. As you read an exam text the first time, make some side notes about the different paragraphs. Be so thoroughly familiar with DOK verbs that the specific intent of a word, statement, or paragraph rolls off your tongue.

• Look for strong feelings.
Point of view on the exam deals almost exclusively with informational text. You’re looking for the writer’s belief system, not identifying a character’s point of view as first person or third person limited. You can find the point of view by analyzing word choice, obvious statements of belief, and omissions. (What is the author not stating?) Background information on the author can be useful in identifying the author’s point of view. Recognizing the text as biased or unbiased also falls under author’s point of view.

• Get beyond the words.
To find the author’s intended meaning, you’ll need to get beyond the stated words on the page and find the “real” meaning. Particularly in satire, words may state the opposite view of the author. (Is Jonathan Swift really suggesting that children be sold and eaten when he states, “no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat”? A Modest Proposal, 1729)

• Know the audience.
Each text on the CLST test is written with an audience in mind. The audience could be that catch-all, “general audience” or it could be an audience that brings specific background knowledge to the text. Everything from the textual appearance to the genre to the sentence structure can give away the author’s intended audience. Why is the audience significant? It plays into the author’s purpose. Know the audience and you have another tool to get at the subtleties of the author’s purpose and meaning.

Your analytical skills will need to be sharp. The exam texts will be difficult. Breathe deep. Know what you’re looking for. Succeed.

Overcoming Low Pass Rates on Teacher Certification Exams

March 26th, 2018 | Comments Off on Overcoming Low Pass Rates on Teacher Certification Exams | Certification Prep, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Consider some 2017 pass rates on required tests for teachers: 25% on the ILTS Test of Academic Proficiency,  (https://www.isbe.net/Documents/TAP_PassRates400_20170101_20170331.pdf), 43% for MTEL General Curriculum Math subtest, and 40% on the MTEL Foundations of Reading exam (http://www.doe.mass.edu/mtel/results/2017-1119.html). Content and basic skills tests are formidable for students attempting to enter teacher licensure preparation programs and for graduates of those 4-year licensure programs.

With appalling failure rates, you may be wondering who is accountable. The answer is: the one who takes the test. Your licensure test results will have one name at the top—yours. You and you alone are ultimately accountable. You pass, or you fail. A host of stakeholders from the Department of Education to the university to professors to high schools to students may be partially responsible for the results; but only you experience the full benefit or curse of your score.

Set your house in order.

If you are pursuing a career in education, you need to set your house in order. Since you are the one accountable, you might as well accept that, on many state licensure tests, the odds are not in your favor. It’s time to get dead serious about what it takes to pass.

Emotional Resilience

Statistically, chances are that you’ll need to take a required test more than once. Don’t be disheartened. You share a common experience with teacher candidates nationwide. If you open a disappointing score, you’ll need the inner strength to not give up. Though costly, you could attempt the test every month in hopes of getting lucky or learning from your mistakes; however, showing up month after month probably won’t be enough. A better plan is to take charge of own sphere of knowledge, making changes that will prepare you academically. Dispense with self-doubt. Create your own success.

Directed Preparation

Candidates, desperate for passing scores, have created quite a demand for prep support for licensure tests. Start with the website for your state’s Department of Education. From there, you can find information about tests required for your career. Licensure test sites, such as those generated by Pearson, provide test objectives and practice tests with annotated answer keys. You may be able to find an additional free practice test. Exhaust your free sources including free trial courses; then consider your level of preparedness. Are you ready to take the test? Can you get ready with resources you have available? Do you need additional instruction through a prep course or a content course?

Take time to plan smart for the test: focus on all those little test-taking tips such as simulating the testing situation on your practice test, wearing layers of clothing on test day, and familiarizing yourself with the testing site.

Rigorous Academics

Not to be repetitive, but statistics suggest that passing your course work will be insufficient. Your GPA won’t help you pass your licensure tests. Mastery of the content of your classes will help. That means you need to start now considering every class in your major to be fundamentally necessary for passing the tests. Additionally, in the event that your coursework does not align with the test objectives, you have self-study ahead of you. Your self-study may be as simple as perusing a college textbook, or it may be as costly and time consuming as taking an online or traditional course.

As you set your house in order, remember that thousands of newly-licensed teachers enter the workforce each year. With emotional resilience, purposeful preparation, and rigorous academics, you can be fully credentialed for next school year.

View PrepForward’s teacher certification preparation solutions.