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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.