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# Teacher’s Lounge Blog

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

# Sample MTEL65 Middle School Math Open Response

May 14th, 2021 | Comments Off on Sample MTEL65 Middle School Math Open Response | Certification Prep, Math Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

MA DESE is updating many MTEL exams over the coming year.  As of the end of May, the MTEL 47 Middle School Math exam will be replaced by the MTEL 65 Middle School Math exam.  This is a welcome change for many as many of the more difficult concepts, including calculus and discrete math, were removed for this new exam.  There will still be two open response questions on this MTEL exam and one is quite different than the previous exam. Here is a quick sample problem with a response.  For more information on preparing for this exam, please check out our full-length, MTEL prep comprehensive course with unlimited expert instructor support. (www.prepforward.com/mtel-massachusetts)

The following is a sample problem for Objective 14 on the new MTEL 65 exam.

Standard: The Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework for grade 7 provides the following content standard:
Expressions and Equations (7.EE)
1. Apply properties of operations to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.

Problems

1. Solve for x:  3x – 7 = 2/3
2. Factor  x2 + 4x + 4
3. Simplify  6(-x + 0.5)

Assignment
Analyze standard 7.EE.1.  Identify related prerequisite concepts and skills.  Critique whether the problems listed above are aligned with the content standard. Provide your own problem with different representations to teach the standard. Explain your reasoning.

Here is a sample response for the above problem.

The 7th grade standard under Expressions and Equations involves an application of the properties of operations to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients. Therefore, a student must understand associative, commutative, and distributive properties as a prerequisite. Furthermore, as the coefficients are rational, a student must be comfortable with all the operations with rational numbers, including negatives, fractions, and decimals. Finally, students must understand how to identify if two expressions are equivalent.

Given Problems:

1. Solve for x:  3x – 7 = 2/3
2. Factor  x2 + 4x + 4
3. Simplify  6(-x + 0.5)

There were three sample problems given for teaching this standard. Unfortunately, the first sample problem does not fit under this standard as the problem asks the student to solve an equation, which is a concept that is taught later as this standard only deals with expressions. The second sample problem also does not fit under this standard as it is not a linear expression, but a quadratic expression. The third sample problem is an appropriate question to ask students under this standard.

In addition to problems similar to the third sample problem, one part of this standard is teaching students to use the distributive property to find equivalent expressions.  An area model will help students visualize this.  A sample is included below.

In this problem, a student would be asked to simplify 3(2x + 5).  Using the area model, they would be asked to find the area of each rectangle and then add them together to find the total area of both rectangles.

# MA DESE is Updating MTEL Teacher Certification Exams

January 7th, 2021 | Comments Off on MA DESE is Updating MTEL Teacher Certification Exams | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

No matter what state you hope to teach in, potential educators in their junior year of college should begin planning for taking teacher certification exams. Your college advisor can help you determine what tests you need to take, or you can research the state education website to decide the most suitable time to take them. Early consideration can be quite beneficial, particularly if you lack specific skills and knowledge evaluated on the tests.

For Massachusetts residents who will take MTEL licensing exams in 2021 or 2022, it is essential to note that many of the tests are undergoing redevelopment. Numerous MTEL tests are being updated, and others are being introduced. This can affect your preparation strategy.

When you learn which exams you must take, explore the MTEL site to know which ones are subject to change and if yours will be affected. The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure website offers various helpful tips for exam preparation, from videos to practice tests and tutorials. They also provide information about online courses that can assist you in areas where your skills may not be as strong.

PrepForward is the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s only preferred provider for MTEL prep courses.  You may want to take test preparation courses in areas that you may not feel as confident about or for a comprehensive review before sitting for exams. The earlier you learn about your required exams, the better prepared you will be.

While taking these exams is no doubt stressful, early and all-inclusive preparation is vital for not only peace of mind but also receiving a passing score. Learning what you need to do if you do not pass is just as crucial. Knowing what to expect beforehand can help you do well and save you the cost of re-taking your exams.

# 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, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

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 – Passing the Summary Exercise with Fidelity

April 25th, 2019 | Comments Off on MTEL Comm & Lit – Passing the Summary Exercise with Fidelity | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

Passing the Summary Exercise: Fidelity

Communication and Literacy Skills Test

On the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills Test, candidates are asked to complete a summary exercise.  In this article, I will share the most common errors I see and tips for making a solid score on the fidelity performance characteristic.

A summary with fidelity gives a fair picture of the original. Common synonyms of fidelity are trustworthiness, dependability, and faithfulness. Your ability to give a representation that is loyal to the original will be evaluated in this trait. How can you do that?

You succinctly restate the main ideas and supporting details in your own words, omitting less relevant material so that your summary is considerably shorter than the original.

Steps to follow:

• Understand the task. This summary is a “true” summary. Your task is to recap the original, preserving the content, tone, order, relationships, emphasis, and point of view. You accurately retell the article in your own words. Summarizing is a skill we practice from childhood. We use summary techniques to answer questions such as “What did you do at school today?” and “What’s that book about?” We don’t retell every event or every detail; we tell the most important ideas in our own words.
• Read the original. Read with understanding, highlighting the main ideas and supporting points and formulating in your mind the overarching message.
• Retell the original. In your words, retell the article, omitting the support and examples that may add interest but are not critical to the main idea. The power of your summary rests in your ability to discern what to include, what to leave out, and how to package the key details and ideas.
• Check word choice, grammar, and mechanics. More about that in a later blog, but clean writing using precise vocabulary is always an asset.

Errors to avoid

• Avoid starting with an author/title/main idea statement. This is not your seventh-grade book report. Instead, begin your summary with your rewording of the first main idea from the original. The original does not begin with a statement such as, “Ryan Heimbach’s article, ‘Deception,’ emphasizes…” When you give an accurate representation of the original, you should not begin with this type statement.
• Avoid tagging the author. Tagging the author is a common strategy for a summary. I would caution you to use this strategy sparingly if at all. A “true” summary reflects only the content of the original. The original does not say, “In his article, Heimbach stated…” Statements like this burn words without adding content.
• Avoid spinning. It is not your job to argue, interpret, analyze, or “give your spin” on the text. You merely give a concise picture. That’s why the test evaluators use the term, fidelity—be fair to the intent of the original.
• Avoid mismatching relationships. If the original article says, “Parental involvement was shown to improve student productivity,” you cannot distort the relationship between ideas by saying, “Student productivity was shown to improve parental involvement.” Using words and ideas from the original is not enough. The relationship between the ideas has to be accurate. Ideas have to stay in context.
• Avoid considering your audience. Your responsibility is to preserve the message. It’s not your responsibility to communicate in a way that appeals to a particular audience.
• Avoid shifting verb tenses unnecessarily. Note the tense of the original. You will most likely write in present tense, or what is sometimes called “historic present.” Think about describing a piece of art. For example, “In American Gothic, a farmer is standing beside a woman who is thought to be his daughter or wife.” We describe art using present tense verbs; do the same for your summary. If the article you are assigned to summarize is written in past or future tense, your summary would follow suit.
• Avoid introducing new ideas. No points for original ideas; in fact, you’ll lose fidelity points if you distort the original with your ideas.

On the MTEL CLST, a summary with fidelity gives a true picture of the original. It doesn’t talk at length about a minor point and then rush over a major point. It gives a brief accurate representation which reflects your ability to discern and synthesize.

# 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

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.

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.

# How to Prepare for MTEL Exams

February 10th, 2018 | Comments Off on How to Prepare for MTEL Exams | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

The MTEL exam was designed to ensure that educators have the academic preparedness to succeed in a school community. You’ll need both academic proficiency and professional communication skills. Qualifying scores on the required tests indicate that you are knowledgeable in your respective areas of expertise and able to communicate clearly with students and their parents or guardians. Understandably, passing such all-encompassing tests is a challenge that requires teacher candidates to prepare thoroughly. Here is some advice on how best to prepare.

#### Understand the Process

Familiarize yourself with the state requirements and gather relevant material in your subject area. Look at the MTEL Test Information Guide and Test Objectives for information on each kind test. You’ll find samples of “weak” and “strong” essay answers, multiple choice practice tests, and thorough question analyses. With these resources, you should have a better understanding of the expectations for passing each test.

#### Establish a Timeline

Think ahead before you register for your test. You don’t want to make the mistake of registering for the Communication and Literacy Skills exam and the content test on the same day. You’ll need time to study for each one separately. Also, plan to take the MTEL CLST well in advance of your application for admission to a program. You’ll be notified of your score six weeks after taking your test, and you’ll want to allow time to retake the test if necessary.