Teacher Licensure Task Force

Teacher Licensure Advisory Task Force

Options as submitted by committee members

Committee Member 1:

Here are as many possible solutions as I could think of regarding the MTLE:

• Repeal basic skills requirement
• Replace it with list of alternatives to demonstrate basic skills in writing, reading, math
• Transcript demonstrating passing scores in college writing, college math, 
• Letter from principal noting that the candidate is able to perform basic job responsibilities in the area of reading, writing, and math.
• College entrance scores to replace MTLE such as ACT/SAT score.
• Repeal basic skills tests and only use content tests specific to licensure area as the means to demonstrate the basic skills needed to teach.  Ie. Continue to use content area tests as a means to demonstrate content knowledge AND basic skills knowledge.
• Repeal basic skills requirement and use edTPA as the tool to demonstrate basic skills.
• Leave Basic skills requirement but permit BOT to accept alternative demonstrations of basic skills IF a candidate fails the test, including those specified in 1 above.
• Reconvene the standards setting panel in order to determine:
• What cut scores would be aligned to a standard required for "college entrance."
• Recommend that the BOT accept new cut scores in alignment with college entrance.
• Possible changes in testing time:
• Double the time to take the test from the current time limit to remove significant pressure.
• Waive the time limitation to the test.
• In writing, use written essay portion of test only; removing multiple choice questions

Committee Member 2:

Here are some options for the task force to consider. 

1. Implement an appeals process
2. Lower the cut score
3. Candidates could show alternative proof of mastery (portfolio)
4. Testing done at the post-secondary institution rather than through the Board of Teaching
5. Eliminate math portion of the Basic Skills test
6. Return to Praxis test rather than the Pearson test
7. Revisit current test for proper or appropriate questions, checking for cultural bias.
8. Ensure that math test is truly basic skills (HS level) rather than pre-calculus math (college level)

Committee Member 3:

Continue using the MTLE as long as

• test takers know that colleges provide preparation review for the test,
• that takers know what areas need attention for re-take after failure,
• that accommodations are made in a reasonable way that meets the needs to the takers but that we have not dumbed down the passing score.

Committee Member 4:

Suggested alternatives to MTLE Basic Skills Tests (not in order of preference):

1. Identify nationally normed test(s) that could be used instead, either to replace (eliminate) the MTLE Basic Skills Tests or as accepted alternatives to them. There are several possibilities:
a. identify a set of Praxis tests that would work (for example, use the Core Knowledge seriesor Middle School Mathematics instead of Praxis I)
b. ACT,SAT, GRE
c. Accuplacer
d. CLEP, AP or some combination
2. Accept (accredited) college credit in higher math courses (eg Alg II and beyond) in place of Basic Skills Math- possibly with a minimum grade requirement; not sure if an equivalent alternative could be developed concretely enough for Reading & Writing.
3. For Writing: Portfolio of writing samples appropriate to licensure area; would probably have to be judged & accepted by the prep program.
4. Allow each teacher prep program to specify their own criteria, to be approved by BOT/MDE.
5. Accept writing in native language for teachers hired for immersion schools. The hiring school might have to pay to have writing evaluated elsewhere. Allow districts with immersions schools to pay for translation of math test. (This would also require flexibility from Pearson about the format, since it would be most practical if they could generate a set of questions for a paper test.)

Committee Member 5:

1. I think the basic skills test (Praxis) should be given within the first two years of a student entering college.
2. The student teacher advisors in conjunction with the schools provide guidance and assess the skills needed to be a successful teaching candidate.
3. The next layer is the hiring process with the building principal recommending a tenure track or not continuing with the candidate.
4. The majority of teachers who are non-renewed are not deficit in the area of content; they are struggling with their relationships with students, parents or colleagues.

Committee Member 6:

My recommendations are as follows:

Option 1: Passage of the MTLE required prior to licensure, with no waivers or just one year of waivers.

• Exempt immersion and other special purpose teachers.
• Develop a more clear system for teachers who request accommodations.
• Develop a cut score range to reflect basic math, reading and writing skills expected of mid-college student to college graduate.

Option 2. Require passage of MTLE prior into a teacher prep program, and develop cut score range to reflect basic math, reading and writing skills expected of high school graduate to college freshman.

• Prep programs can remediate deficiency areas prior to full admission into the program.
• Also, EdTPA developed during teacher prep program.

Committee Member 7:

Keep the MTLE basic skills exams with current passing score sand require passage prior to earning a license, etc. However:

1. Recommend there be exemptions for immersion teachers who are here on limited visas (e.g. Chinese teachers on three year visas), and
2. Create an appeals process before the Board of Teaching for those who believe they can’t pass due to a particular handicap (but they must take the test before appealing).
3. Keep the MTLE, with the above accommodations, but have the Board of Teaching reset the passing scores so they reflect college entry level skills in reading, writing and math (as opposed to “college experienced”, or sophomore level skills).
4. All teacher candidates should take and pass the MTLE basic skills exams prior to entering a teacher prep program, if option b (above) is adopted.

Committee Member 8:

Proposals for MTLE Basic Skills Tests

1. The math requirement should be eliminated because it doesn't pertain to the other content areas.  Math teachers and Elementary Education teachers should be required to demonstrate mastery of math through their content MTLE exams.

2. Reading and writing skills should be demonstrated through requirements in the teacher education programs and/or a portfolio. Here are some ways this might work:

a. Reading skills could be demonstrated through “reading in the content area” coursework and candidates could submit evidence of this learning as part of a portfolio to apply for licensure.

b. Alternatively, evidence of coursework on “reading in the content area” and on preparation to teach “academic language in the content area” can be provided as part of program approval.

c. Evidence of being able to teach the academic language and reading demands of their content can be shown through candidates’ performance on the edTPA and in student teaching.

d. Writing skills can be demonstrated through coursework and other assessments done through the teacher preparation program as in the following:

i. Teacher preparation programs can use writing samples or tests as part of a screening process (as in the Mankato program)

ii. Teacher preparation programs can require substantial written assignments and candidates can submit these as part of a portfolio.

iii. Teacher preparation programs can require in-class writing assignments to assure that candidates can write well on their own.

iv. The teacher education programs could provide evidence to the BOT that their candidates fulfill these requirements in the preparation program..

v. Candidates can submit copies of the edTPA to the college or to the BOT as evidence of academic writing ability.

Committee Member 9

Since we have not heard (to my knowledge and in my opinion) a solid rationale for having teacher candidates demonstrate mastery of reading, writing and mathematical skills through nationally normed timed assessments, nor is there evidence of a correlation between such demonstrated mastery and teacher effectiveness, remove these assessments as a licensure requirement.

Place and entrust the expectation that a teacher candidate be able to read and write effectively with the preparing college program and hiring school district, with the expectation and assumption that the college will not recommend licensure for a candidate who is not able to communicate effectively, and with the further expectation and assumption that the hiring district will monitor performance and not renew contracts for probationary teachers who are unable to communicate effectively.

With regard to mathematics, the same argument is made. For teacher candidates seeking licensure in math and related subjects, math skills are assessed in the required content assessments for those subjects. If a preparing college and/or hiring school district deems the candidate’s math skills to be an obstacle to effective instruction, empower and entrust them to withhold recommendation for licensure or, if hired by a district, for the district to not renew the teacher’s contract.

However, if the Task Force consensus is that there should be some level of demonstrated mastery in reading and writing in English, and in mathematics:

• Regarding the Task Force’s “Charge Number 2,” (An alternative licensure pathway for non-native English speakers seeking licensure to teach in a language immersion program), include in any alternative licensure pathway all non-native English speakers seeking licensure to teach in any foreign language program. Don’t limit it to just those seeking to teach in an immersion program.
• Allow current non-native English speakers seeking licensure to teach in a foreign language program who have satisfied all licensure requirements except passing the MTLE basic skills exams in English reading and/or writing, have attempted the basic skills, and have successfully taught two full years or more in a Minnesota school district as demonstrated by positive performance evaluations and the fact that the district re-hired them for a second year, an exemption from the reading and writing basic skills requirement. Issue these teachers a full teaching license. They have demonstrated through the most authentic means possible (real teaching) the ability to read and write in English in a live teaching/learning environment, including communicating with students, parents, staff and other stakeholders.
• New non-native English speaking candidates and those who have taught less than two years – along with native English speaking candidates – should have the option to demonstrate mastery of English reading and writing via portfolio to include college coursework. Candidates should provide samples of teaching-related self-produced work (e.g. professional website, letters to parents from student teaching experiences, critiques/reviews of articles from licensure coursework). The portfolio should have specific criteria/categories, and college instructors/advisers need to sign off on items related to college coursework.
• A nationally normed assessment should remain an option for candidates. Minnesota should revert back to the Praxis math for all candidates, and either use the Praxis or a lower benchmark score for non-native English speakers seeking licensure to teach a foreign language in reading and writing. It is impractical and unreasonably restrictive to expect these teachers who are fluent in their first language to achieve college level mastery of English reading and writing, especially for the majority who did not earn their bachelor’s degree in the United States.
o Further, remove the time limit on all tests.
o Further, remove bias from the reading and writing passages and writing prompts by keeping all passages and prompt topics related to education/pedagogy, education scenarios, etc. This would help ensure that candidates, especially non-natives, are truly being assessed on their reading and writing ability – and not also being assessed on whether or not they have been exposed to random topics/concepts related to American history and culture.

Committee Member 10:

Ideas:

• Provide an authentic assessment focused on the teacher's content area
• Writing assessment AND Reading Assessment for all teachers
• Math assessment for Math teachers only
• College/University coursework provides the benchmark for certification, no assessment required
• IF Math is a requirement, all candidates take the Math MTLE at the end of the course
• IF Math is a requirement, provide the option to assess in the candidates native language
• Provide UNLIMITED time for all assessments
• Provide detailed feedback post-assessment for candidates to be able to work from

Committee Member 11:

I have evaluated the options in light of our discussion.

• The instrument gives evidence of being flawed.  
• The test requires changing and scoring adjustments should be evaluated.
• It is my opinion that an appeal or waiver in favor of an alternative assessment will be necessary regardless of test selected.  Doing so demonstrates the expected foresight with which we have been charged.

Committee Member 12

My recommendation for the basic skills test is to eliminate them.

I think we should place trust in our institutions of higher education, and if students are capable of meeting college program requirements and graduating from an accredited institution, no basic skills test should be required.

Regarding the immersion school situation, we heard from administrators and teachers during one of our meetings. If these teachers have graduated from an accredited college, they will meet “basic skills” in the field in which they teach. It is absurd that a teacher could earn a bachelors degree and a master’s degree and still not pass this “basic skills” test. The testing system is not working.

Something that I have not shared with the task force is that in addition to being a teacher, this year I am a university supervisor working with teacher candidates in science education. This is the first time I have done so, and I finally feel comfortable enough to share my experiences of the last couple months. These teacher candidates already have a bachelor’s degree and are working on initial licensure. I have the privilege of reading their online reflection journals each week. I can attest to the fact that all members of the cohort can write effectively.

In addition, because they respond to one another without misinterpreting their peers, I can state that they can read effectively. I have not seen them in math situations, but I can say that these are competent people. From the cohort of 25 students, there are 2 who have not passed one or more section of the existing basic skills test. I find it interesting that I cannot tell who did not pass (I don’t have that information). If the basic skills test are meant to provide “red flags” about teacher quality, the tests are not working.

The basic skills test requirement should be dropped and trust be returned to our institutions of higher learning.

Other:

• Immersion Teachers: Allowed to forego taking any kind of test as long as they fulfill all other requirements to emigrate to teach here.

• Teacher candidates from other states: Must pass content tests only - provided their credentials are comparable to Minnesota requirements.

• College-level skills tests on reading, writing and math: All colleges administer the tests prior to teacher candidate prior to admission to program he to pursue teaching in E-12.