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Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL)

Report of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL)

To:Presidents of Colleges and Universities with Educator Preparation Programs, Education Deans, Arts and Sciences Deans, Educator Preparation Contact Persons, Educator Preparation Professional Associations, and Other Interested Parties
From:David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education
Date:February 1, 2002


The Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 included testing for licensure of educators as part of a comprehensive, standards-based system for improving teaching and learning. To fulfill the original scope of the licensure testing program, I appointed a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in Spring of 2001 to review information, materials, and procedures used by the testing contractor, National Evaluation Systems (NES). The TAC was charged to review the technical quality (validity, reliability, and other performance characteristics) of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) program and provide me with a written report. Enclosed is the committee's report [ PDF | MS WORD ], which was given to the Board of Education in January. The report clearly says that "the Massachusetts teacher licensure testing program is a strong, sustainable, psychometrically sound, and essential component of …[the state's education] reform effort."

The recommendations of the advisory committee are in keeping with the overall, long-range goals of the MTEL program. Although I do not intend to implement all recommendations at this time, I will pursue several of them now, among them the institutions' request for electronic reporting of their candidates' test results. However, please note that, as stated in the report, higher education institutions and other organizations that sponsor educator preparation programs will have to obtain informed written consent from their candidates from now on if they want to access identifiable score data. This is something they have not done in the past. I also intend to establish an ongoing technical advisory committee to the testing program, as recommended in the report.

However, the TAC recommendation regarding the reporting of all passing scores as "pass," rather than a specific score, will not be implemented at this time. While I agree with the overall points and purpose of this recommendation, i.e., to move away from reporting that could lead individuals to use the data inappropriately, this is not the time to make this change. Therefore, we intend to continue reporting specific passing scores.

We are pleased that several of the recommendations are already being implemented by National Evaluations Systems. For example, the number of scorable multiple choice items is being increased as we update the tests and align them with the knowledge requirements in the new educator licensure regulations.

Although we have heard concerns about some MTEL policies and practices that are currently in effect, such as accommodations for handicapping conditions of test takers and the procedure for reviewing constructed response item scores, we also are pleased that the TAC report agrees with their use and recommends that they continue.

Also, a summary of the qualifications of the three national experts who prepared this report is attached for your information. Two of them were recommended to me by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The third has extensive experience in overseeing and administering large-scale state testing programs for teacher licensure. One was a member of the NRC/NAS Committee on Assessment and Teacher Quality, a "blue-ribbon" panel appointed by the U.S. Department of Education to review and report on teacher licensure tests.

I am interested in your views on this report [ PDF | MS WORD ] and the actions that I intend to take.

Last Updated: February 1, 2002
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