We are excited to share an update on the upcoming availability of the MTEL alternative assessments that we will be piloting through June 30, 2024. Based on a new regulatory amendment, this pilot aims to create and evaluate increased flexibility in assessments for educator licensure. This amendment is designed to identify and pilot alternative mechanisms for assessing knowledge and skills and be responsive to feedback from the field while continuing to maintain a high bar for all educators.
The new regulation states:
The Department may conduct a pilot of alternative assessments identified or developed to satisfy the requirements of 603 CMR 7.04 (2) (a) (2) and (3), and 603 CMR 7.04 (2) (b) (2) and (3), and 603 CMR 1.06 (4) (a). Any alternative assessment identified or developed for this purpose shall be determined by the Commissioner to be comparable to the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test or subject matter knowledge test. The alternative assessment pilot period shall continue through June 30, 2024. Any candidate who passes an alternative assessment during that period will be deemed to have satisfied the requirements of 603 CMR 7.04 (2) (a) (2), or (a) (3), or 603 CMR 7.04 (2) (b) (2) or (b) (3), or 603 CMR 1.06 (4) (a), as applicable. During the period of the alternative assessment pilot, the Commissioner will report to the Board at least annually on any alternative assessments, including the number of candidates taking the alternative assessments, any evaluative information regarding these candidates, patterns of employment, and feedback from school districts and educator preparation programs. Prior to making any recommendations following the conclusion of the pilot, the Commissioner shall conduct or contract for an evaluation of the alternative assessment pilot.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted on this amendment in October 2020 , and the Commissioner, on behalf of the Department, approved an initial set of three different alternative assessments to pilot.
These pilots came as a result of the Commissioner's push to examine our licensure practices and other strategies to promote entry into the profession and retention for individuals of color, based on compelling data, research, and feedback from the field.
Through these pilots, we hope to learn about alternative ways to assess prospective educators' content knowledge and communication and literacy skills in a way that maintains a high standard for the profession. Our intent is that these pilots will help diversify the educator workforce and thereby positively impact students, particularly students of color.
Please see the descriptions below of the three alternative assessments that have been approved by the Commissioner to pilot. We will continue to update the MTEL page with the specific information about accessing each of the alternative assessments as they are approved by the Department. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the information provided below.
Accepting alternative assessments to the Communication and Literacy Skills (CLST) MTEL
Context: All educator licensure candidates (teachers, specialist teachers, administrators, or professional support personnel) must pass the CLST. The CLST includes reading and writing subtests and assesses skills such as reading comprehension, summarizing, sentence construction, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and writing. The purpose of the CLST is to ensure that newly licensed educators have the communication and literacy skills necessary for effective instruction and communication with parents/guardians and others.
Timeline: The Department released an RFR in February to solicit bids from providers who offer assessments aligned to the CLST. The Department will determine Massachusetts' cut scores for the assessments from the selected providers and expect to begin accepting results from these new providers in the late spring.
Fees: Testing fees will be determined by the providers offering the alternative assessment.
Candidate Eligibility: All candidates required to take the CLST MTEL can take an alternative assessment approved by the Department. This alternative assessment may have been taken, or be taken, any time between when the pilot was approved by BESE on October 20, 2020, and the end of the pilot on June 30, 2024. Therefore if an alternative assessment was taken prior 10/20/20, it will not be eligible for use in this pilot.
All teacher candidates must pass the subject matter knowledge MTEL(s) that are required for their licensure field. Please see the description of the two alternative assessments approved by the Commissioner.
Educator Preparation Subject Matter Attestation
Context: The Commissioner approved a pilot for MA approved Sponsoring Organizations to attest to educator preparation candidates' subject matter knowledge in alignment with the required subject matter MTELs. Sponsoring Organizations will design their Subject Matter Attestations based on Department issued Guidelines.
Availability of alternative assessments at Sponsoring Organizations will depend on whether the Sponsoring Organization itself is eligible, and which alternative assessments it has submitted to the Department for approval. Sponsoring Organizations are not required to offer alternative assessments, and those that do may offer a limited selection. Please contact your Sponsoring Organization's Licensure liaison to learn more about if they are participating in this pilot, which alternative assessments may be available, the Sponsoring Organization's candidate eligibility requirements, and the requirements for the assessments themselves.
Timeline: The Department will begin approving Sponsoring Organizations to offer the Subject Matter Attestation in April of 2021, and will continue to accept rolling submissions after June of 2021. Sponsoring Organizations may offer the attestation once they are approved. The alternative assessment pilot period shall continue through June 30, 2024.
Candidate Eligibility: At a minimum, candidates must be enrolled, in an approved preparation program initial licensure program and must be in good standing with the program. Candidates should work with their Sponsoring Organizations to determine: 1) if they are offering an alternative for their licensure area and associated MTEL(s) and 2) the eligibility requirements for the alternative assessment. The following tests are not currently eligible:
Subject Matter Knowledge Alternative Assessment (SMK-Alt)
Context: The Commissioner approved a pilot for an alternative to the Performance Review Program for Initial Licensure (PRPIL) that is focused on the assessment of subject matter knowledge. Providers will design these assessments, based on parameters set by the Department's guidance through the RFR process.
Timeline: The Department released an RFR in February to solicit bids from providers who already offer, or who will design, rigorous alternative assessments aligned to the subject matter knowledge MTELs. The Department expects to begin accepting results from these new providers in the late spring. The alternative assessment pilot period will continue through June 30, 2024.
Fees: Fees will be determined by individual providers who offer the SMK-Alt. The Department is giving preference to providers in the selection process who will offer low fees.
Candidate Eligibility: Individual providers may only offer the assessments they are approved to offer by the Department. The Department will provide a list of eligible providers and the SMK-Alts that they offer once they have been approved. The following are the minimum eligibility requirements set by the Department:
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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