A Position Statement from MinneTESOL Teacher Educators Regarding the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam, September 2012
Minnesota Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (MinneTESOL) is a professional organization that supports English Language teaching professionals and that partners with organizations that support World Language teachers for the common goal of developing multilingualism in Minnesota. In light of this goal, we are concerned about the problems that surround the new MTLE licensure tests, particularly the Basic Skills tests, and especially about accessibility of licensure in all subject areas for teacher candidates who are not native speakers of English. While we recognize the need for highly qualified teachers, we ask that the Minnesota Department of Education consider how this test can be re-examined to remove barriers to developing a culturally and linguistically diverse teaching force. Some areas for consideration are: potential cultural bias of reading passages focused on U.S.-specific topics, the need for more testing time even beyond the current non-native speaker accommodations given the length of the tests, limited and expensive pre-test preparation, and the lack of feedback on any of the tests for those who do not pass. We encourage less reliance on a multiple choice standardized assessment and more attention given to comprehensive, classroom based performance assessments such as the Teacher Performance Assessment. We view non-native speakers of English as having the potential to contribute greatly to the goal of developing multilingual and culturally competent Minnesotans through their teaching of languages as well as other subjects in our schools, and we urge the Minnesota Department of Education and the Board of Teaching to give urgent attention to the problems of the current tests.