Insights from the School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College

To teach elementary education in Massachusetts you must pass two sections of the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL). The first is the General Curriculum section, while the second is the Foundations of Reading section. The General Curriculum section includes multi-subject and math sub-tests, according to the state Department of Education.

Here’s a closer look at the MTEL and the exams you must pass to teach elementary education in Massachusetts.

Teaching Levels in Massachusetts 

For teachers in Massachusetts, there are four distinct levels of certification. They are the temporary, provisional, initial, and professional licenses. Each has its own set of requirements that potential candidates must meet before becoming a teacher in Massachusetts. Although earning a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education are part of the process to become licensed, so is passing sections of the MTEL specific to the license you are seeking as well as the education area where you wish to teach. The different levels are attained in the following way:

Temporary. For teachers with a bachelor’s degree who have passed the required sections of the MTEL. It is good for one year and cannot be renewed.

Provisional. This requires a bachelor’s degree and for the teacher to actively seek licensure as a core academic teacher. They also must pass the applicable sections of the MTEL. This license lasts for five years and cannot be renewed. Starting in July 2019, teachers with one or more provisional licenses can teach under those licenses for no more than five years in total.

Initial license. This requires a bachelor’s degree, passing the applicable sections of the MTEL, and completion of an approved educator preparation program. An initial license lasts for five years and can be extended one time for an additional five years.

Professional License. This is the top echelon. It requires holding an initial license in the same field as the professional license is sought, working for three years with an initial license, completing a one-year induction program with a mentor, completing at least 50 hours of mentored experience beyond the induction year, and having completed a master’s degree program in education (or other programs that result in master teaching status).

Some master’s in education programs, such as the one offered by Merrimack College, give teachers the chance to specialize in elementary education as well as early childhood education, moderate disabilities, English as a Second Language and Middle School and High School Education

Elementary Education MTEL Exam 

Depending on what level of certification you are seeking, the MTEL sections you must pass will differ. However, to earn even a temporary license and teach elementary education in Massachusetts, you will need to pass the following sections:

General Curriculum 

This section includes a multi-subject test that has 55 multiple choice questions and one open-response question. The open-response question will require about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. The multiple-choice questions account for 90% of the test scores. The math section includes 45 multiple choice questions and one open-response question. The open-response question will also take about 20 to 30 minutes to  complete. The multiple-choice answers also account for 90% of the grade in the math sub-test.

Foundations of Reading 

This is a subject matter test. It will include 100 multiple-choice questions and two open-response questions. The open-response questions will require 20 to 30 minutes each. Multiple choice accounts for 80% of the grade. The state offers many prep programs for those looking to study before taking the exam. This practice test offers some idea of the type of questions that could be asked.

It may seem complicated, but Massachusetts has high teaching and testing standards for good reason. And both teachers and the school system benefit from highly educated and well-trained faculty.