• MTLE (Minnesota Teacher License Exam) Information

MTLE Pass Rates by Ethnicity 2010-2011 | 2011-2012 | 2012-2013

Full reports: 2010-2011 | 2011-2012 | 2012-2013


Research shows little or no connection between academic content knowledge and teacher effectiveness:

John Hattie's review of the existing research

January 2014:

It's now becoming more possible to get licensed in Minnesota!

Two Breakthroughs!

This is an email

I sent to the teacher-candidates who worked with me last year on the MTLE's. This is great news!

MTLE folks,

Sorry I haven’t been more on top of this … but it turns out that playing a waiting game on this might pay off – because two big things have happened that will make it easier to get licensed in Minnesota.

These are


2. LOWERED PASSING SCORES on 54 MTLE Subject and Pedagogy Tests (but not on the Basic Skills Tests).

Read the rest of the email here ...


John's MTLE Prep Session

MTLE Reading

MTLE Writing


The MTLE Score Report Schedule

For some reason, I have a hard time finding this on the MTLE Website, so I'm just going to park it here until someone tells me not to. (The schedule is linked to the Test Information Pages -- for example, the Basic Skills Info Page.

A Question in Search of an Answer:

Is There Widespread Cheating on the MTLE?

According to Immanuel Kant, the motto for the Enlightenment was "aude sapere" -- dare to know -- which implies dare to ask questions. In the spirit of "no questions off limits" ...

I'm offering my speculations on whether or not the MTLE lends itself to cheating.

If it does -- if it invites cheating, if even a small portion of its "pass scores" are the result of cheating, then we've instituted an evaluation system that predisposes Minnesota to hire teachers of low integrity.

It turns out that this type of cheating is very much a concern of the test security industry. They even have terms for the roles I described in my treatment.

Legislative Efforts

The MN Immersion Org has a great summary of recent legislative efforts to modify the MTLE requirements:



An article from the Citypages about the "dramatic racial disparity" in the MTLE results.

About a Public Radio panel discussion on the MTLE ("Truth to Tell") (3/4/2013)
A letter I sent to Parents United in response to an article on their website expressing concerns about the MTLE

A blog in the Huffington Post raising numerous concerns about Pearson's (the company that developed and administers the MTLE)

Requesting Additional Time

Requesting additional time ... test takers with a non-English primary language can request extra time on each of the tests ... up to 1.5 times the regularly allotted time ...

... so on the math test, rather than 1 hour and 15 minutes, you'd get almost two hours (1 hour and 53 minutes, maybe...)

EVERY HLOTE TEACHER should probably request this accommodation as a matter of course ...

The State-Mandated Technical report


Check pages 27 and on for pass rates by ethnicity and other demographics.


Minnesota Rules 8710. 0500 Examinations For Teacher Licenses. The Board of Rules statement of the law.

The Omnibus Supplemental Educational Bill that authorized the one-time only one-year grace period in 2012-13 ... authorizing teachers to teach under a provisional license without having passed the MTLEs.

10-15-2012 Letter from fromer Minnesota DoE Commission Alice Seagren to Board of Teaching Chair. Seagren urges Board of Teaching to reject test-makers’ recommendations for pass scores in favor of a straight 60% correct standard.

A PowerPoint presentation that reviews key features of the test development and score setting process.

An Excel spreadsheet setting forth the raw pass scores for the MTLE tests and indicating what percentage of test takers (?) from the testing sample (?) would pass under that requirement.
Note: While scores seem to be reported in Scale Scores, these numbers are RAW scores. What’s up with that?Association of Metropolitan School District Update

Minutes from a presentation/Q&A session with BOT Executive Director Karne Balmer at the 10/22/2012 meeting of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. (These minutes are the source of the Seagren letter, the Excel spreadsheet, and the 10/15 PowerPoint.)
Minutes includes summary of AMSD’s comments and concerns, including the following:
  • Concern was also raised about the possibility of having to adjust the passing scores down in the future.
  • The BOT’s attorney cautioned them to make a reasoned decision that would be legally defensible in the future. For example; if they deviated from the panel recommendation they should provide a reason for doing so.
  • The passing scores … will be reviewed by the BOT in October of 2011.
  • Next steps will include aligning the passing scores set in this process to a “scaled passing score”. As examinees take the new MTLE assessment they will be notified of their scale score, not the individual sub-test raw scores.
November 2010 Brief from Minnesota Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. regarding concern that Too-High MTLE Pass Scores will bar effective teachers. (the passing scores set by the Board will weaken Minnesota’s schools by preventing potentially effective teachers from entering our state’s classrooms.”)
The Board of Teaching ignored the NES-Pearson and Passing Score Panel recommendations – setting the pass scores a standard deviation higher.
  • The Board ignored the score recommendations of both NES-Pearson test designers and the Passing Score Panel, drawing guidance instead from advocates seemingly uninformed about either the purpose or design of the MTLE. By establishing scores one Standard Error of Measurement above the score recommended by the expert panel, the Board did not “raise the bar”; it simply ensured that a greater number of those taking the test will not pass it. Higher passing scores simply serve a “gate keeping” function by guaranteeing fewer candidates will pass, regardless of their ability to perform in classroom settings.
Inconsistent protocols.
  • We also noted that the Board lowered the passing score on one test with which a Board member had difficulty. When a colleague, an experienced, successful, practicing teacher, expressed her fear that she might fail a licensure test in her area, the passing score was lowered. This member’s experience was treated as an anomaly rather than as a demonstration of the need to set passing scores to reflect the experience of test takers rather than the prior assumptions about what might appear to be an appropriate score.

MACTE again urges Board of Teaching to accept the pass scores established by the test makers:

  • We believe the process used by the test developer to create test items, estimate their levels of difficulty, and establish passing scores was psychometrically sound. We thus urge the Board to establish scores as recommended by Pearson and by those Minnesota teachers who invested their time and talent in the design of these tests.

Explanation of the psychometric term “just acceptable” and of how scaled scores (and weighted items) work.

  • Setting a cut score that only a master teacher could reach by correctly answering the most difficult items that are beyond the experience of a novice teacher sets an unrealistic standard that does not accurately reflect the experience of candidates entering the profession.

MACTE offers a second brief on the psychometric complexity of scaled scores on a graduated test comprised of sub-tests. They use an analogy to Jeopardy. They point out that the common ACTD admission scale score of 21 translates to only 44% of the questions answered correctly.

When tests are designed to include questions in various sub-test areas with graduated difficulty, it’s a mistake to attempt to use a simply percentage correct measure to establish passing (or other) scores.