I’ve had some productive conversations with my far-right State Representative (self-described Libertarian) lately about working on a budget correction bill to remove the teacher testing provision.  It is likely the only item he and I will agree on, but I’ve offered to provide all the support I can if he can introduce the change, and since he is on the Education committee it seems like a good fit.  While he seems to be mostly put off by the ridiculous price tag, his belief in less government, not more, is certainly contrary to the law’s overreaching requirements.

Recently, he has engaged a variety of other officials in conversation in an attempt to gather information in addition to everything I have written on the topic here on Plunderbund.  Funny enough, when I sent him links to all of the posts, he replied, “When do you have time to put this together?”  Dude, you voted for this.

In the course of his conversations, he encountered Barbara Mattei-Smith, now assistant policy director for education in the Governor’s office, and formerly an associate director at the Ohio Department of Education.  You might also recognize Mattei-Smith as the representative from Governor’s office who “got mixed up” and stood up a group of teachers waiting to provide input on a new school funding formula.

Just yesterday, my representative told me that he “got into a minor discussion/disagreement with Barbara from Kasich’s office . . . She argued that testing works in Massachusetts.

Well, that is unacceptable.  In addition to sending him factual details I had posted in the past, I also uncovered additional information from Massachusetts that further debunks her (Kasich’s) claim that such a retesting program has ever existed.

But simply providing him those details felt hollow — I should probably convey this information to her directly.  And copy the House Education Committee members, and the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.  And Politifact (why not?).

Ms. Mattei-Smith,

I would like to respectfully request that you cease the spreading of misinformation regarding the Teacher Retesting provision of HB153, especially your repeated statements that a similar program has had a measurable impact in the state of Massachusetts. That is patently false – no such program exists.

In truth, Massachusetts implemented a policy in 1998 that requires prospective teachers to pass a licensure test (currently the MTEL) to prove their eligibility to obtain a license. The state of Ohio implemented such a provision in 1991, SEVEN years prior to Massachusetts. Ohio currently requires a prospective teacher to successfully pass multiple PRAXIS II exams to qualify for a teaching license, just like the Massachusetts policy. I wrote an article about this on April 20 of this year – http://bit.ly/eLIOpo

This information is easily verifiable through the Massachusetts Department of Education and the MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) website, both of which confirm that the tests are neither designed for nor appropriate for such use.

First, from the Massachusetts DOE MTEL page (http://www.doe.mass.edu/mtel/):

Who is required to take the tests?
Candidates seeking educator licensure in Massachusetts in either the Preliminary or the Initial level are tested through the MTEL program (an “Initial” educator license is equivalent to a “Preliminary with Advanced Standing” educator license as defined in G. L. c. 71, § 38G). They must pass both the tests of Communication and Literacy Skills and the Subject Test, where available, for the license they are seeking. This requirement holds for all candidates for licensure, including classroom teachers, district and school administrators, and district and school professional support personnel, who apply on or after September 1, 1998.

Next, from the MTEL Registration Site (http://bit.ly/qeCveV), this very important detail:

3. PURPOSE OF TESTING: I understand that the tests are administered for the purpose of licensure only and are to be taken only by individuals either enrolled in a state educator preparation program or seeking educator licensure. I certify that I am taking the test(s) for which I have registered for the purpose of educator licensure and for no other purpose.

The two sites contain a wealth of factual details about the current licensure testing process and its history. At no point has Massachusetts adopted a policy requiring fully-licensed teachers to retake these licensure exams, so no evidence could possibly exist that would show any positive outcome from such a program.

I suspect the root of the false information you have been fed can be found in the this 2008 Op-Ed that discusses MTEL reform – to make it more like Ohio’s requirements. http://bo.st/q8Flfk

Finally, there is no research base to support any claims that Governor Kasich’s Teacher Retesting program is an appropriate reform measure, the claim the Massachusetts has implemented such a program is either misinformation or outright lying, and even Ohio’s current teacher exam provider, PRAXIS (via ETS), emphatically opposes the use of their exams in the manner in which you have been continually promoting them.

This information is from the ETS manual: Proper Use of The Praxis Series™ and Related Assessments:

Improper Uses of the Praxis Series and Related Assessments

As noted above, proper assessment use is defined as acceptability of the intended use combined with evidence to support the intended use. Two specific examples of misuse are listed below but are not inclusive of all possible instances of misuse.

  • Employment Selection or Hiring. The Praxis program believes it is inappropriate for a state, district, school, or other local agency to differentiate among candidates who have all met or exceeded the state’s passing score on a Praxis Series test or related assessment for purposes of making a selection or hiring decision. These assessments were designed and intended to be used for credentialing, not for rank-ordering candidates or for making decisions that otherwise presume a predictive relationship between performance on these assessments and performance on the job.
  • Employment-Based Decisions Affecting Fully Licensed and Employed Educators. The Praxis program defines a fully licensed educator as one who has met all state licensure requirements and, therefore, is not practicing under a probationary, emergency, or provisional license. The Praxis program believes it is inappropriate for school districts or other local agencies to use The Praxis Series and related assessment scores for terminating fully licensed educators, determining salaries, promoting or demoting educators, or completing performance appraisals/evaluations.

If you require further assistance or resources as you seek to repeal this provision to correct the administration’s error and save Ohio’s taxpayers $2.2 million next year, please contact me as soon as possible.


If you would like to contact Ms. Mattei-Smith, her email address is Barbara.A.Mattei-Smith@governor.ohio.gov

And you know, I am being sincere.