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How to Become a Middle School Teacher in Massachusetts

Jan 02, 2019

Discover how to get an Initial License to teach middle school in Massachusetts. Read about educational requirements, testing, and all other steps to certification.

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The school system in Massachusetts ranks highly nationwide; the state ranked first in reading and math as recently as 2015. Middle school teachers have the chance to continue this trend by getting certified in either the humanities or math and science.

Massachusetts Salary Statistics and Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in Massachusetts (2016)* $71,870 (Middle)
Required Degree Bachelor's
Degree Field Middle School Education
Testing Requirements MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills; MTEL subject tests

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree & Complete Teacher Preparation Training

All future middle school teachers in Massachusetts must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program. Approved degree programs in Massachusetts offer teacher preparation concurrently. There is a detailed list of all available programs on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

Students generally choose an education major related to either middle school humanities or middle school science and math. All candidates for middle school teacher certification can expect to participate in student teaching during their teacher preparation program. Programs should equip students with a Sheltered English Immersion endorsement as this is a separate requirement for the Initial License application and could require extra testing if an applicant does not have the endorsement.

Step 2: Pass Required Certification Exams

All prospective teachers must take the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL, which is made up of a 42-question reading subtest and a 44-question writing subtest. These subtests cost $112 together and each require a score of at least 240.

Candidates must know what subjects they would like to teach to earn specific middle school endorsements. The required tests in Massachusetts are MTELs, or Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure. Teachers hoping to teach the humanities - in this case, English and history - can take the Middle School Humanities MTEL (50). This test consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and two written responses over the course of 4 hours. Test-takers must score at least a 240, and the test fee is currently $139. Prospective humanities teachers can also take the MTEL English (07) and MTEL History (06); each of these exams costs $139, allots 4 hours to complete, and requires a score of 240. The Middle School Humanities MTEL may therefore be the more convenient option.

Future math and science educators can take the Middle School Math/Science MTEL (51), a 4 hour-long exam with 100 multiple-choice questions and 2 open-response questions. Students must also score at least a 240 on this exam and pay the $139 fee. Prospective science and math teachers may instead take the Middle School Mathematics MTEL (47) and one of the following science exams to qualify:

  • General Science (10)
  • Biology (13)
  • Chemistry (12)
  • Earth Science (14)
  • Physics (11)

The number of questions, allotted time frame, passing score, and cost are the same for each exam. As such, the combined Middle School Math/Science MTEL may be the most convenient option.

Step 3: Complete the Certification Application

When all educational and testing requirements have been met, students are ready to start the certification process. Students will need to create a profile on the state's Department of Education website using a program called ELAR. The program will guide students through filling out the initial application for licensure, signing all required documents, confirming the application, and paying the $100 application fee. Once all of the steps in this process are finished, students will be eligible to receive their Initial Licenses.

Certification Resources for Future Massachusetts Teachers

There are lots of details to remember about MTEL testing, but there are also many helpful resources. Take a look at the study guides below for study tips and practice.

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