2.1 6 Major Themes of the SEI MTEL


The test was designed with a certain mindset about how ELL students should be taught. This was largely shaped by the outcome of Question 2.

For right now, know that there are certain themes that you will see over and over. They are themes but we can consider them “lenses”. When looked through everything makes sense about what DESE expects from SEI teachers and those taking the SEI MTEL.


1. ELL Students Are Not Special Needs
ELL students do not need special education services. You will see multiple choice options that offer special education testing. Don’t fall for them. ELL students receive special education testing as a last resort, not a first.
2. Inclusiveness
We all know students come from diverse backgrounds but DESE wants to make sure SEI teachers know that. There will be questions on the test that cover items like cultural background and cultural sensitivity. Students should be encouraged to use their own language to learn English more deeply. Taught in English, practiced in any language, assessed in English.
3. Classroom Teacher Responsibility
With SEI, the classroom teacher is responsible for the modification of classroom content work and proper instruction of ELL students. While the ESL teacher is to be collaborated with, the classroom teacher is ultimately responsible for delivering classroom instruction using Sheltered English Instruction. On the test, avoid the multiple choice answers that pass the responsibility off to someone else.
4. Collaboration
Like the previous theme, it is expected that the classroom teachers will work with the ESL teacher to service the students. While the classroom teacher instructs, they will work with the ESL teacher to help their students develop language proficiency.
5. Standards-Based Assessment
DESE expects ELL students to be graded based on set standards. A quiz on the American Civil War vocabulary, that counts for an arbitrary 20 points, means nothing. All activities and assessments need to have clear, measurable outcomes. This sounds like a lot of work but we take you through it step-by-step in the lesson plan design.#Lab
6. Scaffolding
DESE believes that ESL students can develop language skills and experience academic success when instruction includes proper supports (i.e. differentiation). You will want to select answers on the test that include the right steps in scaffolding/differentiating a lesson and activities.

What Do I Use This List For?

Reference back to this list when dealing with activities or questions when preparing for the MTEL. When a question comes up, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is someone trying to refer this ELL student for SPED testing?
  • Is someone not being culturally inclusive?
  • Is content instruction of ELL students being performed by classroom teachers?
  • Is the classroom teacher working with the ESL teacher?
  • Is the student being assessed based on clear, measurable standards?
  • Does the task being asked of an ELL student have the proper scaffolds to allow the student to succeed.
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