The next ITA evaluation (oral interview only) will take place on April 30, 2013. The referral deadline is noon on April 25.
The next full ITA evaluation will take place August 20-23, 2013. The referral deadline for August testing is noon on August 13.
It is a campus policy that all International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) who are non-native speakers of English undergo an evaluation of their spoken English abilities. The ITA Evaluation is not required of students who serve only as graders or researchers. Students whose entire education has been in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, English-speaking Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Anglophone Africa, or Commonwealth Caribbean are not required to take the ITA Evaluation. All others, including those who have earned Bachelor's or Master's degrees at other universities in the United States or who have served as Teaching Assistants at other universities in the U.S., are required to have their spoken English evaluated by the Maryland English Institute (MEI). Students must pass the ITA Evaluation prior to being assigned teaching duties, including duties in labs. This requirement may not be waived.
The IBT TOEFL speaking score is not a substitute for the MEI ITA Evaluation. However, an IBT TOEFL speaking score of 26 may be a strong predictor of successful performance on the MEI ITA Evaluation.
To take the ITA evaluation, students must be referred
by the Graduate Director of their department. Graduate Directors must download and fill out the ITA Referral Form and
submit the completed form to Jennifer Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org (Please
do not submit the form via campus mail.)
The ITA Evaluation takes place over several days. All examinees report for the exam registration and an orientation to the process on the first day. Students check in by presenting their photo ID and letter of appointment to the teaching assistantship (if they have one). Students who have not been referred in writing and students who do not present photo IDs will not be evaluated.
At the registration session, students will receive a complete exam schedule, which covers all days of the exam period. Examinees must attend all required parts of the exam as scheduled. They must be on time,
and they may not exchange their appointments with those of another examinee.
The ITA Evaluation consists of three steps: (1) a screening interview, (2) a listening dictation test, and (3) a microteaching presentation. Examinees are required to attend a brief orientation and registration session before they are interviewed. Those required to continue with the remainder of the evaluation must also attend a prep session for the microteaching presentation.
STEP 1: Interview
The first step of the ITA evaluation is an interview. The interview serves as a screening tool to determine whether the examinee will be required to take the full evaluation. Interview questions are not provided to examinees in advance. Examinees are interviewed individually by two experienced English language evaluators. The interview is rated on a 5-point scale. There are no "right" or "wrong" responses. Examinees who score 5 on the screening interview are exempted from the remainder of the evaluation. Those who score 4 or lower on the interview must continue to steps 2 and 3. (In November and in April, MEI offers the interview only. In order to complete the exam, examinees scoring 4 or lower must be referred in writing to the next full session of the evaluation. These students may not retake the interview.)
STEP 2: Listening dictation test
Examinees listen to recorded statements of short questions often asked by undergraduate students. After each question, examinees (a) write down what they have heard, and (b) write an appropriate response to the question. Each question is heard only once and is spoken in rapid colloquial English with normal elisions and shortened forms of speech.
STEP 3: Microteaching session
The final step of the evaluation is a 10-minute presentation in which the examinee explains a principle or a central concept in the field in which s/he is most likely to teach. (Examinees may not present on topics such as hobbies, how they spent summer vacation, etc.) Examinees select the topic. The presentation should be delivered as though to a class of undergraduate students who have no substantial knowledge of the concept. In the final 2 - 3 minutes of the allotted time, evaluators and others ask questions related to the presentation. Examinees are encouraged to select a topic that can be covered in 10 minutes. Evaluators are well prepared to rate presentations on a wide range of topics, and examinees should not be overly concerned that they will select a topic that evaluators can not comprehend. Departments are encouraged to send a representative to attend the microteaching presentations of their students. The examinee should provide his/her schedule to the department if the department wishes to send a representative.
The exam fee for the ITA Evaluation is $75 for the interview and $100 for the remainder of the exam. The Graduate School pays this fee for students who have been appointed as TAs (students must document that they have been appointed by presenting their letter of appointment when they check in for the orientation and registration session). All other students are responsible for paying this fee. Payment must be made in cash or check made out to the University of Maryland (MEI can not accept payment by credit card). If the department wishes to cover the cost of the evaluation for the student, the Graduate Director must indicate this in writing on the referral form. Payments on behalf of the student must be submitted by the department. Payments from individual advisors are not accepted. Departments that have indicated they wish to pay for the evaluation for the students will be billed after the evaluation and may submit payment through internal services requests.
Out-of-schedule testing: MEI will attempt when possible to honor requests for out-of-schedule testing if an appointed ITA cannot attend the ITA evaluation on the scheduled dates. Because ITA testing requires the participation of several faculty and staff members, MEI charges out-of-session testing fees. The cost is $75 for the oral interview and an additional $100 ($175 total) if the ITA needs to continue screening beyond the interview. These charges are payable by the department that requests the out-of-schedule testing and are in addition to the fees paid by the Graduate School for screening appointed ITAs. Requests for such testing should be sent to email@example.com.
All referred ITAs who take the evaluation are required to attend a Registration and Orientation on the first day of the evaluation and before they may be evaluated. Graduate Directors are provided with information about the time and location of the Registration and Orientation session after they have submitted their referrals. In the registration session, students fill out a registration form and submit it to MEI. The orientation session is required to help ensure that the information students and departments get about the ITA evaluation process is as up-to-date as possible and reflects current policies concerning the evaluation of ITAs. Students are also provided more information about the overall ITA evaluation schedule at this session.
Exempt: Examinees who score a 5 on the interview have passed the exam and are exempted from the listening dictation test and the microteaching presentation, and are cleared for teaching with no restrictions.
Pass: Examinees who score 4 on the interview, 16 or higher on the listening dictation test and 5 on the microteaching presentation receive a "pass" on the evaluation and are cleared for teaching without restrictions.
Conditional Pass: Examinees who score 3 on the interview, 16 or higher on the listening dictation test, and 4 on the microteaching presentation receive a "Conditional Pass". These examinees may teach but are restricted to teaching upper level (300 - 400 level) undergraduate courses. Examinees must be enrolled in the recommended English course in order to be assigned teaching duties. If students are not enrolled in the recommended English course, they may not teach.
Fail: Examinees who score 2 on the interview, 15 or lower on the listening dictation test, and 3 or lower on the microteaching presentation receive a "fail". The examinee is not cleared to teach and may not be assigned teaching duties.
Students who receive a "conditional pass" or a "fail" on the ITA Evaluation are given a recommended placement in an English course. At the end of the course, the student is required to present a microteaching session and must receive a score of 5 to be cleared to teach. Those who score 4 on the microteaching presentation at the end of course receive a "conditional pass." Examinees who do not enroll in the recommended course may not re-take any part of the evaluation for one calendar year and may not be assigned teaching duties.
| Interview ||<3||3||4||5|
| Must take entire evaluation
|Listening dictation|| <16 ||
16 || 16 ||NA|
Students often want to know about their strengths and weaknesses after the evaluation.
Since the ITA Evaluation is not a diagnostic evaluation, this information is not provided to examinees as part of the evaluation process, and evaluators are not permitted to discuss this or their ratings with examinees.
However, this concern will be addressed thoroughly for students who enroll in the required course after the exam.
The student must present two documents when checking in at the ITA Evaluation:
Results of the evaluation are distributed directly to departments within two days after the evaluation. Departments are notified by MEI when results are ready and receive information about where to pick them up. At the request of the department, results can be sent via campus mail. For students who obtain "pass" or "conditional pass" on the evaluation, a code will be entered into SIS. MEI does not release the results of English language evaluations by phone, fax or email. A photo ID must be presented when picking up exams on behalf of the department. Results not picked up within two work days after notification has been sent will be mailed via campus mail to the individual who submitted the department's referrals.
Students who fail the ITA evaluation are required to take an English course. On the basis of the student's results, MEI will place the student into either UMEI006 or UMEI008. UMEI006 emphasizes the development of American English pronunciation patterns and is a one-semester course. UMEI008 addresses broader communication patterns and is a two-semester course.
At the end of each semester students enrolled in UMEI006, and at the UMEI008 present a microteaching session that is evaluated by three experienced evaluators. The evaluation is incorporated into the course, and Graduate
Directors need not refer the student to this exam. Students who score 5 on the microteaching presentation at the end of the course have passed the ITA evaluation and are cleared to teach. Students enrolled in
UMEI008 who pass the evaluation at the end of their first semester are cleared to teach and need not take the second semester of the course. Most students, however, are enrolled in UMEI006 for their second semester, based on the results of this evaluation. Teaching Assistantship appointments are generally for one academic
year. The department may not terminate the student's appointment if the student does not pass the evaluation at the end of his/her first semester in the course.
Although MEI courses are not credit bearing, each course is assigned a credit and a unit equivalent:
International graduate students must be enrolled in 48 units to maintain their full-time status and are permitted to enroll in no more than 52 units. Students who exceed 52 units must contact their department for permission to take the overload. Neither MEI nor IES approves of students exceeding 54 units as this practice typically places international students at risk.
If the student is an ITA (as documented by a letter of appointment presented to MEI at the time the student registered for the ITA evaluation), the department is responsible for the tuition of the remedial course and may not pass the cost of this instruction on to the student. If the student fails the ITA evaluation and is not an ITA, the student is responsible for paying tuition for the course. Tuition remission can not be used for UMEI courses.
The ITA Evaluation is not a requirement of admission to the University of Maryland. This evaluation is required only of graduate students who are being considered for teaching assistantships. Please note that taking the ITA evaluation does not satisfy English language testing requirements for admission to the University of Maryland. Graduate students who take the ITA evaluation may or may not be required to take other English language exams in addition to the ITA evaluation. To determine whether a student must take another English exam, please read about other English exams (MEIPE, MEWT) on this website.
The grounds for appeal of an ITA evaluation placement decision are limited to (1) a procedural consideration (e.g., the examinee was not allowed the full time to deliver the microteaching presentation, was not able to complete the interview due to an interruption at the exam site, etc.), and (2) a concern that a clearance or placement decision was arbitrary or capricious (e.g., the decision is based on erroneous information, is inconsistent with ratings reported by the evaluators, and/or is inconsistent with clearance and placement policies). A placement decision may not be appealed on the grounds that a different team of evaluators or a professor or advisor in the student's department would have come to a different decision.
A student who believes there is a legitimate basis for an appeal of a placement decision must submit a written appeal within ten work days of the end of the evaluation. Appeals must be presented to MEI by the Graduate Director who referred the student to the exam. The appeal must be in writing and must include the name of the exam in question, the date of the exam, the student's name and UID, the name of the department, the name and contact of the Graduate Director of the student's department, and an explanation of the basis for the appeal. The appeal should be submitted in an email message addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The appeal will be reviewed within three work days of being received to determine whether the basis for the appeal is legitimate, and, if so, what action will be taken. For any appeal, the judgment of the MEI Director will not be substituted for the judgment of evaluators.