The ETI Guarantee: How and Why Do We Guarantee The Results of Our MTEL Program?

MTEL Program Results Guarantee
Online Education

The ETI Guarantee: How and Why Do We Guarantee The Results of Our MTEL Program?

When I started ETI 22 years ago, I was “just a guy.”  I had no experience with any teacher certification exams and a touch of classroom teaching experience.  I had no business claiming to be able to help anyone with their MTELs (then called the “MECTs”—Massachusetts Educator Certification Tests).  I had recently gotten my MSW and quit a job at a public school because of philosophical differences with my coworkers over how to work with kids with EBD (20 more years of experience and hindsight tell me that at that time I was so correct in my views, by the way). 

Having two kids, a stay-at-home wife who was expecting child #3, and being on unemployment for the first (and only) time of my life sparked something in me.  I realized that I needed to rely on myself more than “an employer” to support my family, so I did some research on how to pass the Communication and Literacy Exam and started designing my first curriculum in the spring of 1999.  That summer, a teacher friend of my father’s needed to take the Massachusetts tests for educator licensure, so I tutored her.  She passed and raved about how much I helped her, so in the fall I started advertising and taught my first class. 

I was a new, young, first-time business owner, and I looked very young—I could have gone undercover as a narc in a high school in those days.  What I had was SAT tutoring experience, a lifetime of being a “good test taker,” and entrepreneurial ambitions.  The first few minutes of that first class were terrifying.  Who was I to be taking people’s money for being an “expert” on anything? 

At first, I guaranteed my classes for two reasons:  1. I figured it would be a good “marketing strategy” and 2. I wasn’t super confident in myself, and I didn’t want to rip people off.  I didn’t have the money to refund candidates seeking to pass in vain (remember the unemployment, 2 kids, and pregnant wife), so right from the first class, I allowed people to repeat class for free. 

The program proved to be incredibly successful.  Educators seeking certification improved their scores by over 12 points (a 70 was passing in those days, not the current 240, read THIS and THIS for a history of Educator Licensure MTELs changes) and passing rates improved by over 500%!  My confidence skyrocketed, DESE (then still the “DOE”) started recommending my program on their website for all subject matter, and I became well-known in the MECT/MTEL world.  We ran programs for colleges, programs, and districts.  I tutored the most famous MTEL test-taker in history, a former superintendent of a major urban Massachusetts district—I had been referred by his wife, who had taken my class.  I never took the business to more than a part-time gig, but it allowed me to support my family (and pay my child support today).  

But through all of this, I kept the guarantee—and not just for the marketing aspects.   I have a clinical and special education background, so my programs are all built upon a clinical and sped foundation.  Our programs work for everyone—those with and without learning or ELL issues.  Over the years, students seeking a pass who can get by with an inferior MTEL preparation program, such as those weekend workshops or college programs, have taken those, but those who need a more thorough and quality program have found ETI.  These students have one thing in common—they are not confident test-takers.

Our students’ lack of confidence stems from many factors such as test anxiety, specific learning disabilities, or secondary language issues (ESL).  I realized early on that those who were struggling to pass did so because of these issues, and I could not in good conscious make these people keep paying me repeat our classes.  I did not think it would be fair to expect those who struggle with anxiety, English, communication and literacy skills, or learning issues to learn the amount of content in such a short length of time.  I am invested in my students, and they know this; since our genesis, word-of-mouth has been one of the most effective means of advertising for ETI.   It is better for both my soul and my wallet when a struggling student finally passes their MTELs and tells all their friends and colleagues about us. 

As I have said for over 20 years, as long as this is my company, the guarantee stands with no restrictions or limitations.  

Sign up for an ETI group class (Zoom currently), and you can repeat that class as long as you need for free. 

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