The International Teaching Assistant Program’s (ITAP) mission is to empower international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to achieve their academic and career goals through cultural and communicative support. This includes fulfilling linguistic/cultural requirements for teaching assistants, graduate instructors and postdoctoral teaching scholars.
ITAP offers many services to assess and develop communication skills and provide cultural development as a basis for a rewarding and enriching experience at Mizzou. These include:
Because all international students are unique in their linguistic background and experiences, the University of Missouri does not base native language determination on students’ home countries listed on their admissions application or where they attended school as a child and young adult.
If you are a lifelong primary speaker of English and may meet the requirements of the Missouri statute and University policy for a TA/GI appointment at Mizzou, please complete the Native Language(s) Determination Form to provide us more information about your linguistic background. Please note: If you applied for admission after August 1, 2022, information for this form was collected during the admissions process. Once reviewed, you will receive notification of your status by email from the ITAP Director.
As stated in Missouri statute 170.012 and University policy, every non-native speaker of English must have sufficient oral-English proficiency before taking on a teaching position. Teaching assistants who have no direct contact with students (e.g., responsible only for grading assignments) are not required to complete the language proficiency assessment. It is recommended that departments schedule assessments for candidates as soon as possible so appointment decisions can be made in a timely fashion. These assessments can be completed prior to enrollment, but after a student has been formally admitted, or postdoctoral scholar start date (e.g., during a campus visit, summer).
ITAP provides on-line assessment called the MACCS (Mizzou’s Assessment of Classroom Communication Skills.) To ensure a positive testing experience, a virtual orientation to the assessment is required. In addition, students will be given resources to prepare for the assessment and a practice test when they are enrolled for testing. If computer and internet access are limited, please contact ITAP.
The MACCS is given each month and additional dates are provided at the end of each semester. In addition, ITAP will work with academic departments to expedite testing when necessary.
Please note that students cannot enroll themselves. Academic departments must enroll international graduate students in ONITA through the ITAP Canvas site. Please contact ITAP with any questions.
Assessment results are given as a proficiency level from 1 to 4. A minimum of 2 is needed in order to qualify for a teaching-related role (roles vary based upon proficiency levels).
Students may receive a provisional score (e.g., 2P, 3P). Those with provisional scores must receive additional support during their first semester; this may include successfully completing an ITAP course. At the end of the semester, the score will be modified to reflect that the provision has been met.
To find out more about the responsibilities a student/postdoc can take on with their current communication skills, please see the assessment result levels.
A candidate who does not receive the assessment results needed to accept a teaching appointment may not work in that teaching appointment and must wait six months before being reassessed. However, because language skills improve faster through consistent effort, students who enroll in an English language development course at Mizzou (see “Oral English Language Development” below), complete an individual development plan, or take an off-campus English language course can be reassessed at the end of the semester in which the language improvement work is completed. Students/postdocs can be assessed no more than six times during their time at MU.
Considerations Before Requesting a Review
Every MACCS assessment is evaluated by two or more trained raters. Two scores must be in close agreement before the final result is given. Therefore, requests for test score review should be reserved for exceptional cases and are limited to:
How to Request a Review
A request for the review of a test score must come from a department director/chair or Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students may not make requests. The department/program representative must submit the ITAP Appeals Form within two weeks of receipt of the test score.
To make the appeal, the director/chair or DGS will submit the following via email to the ITAP Coordinator:
The ITAP Coordinator, Dean of the Graduate School, or their designee will forward the appeal request to the ITAP Appeals Committee to review the appeals request, video artifact and the evaluator’s comments taken from the original MACCS assessment and they will meet to finalize their decision. The committee may either choose to:
The Appeals Committee is an ad-hoc committee of faculty serving on Graduate Faculty Senate. Faculty from the student’s department may not serve on the Appeals Committee. Likewise, faculty who know the student may not serve on the Committee. The charge of the Appeals Committee is to review each ITAP Assessment Appeal Request and make a determination as noted above.
Once the Appeals Committee receives the materials for review, they will have 15 business days to make a determination. The department/program will be notified as soon as possible after a determination is made.
TOEFL iBT or IELTS speaking scores less than 2 years old can be substituted for a language assessment.
|TOEFL (IELTS) Speaking Score||ITAP Proficiency Level||TA/GI Responsibilities||ITAP Course Recommended|
|28-30 (8.5, 9)||4||Graduate Instructor||N/A|
|26-27 (8.0)||3||Recitation, Discussion, or Advanced Lab Leader||GRAD 9304|
|24-25 (7.5)||2||Laboratory Assistant||GRAD 7303|
|23 (7.0)||2P (Provisional)||Laboratory Assistant||GRAD 7302|
The department needs to contact ITAP about the student to be exempted and ITAP will confirm their scores through MyZou. Please note: this is an exemption of the language assessment only; it does not exempt an incoming student with a teaching assistantship or graduate instructor responsibilities from participating in the required orientation and early feedback program.
Students with a Level 3 language assessment and two semesters of end-of-semester student evaluations with at least 4.00/5.00 average for ”overall teaching effectiveness” and “communication of subject matter,” may apply for the “Alternative Path to a Level 4.” To learn more about this program or to apply, please see the Alternative Path Form. The form and related documentation should be sent directly to the ITAP Coordinator.
ITAP encourages all non-native English speaking graduate students and postdocs to practice English speaking and listening skills with peers, faculty, and MU undergraduates through informal conversation, academic activities; and more intensive programs and classes.
Because language skills improve best through the consistent, focused effort of the classroom experience, the ITAP program offers three courses with a dual focus on explicit oral-language development and classroom cultural/communicative skills. These courses open to all international graduate students who want to improve their oral communication and presentation skills, have TA/GI responsibilities, and are preparing for future professional activities. Students interested in enrolling in an ITAP course must complete the ITAP application and return it to the ITAP office.
All courses are graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory and will appear on students’ transcripts. No tuition is assessed for these courses. Although these courses are listed in MyZou as zero credit hours, the workload is equivalent to a 3 or 4 credit course and should be considered as part of a student’s academic training and responsibilities.
GTO takes place during the week prior the start of any regular semester. This orientation is required for all graduate students before the first semester of teaching or assisting with teaching at MU.
At the orientation, participants will:
Orientation instructors include expert faculty, staff, and experienced graduate instructors and teaching assistants.
Contact ITAP for more information.
New students will receive an invitation prior to the start of the semester with a link for registration. Academic departments may enroll returning international graduate students who have not yet taught in GTO through the ITAP Canvas site. Please contact ITAP for more information.
Missouri law and University policy require that international teaching assistants (ITAs) meet language and cultural orientation requirements in order to teach at the University of Missouri. International graduate students are also required to have completed at least one semester at a public college or university in Missouri before taking a teaching appointment. Under certain conditions the chancellor can waive the residency requirement. ITAP can request a waiver from the chancellor on behalf of an ITA. Waivers are not automatically granted and they are given only under the following conditions:
In order to be considered for a waiver, the student must complete testing and the program must submit the waiver application at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester.
Hiring departments and programs interested in having international graduate students and/or postdocs teach or assist with instruction are responsible for the following: