“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Alexander Graham Bell’s advice rings true today, especially when it comes to preparing for the exams that are part of your journey to becoming a teacher in the state of Texas.
To earn your teaching certificate, the Texas Education Agency mandates that you must pass a series of exams, including any relevant content exams, a new Science of Teaching Reading (STR) exam and the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) test.
These important exams are not ones you want to cram for the night before, nor schedule at the last minute.
Here is why and how you should start preparing now for your Texas teacher certification exams and the resources available to help keep you on track.
Your Timeline May Change
Navigating when you should take what exams to earn your certification can be tricky, especially considering the state of Texas has adjusted several of its certification testing requirements over the past year.
A frequent question among interns is when they can take their TExES content exams and apply for an internship. As the rules currently stand, you cannot take any content exams until you have enrolled and been accepted into an educator preparation program. You also cannot apply for an internship until you have taken your content exam.
Another significant change is the addition of a new Science of Teaching Reading (STR) exam requirement that went into effect Jan. 1, 2021. This new test is mandated in order to be issued an intern, probationary and standard certification if you are seeking certification in:
Early Childhood: EC - Grade 3
Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading: Early Childhood - Grade 6
Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading: Grades 4-8
English Language Arts and Reading with Science of Teaching Reading: Grades 4-8
English Language Arts and Reading/Social Studies with Science of Teaching Reading: Grades 4-8
That begs the question, why is it important to start preparing now for your teacher certification exams?
Teacher testing timelines are constantly evolving and changing, and with the uncertainty of how COVID-19 will impact the teaching profession this winter and spring, it’s better to be prepared for any opportunities that come your way.
Test Preparation Is A Multi-Level Approach
Starting the preparation process for these important teacher certification exams gives you adequate time to familiarize yourself with everything you need to know. Often, that’s more than the content itself.
For example, when taking the PPR, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the style of exam questions. The PPR includes selected response (or multiple choice) and constructed response (or essay) questions.
Within the selected response questions, there are single questions, which offer a direct question or incomplete statement, and clustered questions, which comprise a stimulus and two or more questions that relate to that stimulus. An example of a clustered question would involve reading a passage and answering questions about that passage.
Another preparation strategy when studying for the PPR includes familiarizing yourself with common mistakes test takers make. Leaving questions blank and not following the instructions (such as overlooking a question that states “Choose ALL the correct answers.”) are easy ways to make costly errors.
Knowing some of the competencies that interns struggle with the most on the test can help serve as a reminder to add a little preparation time in these particular areas as well.
Our article, How To Pass Your PPR Exam, offers some examples of the issues above as well as tips for overcoming them when preparing for your exam.
Don’t Miss Preparation Courses
By planning now, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of preparation courses for the exams you must pass in order to earn certification.
There are several preparation courses for your content exams in the state of Texas. Many of these training opportunities focus on specific content areas, such as core subjects or language proficiency test training. Some programs also offer online self-study courses that include a diagnostic test at the end with feedback for any incorrect answers.
ECAP, for example, provides access to online TExES exam reviews, and the great news is we offer these exam reviews at a discounted rate. ECAP partners with Certify Teacher to provide access to the highest quality test prep products so you can pass your certification exam on your first try.
The best teacher training programs also offer test preparation for the PPR as part of their curriculum.
For the PPR, for example, training should include:
Exploring types of questions that will appear on the PPR
Analyzing common mistakes made when taking the PPR
An overview of best practices and techniques
A full-length practice exam with on-site grading
Even if you aren’t currently enrolled in an alternative teacher certification program that offers PPR preparation courses, ECAP offers a PPR exam review course that is open to the public.
If you wait too long to begin preparing for your exams, you may miss out on important opportunities to prepare yourself to the best of your ability.
A Partner For Texas Teachers
If you’re considering enrolling in an alternative teacher certification program, it’s critical that you look for one that will work with you from day one to best prepare you for your Texas teacher certification exams.
The best preparation is a full-circle approach that includes training, testing and teaching. The proper preparation and coursework you will put in for the pedagogy exam will also help you meet any requirements needed to fulfill state-mandated hours of training and teaching experience.
Navigating your timeline to certification with thought and the proper preparation is more important than ever, which is why it’s necessary to choose a teacher training program that prepares you for your certification exams and your career as an educator.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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