The classic “Hero’s Journey” in literature begins with a calling, followed by a road of trials, and in the end challenges conquered lead to a transformation.
It’s a bit like your journey to becoming a teacher in Texas.
You get the calling to be an educator, and the first level of your journey includes teacher training via a University Undergraduate, Post-Baccalaureate program, or an Alternative Certification Program. Once you are enrolled in a program and have passed required content tests, you are eligible to be in the classroom teaching with an Intern Certificate that is good for one year.
There is usually a pivotal moment in the “Hero’s Journey”, however, when one must pass a critical test in order to reach the mission’s goal. For new teachers in Texas that critical hurdle comes during their first year of teaching...the PPR Test.
Quite simply, if you don’t pass the PPR Test, then you won’t be in the classroom past your first year.
The full title of the PPR could have been dreamed up by J.R.R. Tolkien, as it’s officially the Texas Examinations of Educators Standards (TExES) Program “Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC-12 (160)” test.
There is a Probationary Certificate that allows teachers to stay in the classroom a second year while meeting all the obligations of their Educator Preparation Program, but you can't get this certificate without passing the PPR Test.
And, to get your Standard Certification, good for five full years, you must pay the PPR Test.
So, if you don’t conquer the PPR Test, you are going to have the words of Gandalf, everybody’s favorite wizard (sorry Harry Potter!) from “Lord of the Rings” ringing in your ears: “You … Shall … Not … Pass!”
In Gandalf’s case, the wizard’s warning was to a menacing shadow figure trying to stop the hero’s journey. Fortunately for first year teachers in Texas, they won’t need swords and magic potions to pass their critical test, but a No. 2 pencil and good preparation.
The PPR Test
There is a reason the PPR test is taken after you start teaching and not before as the five-hour, 100 multiple-question test, according to the Texas Education Agency, “is designed to assess whether a test taker has the requisite knowledge and skills that an entry-level educator in this field in Texas public schools must possess.”
The knowledge you gain during your first year in the classroom will be applied to answer questions in the four domains of the PPR Test:
Designing Instruction and Assessment to Promote Student Learning
Creating a Positive, Productive Classroom Environment
Implementing Effective, Responsive Instruction and Assessment
Fulfilling Professional Roles and Responsibilities
The test is not divided evenly between the four domains, but according to:
Instruction and assessment design 34%
Classroom management 13%
Implementation of instruction and assessment 33%
Educators' professional responsibilities 20%
Under Pressure: PPR Test
If you scan comments from Texas teachers on the atozteacherstuff.com forum, you see that the PPR is not a test you just show up for.
Posted a teacher: “The test was tricky … do not panic or rush through the test.”
Everything surrounding the PPR is mandated by law, including the fact that candidates are limited to five attempts to pass the exam (Texas Education Code §21.048).
In 2015-16, the Texas Education Agency reported26,899 PPR test takers with an average score of 265.24. The scaled scores range from 100 to 300 with a passing score of 240. Seven percent of test takers failed the exam.
One test taker approaching their fifth and final test attempt posted: “I tried so hard to pass my PPR EC-12 ... my first language is Spanish … it is so stressful.”
Prepping for the PPR Test
Prepping for the exam is a must to take the stress out of the PPR Test.
Predictably, there are scores of "helpful guides" available on Amazon from “secrets” of the test for $51.78 to a flashcard study system for $62.99 to a book with full practice exams for $65.55.
Heck, we even found one listing for $4,520.58 … we surely hope this was a typo or that the book does indeed come with a magic potion!
It is important to get both online and in-classroom training for the PPR test. Some alternative certification programs will offer one or the other and many will charge extra for this test prep.
At ECAP, however, we believe in preparing our interns for the PPR Test at no extra cost. Our exam prep includes an 8-hour day of training, a practice test and 20 hours of online training.
We are confident this preparation will lead to your transformation as a fully certified teacher.
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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7166 Baker Blvd., Suite B · Richland Hills, Texas 76118 Phone 817-284-7731 | Fax 817-284-3396