Supporting Students Taking Their Credentialing Exams

    When I was advising prospective teachers at my former institution, I encountered many candidates who had strong potential as educators but struggled to pass the licensure tests. For some of these students, it was helpful to offer practice tests, with feedback, to help combat their test anxiety, but it was challenging for me to find time for this work.

    So when I recently met Stephanie Shapiro, the partnerships manager of a test-prep company that offers just this kind of service to teacher candidates–some of it for free–I was intrigued and persuaded her to join AACTE as a new affiliate member. I asked her to share how her organization, Teachers Test Prep, is helping teacher candidates pass their exams. Here’s her response:

    Each year, teacher preparation programs lose many good candidates because these individuals are unprepared for, and unable to pass, exams like the Praxis Core, Praxis Subject Assessments, CSET, and CBEST. Identifying at–risk students early on is the key to providing the support these students need for success.

    Teachers Test Prep provides universities, colleges, and other teacher preparation providers with free assessment tools to identify those who are at risk of failing their certification exams. Since 2005, we’ve served over 250,000 individual teacher candidates, and we’ve also partnered with universities, school districts, schools, departments of education, and other organizations.

    Students take a free online practice test and receive an instant diagnostic breakdown indicating their strengths and weaknesses and their overall likelihood of passing. Organizational administrators also receive this same reporting via convenient compiled reports, enabling them to easily sort to identify at-risk students. Many administrators then choose to provide these students with online support through Teachers Test Prep, while others refer these students to traditional preparation tools, such as study guides or textbooks.

    Either way, early identification of students who lack the specific content knowledge needed to pass is crucial. Pepperdine University (CA) is one provider that recognizes this need and partners with Teachers Test Prep to help meet it.

    “Pepperdine’s Teacher Preparation Program is committed to providing excellent programs that prepare candidates for initial licensure to teach,” says Summer O’Neal, certification manager at Pepperdine. “Through our partnership with Teachers Test Prep, we have experienced a rise in student confidence levels, and our CSET pass rates are well over 90%.”

    As faculty and administrators know, diagnostics and support may be needed at several stages of students’ progression through a teacher preparation program. Early on, most students are required to pass a basic skills test like the Praxis Core or CBEST. These tests typically cover reading, mathematics, and writing. Then, usually prior to beginning their student teaching or internship, most students are required to pass subject–specific tests like the CSET exams or Praxis Subject Assessments. These include broad, multiple–subject tests for elementary educators and in–depth, single–subject exams for secondary educators, which many candidates find quite challenging. In certain situations, aspiring teachers must also take specialized tests like the RICA, a reading instruction assessment required for most California elementary school teachers, or the CPACE and Praxis ELAS, required for aspiring K–12 school administrators.

    Passing credentialing exams can be one of the biggest hurdles on the path to teacher certification, but with early identification and strong support, teacher preparation programs can create a win–win situation that benefits both their program and their students.

    For more information about Teachers Test Prep, contact Stephanie Shapiro at Stephanie.Shapiro@TeachersTestPrep.com or 1-800-764-8616 x719. For questions about becoming an AACTE affiliate or regular member, contact me or simply e–mail membership@aacte.org.

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    Rodrick Lucero

    Vice President for Member Engagement and Support

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