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Start Your Prep for the TExES Exams Here

If you want to teach in Texas, you must pass the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards, or TExES exams. The following information provide a the history and development of the TExES test.

You’ll find the paradigms below will support your ability to answer real test questions. Therefore, keep the following information in mind as you take TExES practice tests and review your prep guides.

Each candidate must pass at least two tests. Some candidates may be required to take more tests, depending upon your teaching area:

  1. The Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) EC-12 (160) exam tests knowledge and skill in instructional practices;
  2. The content TExES exam will assess knowledge in both the content field (agriculture, reading, history, etc.) and the level of certification (EC-6, 4-8, 7-12, EC-12);
  3. Supplemental TExES Exams are required to teach in some areas, such as EC-6 Core Subjects Special Education certification or the English as a second language TExES.

Your teacher preparation program will guide you here. You must have the approval of your teacher prep program to register for the state TExES exams (info compiled from https://twu.edu/texes-prep/about-texes-exams/).

Links To TExES Practice Tools And Tactics

Background and History of the TExES Exams

Why take exams? The timeline below shows the development of the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards.

1836 The Texas Declaration of Independence lists the failure of the Mexican government “to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources. . .” as one reason for severing political ties with Mexico

1845-1900 Texas creates a blueprint for its schools: schools are given land, funding, an office of state superintendent and a method for accreditation

1900-1940s Rural schools and school boards are established; the state authorizes purchase of textbooks; and the state works to make rural districts equal with independent and urban districts

1949 The Gilmer-Aikin laws create a Foundation School Program to dole out state funds to school districts. It creates an elected State Board of Education that appoints a commissioner of education and reorganizes the administration of state public school policy through the Texas Education Agency

1950-2000 Texas continues to try to equalize spending among poor and wealthy school districts

1984 House Bill 72 reforms education by providing a pay raise for teachers, revamping public school financing to funnel more money to property-poor school districts, and works to improve students’ academic achievement

1993 Legislature passed Senate Bill 7 to try to level the funding field for all schools and created its education accountability system, a model for No Child Left Behind. This system measures and holds schools accountable for student performance on assessment tests and dropout rates.

1995 Overhaul of the Texas Education Code: Senate Bill 1 returned more authority to local school districts; gave the governor power to appoint the commissioner; gave the State Board of Education authority to grant open-enrollment charter schools, and established the separate State Board for Educator Certification

Today, accountability continues to be measured. The TExES tests are just one of the ways the state works to hold schools accountable.

Info taken from An Overview of the History of Public Education in Texas (https://tea.texas.gov).

Purpose and Rationale

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) creates a five-year Strategic Plan which is revisited every two years. The plan is the agency’s blueprint for how it will spend the funding it receives for public education. Within that document, assessments play a large role.

TEA’s mission is to “improve outcomes for all public school students in the state” so that each child is “an independent thinker and graduates prepared for success in college, a career, or the military, and as an engaged, productive citizen.”

Accountability is part of that plan. A part of their special focus for the next five years is providing strong foundations in both reading and math and improving low-performing schools.

The TEA completed its new five-year plan in June, 2018. You can find it here: https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Welcome_and_Overview/ under “TEA Mission”

State Organizations Involved

The Texas State Board for Educator Certification has been established to recognize teachers as professionals and to oversee certification.

The State Board has 15 members:

  • one employee of the agency of the commissioner of education (nonvoting)
  • one employee of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (nonvoting)
  • two members appointed by the governor (nonvoting), one is to have experience working for and knowledge of an alternative educator prep program but is not affiliated with any institution of higher learning
  • a dean of a college of education in Texas (nonvoting)
  • four teachers currently employed in public schools, appointed by the governor
  • two public school administrators
  • one public school counselor
  • four citizens, three of whom are not and have not, in the five years preceding appointment, been employed by a public school district, an educator prep program in an institution of higher education
    Source: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/ED/htm/ED.21.htm#21.048
Development, Format and Structure of the TExES Exams

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) approves certification standards for each field. These standards are the basis for the TExES tests. The SBEC also established minimum passing standards for each test, with input from committees of Texas educators.

All tests are taken on computer.

The TExES exams are comprised of 60-200 multiple choice questions and can also include some open-ended or pronunciation questions, depending upon the credentialed area.

Each exam has a price tag: $115 for most exams; $58 for individual CORE tests (801-809).

The minimum passing score is 240, a scaled score, for most tests.

Core Subjects 4-8 and EC-6 tests are reported as pass or not pass. You must earn a passing score for each individual subject area in order to pass the overall test.

Selected-response/multiple-choice sections are based on the number of questions answered correctly. Incorrect answers are not deducted from the total, so it is better to guess than not to answer at all.

Because the tests are revised and add new questions from time to time, some questions may not be scored at all. Those questions are used to learn more about the validity of the questions themselves. They do not count against your score.

Registration for the TExES Exams

Beginning September 1, 2018, all information and registration will be found on the following website:
http://www.tx.nesinc.com.

Candidates must provide consent from an EPP, or Educator Preparation Program, in order to register.

The day of the TExES, note these details:

  • 2 forms of identification will now be required with photos—no copies; no expired ID; your name must match EXACTLY the registration name or you will forfeit the test and your fee
  • you will sign a digital signature, have your photo taken, and provide a palm vein scan
  • no other items will be allowed inside the testing center (some centers provide lockers)
  • calculators or anything needed for the exam will be provided at the site
  • late candidates will not be allowed to take the test and will forfeit their fees
  • an administrator will conduct a pre-test check once you enter the center
  • 5 hours are allotted for assessments
  • test-takers are monitored by camera

Under Texas Education Code §21.048, candidates are limited to a total of 5 attempts to pass a certification exam. No matter when the attempts occurred, all attempts of the same test will count toward that limit of 5 attempts.

What Causes Candidates to Fail?

Passing college courses should prove that you know the material. But here’s how candidates fail:

  1. they don’t prepare for the test, thinking it will be easy
  2. they study what they think will be on the test instead of what is on the test
  3. they spent too much time on the test re-reading hard questions, leaving them pressured to quickly finish the rest of the questions on the test (*you’ll be given a noteboard to keep track of questions you found difficult so you may go back to them)

The Institute of Education Science says that “forgetting is a reality of life.” So why bother studying?

Research shows that the use of “spaced” learning and “strategic use of quizzing” can help us remember material we learned last month or last year.

How Can I Pass the TExES the First Time?

When “accountability” started to mean “high stakes tests”, a lot of energy went into research! Take advantage of that research to improve your test scores.

The National Center for Education Research reviewed the large amount of research done on both K-12 students as well as college students. Here is what they found:

  1. Practice tests are some of the most effective ways to improve test scores.
  2. Practice tests not only can improve recall, but they can reduce your test anxiety.
  3. Practice test research shows that gains in scores are “larger when identical forms of a test were used for practice.” (Kulik, J. A., et al. “Effects of Practice on Aptitude and Achievement Test Scores” American Educational Research Journal, 1984.)
  4. Practice tests not only show gains, but the amount that students gained “increased with the number of practice tests given.” (Kulik, J. A., et al. “Effects of Practice on Aptitude and Achievement Test Scores” American Educational Research Journal, 1984.)
How Do I Use the Research to Choose Test-Prep Materials?
  • Get to know the contents of your exam by reading carefully the domain and competencies listed. Any test-prep materials MUST be up-to-date and follow those TExES guidelines, even down to the percentage of types of questions and the scoring.
  • More than one practice test should be offered. This gives you time to learn from your mistakes as you read through the thorough explanations of each correct and incorrect answer. Get familiar with the wording of the test as well as the answer. Do some questions consistently trick you? Sometimes key words and phrases make the difference between right and wrong answers.
  • Look for errors. If the test-prep material contains errors, can you trust the answers?
Is There a Right Way to Study for the TExES?

There may not be just one right way to study, but there are some universal tips that do work! In February 2017, three researchers published a study of 118 articles that researched the effects of practice testing. Their research focused on the way different factors affected the impact of practice tests. The article “Rethinking the use of tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing” shows three main results:

  1. Use many short practice sessions and take some time between them. Don’t cram for days. Doing this allows your long-term memory to store information.
  2. Taking one full-length practice test worked better than taking two or more full-length tests if the tests were taken in a short time frame. Again, extend the time between practice tests.
  3. One full-length practice test taken between 1 and 6 days before the final test had the most impact. So save one of the tests for this time period. Make sure you have more than one practice test available.

Remember that you are not the only one to take high-stakes tests. Once you have used these techniques, you can pass them on to the students in your own classroom!

  • Use an alarm to become familiar with the time it takes you to process and answer questions;
  • Set aside 20-40 minute chunks of time to focus on your work. No cell phones or other distractions (Bucknell Teaching and Learning Practices);
  • As you take the test, place a star by the questions that take a longer time. Later, find what those questions have in common. Was it the material you did not know or was it the wording or phrasing that confused you? Understanding the problem can help you study smarter!
  • After each session, take a 5-10 minute break to stretch, snack, or check your cell at that time.
  • Analyze the answers, even if you chose the correct answer: look for patterns in questions and answers to find the words, phrases, or types of questions that “trick” you. Dig deeper to find out why you chose the right and wrong answers for the questions!
Is It Worth the Time and Energy to Prepare?

The answer depends on how eager you are to teach and how wealthy you are.

Remember that if you fail, you must wait 45 days to retake that test. It’s not hard to do the math: 1 ½ months of waiting to take it again.

Remember also that each test costs $58 or $115.

Prepare now to savor the moment you earn your teaching licensure the first time!

Go to: How I Passed The TExES Exam

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