Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

What You Need to Know about Teacher Certification Exams

August 6th, 2020 | Comments Off on What You Need to Know about Teacher Certification Exams | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

No matter in what state you plan to teach elementary school, you are required to take a teacher licensing exam – and pass it – to obtain certification. Many times, the anxiety for this knowledge-based test surpasses that of most of the college courses you take in your education course of study.

It is, therefore, even more disturbing to realize that over half of prospective teachers fail the teacher certification exam the first time, regardless of which test they take. Whether it is a case of extreme nerves, lack of exam preparation, inadequate knowledge retention or if required teacher-prep courses do not align with the material being tested, the fact remains that if a potential teacher wants to teach, they must pass the exam.

What can examinees do to prevent failure? Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are strategies that can help ensure success.

  1. Start planning for the exam EARLY in your senior year or even late in your junior year of college. Know which test you are taking for your state, when it is offered, the cost, what happens if you do not pass, etc.
  2. Obtain a study guide for the test or tests you will take and read them. Complete as many practice tests as possible to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that are asked, as well as the subject matter that is evaluated.
  3. If you perform poorly on the practice exams, try to determine why. Insufficient knowledge or misunderstanding the subject matter can be remedied by taking additional college courses (since you are preparing ahead, this is doable) or taking an online class in addition to your regular education courses.

There is no shame in failing your teacher licensing exam. However, lack of preparation should never be the reason. In most cases, if you follow these guidelines, you should not only pass your test, but do well. Good luck!

Covid-19 Leads to Adjustments in Teacher Licensing Protocols

May 28th, 2020 | Comments Off on Covid-19 Leads to Adjustments in Teacher Licensing Protocols | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

When the coronavirus shut down the country beginning mid-March 2020, it negatively affected multiple industries, and adversely affected teacher candidates, as well. Not only were in-person college classes suspended, but student-teaching was cancelled or relegated to remote instruction, and teacher licensing exams terminated, at least temporarily. College students who had waited for four years to realize their dreams of being a teacher were left not knowing what to do to ensure that they would be able to land their first teaching positions for fall 2020.

Universities, national testing companies, and school districts are all working diligently to ensure that our newest educators are prepared and have the necessary qualifications to teach this fall. In states or districts where there is a teacher shortage, some requirements have been adjusted or waived to ensure that there will be enough teachers for their classrooms.

The Educational Testing Service and other testing vendors are also modifying some of their guidelines concerning the Praxis exam, which is a required teacher licensing test in about 25 states in the U.S. Since testing centers are closed, there will be options to take the exam at another location with the same strict proctoring guidelines or even taking an online version at home.

Eighteen states that use the edTPA licensing test by Pearson altered their portfolio submission dates to accommodate teacher candidates during this challenging time. Students who registered prior to April 6, 2020, now have their deadline extended to December 5, 2021. Portfolios may now be submitted via a virtual learning environment alternative rather than the traditional in-classroom mode.
Teacher education candidates who feel they may not be adequately prepared to take licensing exams because of the pandemic do have options. Take an online class or two from PrepForward to ensure that all skill sets are covered before taking the accrediting assessment.

The situation continues to change daily as the United States adjusts to new and unprecedented guidelines for safety and disease prevention while ensuring that children receive the same quality education as they did pre-Covid-19. Classrooms may look quite different when the new school year starts. Thankfully, we can help each other prepare the best we can and adapt accordingly.

MA DESE’s Only Preferred MTEL Course Vendor

April 1st, 2020 | Comments Off on MA DESE’s Only Preferred MTEL Course Vendor | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

MTEL prep

No one disputes the fact that there is more and more pressure on public school educators to make a difference in the lives of the children they teach, no matter what level of professional experience they have. This applies to both elementary and secondary school students and first year and experienced teachers.

New teachers are most often targeted for improving their skills to ensure that they are as ready as they can be for their experience in the classroom. PrepForward is pleased to be a part of that preparation process. As one of the premier vendors for MTEL courses, PrepForward offers courses for educators to enhance and excel in their skills for educating students in classrooms across Massachusetts. PrepForward was chosen as MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s only preferred vendor for MTEL preparation courses. One important aspect of our work with MA DESE is to increase diversity in the teacher workforce.

We are committed to providing teacher preparation courses that aid educators in boosting their teaching skills before they even enter the classroom. This has the added benefit of equipping teachers to help students grow academically and to achieve student success in the classroom for those who may not be on the average spectrum. Students benefit from teachers who have a greater skill set and teachers benefit from increased knowledge to reach all types of learners.

The online classes we offer are designed so that, upon completion, educators can pass the MTEL exams. All courses introduce detailed lessons, full-length practice tests, question explanations, instructor support, 24-hour access, and interactive applications. Courses include general curriculum classes for general and middle-school mathematics, reading, and communication and literacy skills in reading and writing.

Since our program is an approved provider for the MA Department of Education, our courses are available for professional development points, as well. We are pleased to have helped thousands of educators across Massachusetts pass their MTEL exams.

How to Pass Your Teacher Certification Exams

February 25th, 2020 | Comments Off on How to Pass Your Teacher Certification Exams | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

Very few people enjoy taking tests. And, since it’s so crucial to your career that you pass your teacher certification exam or exams, it’s just as imperative that you are adequately prepared.
Unfortunately, college does not completely prepare you for these tests. Neither does student teaching. Sometimes you can benefit from a little “extra” assistance and guidance to ensure that you not only pass but do well on these important evaluations.

Here are a few tips that can help:

  1. Understand that you will be tested on a broad area of subject matter. Even if you plan (or hope to) teach kindergarten students, you will still be asked questions about higher level science and mathematics topics, so you need to be familiar with them. Enroll in an online course or two to bridge the gap in your knowledge base. You will find that it is worth the time and expense.
  2. Take advantage of as many study materials as possible. Yes, they often cost money but utilizing these sources can greatly increase your odds of having to pay to retake the certification exam if you fail it. Not all test preparation materials are the same, however, so choose wisely.
  3. Cramming is NEVER wise. Ideally, spread out your study time over several weeks. No matter which certification tests you will take, you will not be assessed on recall. Problem solving, providing examples of real-life situations, and explaining concepts in your own words are the types of questions you should expect.
  4. Review. Review. Review. Study your notes from different college courses that are relevant to the test you will take. The testing company that issues your exam probably has some guidelines to look over to give you an idea of what competencies you will be tested on, as well as sample questions. This can help you outline a study schedule and determine what areas you should target your focus.

You can feel confident going into your teacher certification exam. Take review courses online, create a detailed plan of study, follow a study guide, and get plenty of rest before test day. You’re almost ready for your first class!

Click here to find out about PrepForward’s teacher certification exam prep courses.

How More Teachers Can Pass Licensing Exams the First Time

May 28th, 2019 | Comments Off on How More Teachers Can Pass Licensing Exams the First Time | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Although prospective teachers work diligently in their teacher prep programs, more still needs to be done to prepare them for their first teaching assignment in a real-life classroom of their own. A National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report published earlier this year states that over half of elementary teacher candidates do not pass licensing tests due to insufficient preparation in college coursework.

Expanding the teacher workforce becomes even more challenging when teachers want to teach but are unable to attain a position because of poor exam scores. The same report found that only 46% of individuals pass licensing tests with African American candidates passing at 38%. This leads to gaps in teacher diversification across the country, as well as a shortage of qualified educators.

Most of these teacher candidates have significant holes in content knowledge that contribute to poor performance on standard licensing tests. NCTQ reports that about ¾ of the undergraduate teaching programs in the United States do not cover the amount of mathematical knowledge required for elementary teachers, while 1/10 do not adequately contain enough English basics.

Individuals enrolled in university teacher training programs should take courses that meet four attributes to ensure that they are adequately prepared not only to graduate but pass a licensing exam:

  1. Relevant to current teaching practices and topics found in elementary classrooms.
  2. Feasibly taught in one or two semesters rather than touching only on the basics in a broader course.
  3. Offer an assortment of content that teachers may need to know.
  4. Focus on the content and how to teach it.

Although teacher candidates can take courses that lack one or more of the above characteristics and they can be beneficial, these classes may not fit into an already heavy course schedule. Core knowledge is of primary importance and concern.

Many times, institutions of higher learning already offer relevant courses, so they don’t need to create new ones. Instead, teacher education programs should adjust their parameters to include general education classes to satisfy program requirements and help to ensure that future teachers can pass licensing exams anywhere in the country and be confident for the classroom.

Click here for more information on PrepForward’s teacher certification preparation courses.

MTEL Comm & Lit – Passing the Summary Exercise with Fidelity

April 25th, 2019 | Comments Off on MTEL Comm & Lit – Passing the Summary Exercise with Fidelity | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

Passing the Summary Exercise: Fidelity

Communication and Literacy Skills Test

On the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills Test, candidates are asked to complete a summary exercise.  In this article, I will share the most common errors I see and tips for making a solid score on the fidelity performance characteristic. 

A summary with fidelity gives a fair picture of the original. Common synonyms of fidelity are trustworthiness, dependability, and faithfulness. Your ability to give a representation that is loyal to the original will be evaluated in this trait. How can you do that?

You succinctly restate the main ideas and supporting details in your own words, omitting less relevant material so that your summary is considerably shorter than the original.

Steps to follow:

  • Understand the task. This summary is a “true” summary. Your task is to recap the original, preserving the content, tone, order, relationships, emphasis, and point of view. You accurately retell the article in your own words. Summarizing is a skill we practice from childhood. We use summary techniques to answer questions such as “What did you do at school today?” and “What’s that book about?” We don’t retell every event or every detail; we tell the most important ideas in our own words.
  • Read the original. Read with understanding, highlighting the main ideas and supporting points and formulating in your mind the overarching message.
  • Retell the original. In your words, retell the article, omitting the support and examples that may add interest but are not critical to the main idea. The power of your summary rests in your ability to discern what to include, what to leave out, and how to package the key details and ideas.
  • Check word choice, grammar, and mechanics. More about that in a later blog, but clean writing using precise vocabulary is always an asset.

 

Errors to avoid

  • Avoid starting with an author/title/main idea statement. This is not your seventh-grade book report. Instead, begin your summary with your rewording of the first main idea from the original. The original does not begin with a statement such as, “Ryan Heimbach’s article, ‘Deception,’ emphasizes…” When you give an accurate representation of the original, you should not begin with this type statement.
  • Avoid tagging the author. Tagging the author is a common strategy for a summary. I would caution you to use this strategy sparingly if at all. A “true” summary reflects only the content of the original. The original does not say, “In his article, Heimbach stated…” Statements like this burn words without adding content.
  • Avoid spinning. It is not your job to argue, interpret, analyze, or “give your spin” on the text. You merely give a concise picture. That’s why the test evaluators use the term, fidelity—be fair to the intent of the original.
  • Avoid mismatching relationships. If the original article says, “Parental involvement was shown to improve student productivity,” you cannot distort the relationship between ideas by saying, “Student productivity was shown to improve parental involvement.” Using words and ideas from the original is not enough. The relationship between the ideas has to be accurate. Ideas have to stay in context.
  • Avoid considering your audience. Your responsibility is to preserve the message. It’s not your responsibility to communicate in a way that appeals to a particular audience.
  • Avoid shifting verb tenses unnecessarily. Note the tense of the original. You will most likely write in present tense, or what is sometimes called “historic present.” Think about describing a piece of art. For example, “In American Gothic, a farmer is standing beside a woman who is thought to be his daughter or wife.” We describe art using present tense verbs; do the same for your summary. If the article you are assigned to summarize is written in past or future tense, your summary would follow suit.
  • Avoid introducing new ideas. No points for original ideas; in fact, you’ll lose fidelity points if you distort the original with your ideas.

On the MTEL CLST, a summary with fidelity gives a true picture of the original. It doesn’t talk at length about a minor point and then rush over a major point. It gives a brief accurate representation which reflects your ability to discern and synthesize.