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!

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 – Finding the Purpose and Meaning of Text

March 7th, 2019 | Comments Off on MTEL Comm & Lit – Finding the Purpose and Meaning of Text | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

You will need to be highly capable in navigating complexities in written text to pass the MTEL Communications and Literacy Skills Test. At the heart of every piece of writing is a message, either stated or unstated. Readers who can identify the author’s purpose, point of view, and audience (Objective 3) are best equipped to get at the “real” meaning. On licensure tests, time is also a factor. So now you need to be both speedy and highly competent with textual nuances.

Try these strategies:
• Connect every test question to a test objective.
The MTEL does not set out to disguise the intent of the questions. Look in the question for the specific, targeted vocabulary from one of the stated test objectives. Questions for Objective 3 will likely ask, “the purpose,” “the main purpose,” “the audience of,” or “the point of view.” Be wise to questions that substitute a synonym or derivative such as, “main reason” or “is intended to.”

• Dissect for purpose.
You can safely assume that every word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph of the texts is included by design. When a question states, “Information in paragraph 2 is intended to __,” you’ll need to be able to size up quickly what would be missing if that paragraph were omitted. General classification of text “to entertain,” “to persuade,” or “to inform” will be insufficient.

• Think DOK wheel.
Whatever your personal feelings about the usefulness of the DOK (depth of knowledge) wheel, it is a tidy list of verbs that state intent and purpose. It contains words such as classify, illustrate, dispute, and assess. As you read an exam text the first time, make some side notes about the different paragraphs. Be so thoroughly familiar with DOK verbs that the specific intent of a word, statement, or paragraph rolls off your tongue.

• Look for strong feelings.
Point of view on the exam deals almost exclusively with informational text. You’re looking for the writer’s belief system, not identifying a character’s point of view as first person or third person limited. You can find the point of view by analyzing word choice, obvious statements of belief, and omissions. (What is the author not stating?) Background information on the author can be useful in identifying the author’s point of view. Recognizing the text as biased or unbiased also falls under author’s point of view.

• Get beyond the words.
To find the author’s intended meaning, you’ll need to get beyond the stated words on the page and find the “real” meaning. Particularly in satire, words may state the opposite view of the author. (Is Jonathan Swift really suggesting that children be sold and eaten when he states, “no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat”? A Modest Proposal, 1729)

• Know the audience.
Each text on the CLST test is written with an audience in mind. The audience could be that catch-all, “general audience” or it could be an audience that brings specific background knowledge to the text. Everything from the textual appearance to the genre to the sentence structure can give away the author’s intended audience. Why is the audience significant? It plays into the author’s purpose. Know the audience and you have another tool to get at the subtleties of the author’s purpose and meaning.

Your analytical skills will need to be sharp. The exam texts will be difficult. Breathe deep. Know what you’re looking for. Succeed.

Countdown to Teacher Licensure Exam

October 1st, 2018 | Comments Off on Countdown to Teacher Licensure Exam | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Teachers taking exam

As you approach your teacher licensure exam, you can take specific actions that will ensure you are confidently prepared to test. You want to show up on your state’s annual pass rate report in the pass column rather than in the fail column.

You have been anticipating this exam since your first education course your freshman year of college. Now, you find that the time has come to reserve your exam day and make your final preparations. What’s your plan?

Determine the required tests. Exam requirements vary wildly from state-to-state. Ideally, six months before you want to test, you’ll set aside a two-hour block to read every word of your state’s education department website that relates to specifications for certification.

Review the entire set of test objectives and descriptive statements. You can find the test objectives on the website of the test provider for your state.

Try some practice questions. The test provider, your state education department, and/or your university will have a few sample questions on their websites. Again, set aside a block of time—this time to test. Review your results. Determine where you stand.

Review your coursework. Every reputable education course has some content which appears on teacher licensure tests. Commonly, instructors flag the content that aligns to the stated test objectives. Review the content flagged in your coursework.

Feel overwhelmed. And, yes, that is a required step. If you do not find yourself overwhelmed with the enormity of preparing for a licensure exam, you have underestimated the gravity of the task ahead of you. Some licensure tests have pass rates in the 50% range. Absorb that thought and rush to your next step.

Take a test prep course. PrepForward, for example, states, Our courses have been proven to boost performance on licensing exams. Our pass rates are near perfect.” We recommend that you get the prep course several months in advance to allow yourself to benefit from all features of the course. In addition to lessons, you’ll find scores of sample questions with in-depth explanations. Instructors are available. Using all features of the course works provides substantial benefit. If you’re down to your last weeks and days, while it’s not your best option, it may be time to cram. Prep courses provide you with a succinct one-stop source for coaching.

Acquire physical and mental stamina. Check the time allotted for your test. Use your test prep course to practice sustaining a mentally-demanding activity for the allotted test time. During that time, be conscious of your restroom breaks, avoid eating, avoid diversions such as checking phone messages. Maintain focused attention on your one task.

Every year, thousands of candidates follow these or similar steps to pass their teacher licensure exams. Get started today on making sure your next career step is a positive one.