Read an Excerpt
About This Book
REA’s Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA): Elementary Education (Field 01) is a comprehensive guide designed to assist you in preparing to take the AEPA Elementary Education Test. This examination is not the only one that Arizona requires of elementary candidates applying for teacher certification; elementary teacher candidates must pass the following:
• A subject knowledge test that matches the desired type of certification or endorsement (in this case elementary education)
• A professional knowledge test
• The Constitutions of Arizona and the United States test—unless they have successfully completed course work that the Arizona Department of Education has approved for exemption of this requirement
The AEPA is a criterion-referenced test (CRT). In CRTs, each student is measured against uniform objectives or criteria; candidates are not scored in relation to the scores of the other examinees, as they are in norm-referenced tests (NRTs). CRTs allow for the possibility that all students can score 100 percent, because the students can determine ahead of time the concepts on the examination. If students properly study for the test, their scores should be high. This type of test is noncompetitive, because students are not in competition with one another for a high score; there is no limit to the number of candidates who can score well.
The purpose of the AEPA is to identify the certification candidates who demonstrate the skills and the professional knowledge that the Arizona Department of Education considers to be important for a state educator who will (1) enhance student achievement and (2) meet the needs of the changing and diverse student population in Arizona schools.
The candidates for teacher certification in the state of Arizona should check with their preparatory institution, Pearson Education, Inc., and the Arizona Department of Education for the latest information about certification requirements, test dates, and so forth. Their contact information appears below.
National Evaluation Systems, Inc.
PO Box 660
Amherst, MA 01004-9011
800-239-8105 or 413-256-2883
7 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time)
Arizona Department of Education
Certification United States
PO Box 6490
Phoenix, AZ 85005-6490
This book helps in your preparation for the AEPA Elementary Education Test. This test guide does the following:
• Identifies the 38 objectives in five subject areas (language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and the arts) that form the foundation of the content of the AEPA. Objectives are broad statements whose language is a reflection of the professional knowledge, skills, and understandings that a beginning educator needs for effective performance in the elementary classroom in Arizona.
• Provides an explanation of the skills and the knowledge that the objective covers in a statement that follows each objective; these objectives and statements reflect Arizona’s curriculum standards and materials, certification standards, and teacher preparation programs.
• Identifies some of the important information about the AEPA Elementary Education Test.
• Presents an accurate and complete overview of the AEPA.
• Summarizes the content of the AEPA for a quick review of content.
• Provides sample questions in the AEPA format.
• Suggests tips and strategies for successfully completing standardized tests.
• Provides two practice tests that (1) replicate the format of the AEPA Elementary Education test, (2) provide an opportunity for the candidate to rehearse before the test date, and (3) represent the types and the levels of difficulty of the questions that appear on the AEPA.
• Supplies the correct answer and detailed explanation for each question on the two practice tests included in this book. This explanation feature enables you not only to identify correct answers but also to understand why they are correct and, just as important, why the other answers are incorrect.
• Provides sample performance assignment responses and the score that the response would typically receive on the test. In producing this guide, the editors considered the most recent test administrations, other test guides, and professional standards; they also researched information from the Arizona Department of Education, professional journals, textbooks, other educators, and the most recent information from National Evaluation Systems (NES).
In addition to guiding your preparation for certification, recertification, out-of-field certification, or multiple certifications, this book is a valuable source for college and university personnel and in-service trainers. They will find the guide helpful as they construct help sessions and recommend resources for a test candidate.
The guide may even suggest topics or content to include in a college course syllabus.
Although this book is intended to help you succeed on the AEPA, you should not consider it a replacement for any college course, a duplicate of the test, or a complete source of subject matter to master. Like knowledge itself, the AEPA test can change.
This book includes the best test preparation materials based on the latest information available from test administrators. The number and distribution of questions can vary from test to test. Accordingly, prospective examinees should pay strict attention to their strengths and weaknesses and not depend on specific proportions of any subject areas appearing on the actual exam.
About the Test
Who Must Take the AEPA Elementary Education Test?
In November 1997 the State of Arizona adopted certain rules and regulations governing the evaluation of educators applying for state teacher certifications, endorsements, and credentials. One of these rules requires candidates for teacher certification to pass certain tests: the subject matter test that matches the certification or endorsement area, a professional knowledge test, and the Constitutions of the United States and Arizona test.
To obtain an elementary education teaching certificate, then, a prospective elementary teacher must demonstrate mastery of subject matter knowledge, as indicated by a passing score on the AEPA Elementary Education test (01) and on the AEPA Professional Knowledge Test: Elementary (91). People taking the test typically include (1) individuals seeking initial teacher certification in Arizona and (2) educators who are making changes in their teaching career.
How Is the Test Scored?
On the AEPA, the selected-response (multiple-choice) section counts for 90 percent of your total score, while the performance assignment (essay) counts for 10 percent. Once you take the test, your raw score—based on the number of questions you answer correctly—is converted to a scaled score based on a weighting value unique to the administration of your particular test. The scaled scores possible on the AEPA range from 100 to 300; 240 or higher is a passing score. (Your actual scaled score is provided only if you do not pass the test.) For all practical purposes, on the sample tests in this book, if you write a good essay and correctly answer roughly 70 percent of the questions, you will approximate a passing score on the AEPA.
What If I Do Not Pass the Test?
If you do not achieve a passing score on the AEPA test, you should not panic! Instead, as a serious test taker, plan to retake the test. The test schedule usually makes the assessments available six times during a calendar year (September–July). The waiting period enables you to do additional work to improve your score on the next test.
Retaking the AEPA Test
Remember, a low score on the AEPA is not an indication that you should change your plans about a teaching career. The low score does indicate, however, that you need to review and study before entering the examination setting again. Remember, the AEPA is a reliable test; this means that the instrument will give consistent results with repeated measurements. Just as a reliable bathroom scale will give almost identical weights for the same person measured three times in a morning, the AEPA test will give you similar scores each time you take it— unless you change some things (like the preparation you make before you retake the test). Adequate preparation is what this book should help you
There is a limited amount of time between the date of the mailing of the score report and the registration date for the new administration. A special dispensation occurs when the two dates occur in the same week. In that case, if you must retake the test, no late registration fee applies if you register to take the test by the late registration deadline; this waiver is applicable only for the late registration period of the next test date and for the same test that you failed. No refunds are applicable, however, if you register to retake the test before the receipt of your initial test score and then find that you earned a passing score on that initial test.
Who Designs the Test?
A content validation was an essential part of the development of the set of AEPA test objectives. Randomly selected Arizona school personnel and Arizona college and university faculty members participated in the content validation. Participants in the elementary survey were proficient in their area of review; they considered only the objectives for their field of certification. Their goals were (1) to determine whether the objectives were important to the profession of an Arizona educator and (2) to ensure that the objectives were indicative of the skills, standards, and knowledge necessary to Arizona educators. The test questions and answers thus reflect the objectives that the Arizona educators validated.
National Evaluation Systems (NES) developed the AEPA. NES is a company that develops and administers tests customized for teacher certification programs and higher-education assessment programs. NES has developed assessments in more than 100 content fields, in professional teaching, and in the basic skills: reading, writing, and mathematics. In addition to tests for the state of Arizona, NES has developed tests for the states of California, Colorado, Illinois, and New York, among others.
When Should I Take the AEPA Test?
Most teacher certification candidates take the test in time for their test results to accompany their certification applications. Some colleges and institutions have rules about the dates by which students must have taken and passed the examination. Consult the rules of the college or university where you are enrolled to determine whether any stipulations exist.
The Arizona Department of Education establishes the tests you must take for certification; it also sets the deadlines by which you must complete the tests for certification purposes. Rules and regulations change with time. You must generally adhere to the rules and regulations in effect at the time you are applying for certification, so it is important to stay up to date.
Typically, there are six administrations of the AEPA Elementary Education test during a calendar year: September, November, January, April, June, and July. Students may take the test at several locations throughout the state of Arizona. The state of Arizona and NES often plan alternative test dates to accommodate test takers whose schedules might conflict with the typical testing schedule because of religious obligations, for instance. In addition, a test candidate who has a disability and cannot take the test under standard testing conditions may request special accommodations. Such candidates need to check with NES in Amherst, Massachusetts, about rules for requesting special arrangements.
Is There a Registration Fee?
To take the AEPA, you must pay a $35 registration fee that is nonrefundable; the fee for the subject knowledge test is $70. Additional fees apply for late registration and for emergency registration, as well as for change of registration, additional score reports, rescoring the multiple-choice section, disputed payments, and performance assignment sections. Payment method depends on the registration method. If you register or make changes to the registration by telephone or the Internet, you can use only a MasterCard or Visa credit card. If you pay via the U.S. mail, checks or money orders are appropriate. Should any payment fail to clear, you may not register for future tests until you have paid an additional penalty charge and have cleared the account by cashier’s check or money order.
How to Use This Book
The following sections outline ways you can use this study guide and take the practice tests to help you prepare for the AEPA.
How Do I Begin Studying?
1. Review the organization of this test preparation guide.
2. Follow the “AEPA Elementary Education Test Study Schedule” presented at the end of this chapter. The schedule is for a seven-week independent study program, but you can condense or expand the schedule according to the time you have available.
3. Take Practice Test 1 under timed, simulated testing conditions.
4. Score Practice Test 1. Be sure to study the explanations for why the answers are correct, as well as why the other answer choices are wrong.
5. Review the section of this chapter titled “Format of the AEPA Test,” which provides the format of items on the sample test and a replica of the types of questions.
6. Review the suggestions for test taking presented later in this chapter.
7. Pay attention to the information about the objectives, competencies, skills, content, and topics on the test.
8. Spend time reviewing those topics that seem to warrant more study.
9. Take Practice Test 2 under timed, simulated testing conditions.
10. Score Practice Test 2 and study those competencies that your test scores indicate need more review.
11. Follow the suggestions presented later in this chapter for the day before and the day of the test.
Studying thoroughly the subject area reviews in chapters 2 through 6 of this guide will reinforce the basic skills you need to do well on the exam. Taking the practice tests under timed, simulated testing conditions will help you become familiar with the format of the AEPA and the procedures involved in taking the actual test.
When Should I Start Studying?
It is never too early to start studying for the AEPA. (Actually, you started preparing when you began your first college course and internship.) The earlier you begin using this guide, however, the more time you will have to sharpen your skills. Do not procrastinate! Cramming is not the most effective way to study; it does not give you the time you need to study the objectives, think about the content, review the competencies, and take the practice tests. Although you do not want to cram, it is important to review the material one last time the night before the test administration.
Format of the AEPA Test
The AEPA Elementary Education test is a four-hour exam. On each test day, the test is available in the afternoon. There will be two types of questions on the exam: selected response (multiple choice) and written performance. There are 100 selected-response questions on the test, but only 80 of the questions are for scoring purposes; the other 20 are for field testing and do not contribute to or detract from the test taker’s score. The written performance item also contributes to the test score. A passing score, again, is 240 points or higher.
You should have plenty of time to complete the AEPA during the four-hour examination period, but you will need to be aware of the amount of time you spend on each question. You do not want to find you have run out of time before you finish all the questions. Although speed is not very important, a steady pace is necessary when answering the questions. You can allocate your time during the exam period as you need; you can, therefore, spend as much time as you wish on the test sections as long as you do not go over the four-hour limit. Pacing yourself is very important. Using the practice tests will help you set your pace.
Format of the Performance Assignment
The AEPA Elementary Education test includes at least one assignment that requires an extended, written response. The test will present you with an issue and a task. The assignment may, for example, ask you to compare and contrast proposals or even present you with a problem to which you must present a solution and justify your response. Therefore, you must be prepared to think about an issue, organize your thoughts, give a response, and justify the presented response.
Format of Multiple-Choice Questions
Each of the multiple-choice questions has four answer options: A, B, C, and D. You will receive an answer sheet on which you will mark your responses by filling in the “bubbles.” Individual test items require levels of thinking, ranging from simple recall to evaluation, analysis, and problem solving.
Two types of multiple-choice questions may appear on the exam. Your test might have both types of questions or just one of the types. It is important, however, for you as a test taker to study both types of questions. The question types are (1) the single-question format and (2) questions with stimulus material.
The single-question format comprises two question types: the direct question and the sentence completion. With the direct question, the question stem ends in a question mark, and you must select the answer choice that best answers the question. With the sentence completion, a portion of the sentence is omitted; you must choose the answer that best completes the statement. Here is an example:
Questions with Stimulus Material
For questions with stimulus material, a direct question follows a stimulus. The stimulus could be a classroom scenario, a reading passage, and/or a visual representation, such as graph, chart, table, or map. One or more questions follow the stimulus; a direction line states how many questions refer back to the given stimulus.
Scenario. For a scenario stimulus, you must examine a case study, scenario, or problem and answer the question, diagnose the problem, or suggest the best course of action from the provided options.
Graph or map. Other stimulus questions will ask you to identify or interpret a graph or map by choosing the response that best answers the question:
Word problem. Some stimulus problems ask you to apply mathematical principles to solve a real-world problem.
Content of the AEPA
The AEPA Elementary Education test comprises five subject areas, with objectives and descriptive statements for study and preparation under each subject:
• Language arts: 11 objectives (30 percent of the questions)
• Mathematics: 9 objectives (24 percent of the questions)
• Science: 6 objectives (16 percent of the questions)
• Social studies: 7 objectives (19 percent of the questions)
• Arts: 4 objectives (11 percent of the questions)
These identified objectives and statements are the basis for the AEPA Elementary Education test. You can use these objectives and statements as an inventory of information to consider when preparing to take the test. The subject area reviews—in addition to the objectives and statements—in chapters 2 through 6 of this book can help in preparation for the AEPA.
About the Subject Area Reviews in This Book
The subject area reviews in chapters 2 through 6 will help you sharpen the basic skills you will need when you take the AEPA. In addition, the reviews provide you with strategies for attacking the test questions. Each teaching area has its own chapter; subtopics in each chapter include the objectives within the subject area and statements on the skills within the objectives.
Your education has already provided much of the information you need to score well on the AEPA. Education classes and internships have given you the know how to make important decisions about situations that teachers face. The reviews in this book will help you fit the information you have already acquired into the specific objective and statement components. Reviewing class notes and textbooks and using the reviews, objectives, tests, scoring guides, and statement reviews in this book will provide excellent preparation for passing the AEPA.
Other important parts of the book are the two practice tests, which will help develop your test-taking skills. Although the review chapters and the practice tests will help prepare you for the AEPA, this guide is not an all-inclusive source of information or a substitute for course work. The practice test items cannot be exact representations of questions
that actually appear on the test.
Using the Practice Tests
There are 100 multiple-choice questions and one essay question on both of the AEPA practice tests. Only 80 of the 100 multiple-choice questions on the actual AEPA apply to your test score; the other 20 are field-test questions. On the practice tests, you should answer all the questions, just as you will on the actual test; this will help you pace yourself and judge your time on the test day.
Your main objective on these practice tests is to answer the questions in the allotted time and to check your answers. You should study carefully the detailed explanations for the right and wrong answers. Pay particular attention to the questions you answered incorrectly, note the types of questions you missed, consider the related objectives, and reexamine the corresponding review section. After further study, you might want to
retake the practice tests.
Studying for the AEPA Test
Choose a study time and study place that suit the way you live and learn. Some people set aside some time early in the morning to study; others choose to study at night before going to sleep. Busy test candidates study at random times during the day: while standing in line for coffee, while eating lunch, or while waiting for their next class to begin. Only you can determine the study plan that is best for you.
It is important to study consistently and to use your time wisely. After you work out a study routine, stick to it. It is crucial not to wait until the last minute and not to cram.
When you take the practice tests in this book, observe the time constraints and try to simulate the conditions of the actual test as closely as possible. Turn off the television, the phone, and the radio. Sit down at a table in a quiet room free from distraction.
After you complete a test, score your performance. Keeping track of your scores will enable you to gauge progress and discover general weaknesses in particular sections.
Reviewing thoroughly the explanations to the questions you answered incorrectly and also noting the reasons for the correct answers will help you master the material. Concentrating on just one problem area at a time, give extra attention to the review sections that cover the areas of difficulty you have noted; you will want to build skills in those areas. Paying special attention to competencies and skills related to your areas of weakness is an effective learning tool and will help increase your knowledge and confidence in subject areas that initially gave you difficulty.
Using small note cards to record facts and information for future review is a good way to study and keep the information at your fingertips in the days to come. You can easily pull out the cards and review them at random moments: during a coffee break or meal, on the bus or train as you head home, or just before falling asleep. Using the cards gives you essential information at a glance, keeps you organized, and helps you master the materials. Ultimately, you gain the confidence you need to succeed.
Before the Test
If the test center is not located in an area familiar to you, you might want to make a trial run to ensure that you do not get lost on that important test day and to make certain that there are no detours. It is always a good idea to check your registration slip to verify the time and place. Before leaving for the test center, be sure you have your admission ticket and two forms of identification, one of which must contain a recent photograph, your name, and signature (for example, your driver’s license). You will not be permitted to enter the test center without proper identification.
It is helpful to arrive at the test center early. This allows you some time to choose a suitable seat, relax, and avoid the anxiety that might come with a late arrival. If you are late, you will not be admitted to the testing room. If you are absent, you will not receive a credit or refund. You will need to reregister and take the test at a later date.
You should plan what to wear ahead of the test day. It is important to dress comfortably and in layers; that way you can remove a sweater or add a jacket if the room is too hot or too cool. Dressing in layers ensures that the room temperature will not divert your concentration while taking the test.
What to Take—and What Not to Take—to the Test Center
You must supply your own pencils. It is a good idea to bring several sharpened No. 2 pencils with erasers, because the test monitors will not provide any at the test center. You do not want to have to get up during the test to sharpen a pencil; another test taker may forget a pencil and may ask you to share, so it is best to have a supply on hand.
You should wear a watch to the test center. However, you cannot wear a watch that makes noise, because it can disturb the other test takers. The proctor will remind test takers of the total time for the session; because you know how many questions are in the booklet and how many minutes are in the afternoon session, you can gauge time accurately for each question. As an added precaution, do a very quick check of the page numbers. If your booklet is incorrectly stapled, it is better to find this out at the beginning—not the end—of the test.
You cannot bring dictionaries, textbooks, notebooks, calculators, briefcases, or packages. Food, drinks, and cigarettes or other smoking implements must also remain at home. Some test sites may allow you to have water bottles in the testing room, provided that the containers are clear, do not have a label, have a secure lid, and are kept under the seat—not on your desk.
During the Test
The AEPA Elementary Education test is a four-hour exam. To maintain test security, test takers and the proctor must follow certain procedures. Once you enter the test center, you must follow all the rules and the instructions that the proctor gives. Test takers who do not adhere to the rules risk dismissal from the test and cancellation of their test scores.
After distributing the testing materials, the proctor will give the directions for filling out the answer sheet. It is important to fill out the sheet carefully, because the information you provide will appear on the score report.
Once the test begins, you should be sure to fill in answers darkly and neatly, mark only one answer per question, and completely erase unwanted answers and marks.
This book will acquaint you with the test and help alleviate test-taking anxieties. Listed here are ways you can get ready to take the AEPA, and perhaps other tests as well:
Tip 1. Become comfortable with the format of the AEPA. Use the sample tests, simulate the conditions under which you will be taking the actual test, try to stay calm, and pace yourself. In fact, after simulating the test only once, you will boost your chances of doing well and will be able to sit down for the actual AEPA with much more confidence.
Tip 2. Read all the possible answers. Even if the first response appears to be the correct answer, the savvy test taker will read all the choices and not automatically assume that the first is the best answer. Read through each choice to be sure that you are not making a mistake by jumping to conclusions.
Tip 3. Use the process of elimination by going through each answer to a question and discarding as many of the answer choices as possible. For instance, if you eliminate two of the four answer choices, the chances of getting the item correct have increased; you have only two choices left from which to make a guess—a 50-50 chance of choosing the correct answer.
Tip 4. Cross out in the test booklet (not on the answer sheet) any answer you know is not the appropriate one. Crossing out the incorrect answer will prevent your having to reread it if you need to look over the question again. This will save you time.
Tip 5. Never leave a question unanswered. There is no penalty for guessing, so even if you are unsure of an answer, do not leave it blank.
Tip 6. Work quickly and steadily when taking the AEPA. The actual test consists of roughly 100 multiple-choice questions and one essay question, and you will have four hours to complete the test. You will need to work at a constant pace over a long period of time. Wearing a watch and referring to the time occasionally will help you gauge the time left.
Tip 7. Do not focus on any one question too long. You need to use your time wisely.
Tip 8. Take the diagnostic and practice tests in this guide to help you practice budgeting the precious time allotted for the test session.
Tip 9. Study the directions and the format of the AEPA. Familiarity breeds confidence. By becoming acquainted with the instructions and with the structure of the test, you can save time when you actually begin taking the test. In addition, you can cut your chances of having any unwanted surprises. When you sit for the test, it should be just as you thought it would be. By studying the directions and format ahead of time, you can avoid both anxiety and the mistakes a case of the jitters causes.
Tip 10. During the test, you should constantly check the answer sheet to be sure that the number beside the answer bubble matches the number beside the question in the test booklet.
Tip 11. Enter your answers carefully. The AEPA is a multiple-choice test graded by machine. If you skip a bubble or enter an answer twice, the rest of the answers on the answer sheet may be incorrect and may seriously affect your score.
Tip 12. Place a question mark in your answer booklet— not on the answer sheet—beside any question for which you had to guess. If you have extra time, you can always recheck those questions you marked. Do not, however, make stray marks on the answer sheet.
After the Test
When time is up, hand in the materials. The proctor will dismiss all the people taking the test. You are then free to go home and relax—a well-deserved treat!