Read an Excerpt
With this book in hand, you've taken an important step toward becoming a certified teacher in the state of New Mexico. REA's all-new NMTA teacher certification test prep is designed to help you get into a New Mexico classroom. The instructive chapters in this book provide complete coverage of the NMTA Assessment of Teacher Basic Skills with in-depth reviews of every topic and area appearing on the exam. A full-length practice test carefully modeled after actual NMTA exams will hone your test-taking skills. All practice test answers are explained in thorough detail to provide you with a greater understanding of the exam's content and difficulty. When you finish preparing with this book, you will be well-equipped with all the knowledge, practice, and strategies needed to succeed on this important exam.
About the Test
What is the NMTA used for?
The New Mexico educator licensure system is based on the attainment and demonstration of competencies adopted by the Public Education Commission (PEC). The New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA) are required for individuals seeking initial New Mexico licensure. Additional information about educator licenses and endorsements is available at the PED Website at http://www.ped.state.nm.us.
If you are applying for a New Mexico educator license for the first time, you must complete a fingerprint background check. Fingerprints must be taken by a law enforcement agency or other agency with staff trained to take fingerprints. You may request fingerprint cards by contacting the Educator Ethics Bureau at (505) 827-6649, or you may contact a local school district.
Am I required to take this test if I hold a teaching certificate from another state?
You may be allowed New Mexico teacher licensure under the state's reciprocity option. First you must possess a bachelor's and/or master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. You must also possess a valid, standard certificate/license from another state, and can provide proof of passage of a teacher competency exam for that out-of-state license, or you can provide evidence of having satisfactorily taught under that out-of-state license. For online information about this option, visit the New Mexico Public Education's Professional Licensure Unit at www.sde.state.nm.us/div/ais/lic.
How is the test content determined?
The New Mexico Staff Accountability Plan of 1981 mandated assessment as part of the state's teacher licensure requirements. In response to this mandate, the State of New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) selected National Evaluation Systems, Inc. (NES) to fulfill the requirements for a testing program by developing and administering the NMTA. The purpose of the NMTA is to help identify candidates for licensure who have demonstrated the level of knowledge and skills that is important in performing the job of a teacher in New Mexico public schools.
The NMTA test addresses areas covered by the Public Education Department Teacher Competencies and Indicators and other state policy documentation. The test is criterion-referenced and competency-based. A criterion-referenced test is designed to measure a candidate's knowledge and skills in relation to an established standard rather than in relation to the performance of other candidates.
Test questions are developed using educational materials relevant to New Mexico, including textbooks, New Mexico's curriculum frameworks, teacher education curricula, and licensure standards. The questions are reviewed by committees of New Mexico's teachers, teacher educators, and other content and assessment specialists.
Who administers the NMTA?
The NMTA is administered by National Evaluation Systems (http://www.nmta.nesinc.com). NES is one of the largest testing firms in the United States.
When is the NMTA test offered? How long is the testing time?
The NMTA test is offered five times a year. Each test administration consists of two sessions: a morning session beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at approximately 12:30 p.m., and an afternoon session beginning at 1 p.m. and ending at approximately 5:30 p.m. For current information about scheduling and test sessions, see the most recent version of the New Mexico Teacher Assessments Registration Bulletin.
Additional information is available from the New Mexico Public Education Department, to which NES is under contract. The department can be contacted as follows:
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786
Phone: (505) 827-5800
Is there a registration fee?
Yes. In fact, there are several fees. Additional service fees are added for late registration, emergency registration, and changes in registration. Check with NES for fees and payment options.
How to Use this Book
What do I study first?
We recommend beginning your study with the comprehensive chapter reviews. It is important to read over each review, noting crucial test-taking suggestions and insights. By studying each review thoroughly, you will reinforce basic skills that are vital to performing well on the NMTA. After reviewing, take the practice test. This is the best way to acquaint yourself with the actual exam's format, procedures, and level of difficulty. An added bonus to taking these practice tests is knowing what to expect on exam day.
Wisely scheduling your study time is also a key component to your success on the NMTA. To best utilize your study time, follow our flexible NMTA study schedule at the end of this chapter. The schedule is based ideally on a seven-week program, but can be condensed if needed.
When should I start studying for the NMTA test?
It is never too early to start studying for your NMTA test. Time is your ally here. The earlier you begin, the more time you will have to sharpen your skills and focus your efforts. Do not procrastinate! Cramming is not an effective way to study, since it does not allow you enough time to learn what will be required of you. It takes time to learn the tested areas and test format. Make the most of your time while you have it. Use it well to master the essentials necessary to pass.
Format of the NMTA test
What is the basic format of the NMTA?
The NMTA is designed to measure fundamental communication and mathematical skills that the state of New Mexico requires of its classroom teachers. To do this, the NMTA assesses three broad areas of knowledge and skills: Reading Comprehension, Written Communication, and Mathematics. The entire test contains a total of 100 selected-response (multiple-choice) questions and one constructed-response assignment. Selected-response questions provide you with four answer choices. The constructed-response assignment is a written essay of 300-600 words on the assigned topic. Your essay will be evaluated on the following criteria:
o The extent to which you address the topic and your appropriate use of language and style.
o The clarity with which you state and maintain your main idea or point of view.
o The clarity of your writing and the logical sequence of your ideas.
o Your use of depth and specificity involving supporting details.
o Effective use of sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, and grammar usage. Errors here will count against you.
About the Subject Reviews
The subject reviews in this book are designed purposefully to provide you critical insight into the content and form of the NMTA. For smarter study, we break down this part of test preparation into more manageable "chunks." Before you begin reviewing, it is important to note that your own schooling experience has taught you most of what is needed to answer the questions on the actual NMTA. Our review is written to help you fit and shape information acquired over the years into a context ideally suited for taking the NMTA.
You may also be taking test preparation classes for the NMTA or have purchased other study guides and textbooks. Reviewing class notes and textbooks along with our subject reviews will provide you with an even better foundation for passing the NMTA.
Scoring the NMTA
Your results for your NMTA are reported using a score range of 100 to 300. A scaled total test score of 240 represents the scaled minimum passing score for the test. Subareas of your test will have different numbers of test questions depending on the subject. It is not possible to average your performance across subareas to arrive at the total test score. Your total test score is based on the total number of test questions you answered correctly. You do not lose any points for wrong answers. Each selected-response question counts the same toward the total test score. You do not have to pass a test's subarea to meet the minimum passing score.
The constructed-response assignment is scored by at least two qualified educators with relevant professional backgrounds. The scorers receive extensive training in standardized scoring procedures and take a qualifying assessment to ensure they are up to the task. A score is assigned based on a scale that describes various levels of performance. Scorers judge the knowledge and skills contained in each response while focusing on a set of characters as defined by New Mexico educators. If a candidate's response is blank, unrelated to the assigned topic, of insufficient length, illegible or incomprehensible, written in any language other than English, or otherwise unscorable, the candidate will receive a score of "U" (unscorable) and may not pass the test. The score for the constructed-response assignment is converted to a scale of 100 to 300, with 240 or above representing acceptable performance.
Unofficial scores for the NMTA test will be available on the Internet by 4 p.m. MT on the official examinee score report mailing date. Refer to the test registration schedule on the back cover of the NMTA Registration Bulletin for further information. Unofficial scores are available on the Internet for approximately two weeks. To access your unofficial scores, go to www.nmta.nesinc.com and follow the score retrieval instructions. Official scores will be mailed approximately five weeks after the test date.
If you do not achieve a passing score, review the detailed explanations for the questions you answered incorrectly. Note which types of questions you answered wrong, and re-examine the corresponding review. After further review, you may want to retake the practice tests.
And finally, if you do not do well on test day, don't panic! The test can be taken again, so you can work on improving your score on your next NMTA. A score on the NMTA that does not match your expectations does not mean you should change your plans about teaching.
Although you may not be familiar with tests like the NMTA, this book will help acquaint you with this type of exam and help alleviate test-taking anxieties. Here are the key ways you can more easily get into an NMTA state of mind:
Become comfortable with the format of the NMTA. Practice tests are the best way to learn the format of the NMTA. When you take a practice test, try to simulate the environmental conditions of the actual testing facility. Remember, you are in training for the NMTA, and simulated testing conditions will only help you perform better. Stay calm and pace yourself. After simulating a test even once, you boost your chances of doing well, and you will be able to sit down for the actual NMTA with much more confidence.
Read all the possible answers. Examine each answer choice to ensure that you are not making a mistake. Jumping to conclusions without considering all the answers is a common test-taking error.
Use the process of elimination. GUESS if you do not know. If you do not know the answer immediately after reading the answer choices, try to eliminate as many of the answers as possible. Eliminating just one or two answer choices gives you a far better chance of selecting the right answer.
Do not leave an answer blank. There is no penalty for wrong answers, and you might even get it right if you have to guess at the answer.
Familiarize yourself with the test's directions and content. Familiarizing yourself with the directions and content of the NMTA not only saves you valuable time, but can also aid in reducing anxiety before the test. Many mistakes are caused by anxiety. It's simply better to go in knowing what you will face.
Mark it right! Be sure that the answer oval you mark corresponds to the appropriate number in the test booklet. The test is multiple-choice and is graded by machine. Marking just one answer in the wrong place can throw off the rest of the test. Correcting an error like this can sap you of precious test time.
The Day of the Test
Your admission ticket lists your test site, test date, and reporting time. Report to the test site no later than your scheduled reporting time. If you arrive late to a test session, you may not be admitted. If you are admitted late, you will not be given any additional time beyond the scheduled ending time for the test session, and you will be required to sign a statement acknowledging this. If you arrive late and are not admitted, you will be considered absent and will not receive a refund or credit of any kind. You will need to register and pay again to test at a future administration.
You must bring the following with you to the test site on test day:
o Your official admission ticket or a printout of your e-mail admission information (I-Ticket).
o Several sharpened No. 2 pencils with erasers (no pens); pencils will not be supplied at the test site.
o Personal identification:
° One piece of current, government-issued identification, in the name in which you registered, bearing your photograph and signature.
° One additional piece of identification (with or without a photograph).
Acceptable forms of government-issued identification include photo-bearing driver's licenses, passports, and photo-bearing military identification cards. Unacceptable forms of government-issued identification include student and employee identification cards, social security cards, draft classification cards, and credit cards. If the name on your identification differs from the name in which you are registered, you must bring official verification of the change (e.g., marriage certificate, court order). If you do not have proper identification as described above, you must bring a current, accurate photograph of yourself; report directly to the Information Table at your test site; complete a personal identification information form; and certify, under penalty of perjury, that you are the person you purport to be. NES will keep the photograph you bring.
You will be denied permission to test if you (1) do not have proper identification and (2) do not present a current, accurate photograph of yourself; complete a personal identification information form; and certify, under penalty of perjury, that you are the person you say you are.
After the Test
When you finish your test, hand in your materials and you will be dismissed. Then, you are free. Go home and relax. Meet with friends. Go out to dinner. Or go shopping. Whatever you do, make it a great day! After all you have done to get this far, you deserve it!