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ABOUT THIS BOOK AND TESTWARE®
If you’re looking to secure certification as a special education teacher, you’ll find that many states require one or more of the four tests covered in this test prep. Think of this book as your toolkit to pass your exam(s).
Deciding to pursue a teaching career already speaks volumes about you. You would not have gotten to this point without being highly motivated and able to synthesize considerable amounts of information.
But, of course, it’s a different matter when you have to show what you know on a test. That’s where we come in. We’re here to help take the mystery and anxiety out of the process. We’re here to equip you not only with the nuts and bolts, but, ultimately, with the confidence to succeed alongside your peers across the United States.
We’ve put a lot of thought into this, and the result is a book that pulls together all the information you need to know to pass any one of these Praxis tests:
• Education of Exceptional Students: Core Content Knowledge (0353)
• Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications (0354/5354)
• Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications (0543/5343)
• Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications (0545/ 5345)
In this test prep, REA offers our in-depth, up-to-date, objective coverage, with test-specific modules devoted to targeted review and true-to-format practice exams. Practice Tests 1 and 2 for Education of Exceptional Students: Core Content Knowledge (0353) and Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications (0354/5354), respectively, are included in two formats: in printed form in this book and on the enclosed TestWare® on CD.
Practice Tests 3 and 4 are will help prepare you to take the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications (0543) and/or the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications (0545) exams, respectively. Even if you’re not planning to take either the 0543 or the 0545 exams covered in this book, you will doubtless benefit from additional practice in these areas. This is because, while the subject matter focus may vary somewhat, the format in which you’ll be tested is identical.
We strongly recommend that you begin your preparation with the TestWare® practice tests on CD. The software provides the added benefits of timed testing conditions and instant, accurate scoring, which makes it easier to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.
ABOUT THE PRAXIS SERIES
Praxis is Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) shorthand for Professional Assessments for Beginning Teachers. The Praxis Series is a group of teacher licensing tests that ETS developed in concert with states across the nation. There are three categories of tests in the series: Praxis I, Praxis II and Praxis III. Praxis I includes the paper-based Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST) and the Praxis I Computer-Based Tests (CBT). Both versions cover essentially the same subject matter. These exams measure reading, mathematics, and writing skills and are often a requirement for admission to a teacher education program.
Praxis II embraces Subject Assessment/Specialty Area Tests, including the Praxis II Special Education and Exceptional Education series, of which these exams are a part. The Praxis II examinations cover the subject matter that students typically study in teacher education courses—such content as human growth and development, school curriculum, methods of teaching, and other professional development courses. In most teacher-training programs, students take these tests after having completed their classroom training, the course work, and practicum.
Praxis III is different from the multiple-choice and essay tests typically used for assessment purposes. With this assessment, ETS-trained observers evaluate an instructor’s performance in the classroom, using nationally validated criteria. The observers may videotape the lesson, and other teaching experts may critique the resulting tapes.
The Praxis II Special Education and Exceptional Education series covers the spectrum of content areas that affect the special education or exceptional student.
Who Takes the Test?
Most people who take these tests are seeking initial licensure, although an experienced teacher may seek additional certification in special education at another time in his/her career. In any case, you should check with your state’s education agency to determine which Praxis examination(s) you should take; the ETS Praxis website (www.ets.org/Praxis/) and registration bulletin may also help you determine the test(s) you need to take for certification. You should also consult your education program for its own test requirements. Remember that colleges and universities often require Praxis examinations for entry into programs, for graduation, and for the completion of a teacher certification program. These requirements may differ from the baseline requirements the state has for teacher certification. You will need to meet both sets of requirements.
When Should I Take the Test?
The Praxis II Special Education and Exceptional Education series of tests are for those who plan to teach special education at any grade level from preschool through grade 12. Each state establishes its own requirements for certification; some states specify the passing of other tests. Some states may require the test for initial certification; other states may require the test for beginning teachers during their first months on the job. Generally, each college and university establishes its own requirements for program admission and for graduation. Some colleges and universities require certain tests for graduation and/or for completion of a teacher education program.
Check with your college and the state teacher certification agency for details.
When and Where Can I Take the Test?
ETS offers these exams seven times a year at a number of locations across the nation. The usual testing day is Saturday, but examinees may request an administration on an alternate day if a conflict—such as a religious obligation—exists.
How Do I Get More Information on the ETS Praxis Exams?
To receive information on upcoming administrations of the Praxis II 0353, 0354/5354, 0543/5543, or the 0545/5545 tests or any other ETS Praxis test, consult the ETS registration bulletin or website. Contact ETS at:
ETS-The Praxis Series
P.O. Box 6051
Princeton, NJ 08541-6051
Phone: (609) 771-7395; (800) 772-9476
E-mail: www.ets.org/Praxis/contact/email_Praxis and use the online form
Special accommodations are available for candidates who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically disabled, or specific learning disabled. For questions concerning disability services, contact:
ETS Disability Services: (609) 771-7780; (866) 387-8602
TTY only: (609) 771-7714
Provisions are also available for examinees whose primary language is not English. The ETS registration bulletin and website include directions for those requesting such accommodations.
You can also consult ETS with regard to available test sites; reporting test scores; requesting changes in tests, centers, and dates of test; purchasing additional score reports; retaking tests; and other basic facts.
Is There a Registration Fee?
To take a Praxis examination, you must pay a registration fee, which is payable by check, money order, or with American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa credit cards. In certain cases, ETS offers fee waivers. The registration bulletin and website give qualifications for receiving this benefit and describe the application process. Cash is not accepted for payment.
Can I Retake the Test?
Some states, institutions, and associations limit the number of times you can retest. Contact your state licensing authority to confirm their retest policies.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK AND TESTWARE®
What Do I Study First?
To begin your studies, read over REA’s subject reviews and follow the Study Schedule found on page 19. Take Practice Test 1 on the enclosed CD to determine your areas of weakness, and then restudy the material focusing on your specific problem areas. Studying the reviews thoroughly will reinforce the basic skills you need to do well on the exam. Make sure to follow up your diagnostic work by taking the practice exams in this book so that you will be familiar with the format and procedures involved with taking the actual test.
When Should I Start Studying?
It is never too early to start studying; the earlier you begin, the more time you will have to sharpen your skills. Do not procrastinate! Cramming is not an effective way to study because it does not allow you the time needed to learn the test material.
FORMAT OF THE TESTS
The tests numbered 5345, 5543, and 5545 are offered only on computer at flexible times and locations throughout the year. Minimal computer and typing skills are required to complete the computer-based tests. You need to be comfortable with a Windows environment, using a mouse (including clicking, double-clicking, dragging, and scrolling), and typing at a rate (approximately 30 words per minute) that will allow you to complete the assignment in the allotted time. In computer-based testing, examinees complete the tests by selecting answers to multiple-choice questions on-screen.
You may only take a computer-delivered Praxis test once every 30 consecutive days, not including the day of your test. If you wish to retest, you must select a test date that is more than 30 days after your previous test date.
Multiple-Choice Question Formats
The multiple-choice questions assess a beginning teacher’s knowledge of certain job-related skills and knowledge. Four choices are available on each multiple-choice question; the options bear the letters A through D. The exam uses four types of multiple-choice questions:
1. The Roman Numeral Multiple-Choice Question
2. The “Which of the Following?” Multiple-Choice Question
3. The “Complete the Statement” Multiple-Choice Question
4. The Multiple-Choice Question with Qualifiers
A good rule of thumb is to budget approximately one minute on each multiple-choice question for each of the practice tests—and on the real exams, of course. The reviews in this book will help you sharpen the basic skills needed to approach the exam and offer you strategies for attacking the questions. By using the reviews in conjunction with the practice tests, you will better prepare yourself for the actual tests.
Integrated Constructed-Response Questions
For the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications or the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications exams, the test-taker must answer 90 multiple-choice questions and write three essays over the course of two hours.
If you spend approximately a minute on each multiple-choice question, that will leave you with approximately 30 minutes for the three constructed-response questions—roughly 10 minutes each. Obviously if you spend less than a minute per multiple-choice question, you will be able to spend more time on your constructed-response questions, which account for 25 percent of the your score. The questions could address any of the following topics:
1. Development and Characteristics of Learners
2. Planning and the Learning Environment
5. Foundations and Professional Responsibilities
It is important for anyone preparing for these tests to demonstrate not only knowledge of the content of each subject, but also theoretical reasons and methodological practices that can be used in a classroom setting. This book will provide a review of the basic concepts as well as the theoretical approaches to curriculum, the learning environment, and delivery of services.
The constructed-response questions are presented in the form of specific teaching situations in which the writer is asked to discuss an instructional approach, develop an instructional goal, or solve a pedagogical problem by outlining the steps to achieve that goal or solve that problem. In essence, ETS is using a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach in this assessment.
As Macdonald and Savin-Baden (2004) explain, this type of assessment places the test-taker in the future classroom context in order to assess what the professional will do in practice. This kind of task asks the writer not only to remember the important content he or she has learned, but also to synthesize that information with skills and experiences gleaned from classroom observations, student teaching, and prepared lessons. Thus, it is important for the test-taker to recall these important teacher education experiences when constructing a response. In short, the constructed-response scenarios ask you to activate prior knowledge and then to elaborate on what you would do in a particular pedagogical situation. A problem or a series of problems is presented to the test-taker. While the situation is challenging, it is also a real-life scenario, and the test-taker must reflect on that situation and suggest meaningful ways to address it.
Given the challenges of this type of assessment, how might you write a solid response to this kind of essay question? It helps to first understand the format of these questions. The test question is presented first as a scenario, followed by a series of questions asking you to address that scenario.
You have learned through your course work and your practical experience in schools most of what you need to know to answer the questions on the test. In your education classes, you gained the expertise to make important decisions about situations you will face as a teacher; in your content courses, you should have acquired the knowledge you will need to teach specific content. The reviews in this book will help you fit the information you have acquired into its specific testable category. Reviewing your class notes and textbooks along with systematic use of this book will give you an excellent springboard for passing the Praxis II: Special Education exams.
HOW THE TESTS ARE SCORED
How are the Multiple-Choice Questions Scored?
The number of raw points awarded on the Praxis exams is based on the number of correct answers you tally up. Most Praxis examinations vary by edition, which means that each test has several variations that contain different questions. The different questions are intended to measure the same general types of knowledge or skills. However, there is no way to guarantee that the questions on all editions, or versions of the test will have the same degree of difficulty. To avoid penalizing test-takers who answer more difficult questions, the initial scores are adjusted for difficulty by using a statistical process known as equating. To avoid confusion between the adjusted and unadjusted scores, ETS reports the adjusted scores on a score scale that makes them clearly different from the unadjusted scores. Unadjusted scores or “raw scores” are simply the number of questions answered correctly.
Adjusted scores, which are equated to the scale ETS uses for reporting the scores are called “scaled scores.” For each edition of a Praxis test, a “raw-to-scale conversion table” is used to translate raw to scaled scores. The easier the questions are on a test edition, the more questions must be answered correctly to earn a given scaled score.
The college or university in which you are enrolled may set passing scores for the completion of your teacher education program and for graduation. Be sure to check the requirements in the catalogues or bulletins. You will also want to talk with your advisor. The passing scores for the Praxis II tests vary from state to state. To find out which of the Praxis II tests your state requires and what your state’s set passing score is, contact your state’s education department directly.
To gauge how you are doing using the multiple-choice sections of our practice tests, if you get 75% correct, you can be assured that you passed the practice test.
How Will the Constructed-Responses be Scored?
ETS invites seasoned educators to score the constructed responses on examinations based on a three-point, holistic grading rubric. These test evaluations are “normed,” which means that the group reads, scores, and discusses some papers together. They engage in a conversation about what kind of an essay merits what kind of a score. By discussing responses and practicing the evaluation process together, an effort towards greater consistency and consensus is made. As a result, evaluators understand how an essay earns a score at each stage of the rubric. Another important measure taken by ETS: essays are read by two evaluators, with the first scorer’s decision hidden from the second scorer; each response is awarded points by adding those two scores together. If the evaluators differ from each other by more than one point, a third reader is brought in to evaluate the essay, and the score is determined based on that individual’s unbiased input.
When Will I Receive My Examinee Score Report and in What Form Will It Be?
ETS mails Praxis II test-score reports six weeks after the test date. Score reports will list your current score and the highest score you have earned on each test you have taken over the last 10 years.
Along with your score report, ETS will provide you with a booklet that offers details on your scores. For each test date, you may request that ETS send a copy of your scores to as many as three score recipients, provided that each institution or agency is eligible to receive the scores.
STUDYING FOR THE TESTS
It is critical to your success that you study effectively. The following are a few tips to help get you going:
• Choose a time and place for studying that works best for you. Some people set aside a certain number of hours every morning to study; others may choose to study at night before retiring. Only you know what is most effective for you.
• Use your time wisely and be consistent. Work out a study routine and stick to it; don’t let your personal schedule interfere. Remember, seven weeks of studying is a modest investment to put you on your chosen path.
• When you take the practice tests, try to make your testing conditions as much like the actual test as possible. Turn off your television, radio, and phone. Sit down at a quiet table free from distraction, and time yourself.
• As you complete the practice test, score your test and thoroughly review the explanations to the questions you answered incorrectly.
• Keep track of your scores. By doing so, you will be able to gauge your progress and discover your strengths and weaknesses. Carefully study the material relevant to your areas of difficulty. This will build your test-taking skills and your confidence!
• Take notes on material you will want to go over again or research further. Using note cards or flashcards 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 small note 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 material.