Whenever someone has successfully completed a standardized test, they usually breathe a sigh of relief. Passing the exam is the end of a long journey for most test-takers. If you’ve just passed the Praxis Core, let yourself take that breather… but then prepare to get back to work. Because getting a qualifying score on the Praxis Core isn’t the end of your testing and assessment journey… it’s merely the end of one step in your path to teacher certification. Let’s look at some of the additional steps that may be ahead for you.
Taking the Praxis PLT (maybe)
The Praxis Core focuses on basic academic skills, measuring your mastery or math, reading and writing. The PLT, which some states will require you to take after you pass Praxis Core, tests your basic teaching skills. If your next step is the PLT, be prepared to shift your test prep activities from general academic skills to general knowledge of pedagogy. Make sure you know the work of leading educational psychologists and learning theorists, and be ready to answer scenario-based questions about a variety of teaching situations. And of course, make sure you know which of the four tests in the PLT series you’ll need to take: Early Childhood, Grades K-6, Grades 5-9, or Grades 7-12.
Taking a Praxis Subject Assessment (or in-state equivalent)
Once you’ve passed your “foundational” Praxis exams (the Praxis Core and sometimes also the PLT), you’ll need to take a certification exam specific to the area you’ll be teaching in. The Praxis Subject Assessments, formerly called the Praxis II, offer testing for licensure in just about any teaching area: Elementary Education, Music, Biology, Business, etc….
Here, you’ll be tested partly on pedagogy knowledge. Subject Assessment pedagogy questions are similar to those on the PLT, but more subject-specific. For example, the ESL Subject Assessment may ask you about language acquisition as it relates to different developmental stages in children, and the History subject assessment may ask you how to effectively deliver a history lesson to junior high students.
You’ll also be tested on content knowledge. The assessments for science teachers include questions about science facts that might be taught in K-12 settings, Language Arts assessments test knowledge of works of literature commonly taught in school, and so on.
Submitting a teaching portfolio
As a final step on the path to licensure, most states require a portfolio of teaching materials. This can include lesson plans and may also include videos of your actual teaching work, personal reflections on your experiences as a student teacher, and possibly papers you wrote in classes for your teaching degree.
In many states, a specific type of portfolio called an EdTPA is required. EdTPAs are administered by Pearson, the same testing company that administers many standardized tests to K12 students as well. There are also a number of other states that do not use Pearson’s EdTPA assessments for portfolio materials, instead requiring teachers to make portfolios that meet state-specific standards.