Since ETS first created the Praxis, school district licensing has evolved. The Praxis has evolved with it, discontinuing the original Praxis I/Praxis II series and creating additional types of Praxis exam. As my colleague Jessica mentions, the Praxis I has been replaced with something very similar: the Praxis Core. Praxis Core covers the same three subjects as the Praxis I, but is administered only by computer, with no paper-based option.
Beyond the transition from Praxis I to Praxis Core, the selection of Praxis exams has changed in many other significant ways. The Praxis II series has been replaced with a group of tests called Praxis Subject Assessments. Some exams (such as the Elementary Education ones) didn’t change very much in the transition from Praxis II to Subject Assessments. At the same time, other exams (English Language arts, for example) were discontinued or greatly changed in their Subject Assessment incarnations. Moreover, an increasing number of test-takers are sitting for the Praxis’ non-teaching exams. These are proficiency tests for school staff and management. Below is a list of the types of Praxis exams that ETS currently offers.
Like the Praxis I, the Praxis Core offers three tests in Math, Reading and Writing. State licensing boards will nearly always require teachers to take all three exams, not just one or two. The separate-tests format is still helpful, however, as it allows teachers to retake an individual skill test without having to retake assessments in all three areas.
Content and Pedagogy Exams:
The Praxis Subject Assessment Exams (formerly Praxis II, as mentioned above) test two different kinds of knowledge. The exams test knowledge of content—the facts a teacher needs to know in order to be an expert on the subject they teach. Content on an exam for history teachers might include—for instance—questions about the Second World War or Chinese dynasties. Pedagogy knowledge—the knowledge required to teach effectively—includes questions on how to teach subject specific content (ESL-oriented grammar, algebraic principles, etc…) and how to work effectively with different demographics of students (adolescents, special education students, multicultural groups, and so on).
Content and pedagogy are integrated on many of the exams, such as the English Language Arts Content and Analysis Exam, which tests both English knowledge and classroom management strategies. Other exams focus exclusively on content—the Biology Content Knowledge Exam would be a good example of this. And then there are some exams that are pure pedagogy, with no real focus on subject-area facts. The Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching, a series within the larger Subject Area Assessment series, is a good example of this. PLT exams are completely focused on teaching strategy for different age groups and grade levels.
Every state has its own office of education, and state requirements for teacher licensure can vary a lot. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, some states have gotten rid of Praxis requirements completely, in favor of their own locally designed and administered tests.
But there are also three states have managed to have their own local standards while still keeping the Praxis… by hiring ETS to create a Praxis exam just for their state! Pennsylvania has its own Praxis exams for teachers of English, math, science, and social studies, as well as two Praxis exams that measure general pedagogy knowledge. Virginia’s local Praxis exams have a narrower focus, and are given only to reading specialists in that state. And Kentucky has a state-customized non-teaching Praxis assessment—see below.
Praxis offers exams for school administrators and support staff in a variety of roles. The ParaPro Assessment is for classroom aides. Teacher’s aides must pass the ParaPro in 33 states and two territories; an additional six states require the ParaPro in select school districts. (Details on state and local requirements for here.)
There are several Praxis exams for other school district employees too. Currently, ETS makes Praxis tests for school-employed speech language pathologists, audiologists, psychologists, guidance counselors, and librarians. Last but not least, the Praxis offers exams for school management positions. Within its Subject Assessment series, principals and other managers can take a Praxis Exam in Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision. There is also a separate Praxis series just for managers, the School Leadership exam set. Within this series is a general exam for principals and other school level managers, a state-specific exam for principals and vice principals in Kentucky, and an exam for superintendent managers at the school district level.