FTCEs are here to stay. Here's what you can do to beat them.
In a perfect education world, teacher certification would employ a mixed-method, performance-based model—some quantitative data in the form of test scores coupled with observation data provided by school leaders who have seen the prospective teachers in action. While a mixed-method approach to teacher certification would be more effective, it would take a ton of time and money–two things the state doesn’t like to give up. So, unless you want to grab 100 fellow teachers to march up to Tallahassee to get the law changed, you will be required to pass at least 3 teacher certification exams before becoming a Florida educator.
Before you get upset about how “hard” the FTCEs are, I encourage you to look at the academic standards our students are held to. There you’ll see just how rigorous and high-stakes student assessments are. Not convinced? Take a look at the FSA, ACT, AP, or AICE exam specs. Or you can simply take a look at the academic standards for 3rd grade. You will see that because our students are held to such laborious standards, the state and the public expect our teachers to be held to the same.
If you truly want to be an educator, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up—two things you would most likely tell your future students. There are lots of things you can do to give yourself a better chance of being successful on these exams. Complaining about how difficult they are will not produce a passing score. However, you can get your power back by using these 6 steps when preparing for the FTCEs.
1. Look at the test specifications. Every test has a spec. The specs outline the structure of the test and even tell you what’s on the test. It’s not a secret. Testing companies have to be very transparent with their methods for testing. The specs provide that. Getting to know the specs is 75% of the battle. Just google your test name FTCE Specs, and you will find a document with all the competencies on it with all of the skills assessed. I have an amazing FREE webinar on how to navigate the FTCE specifications. This will help you; PLEASE WATCH IT. Click the button below, put in your email, and get access to the webinar.
2. Look at the standards for the content area you want to teach. The FTCEs are aligned to the academic standards for each grade level and content area. Please read the standards. It is the criteria you will be expected to teach; the standards are the benchmarks your students will be expected to reach. You can access the standards here.
3. Study a little every day. This does not mean study for 2 hours every day. Instead, make sure you are in the practice tests or skills for at least 10 min a day. If you can only read one passage today, fine! If you can only work on 5 math problems, that’s ok! Just make sure your head is in the exam every day, whether it’s for 5 min or 45 min.
4. Time yourself. The test is timed. It doesn’t do you a bit of good to study without keeping the clock in mind. For reading passages, you should be able to read the entire passage and answer the questions within 10 min. For math problems, you should be able to get through each item in under 1.5 min. You will probably not do very well at first when you set the timer. That’s why practicing is so important. It’s just like running on a track; the more you do it, the faster you get
5. Seek outside help. Many people are strapped for cash and can’t afford fancy tutors or classes. YouTube is a fantastic FREE resource. There are millions of videos out there to help you, especially in math!
6. Relax! I know; you think your entire life depends on this one exam. It doesn’t. There is always a way; there are always options. The more you stress, the less likely you are to pass. Envision yourself passing, pray (if that’s your thing), but also DO THE WORK. Praying is great; however, attention and intention (Thank you Oprah!) is essential in succeeding in anything you do, including these exams.
For more info on how you can prepare for success, checkout our amazing resources