As noted in the December 2014 blogpost, the NYSTCE examsincluding the ALST, EAS, CST, and edTPA,are examples of trailing indicators of success. The intent of increased rigor of these exams is to produce more professionally competent teachers. Success with the content of the ALST, EAS, CST, and edTPA exams will require the teacher preparation program’s leading indicators of success provide optimal opportunities for professional development. The leading indicators cannot be content alone but rather exhibit a balance between supporting development of the teacher candidate’s pedagogy, promoting active inquiry, and engaging faculty across the disciplines.
During the series, this writer will present one NYSTCE exam each month, identifying the primary purpose and framework of that exam. Each post in the series will present five systemic activities for supporting teacher candidates. Lastly, apropos for the content of the highlighted NYSTCE exam, links to articles will be provided to encourage instructors and their students to follow the Buffalo (2014) template for developing a text set. Thereafter, through application of the formative assessment process, the teacher candidates’ will practice their critical reading, professional writing, and quantitative literacy skills while strengthening their teacher competencies.
The five activities below address the needs of a student body that exhibits difficulty with analytical and quantitative literacy skill development. A campus-wide approach to elevating higher order thinking skills across disciplines efficiently and effectively promotes sustained success. For the most part, the suggested activities provide rich opportunities for mitigating deficits in analytical and quantitative literacy skill development. However, these solutions do not require faculty to develop additional skills. Rather, a college-wide faculty embrace of these activities simply makes critical thinking, academic comprehension, and persuasive writing, an explicit expectation within the institute of higher education. Collectively, these suggestions embrace the metaphor that a rising tide raises all ships. This is a win/win habit (Covey, 1989), beneficial for all stakeholders. By embracing the following five activities, faculty become effectively engaged in the efficient process of student skill development:
- Opportunities for Analytical Literacy: Assignments requiring comprehension of, and written response to, point/counterpoint arguments, text sets, or class debates.
- Promoting Quantitative Literacy: Do Now interpretation of graphs and charts that begin class sessions.
- Addition of a writing dimension to any written assignment rubric thereby clarifying high writing expectations.
- Referrals to the Writing Center: As soon as a student exhibits less than college-level writing.
- Requiring evidence of the utilization of proofreading/editing strategies prior to submission of written assignments: Inclusion of a Grammarly.edu score of >95 (screen shot) as an appendix to written assignments. Grammarly is now free with Google Chrome.
This month highlights the Educating All Students (EAS) Exam. Administration of the EAS is through computer-based testing (CBT). Crucially, CBT may be a new format for many teacher candidates. Therefore, it is wise for the teacher candidate to access the computer-based testing tutorials prior to the day of test administration. This planning for success will mitigate his or her stress and mental overload on the day of the actual exam. An EAS Study Guide is available through the NYSTCE website. Additionally, an interactive practice test with comprehensive feedback on the teacher candidate’s performance. Teacher preparation programs can support their teacher candidates with this opportunity by purchasing ALST and EAS practice in bulk through Pearson: firstname.lastname@example.org
The EAS exam consists of forty selected-response (multiple-choice) questions and three constructed-response assignments. Each selected-response question has four answer choices. Teacher candidates are encouraged to respond with the one best answer and to answer all questions. When unsure of an answer, it is better to make an informed guess than not to answer a question at all. The teacher candidate has a total of 135 minutes to complete the entire EAS exam. The teacher candidate should therefore carefully allocate his or her time to complete the entire exam within the session. Based on the test framework, the forty selected-response (multiple-choice) questions measure five distinct teacher candidate competencies:
1. Diverse Student Populations
2. English Language Learners (ELL)
3. Students with Disabilities and Other Special Learning Needs
4. Teacher Responsibilities
5. School-Home Relationships
Minimal performance expectations were established for each of the five areas. Related to diverse student populations, the competent teacher candidate “understands the characteristics, strengths, and needs of all student populations and effectively uses knowledge of diversity within the school and the community to address the needs of all students, to create a sense of community among students, and to promote students' appreciation of and respect for all students in their diversity” (NYSED, 2014, p. 201-2).
Related to English language learners, the competent teacher candidate “understands the characteristic s, strengths, and needs of English language learners and effectively uses this knowledge to assist in developing their language and literacy skills and promoting their achievement of learning standards in all content areas” (NYSED, 2014, p. 201-4).
Related to students with disabilities and other special learning needs, the competent teacher candidate “understands the characteristics, strengths, and needs of students with disabilities and other special learning needs and effectively uses this knowledge to help students reach their highest levels of achievement and independence” (NYSED, 2014, p. 201-5).
Related to teacher responsibilities, the competent teacher candidate “understands rights and responsibilities in situations involving interactions between teachers and students, parents/guardians, community members, colleagues, school administrators, and other school personnel” (NYSED, 2014, p. 201-6).
Related to school-home relationships, the competent teacher candidate “understands effective strategies for promoting positive and productive relationships and interactions between the school and home to enhance student learning” NYSED, 2014, p. 201-6).
As with the ALST, critical reading and professional writing efficiency and effectiveness is required for successful completion of the EAS constructed-response assignment. The need to exhibit command of three specific performance characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the EAS exam’s constructed-response assignment. These three performance characteristics include:
1. Content, as measured by the “extent to which the response meets the requirements of the assignment” (NYSED Study Guide, 2014).
2. Analysis, synthesis, and application of pedagogical principles as measured by the “extent to which the response demonstrates understanding of and engagement with the provided exhibits” (NYSED Study Guide, 2014).
3. Command of evidence, as measured by the “extent to which the response presents relevant support” (NYSED Study Guide, 2014).
As noted in the December 2014 blogpost, initial NYSTCE results indicate the need to strengthen teacher candidates’ academic and quantitative literacy skills (Thompson, Case, Alvarado-Santos, 2014). To address this need, Buffalo (2014) advocated for the development and utilization of text sets. To promote this strategy, she provided the following template for developing and responding to a text set:
Assignment 1: Use Passages A and B to respond to the following assignment.
In a response of approximately 100–200 words, identify which author presents a more compelling argument. The teacher candidate’s response must:
· outline the specific claims made in each passage;
· evaluate the validity, relevance, and sufficiency of evidence used to support each claim;
· and include examples from both passages to support the evaluation.
The teacher candidate’s response should be written for an audience of educated adults. With the exception of appropriately identified quotations and paraphrases from the sources provided, the teacher candidate’s writing must be his or her own. The final version of the teacher candidate’s response should conform to the conventions of edited American English.
Assignment 2: Use Passage B and the Graphic to respond to the following assignment.
In a response of approximately 100–200 words, explain how the information presented in the graphic can be integrated with the author's central argument. The teacher candidate’s response must:
· explain how specific information presented in the graphic either supports or counters the author's claims, reasoning, and evidence with regard to identified theme; and
· include examples from the passage and the graphic to support the teacher candidate’s explanation.
The teacher candidate’s response should be written for an audience of educated adults. With the exception of appropriately identified quotations and paraphrases from the provided sources, the written response must be his or her own. The final version of the response should conform to the conventions of edited American English.
Assignment 3: Use Passages A and B and the Graphic to respond to the following assignment.
Provided probe: How does……?
In an essay in the teacher candidate’s own words of approximately 400–600 words, present a fully developed argument that introduces and supports a claim assessing the benefits and risks of …
The teacher candidate’s argument must:
· include a knowledgeable claim that demonstrates an understanding of the topic;
· use valid reasoning that draws on and extends the arguments in the sources provided;
· supports the teacher candidate’s claim with relevant and sufficient evidence from all three sources; and
· anticipate and address at least one counterclaim.
The teacher candidate’s essay should be written for an audience of educated adults. He or she must maintain an appropriate style and tone and use clear and precise language throughout the written response. With the exception of appropriately identified quotations and paraphrases from the sources provided, the must be the teacher candidate’s own. The final version of the essay should conform to the conventions of edited American English.
To help teacher candidates develop the competencies required to satisfy minimal expectations of the EAS, faculty and their students can access the following links to articles and the supplemental flow chart of the Jung and Guskey (2010) model. Based on the topic linking the two articles: Teaching and evaluating exceptional learners with disabilities, the instructors and their students can follow the Buffalo (2014) template for developing a text set. Thereafter, through application of the formative assessment process, the teacher candidates’ will practice their critical reading, professional writing, and quantitative literacy skills while strengthening their teacher competencies.
Text set articles:
Text set articles:
Jung, L.A. & Guskey, T.R (2010) Grading exceptional learners. Education Leadership:67 (5)
pp31-35. Retrieved from:
Related flow chart: http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el201002_jung.pdf
Voltz, D.L., Sims, M.J., & Nelson, B. (2010) Connecting teachers, students, and standards:
Strategies for success in diverse and inclusive classrooms (Chapter 1).
Arlington, VA: ASCD. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109011/chapters/Introduction@_Teaching_in_Diverse,_Standards-Based_Classrooms.aspx
Anderson, C.J. (January 18, 2015) NYSTCE tests: The educating all students (EAS) exam
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