The TExES English Language Arts and Reading 8 – 12 Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine if an individual has the knowledge necessary to teach English language arts at the high school level in the Texas public school system. This exam assesses an individual’s knowledge of the basic concepts of the English language, the elements and devices used in literature, and methods of improving student’s reading, writing, and learning skills. This exam is required in order to become a certified English teacher at the high school level within the state of Texas. The exam consists of 90 multiple choice questions, 80 of which are scored and 10 that are not scored, that are related to the following areas:
Methods for Teaching English Language Arts and the Relationships between Different Forms of Communication to Students with Diverse Backgrounds and Needs (12 questions)
Literature, Reading Strategies and Processes, Vocabulary, Word Analysis, and Methods to Improve Reading Skills for Literary and Nonliterary Works (32 questions)
Written Communication (24 questions)
Oral Communication and the Influence and Purpose of Different Forms of Media (12 questions)
This exam also has a constructed response question that the exam-taker must write an essay to answer. The essay is scored on a scale of 1 – 4 and counts for approximately 30% of the total exam score with the multiple-choice questions counting for the remaining 70%. The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam is scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. Both the essay score and the multiple-choice question score are factored into the total scaled score for the exam. The registration fee for the English Language Arts and Reading 8 – 12 Exam is $82 and the exam is only offered in a paper-based format. However, there are usually other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become certified as an entry- level high school teacher within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Discuss general standards that should be present in all language arts programs.
Students do not live in a vacuum. School is just one part of their lives. Home, church, community, and culture all play vital roles in their lives and learning experiences. Recognizing these influences and working with them by incorporating a wide range of print and non-print media across many countries and cultures should be the cornerstone of every language arts program. Learning is most effective when students acquire the skills they need, retain that knowledge, and are able to apply the information outside the language arts classroom. Teaching grammar and syntax rules as students read a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts helps them learn about the complex world they live in, and prepares them to function as productive citizens in that world. Learning to understand, evaluate, integrate and share information gleaned from the literature of many eras and genres helps students appreciate diversity and enhances their knowledge of the world beyond their backyard. The ability to read, write, analyze and communicate ideas and concepts effectively should be the ultimate goal of every language arts program.
2. Define and discuss active learning.
Active learning uses interactive instructional methods and strategies to impart course content. It creates an environment in which students are encouraged to do more than just sit and listen to the teacher talk. Studies have shown that students learn better and retain information for a longer period when they are actively engaged in some activity: reading, writing, discussing, experimenting, and creating. They are using critical thinking skills, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating data, solving problems and integrating new information with previously-acquired knowledge. Studies indicate that students prefer active learning to passive listening. Reading from notes or textbooks is boring; moving around the room, talking from memory, and using positive body language, animated facial expressions and an upbeat tone of voice engages students. Interjecting demonstrations and showing pictures, charts and illustrations adds interest and variety. Asking open-ended questions encourages lively class discussion. Dividing the class into groups to come up with a solution and presenting it to the class is a great way to develop communication, presentation, and other social skills. Writing in-class essays, conducting experiments, and working on projects all incorporate active learning in the classroom.
3. Describe the Taxonomy of Personal Engagement and Bloom’s Taxonomy.
The Taxonomy of Personal Engagement solicits thoughts and feelings and requires students to use critical thinking skills and make connections to related concepts by tapping into their thoughts, feelings, attitudes, points of view, real life experiences and value systems. Open-ended questions should:
Pique the INTEREST and curiosity.
Be ENGAGING, so students will want to be involved.
Require a COMMITMENT to develop responsibility.
Merge ideas with experiences, so students INTERNALIZE and take ownership of new concepts.
Help students INTERPRET information and want to communicate new insights.
EVALUATE and show a willingness to use the information. Bloom’s Taxonomy outlines levels of cognitive learning. At each step students reach a predictable level of mastery.
KNOWLEDGE LEVEL: ability to define terms.
COMPREHENSION LEVEL: ability to finish problems and explain answers.
APPLICATION LEVEL: ability to recognize problems and use new methods to solve them.
ANALYSIS LEVEL: ability to explain why the process works.
SYNTHESIS LEVEL: ability to use the process in new ways.
EVALUATION LEVEL: ability to create different ways to solve problems and use designated criteria; ability to select the best method to obtain the correct solution.
4. Discuss the importance of making connections to other parts of the students’ lives.
Students need to understand that language is integral to learning and developing skills in all fields of study, and carries over into life after school. Language is not static or one-dimensional; it varies depending upon the audience (parents, peers, professors). Language has structural rules, patterns, and conventions, and changes over time with continued use. It entails speaking, listening and writing. It requires the speaker, listener and writer to respond, interpret, assess and integrate. In today’s information age, media and technology play important roles. Besides books, newspapers, radio and television, the Internet, CDs, DVDs and personal computers provide information. It is critical students be taught methods to dissect and discriminate the digital data received, and learn to scrutinize the sources from which it comes. The classroom should be a place where students feel safe to explore, ask questions, take risks and develop effective listening, speaking and writing skills. Exploring the relationship between school, home and the neighborhood helps students understand that individual actions have far-reaching consequences. Making that critical connection is a major milestone in an adolescent’s maturation process.
5. Discuss the writing process.
Students need to understand that writing is hard work and requires patience and persistence. A well-written paper takes thought and preparation, and shouldn’t be rushed. The steps in the writing process help produce a well-crafted, interesting paper. Explaining each step will help students write better papers in all their classes, not just in language arts.
Brainstorm by reading and researching different subjects to generate ideas. Take notes and highlight important facts. Write down book and article titles, authors and page numbers.
Develop an outline of the main topics to be covered. This guide can be general or detailed depending upon the writer’s preference.
Write the first version or rough draft to get the ideas on paper. Sometimes this is called the “sloppy copy.”
Revise the rough draft by rewriting awkward sentences, adding and deleting information and improving the introductory and concluding paragraphs.
Edit the revised version. Correct spelling and grammar errors.
Ask for feedback. Have a parent or peer review and comment.
Print (publish) the final version.
Learn from the teacher’s comments.
6. List some ways a teacher can improve students’ reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
READ with expression and enthusiasm; share a love of reading. Assign novels, poetry, short stories, essays, editorials and biographies to keep boredom at bay. Let students decide what to read and lead a class discussion about the topic. Encourage critical thinking, ask probing questions, and pose different scenarios. Share personal experiences to diminish students’ WRITING fears. Assign essays, reports and term papers. Giving students the latitude to choose subjects encourages creativity. Critiquing and editing helps them learn to think critically and assess their work more accurately. Set a positive example by LISTENING carefully to what each student says and what they say to each other. Paraphrase to make sure meaning and intent are clear. Set up listening situations: one-on-one, small groups, formal speeches, oral reading, student presentations, and class discussions. Students learn good SPEAKING skills by listening to good speakers, so always use proper English when lecturing and during conversations with students. Assign a variety of activities: speeches, skits, debates and storytelling. Have students take turns leading class discussions, reading out loud, and making formal presentations.
7. Discuss the importance of fluency and vocabulary in learning to read.
Fluency is the ability to comprehend the written word accurately and quickly. Fluent readers recognize words and expressions and understand their meaning automatically. They don’t focus on the words, they concentrate on the meaning. They make connections between knowledge they already have and ideas and concepts discovered in the text. Vocabulary is vital to comprehension. In order to read, a student must be able to decode the letters, arrange them in a logical sequence, and know what each word means. Readers need to recognize what spoken words look like when they see them written. If readers don’t recognize the words they see in print, they won’t understand the ideas and concepts being discussed. As students are introduced to unfamiliar subjects, they must expand their vocabulary in order to understand the new content. Research has shown that most vocabulary is learned indirectly through conversation and reading. Complex words, words related to a specific subject, and words not relevant to daily life are learned by instruction or direct learning.
8. Explain direct and indirect vocabulary learning.
Indirect vocabulary learning begins at birth. A child learns to recognize and understand words by how they are used, who is saying them, and what is going on around him when he hears them. He adds to his vocabulary:
Through conversations, especially with adults.
When adults read to him, explain new words, answer questions and discuss the content.
By reading on his own. Encouraging a child to read is one of the best ways to help him expand his vocabulary and improve comprehension. A student is taught unfamiliar words by direct vocabulary learning in an effort to help him understand and comprehend new information. A teacher enhances the experience by:
Explaining unfamiliar words to help comprehension before he reads the assigned text.
Encouraging the student to look for the new words and use ones just learned.
Providing the same words in different contexts to help understanding, memory and retrieval.
Defining new words, using them in sentences, and relating them to familiar scenes and situations.
9. Discuss the importance of background knowledge in reading comprehension.
Background knowledge is the understanding of social and cultural influences in the world, which comes from being read to and reading for pleasure. To encourage reading, students should be allowed to select topics and media they find interesting and relevant. Any reading helps build a foundation of basic knowledge, expands vocabulary, and improves fluency. Participating in discussions helps activate background knowledge, integrate and connect new data with previously-acquired information, and leads to necessary revisions in understanding. For students to remember a word and add it to their active vocabulary, it should be relevant to them and essential to understanding the text. Students should be able to make a connection to information they already know, relate the term to personal experience, or use it to solve a real problem. Discussing examples and/or applications of the word in a different context, along with examples of how not to use it, help students understand. Requiring a written explanation of new terms is also effective, and makes new ideas easier to remember.
10. Discuss classroom communication methods.
Teachers need to remember that not all students are comfortable speaking in front of a group. Therefore, it is important to recognize that the goal is to foster an environment that encourages participation and no one is inhibited or prevented from participating because of teaching methods. Participation is predicated on teacher and student expectations, instructional strategies, and classroom atmosphere. It is important to develop class rules for discussions, provide frequent feedback, and ask for student input to ensure teaching practices are in line with student perceptions. Calling on a student can be either motivating or intimidating, depending upon the student and the situation. When a question is asked, a problem posed, or a solution required, students need time to think about the information and formulate a response. A teacher should require different students to summarize the lesson, pose a prepared question from assigned material, or describe something they learned. Acknowledging every contribution encourages additional participation.