The TExES Superintendent Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual has the skills necessary to be a superintendent in the Texas public school system. This exam, which is divided into two sessions, assesses an individual’s management, leadership, and problem-solving abilities specifically in regards to managing a school district. Both sessions of the exam are required in order to become a certified superintendent within the state of Texas. The afternoon session of the exam presents the exam-taker with a series of stand-alone questions and decision sets, which are groups of 3 – 12 questions where each group of questions refers to a specific scenario, that relate to various problem resolution and management techniques that can be applied to any school district. The afternoon session of the exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions, 80 of which are scored and 10 that are not scored, that relate to the following areas:
- Promoting a Fair and Ethical Learning Environment
- Development, Implementation, and Maintenance of a District Culture
- Community Communication, Community Resource Management, and Handling Diversity
- Handling Environmental Factors that affect the School District
- Planning, Implementing, and Assessing Strategic Plans and Curriculum
- Maintaining a District Culture that Promotes Learning and Professional Development
- Implementing a System of Evaluation and Development for Teaching Staff
- Administrative Resource Management and Technology Use
- Maintaining District Facilities and Equipment
- Problem-solving and Decision-making Methods
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam. The exam has 110 questions although some questions will not be scored. The exam is only offered in a computer-based format. However, there may also be other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become a certified superintendent within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Discuss ways to promote a fair and ethical learning environment.
Educational psychology is the study of how knowledge is obtained, how knowledge is imparted, and the effects of social interactions in an instructional environment. One of the major goals of every educator should be recognizing that diversity exists and designing curricula and developing programs that address issues that arise because of that diversity. Policies and practices must be based on the principle that, no matter what the pre-school experiences a child has had, he or she has inherent strengths that can and should be used to help him or her succeed. When the curriculum reflects student diversity, all children benefit. Educational practices must be reviewed periodically and adjusted to meet the needs of the population served. Since course selection involves making decisions that affect the rest of the students’ lives, administrators need to ask: Is the system fair to all students? Does it foster segregation based on gender, race, or socioeconomic status? Does it encourage respect for racial and cultural diversity? Does it make use of the tools provided by recent research about the many ways students can learn?
2. Discuss some ways to develop, implement and maintain district culture.
To a large extent, a school district’s culture is based on the population served. Involving parents, asking for their cooperation and keeping them informed is vital. Implementing and encouraging teacher enrichment programs and developing a fair assessment system is essential. Most districts are very diverse, so the administration needs be sensitive to and respect each group represented. The district should establish criteria that praises when earned, encourages when needed and disciplines when necessary. It is important to establish written expectations, review them with teachers, support staff, parents, students and the community at large. There are several things a superintendent can do to create a peaceful, harmonious district: explain expectations clearly, consider the circumstances before taking action, and apply the rules fairly and consistently. Superintendents must always be objective rather than judgmental. They should address problems and issues immediately, so they don’t escalate or appear repeatedly. A wise superintendent collaborates with teachers, support staff, students and parents, asks for their opinions and offers clear choices. When all groups are active participants and believe they are heard, issues are minimized.
3. Explain the need for community resource management.
It is important for the superintendent to have a clear understanding of what private, public and government resources are available in the community in which the district operates. He should have a good working relationship with key representatives of those resources that often play a vital role in the lives of students and their families. He needs to know how effective the programs and services are and each one’s unique strengths and weaknesses, as well as any holes, barriers and issues that might impede their ability to help when called upon. He needs to know when to call, whom to call, what criteria is needed to qualify and how quickly to expect a response. Community resources include but are not limited to: Department of Children’s Services, Department of Health and Human Services, local law enforcement agencies, local fire department, Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control, food banks, corporate mentoring programs, grass-roots community organizations that offer counseling, emergency assistance, and various other programs and services.
4. Discuss the importance of effective communication with the community.
The school district does not exist in a vacuum. It is a vital part of the community in which it operates and is subject to the same social and economic influences as its neighbors. Teachers, administrators, support staff and students are all impacted by activities in the surrounding area. Schools are not isolated islands of learning; they are an integral part of the community. As such, they can have a critical role in shaping the attitudes of its neighbors and be a force in creating a positive atmosphere for everyone. Studies have shown (and anecdotal evidence proves) that when the school district is successful communicating its goals and is seen actively addressing its problems, there is greater support from business and community leaders, and parents are more involved – a win-win for all. But the most important result of good community relations is a better education for all students and more opportunities for them to succeed in the real world, which should be the ultimate goal of every superintendent.
5. Define diversity and discuss its impact on education.
Diversity is the fact or quality of having distinct characteristics. From cultural norms to language differences to socio-economic status, students come from a variety of home environments; some are better prepared academically and socially for school than others. It is imperative for educators to develop programs and curricula that assume all children are capable of learning and meeting high academic standards. It is the responsibility of educators to provide the tools and environment for students to achieve. Anything less is unacceptable. When students are taught with a curriculum that embraces diversity, it enables them to function more effectively in a complex, multicultural society. Students need to understand the historical experiences of every cultural group in their society in order to appreciate how past actions affect present circumstances. An empowering educational culture that embraces multicultural diversity integrates information about the impact of all cultures and enhances students’ ability to understand, appreciate and get along with different racial, ethnic and gender groups. Mary Stone Hanley believes, “Multicultural education is about social change through education.”
6. Explain the importance of a budget.
The budget for an educational institution is based on projected tax revenue. Additional dollars are sometimes available through grants and donations; however, these unpredictable funds should not weigh heavily in budget decisions. A personnel budget is based on the number of teachers and support staff. Generally, personnel costs are sixty to seventy percent of a budget, so the number of people must be accurate and all associated costs included. An operating budget includes all the costs associated with running the district (utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc.). Some are fixed, some vary from month to month, but all must be budgeted. A capital budget allocates funds for large ticket items, such as new buildings or additions to existing structures, fences, vehicles, etc. Many items considered capital expenses are depreciated on some sort of schedule. In the final analysis, budgets are really educated guesses based on historical costs and anticipated expenses. It is impossible to predict the future with any certainty. Large, unanticipated expenditures cause strains in the best-planned budget.
7. Discuss environmental issue that could affect a school district.
Environmental issues that affect a school district fall into two major categories: health, safety and educational and political and economic. The district superintendent needs to be informed about, plan for and able to respond to both. Health, safety and educational issues directly affect the students’ ability to learn, teachers to instruct and support staff to complete their tasks. They include but are not limited to: the condition of the buildings (presence of mold, asbestos, lead paint, etc.); air and water quality; menus designed to provide nutritious choices the children will actually eat; and physical education and athletic programs that promote strong, healthy bodies. All these elements need to be addressed, monitored and maintained. Political and economic issues are more complicated. Politicians sometimes exploit education causes as a campaign cry. The wise superintendent avoids that minefield. Economic issues (unemployment, recession, etc.) can have a profound effect on tax revenue which funds public schools, which in turn directly affect the ability to run the district efficiently and provide the mandated educational opportunities for all students.
8. Define strategic planning.
Strategic planning is the process of defining the district’s purpose, outlining its goals and deciding how best to use its human and monetary resources. The process should involve representatives from key areas: school board, teachers, staff, parents and the community. When interested stakeholders are an integral part of the process, the results are easier to accept and implement. The end result is a living document that will be modified as conditions evolve, but will have short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives with a well-defined path to reach each of them. Short-term goals should be easy to attain and quick to implement. They sometimes act as steps to reach the next level. Medium-term goals are more complex, and require additional planning and more time to implement. Sometimes they involve more than one department and require extensive coordination. Long-term goals can be difficult to reach, but offer a way to enlarge the vision and scope of the district’s impact on the community and its children.
9. Define curriculum and discuss its importance.
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines curriculum as “All the courses of study offered by an educational institution.” In primary and secondary schools, the curriculum is the blueprint for teaching the fundamentals required to gain useful knowledge so students can function in the world. The curriculum outlines what is to be taught, in what order and how and when students’ comprehension of the subject is to be assessed. Core subjects are mandated by the State Board of Education, which also requires a certain level of proficiency in each before the student can be promoted to the next level. The curriculum is information that needs to be presented in a logical, progressive format. Students must be able to understand, integrate and apply knowledge gained into practical applications in their every day lives. A curriculum must meet state requirements, prepare students for mandatory statewide tests and address the social and psychological needs of its students, while recognizing and respecting the diversity of its population. A curriculum is a complex program to plan, implement and assess.
10. Discuss the importance of problem solving and decision-making.
To be an effective leader, one must be able to make decisions and solve problems; the two characteristics are closely related. Both require creativity, the ability to identify issues and options, and the ability to implement solutions effectively. A leader must choose issues carefully, set attainable objectives, develop workable solutions and enlist the support of those involved in and affected by the change. Whatever decision-making process is used, an effective leader always considers the reason for the change, how people will be affected, and the probable consequences of the action. A sound, logical, well-defined decision-making process leads to effective problem solving. Here are suggested steps to finding a sensible solution to most any problem:
Define the problem.
Gather relevant facts.
Develop solutions and consider the pros and cons of each.
Select the most viable solution(s).
Explain the choice(s) to those affected.
Follow-up to determine effectiveness.
Make adjustments as necessary.