The TExES Principal Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual has the skills necessary to be a principal in the Texas public school system. The exam assesses an individual’s management, leadership, and problem-solving abilities specifically in regards to managing a school and the exam is required in order to become a certified principal within the state of Texas. The exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Development, Implementation, and Maintenance of a School Culture
- Community Communication, Community Resource Management, and Handling Diversity
- Promoting a Fair and Ethical Learning Environment that Functions within Legal Guidelines
- Planning, Implementing, and Assessing Strategic Plans and Curriculum
- Maintaining a School Culture that Promotes Learning and Professional Development
- Implementing a System of Evaluation and Development for Teaching Staff
- Problem-solving and Decision-making Methods
- Administrative Resource Management and Technology Use
- Maintaining School Facilities and Equipment
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. The registration fee for the Principal Exam is $120 and the exam is only offered in a paper-based format. However, there may be other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become a certified principal 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. Discuss literature choices that broaden the student’s understanding of the content in other disciplines.
In a well-designed language arts program, contemporary and historical literature in various genres is read and analyzed. The content embraces society’s diversity, portrays women and minorities accurately, and explores various countries and cultures. It is organized around universal themes that reflect the human condition, promote critical thinking and vocabulary enhancement, and integrate information from other disciplines. The program emphasizes that timeless literature does not exist in a vacuum and can only be truly understood when viewed through the social, economic and political environment in which it is set. This is the best way to integrate information from other disciplines such as history, social studies and economics into the language arts program.
An effective language arts program incorporates these skills, all of which are necessary in other disciplines as well:
- READING material is studied for comprehension and interpretation.
- WRITING communicates thoughts and ideas to a variety of audiences using different forms (term papers, essays, poems, etc.).
- SPEAKING shares information and persuades.
- LISTENING to learn new data and determine important facts.
3. Discuss the importance of making connections to other areas of the students’ lives.
A great way to engage adolescents in the learning process is to offer them material that is interesting to them and helps them understand their world better. In other words, the information presented needs to be meaningful and make sense to students. It is imperative for teachers to make connections between classes, and to show students how to apply the knowledge from one class in other disciplines. Connected data can help students to understand new facts, integrate new information and apply lessons. The ability to see the relationships between seemingly unrelated topics and events requires critical thinking and advanced reasoning skills. As students share ideas and ask questions during discussions, alternate perspectives are presented, considered and integrated. When students explore the relationship between activities and attitudes in school, at home and in the neighborhood, they gradually begin to understand that individual actions have far-reaching consequences. Making that critical connection is a major milestone in an adolescent’s maturation process.
4. Explain the separated-simulated-integrated method of instruction.
Many schools consistently produce highly literate students by using the separated-simulated-integrated method of instruction. The objective is to help students become better readers, writers and thinkers in all their classes. Studies have shown learning is most effective when students acquire the skills they need, retain that knowledge and are able to apply the information. The separated-simulated-integrated approach works for learning vocabulary and individual facts about a subject, organizing a writing assignment, and preparing an oral presentation. It teaches critical thinking and enhances the ability to apply concepts instead of just memorizing isolated bits of data.
An example: separate activities related to the same topic are assigned to small groups (five or less). Each group presents its findings to the class. This data is used to generate a class discussion, pose a complex problem, or assign individual written reports (using all three works best); the work product must use most of the information supplied by the groups. This activity teaches effective note taking and communication skills, requires the ability to speak, listen, analyze and evaluate data, and integrates new information.
5. Discuss the importance of teaching students how to complete an assignment.
Teachers in every discipline have a responsibility to teach students not only the facts about a topic but also how to approach a task and complete the assignment. Instead of focusing on memorizing the data, creative teachers give students ways to discover the answer through research and reasoning. They incorporate relevant commentary and detailed explanations into the instructions for all assignments. Students learn information better, retain it longer, recall it easier, and integrate it more effectively when they understand the how and the why, not just the what. Providing guidelines that explain how to approach a task (such as breaking it into smaller, more manageable parts) and supplying written prompts and reminder sheets gives students valuable tools they can use in all classes. These reasoning tools can also be used to make choices in areas outside of the academic environment. This is a prime example of making learning relevant to the lives of students.
6. Discuss the importance of good reading skills. List some reasons why students should read.
Good reading skills are essential to learning, no matter what the discipline being studied. Students should be encouraged to read a variety of genres: fiction and non-fiction books, school and local newspapers, entertainment and news magazines, and professional and scientific journals, because reading anything has lasting cognitive consequences. Research has shown reading is the most effective way to increase one’s vocabulary.
There are two reasons to read: for pleasure and to learn. Ideally, the two work together. Whatever the motivation, ideas are formed, connections are made, and new data is integrated with known information. Students should read to improve comprehension of new material, develop a broad, eclectic background of knowledge, and to expand their vocabulary. Teachers can be an integral part of getting students motivated and excited about reading by explaining how the information gained in an assignment impacts their lives now, as well as how they might use it when they leave school. Using class discussions to highlight, summarize, review and critique reading material contributes to a positive reading experience.
7. Discuss some strategies to help students make the most of their reading experiences.
Students need to be given the tools to read effectively. Comprehension improves when students actively think about what they are reading, apply learned knowledge and experience, and connect new information to the world as they understand it. They should be encouraged to ask questions and create pictures in their mind of what they are reading. When a student visualizes the material, it becomes more personal and real, and he is more likely to understand and complete the assignment. When the reader engages in an internal dialogue with the author, he learns more effectively and retains the information longer. Students need to know how to determine the importance of the facts and ideas presented, and discriminate between the essential and the merely interesting. Carefully worded questions and lively class discussions help students learn what to look for as they read, whether they are reading for pleasure or to complete an assignment.
8. Explain what math is and why the basics are important.
Math explains the logic of and relationship between numbers. It is used everyday in countless ways and in order to minimize potential math phobia, teachers need to make the subject relevant to the students’ lives and use examples with which they are familiar and that make sense to them. In order to do that, learning the basics is critical, because all math concepts are built on addition, division, fractions and shapes; all mathematical relationships flow from these concepts. It is imperative students understand one concept before moving on to the next. If they fail to grasp the basics, students become confused as they progress to higher levels, because they are unable to apply appropriate background knowledge when introduced to geometry, algebra, probability and statistics.
Making math fun by injecting a sense of wonder and excitement into learning how to use numbers in everyday life goes a long way in preventing a fear of math from developing. Some fun activities: play cards, checkers or backgammon; build a tower with interlocking blocks; or count the legs on a centipede.
9. Discuss the importance of making social studies activities relevant to today’s world.
Social studies is composed of history and the social sciences (government, citizenship, sociology, economics, cultural influences and the effects of technology). It is a broad subject, indeed. Imparting the values and mores of society to impressionable young people and teaching them how to be involved, engaged, active members of the world is a huge responsibility. It is critical for teachers to use real problems appropriate to the students’ age, and prod them to use their creativity to dissect problems and devise solutions. Part of the process is to challenge students’ thinking by offering stimulating subjects from which to select their reading, writing, discussion and debate topics. The projects need to combine independent study with group responsibilities, because this is the way the real world works: people bring their unique perspective to the group and the group reaches a consensus on the best way to tackle a problem. Social studies is a class that can and should be realistic preparation for participation as an adult member of society.
10. Discuss science in middle school.
Adolescents come to school with background knowledge and a basic understanding of how things work. They have reached conclusions based on their perceptions of the physical world and what they have learned in previous classes. A wise teacher uses students’ knowledge and natural curiosity when introducing and explaining complicated scientific concepts. He builds on ideas already known and corrects any misconceptions.
Teachers should explain that science has a history. Students need to be familiar with the socio-economic environment in which a theory was introduced in order to truly understand why something did or did not work, why it may have been proven wrong, or why a better way was discovered with later experimentation.
In a science classroom, safety must always be a priority. Since it is an interactive area, it needs to be ventilated and appropriate safety equipment (e.g., water, fire extinguisher, protective gear, etc.) available. The students need to understand how to operate the instruments safely, so instructions should be provided in writing as well as given verbally. Questions should be asked and answered before any activity is started.