FTCE Exceptional Student Education K-12 (061) Ultimate Guide and Practice Test
Preparing to take the FTCE Exceptional Student Education K-12 exam?
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This Ultimate Guide is presented in the same format and structure as the test in order to provide you with a simple breakdown and overview of the competencies. When you subscribe to the 240 Tutoring Study Guide, you will be given access to the sections and concepts organized for the most efficient studying. You will still be able to search by competency.
FTCE Exceptional Student Education K-12 Quick Facts
This test is designed to assess the knowledge of special education teachers and their abilities to understand and support students with exceptionalities.
The cost of the test is $150.
The results of the test will be PASS or FAIL. At the end of the test, an unofficial pass or fail note will be provided. The test has a scaled score that assigns different scores to each question based upon the difficulty level. At least 70% of the questions must be answered correctly and a scaled score of 200 achieved to pass.
In 2018, the passing rate for first time test takers was 77%. Prior years averaged 87% passing.
Preparation time should be broken into sections based on the competencies. Ideally, competencies 1, 3, and 5 will be studied for two to three hours each and competencies 2, 4, and 6 for one to two hours each. Then time should be spent reviewing all of the material together. The study time should be broken out over the course of one to two months, with each week devoted to a different competency.
What test takers wish they’d known:
- You may want to consider dressing in layers, since the test room may be warm or cold.
- Unscheduled breaks may be taken at any time, but the testing timer does not stop. During these breaks, only food, water, and medication can be accessed; notes and electronics are not allowed.
- There will not be a formula sheet or calculator as these are not needed for the test.
- Scratch paper and a pencil will be provided by the testing center.
- Answer choices can be changed at any point prior to submitting the test.
- Questions can be reviewed at any time, including after all the questions have been read.
- A tutorial will be provided before the test begins that shows how to navigate between questions and revisit them.
Information and screenshots obtained from FTCE.
This exam has six competencies:
- Foundations (24%)
- Assessment and Evaluation (13%)
- Instruction (21%)
- Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) (12%)
- Multiple Literacies and Communication (22%)
- Transitioning (8%)
Let’s take a look at the Foundations competency first.
In 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law. It expanded on the ideals of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. There are 6 main components of IDEA:
- Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) – Every child must receive a personalized education designed to meet their needs at no cost to their family
- Evaluations – Students must be evaluated by trained professionals and cannot be over-evaluated or repeatedly tested to find a disability
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – A committee must meet to write a plan with goals that guide the education of the student
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – The student must be served in the general education classroom whenever possible
- Parental involvement – Parents must be notified of meetings and are considered equal participants in the decision-making process.
- Procedural safeguards – In addition to being notified about meetings, parents can seek outside evaluations, and if disagreements occur, they can request mediation or due process.
Components of the IEP
An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) committee must meet annually to ensure that the student is making progress in the curriculum designed for them. The IEP must include certain things:
- Current levels of performance – The student’s strengths and needs must be listed
- Annual goals – Academic, behavioral, and functional goals that can be met within a year’s time must be listed
- Progress reporting – How progress will be measured and communicated to the parents must be addressed
- Special education services – What programs and services the student will receive through special education must be listed
- Educational environment – The amount of time the student will spend in a general education classroom and in a special education classroom must be justified and listed, and any accommodations the student needs to participate in general education must also be listed
- Duration of services – The amount of time the child will receive in services each week or month must be listed
- Testing accommodations – The accommodations needed for the student to perform well on tests must be listed, along with a list of the state assessments or alternative assessments the student will take
- Transition plan – This must be included for students aged 16 and older, although some states begin the plan earlier
Every Student Succeeds Act
In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law. It focused on raising the expectations for students in all grade levels. It provides funding for preschool programs and requires high school students be better prepared for college. It also requires states to determine how schools will be held accountable and what populations will be considered when looking at growth. Schools performing in the bottom 5% must have action plans that address relevant issues and help all students make educational gains.
Issues With Overrepresentation
There are issues with overrepresentation in special education, as students from minority backgrounds and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to receive SE services. Some students may be placed in special education because their family is unable to support their school work due to language barriers or work schedules. Furthermore, parents may not feel as though they can advocate for their child due to language or cultural barriers. When a child is being considered for services, the evaluator must be aware of these potential issues and work with the family in any way possible.
The special education process can be very confusing and it is important that all stakeholders can actively participate. Prior to holding annual meetings, the parents/guardians must be notified of the time and place of the meeting. The special education teacher or diagnostician should also explain to the parents what will be discussed at the meeting. This gives the parents time to ask questions and prepare for the meeting. This also opens lines of communication for the future.
If the parents have a home language other than English, the school must offer to have a translator present. This can help the parents understand what is occurring and communicate more fully with the IEP community. If the family speaks English, but has a cultural background that is different from the other members of the committee, committee members need to be aware of their own potential biases.
Assessment and Evaluation
Types of Evaluations and Assessments
Discuss the purposes and characteristics and give examples for the following types of assessments and evaluations:
- Formative – Informs instruction and allows the teacher to know what the students are understanding and what they are struggling with. Examples include exit tickets, think-pair-share, and strategic questioning.
- Summative – Given at the end of a unit to assess knowledge gained. Examples include chapter tests, achievement tests, and final projects or portfolio.
- Self-assessment – A student evaluates their own work using a guide or rubric.
- Formal assessment – Preplanned tests that allow teachers to assess the mastery level of the students. Examples include state assessments, chapter quizzes or tests, and projects.
- Informal assessment – Quick assessments of understanding that are not for a grade. Examples include exit tickets, demonstration stations, or quiz games such as Kahoot!
- Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) – An outside evaluation completed for diagnostic purposes. These are generally administered when a parent disagrees with a school’s assessment of the student.
- Norm-referenced test – A test that assesses the student’s performance in comparison with a larger population. Examples include SAT, ACT, and IQ tests.
- Criterion-referenced test – A test given that assesses whether a student has mastered a set of criteria. Examples include classroom, citizenship, and driver’s license tests.
- Performance-based assessment – Measures a student’s ability to apply knowledge gained to a problem or issue. Examples include projects or student-created products.
Accommodations, Waivers, and Exemptions
Students with exceptionalities receive special consideration when it comes to state assessments. Some students with exceptionalities that would prevent them from showing their abilities on the assessment may be given a waiver so that they do not have to take the test. Other students with exceptionalities may take the test with accommodations. Accommodations allow the student to take the test in a way that addresses their exceptionalities without being given an advantage over other students. Accommodations may include Braille, text-to-speech software, small-group administration, and other methods that allow the student to be successful.
Flexible grouping is used in schools to group different students together for different purposes. The groups are changed often based on student and instructional needs. Sometimes the students may be grouped based on academic strengths, as when the highest performing students are in one group, the middle students in another, and the struggling students in yet another. Another approach may be to put one or two students from each performance level together as a group.
Other bases for grouping may be behavioral or social. For example, students may be grouped based on behavioral principles for a project. A group might include one student who is a leader, one student who tends to be quiet, another who struggles to stay on task, and a fourth student who might work well with the other members of the group. The teacher may assign roles within the group so that each child can be successful.
During math time, the teacher may divide the group based on ability and have them work at stations. Their ability would be determined by a pretest at the beginning of a unit. The groups might change for each unit, based on performance.
Task Analysis Approach
Task analysis is the idea of breaking down tasks into smaller steps so that the end goal can be reached. This seems logical for a project, but there are many tasks throughout the day that need to be broken down for special education students. For example, having lunch seems like a simple task, but it can be broken down into many steps. The goal is for lunch to become a routine that can be completed independently, but teaching each step is important. First, students must learn where the cafeteria is. Then they must learn how to get their lunch and pay for it. Or, if they bring their lunch, do they bring it to the cafeteria or is there a basket the lunch boxes go in? After eating, how do they clean up? Walking through these steps and practicing them each day allows the students to be successful.
Differentiating, Accommodating, and Modifying Instruction
Within each classroom, there will be many different abilities that need to be met. There are three different ways to meet these needs: differentiation, accommodations, and modifications. Differentiation comes through varying the difficulty of the required material. For example, creating book groups with different-level books based on the students’ abilities would be differentiation. This allows each student to be challenged at their own level. The students may read and discuss the book with each other and complete comprehension questions.
If there is a student with severe dyslexia in one group, they may be able to listen to an audio version of the book while following along in the text. This is an accommodation, as it allows the student to participate fully in the curriculum without the disability preventing learning.
If there is a student who is unable to read on grade level, they may read a simplified version of a book and answer comprehension questions at their level. This would be a modification, as the student is learning something different from the expected curriculum. This can only be done if the student has an IEP.
Cooperative learning is the practice of placing students into groups for academic and social purposes. It allows students to develop a positive interdependence and learn to work in a group. It also allows students to identify strengths in other students and improve social skills. When beginning a new unit, students can work in cooperative learning groups to create a K-W-L chart. Another example would be of a teacher posing a question that has multiple correct answers; for instance, “What is an example of a mammal?” The teacher has the first student write an answer and pass the paper clockwise. Then the next student adds an answer. This continues until the group cannot think of any more examples or time is up. This allows exceptional students to contribute and work in a group.
Positive Behavioral Support (PBS)
Contingency contracting is creating a contract between the teacher and student to create a behavior change. The contract specifically addresses a certain behavior and defines the reward or consequence for it. If a child is disruptive in the hallways, the teacher may create a contingency contract with the child that says that each time the class walks to electives, the child is expected to walk silently with their hands clasped behind their back. If the child does this successfully, they will receive a sticker. If they are unsuccessful, they will practice at recess for three minutes. Both the teacher and student would sign the paper laying out these guidelines, and the teacher would remind the student about the contract before leaving the classroom each time.
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
A functional behavior assessment (FBA) seeks to understand the causes of a child’s behavior rather than focusing on the behavior itself. First, the target or primary behavior is identified that most needs correction. Next, data is collected about when and where the behavior occurs, what occurs immediately before and after, and who is involved. Then a hypothesis is formed about the purpose of the behavior. Now that the behavior and its causes have been identified, the intervention plan can be created. After the plan is implemented, the effectiveness can be measured by collecting data again and comparing it to the original data.
Multiple Literacies and Communication
Components of Language
Students may struggle with one or more of these areas of language competency.
- How words are used together to give meaning to a sentence
- Example: “The girl quickly ran away” is different from ‘The girl ran away quickly”
- How words change by adding prefixes, suffixes, or plurals
- Example: one mouse, two mice; happy takes on the opposite meaning when given the prefix un- to form unhappy.
- How words sound within a language and the rules that create those sounds
- Example: When two vowels are together in a word such as beat or roam, the first one makes a long sound and the second is silent.
- The meaning of words in a sentence independent of the larger context
- Example: The word run can have a variety of meanings depending on the context. ”You have a run in your tights” is a different use of run than “Don’t let your nose run”, which differs from “Let’s go for a run.”
- How words are used within the context of the situation
- Example: The phrase “crack the window” means to open the window slightly if you just mentioned how warm it is indoors. If you are locked out of the house and say, “Crack the window,” it may mean to literally crack the window so that it breaks open.
There are many communication disorders; the most common are listed below. These often lead to social issues and the student being taught below their comprehension level, as they cannot adequately communicate that they understand what they are learning.
- Apraxia of Speech (AOS) – The inability to speak even though the words are ready in the brain. The student may be able to write or point to words to communicate, but they cannot verbalize them. This often leads to social issues and the student being taught below their comprehension level, as they cannot communicate that they understand what they are learning.
- Articulation disorder – This means the student has the words to say but cannot pronounce them correctly. Lisps, stuttering, and other difficulties are included in this category.
- Speech delay – A student is not making age-appropriate progress in either expressive speech or receptive speech. Expressive speech is the child’s ability to verbalize needs and wants. Receptive speech is the child’s ability to understand what is said to them and respond appropriately.
Language Experience Approach
The language experience approach takes all four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) into account when teaching literacy. It begins with an experience such as a field trip. Then a text is created by the class about the experience. The teacher then reads what has been written and the students revise the text. Finally, the text is read, usually as a group or as an echo exercise, depending on the abilities of the students.
For students with exceptionalities, this method is helpful, since they work as a group to develop a written piece. It ensures that they do not get stuck on one aspect of the exercise, and it uses personal experiences to develop skills.
There are five stages of reading development:
- Pre-emergent reader (6 months to 6 years) – The reader listens to others read stories, knows their letters, and asks questions about stories.
- Novice reader (6 to 7 years old) – The reader learns high-frequency or sight words and knows the sounds associated with letters. They can sound out one-syllable words and use pictures for word context.
- Decoding reader (7 to 9 years old) – The reader can use sight words and familiar story lines to determine the story and figure out words. Stories above their reading level should be read to them to continue to develop reading skills.
- Fluent, comprehending reader (9 to 15 years old) – Reading is used to learn, and new words can be determined using context. Comprehension increases, as do discussions about what is read.
- Expert reader (16 years and up) – The reader is able to comprehend complex texts and viewpoints. Comprehension is better when material is read than when presented verbally.
Job shadowing allows students to receive training in their place of employment while watching someone with experience. Students have a teacher or aide who accompanies them to the job site, where they learn the skills needed for employment. Repeated practice allows the student to gain the necessary job skills and prepares them for life after graduation.
Functional curriculum focuses on the life skills needed for independent living. It focuses on communication skills and vocational training and is primarily designed for secondary students. The skills are generally taught in the classroom and then practiced in the community. For example, students may work on ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant and then paying and receiving change. They would practice reading the menu in the classroom and determining if they have enough money to order all the items they want. Then they may practice “ordering” from the teacher. They may then practice these skills in the school cafeteria. When they have mastered these skills, the class would take a field trip to a local restaurant and try it independently.
And that’s some basic information about the test.