FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test
Preparing to take the FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9?
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FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9 Quick Facts
The Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) Middle Grades English exam is required for Florida teachers who teach English in grades 5-9.
It is designed to measure a candidate’s knowledge of the seven competencies to ensure a teacher is qualified to instruct students in this subject area.
The Middle Grades English 5-9 includes 80 multiple-choice items and one open-response item. A scaled score of at least 200 is needed to pass the multiple-choice section. The written component is scored independently and a score of at least 8 out of 12 is needed to pass.
First Attempt: $150 (full battery)
Retake: $75 (single section); $150 (both sections)
The FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9 test is pass/fail. Candidates must pass each section individually. In order to pass the multiple-choice section, candidates must receive a scaled score of at least 200. This means scoring approximately 74% of the questions correctly. The passing score for the written response is an 8 out of 12. The unofficial pass/non-pass status for the multiple-choice section is usually provided immediately after the test is complete. All official score reports are provided within 4 weeks of taking the test.
Data collection from 2015 reports that 37% of first-time test takers passed the multiple choice section and 42% passed the writing section.
In order to feel prepared for the test, plan to spend several weeks studying. It is helpful to create a schedule for yourself ahead of time by breaking down the test topics into different weeks. This way, you will know you have enough time to study each topic covered on the test.
What test takers wish they would’ve known:
- Keep an eye on the time to make sure you are able to complete the test in the 2.5 hour time frame.
- Any breaks taken are considered part of the 2.5 hour testing time.
- It is better to guess on a question you don’t know the answer to than to leave it unanswered.
Information and screenshots obtained from: http://www.fl.nesinc.com/studyguide/FL_SG_obj_014.htm
The exam has six competencies in the multiple-choice section, and one competency that requires a written response:
- Characteristics of Students (12%)
- Best Practices (14%)
- Language Arts Content (24%)
- Pedagogical Content (24%)
- Assessment (14%)
- Collaborative Processes (12%)
- Literary Analysis (Written Response)
So, let’s talk about Characteristics of Students first.
Characteristics of Students
This competency includes about 10 multiple-choice questions which make up about 12% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of students’ cognitive, social, and emotional development, as well as cultural characteristics of students.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.
Cognitive development includes all aspects of the thought process from childhood to adulthood. These processes include remembering, problem-solving, and decision-making.
The third stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is the concrete operational stage. Children in this stage are around seven to eleven years old. At this point, children begin to develop organized and rational thinking. This stage is considered the major turning point in a child’s cognitive development because it is the beginning of logical thought. Children are mature enough to apply logical thinking to physical objects.
The next stage is the formal operational stage. This stage occurs when a child is around twelve years old and lasts through adulthood. At this point, children begin the ability to think abstractly. They can think creatively, do mathematical calculations, and imagine possible outcomes without using concrete manipulatives. If a child is in the concrete operational thinking stage, he or she will need to draw a picture or use objects to think things through. A child in the formal operational stage can do this in his or her head. Formal reasoning involves more sophisticated and advanced thinking. Students use skills such as logical thought, deductive reasoning, and systematic planning to come up with creative solutions to problems.
Social and Emotional Development
Social development is the process of children learning to interact with others around them. As they develop their own individuality, they begin to gain skills to communicate with other people. Emotional development is the ability to recognize, express, and manage feelings at different stages of life. This development includes both positive and negative emotions, largely impacted by their relationships with parents, siblings, and peers.
The social developmental stage of adolescence includes a child’s development of friendships and other relationships. Children hit milestones of social skill development along the way. Between the ages of three and four years, children’s sense of confidence begins to develop as they learn to do more activities without assistance. Between the ages of four and five, children start to gain a greater awareness of their own individuality. A child’s sense of self in these early stages can set a pattern for the rest of his or her life. Some red flags that might show a child has dysfunctional social development include showing no interest in playing with other children, wanting to be dependent on caregivers, and/or having extremely rigid routines.
The emotional developmental stage of adolescence includes a child’s ability to regulate emotions. During middle and late childhood, children begin to gain an understanding of their own emotions. Children begin to understand that multiple emotions can be felt during a single life event, allowing them to understand multiple aspects of a situation.
Language arts teachers can align instructional goals with their students’ social and emotional development through self-reflection writing. Allowing students to explore their own emotions through writing can help them better understand their reactions to situations. Teachers can allow students to look at characters’ emotions towards situations and relationships with others to help students understand their own emotions and relationships.
And that’s some basic info about Characteristics of Students.
This competency includes about 11 multiple-choice questions which make up about 14% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of best practices within a language arts classroom.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will plausibly see on the test.
It is important to incorporate technology into language arts instruction. Focuses of education include solving complex problems and collaboration with peers. Integrating technology into the classroom is a way to help with these focuses. It sets students up for future success in an increasingly digital society.
Effective Ways to Use Technology:
- Feedback– providing instant feedback on assignments to clear up misconceptions
- Differentiated Instruction– assign work to meet students’ individual learning needs
- Supplement and Enhance Instruction– include use of technology to work seamlessly with content instruction
- Deepen Understanding– students can explore complex issues and enhance ability to make global connections
Integrating language arts allows students to apply their reading, writing, and speaking skills to other content areas. Allowing students to communicate their ideas throughout all content areas will help reach the ultimate goal of literacy instruction– building a student’s comprehension, writing skills, and overall skills in communication.
- Elbow Partner
- Shoulder Share
- Chunk and Chew
- Quick Writes
- Stop and Jots
- One-Minute Essays
- Graffiti Conversations
- Previewing Text
- Reading for a Purpose
- Making Predictions
- Making Connections
- Think Alouds
- Graphic Organizers
And that’s some basic info about Best Practices.
Language Arts Content
This competency includes about 19 multiple-choice questions which make up about 24% of the entire exam
This section tests your knowledge of language arts content, including literary devices within different genres. You also need to know about writing with a purpose for a specific audience and steps of the writing process. Your skills with English grammar, usage, and conventions will also be tested.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will likely see on the test.
Text complexity refers to the level of challenge a text provides based on quantitative measures, qualitative measures, and reader/task factors.
The quantitative measures are usually determined by a computer software program that assesses word length, word frequency, sentence length, and text cohesion.
The qualitative measures include levels of meaning for literary texts or purpose for informational texts. This includes text structure, knowledge demands, and language conventionality and clarity.
The reader and task factors measure the focus of the individual reader and the purpose for reading. This is measured through a student’s motivation, knowledge, and experience. A teacher’s professional judgement determines how appropriate a text may be for a specific student.
Evaluating text using a critical approach requires asking the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’, not just the ‘whats.’ A critical analysis expresses a writer’s opinion or evaluation of a text.
Examples of Critical Approaches:
- Gender– examines the role and image of men and women in literature
- Sociological– examines the cultural, economic, and political context in literature
- Anthropological– examines humanist and social science strategies in literature
- Psychological– examines the effect that modern psychology has on literature
- Historical– examines a literary work by investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context
Forms of Writing
Expository Writing– This type of writing presents reasons, explanations, or steps in a process. Typical characteristics include:
- Topic sentence, thesis statement, and subtopics
- Evidence and examples
Persuasive Writing– This type of writing presents the development of a logical argument. Typical characteristics include:
- Clear, concise, and defined thesis
- Strong introduction
- Well-developed argument with strong support
- Organized structure
Argumentative Writing– This type of writing takes a position on an issue or topic. It explains and supports the position with research. Typical characteristics include:
- A clear, firm, and debatable thesis
- Background information on the topic
- Organization and transitions
- Effective and thorough research
- Incorporation of logos, pathos, and ethos
The author’s purpose is the reason or intent the author has for his or her writing. The three main purposes are:
- To entertain- tells a reader a story for enjoyment
- To persuade- attempts to convince a reader to think or feel a certain way
- To inform- teaches a reader about a topic
This competency includes about 19 multiple-choice questions which make up about 24% of the entire exam.
This section tests your ability to identify appropriate, effective strategies to teach students all components of language arts.
Let’s look at some concepts that are likely to pop up on the test.
Comprehension strategies are conscious steps that good readers use to make sense of text. It is important to teach comprehension strategies for literary and informational texts because it helps students become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension. Comprehension strategies include:
Activating Background Knowledge: Readers use what they already know to connect to the text they are reading. This occurs before, during, and after reading. Students can use graphic organizers, such as flow charts and KWL charts, to aid in this process.
Predicting- Readers make informed guesses based on context clues and background knowledge about what will happen in the text. Before reading, they may use the title to make a prediction for what the book will be about. During reading, good readers make predictions about what will happen next based on what they have already read.
Visualizing- Readers make mental images of a text as a way to understand what they are reading.
Making Inferences- Readers draw conclusions from information in a text. They use what they know and what is in the text to make an inference about an event or character
Summarizing- Readers determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Summarizing helps students identify main ideas, eliminate unnecessary information, and remember what they read.
Multimedia is a term for combining many media formats including text, audio, images, animation, and video. A slide is an example of multimedia because it combines texts and images, and sometimes video and other types of media. Media literacy is a student’s ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Some examples of media literacy are radio, television, newspapers, and magazines.
Introducing multimedia literacy can be challenging at first, so start small and make sure to always have a back-up plan because technology is not always reliable. Pick the part of the lesson that it is most appropriate to use multimedia literacy; before, during, after, or as an exit ticket from the lesson. Always provide a clear link between the media and what you want your students to learn. Allowing students to be involved in creating media encourages collaboration, accountability, creativity, and mastery of concepts and ideas.
The writing process is a series of steps followed in order to produce a coherent piece of writing. Steps include:
Prewriting- This is the first stage of the writing process. It consists of a combination of brainstorming and outlining.
Drafting- This is where the author writes an initial draft.
Revising- This is where the author reviews, alters, and amends their initial draft.
Editing- This is where the author reads each sentence carefully to make sure that his or her words are serving the correct purpose.
Proofreading- This is where the author checks for and corrects spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors.
Publishing- This is the final step of the writing process. It is the presentation of the author’s final draft of writing.
This competency includes about 11 multiple-choice questions which make up about 14% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of using appropriate and effective formative and summative assessments in language arts.
Here is a concept that is likely to be part of the test:
Formal assessments are pre-planned, data-based tests that measure how well the students have learned what has been taught. The results determine a student’s proficiency or mastery of content taught and can be used for comparisons. Some examples include standardized tests, achievement tests, and aptitude tests.
Informal assessments are check-ins for learning that can be incorporated in day-to-day classroom activities that measure a student’s progress. Some examples of informal assessments are checklists, observations, and portfolios.
Descriptions of specific assessments to use in a language arts classroom:
- Observation– intentional observation using a rubric to evaluate performance-based tasks
- Anecdotal Record– short, concise, non-judgemental record of directly observed work or behavior
- Running Record– continuous observation of work or behavior for a period of time in order to draw conclusions and plan activities for individuals
- Dialogue Journal– ongoing written interaction between student and teacher as a way to exchange ideas, experiences, and reflections
- Portfolio Assessment– contains samples of the learner’s work that show growth over time
This competency includes about 10 multiple-choice questions which makes up about 12% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of the collaborative processes of reading and writing, including research, text structure, and reading for meaning using context.
Let’s talk about some concepts that are likely to be on the test.
The research process is a systematic approach that focuses on being objective and gathering a variety of information to analyze so the researcher can draw a conclusion. This follows a unique process listed below.
- Gathering Relevant Information– gather and obtain information from reliable sources such as literature searches, interviews, surveys, and/or focus groups
- Synthesizing– organize information found around a specific argument or question
- Paraphrasing– express information from other sources in your own words
- Citing Information– cite any source that was used when gathering relevant information
- Avoiding Plagiarism– be sure to paraphrase, put direct information in quotes, and always properly cite your sources
Using context clues to determine the meaning of a word or phrase can help a reader understand the text. Below is a table of common context clues a reader may use to help them understand a word’s meaning.
This competency includes a written response that accounts for 100% of the Written Performance Subtest Score.
This section tests your ability to analyze a literary selection in an organized manner, with attention to writing conventions and style.
Let’s talk about how to write a literary analysis.
The writer must first develop a clear and coherent thesis statement. The thesis statement is found in the introductory paragraph and offers the main point in one sentence. Once this has been stated, a writer must proceed with ample evidence and relevant details to support the thesis. This includes using the research process, paraphrasing information from sources, and citing all sources that provide relevant information to the writer’s main argument. The writer must use postsecondary level English through varied word choice, semantics, and language conventions. The literary analysis should be written in a style that increases the reader’s interest and understanding of the topic.
And that’s some basic info about the FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9 exam.