FTCE Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3 (053) Ultimate Guide2020-05-15T19:52:34+00:00

FTCE Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3 (053) Ultimate Guide

Preparing to take the FTCE PK-3 (053) exam?

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FTCE Prekindergarten/Primary PK-3 (053) Quick Facts

Overview: 

If you would like to teach elementary pre-K through 3rd grade in the state of Florida, this is the test for you! Florida uses the Prekindergarten/Primary PK–3 exam to determine whether a prospective teacher has the necessary knowledge and skills to teach language arts and reading, mathematics, and science to young elementary-level students. 

Format: 

All four subtests are administered as computer-based tests (CBT). If you are taking all four subtests in one administration, you will receive one 15-minute break. Note that you will be required to take all four subtests the first time you take the exam.

Cost: 

Costs will vary depending on whether it is your first attempt, requiring you to take all four exams, or if you are only retaking individual subtests that you did not pass the first time you took the test.

Scoring: 

You must score at least a 200 on each subtest in order to pass the exam. 

This exam uses a scaled score, meaning it doesn’t correspond to an exact percentage of correctly answered questions. Passing percentages can vary slightly from one exam to another based on the questions included in each new administration. The test makers use a scaled score system to ensure that the scoring of the exams is fair even when the questions change. 

Generally speaking, you can expect to receive a passing score if you answer at least 70% of the questions correctly. 

Pass rate: 

The chart below shows the 2018 passing rates for first-time exam takers broken down by subtest.

 

 Study time: 

This test includes four different content areas and will cover a lot of information. You will want to consider your individual experience with each subtest and choose an exam date that will give you plenty of time to study. 

Remember, you must score at least a 200 on each individual subtest. This means that an exceptional score on one subtest will not make up for a lower score in another content area. Incorporate plenty of study time into your schedule to make sure that even your weakest subject is able to reach the minimum score of 200. 

What test takers wish they’d known: 

  • You will receive a reference sheet for the mathematics subtest.
  • Secure storage will be provided for your personal belongings, but you will not be allowed to take them into the testing room.
  • Read the questions carefully. If you are struggling to decide between two answer choices, be sure to reread the question! There will often be a detail that can help you determine which answer is best. 
  • Although you may periodically skip a question as you work, be sure to go back and answer it before time is up on that subtest. For these exams, a best guess is always better than no answer at all. 

Information and screenshots obtained from the FTCE and NES website.

Subtest 1: Developmental Knowledge

Overview

Subtest 1 has 60 multiple-choice questions and you will have one hour and ten minutes to answer all of them. There are seven competencies within this subtest. 

This subtest tests your knowledge of:

  • child development and child growth
  • the foundations of early childhood education
  • developmentally appropriate practices
  • developmentally appropriate curricula
  • developmentally appropriate intervention strategies
  • child guidance and behavioral management
  • the diagnosis, assessment, and evaluation of students

Let’s look at some specific concepts that are likely to appear on this subtest.

General Signs of Emotional Abuse

The signs of emotional abuse can be different than those of other forms of abuse. The following is a list of some common signs of emotional abuse:

  • delayed or inappropriate emotional development
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of confidence
  • social withdrawal
  • depression
  • unexplained headaches or stomachaches
  • avoidance of or lack of interest/engagement in school and other activities
  • exhibiting a desperate need for affection
  • decreased academic performance

Constructivism and Instruction

Constructivism defines learning as a process in which students learn new behaviors by adjusting their current view of the world. This approach depends on scaffolding and the zone of proximal development.

The zone of proximal development is the space that is beyond what the student already knows but still close enough to be understood with help from the teacher. Scaffolding, or structured frameworks, are used to guide students to that next level of understanding. For example, a student who knows the sounds of all letters can then build upon that knowledge, with the teacher’s help, to blend those sounds into words. 

Constructivism promotes three main learning methods:

  • Problem-based learning – instruction is based on real-world problems that are aligned with the learning standards
  • Inquiry/discovery learning – guiding questions lead students to an understanding of the learning goal
  • Experiential learning – experience paired with reflection on the experience

Montessori Education

In the early 1900, Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori developed an education method that came to be known as the Montessori method. She argued that children learn best with hands-on interaction and will construct their own learning by interacting with their environment. 

A typical Montessori classroom will include:

  • student choice of both activities and duration
  • mixed-age groups
  • purposefully selected materials available for students to access

Stages of Play

Children learn best by playing. Research has shown that play, both guided and independent, is key to both brain development and both social and academic learning.

Beginning at birth and with some individual variation, children will progress through the stages of play identified in the following table:

Daily Structure for Young Children

Young children have short attention spans and care must be taken to balance short periods of direct instruction with activities that involve opportunities for movement. 

Students who are asked to remain sitting and still for too long will find themselves unable to focus on the concept being taught. While unstructured play is an important way that children learn, it is not the only way that teachers should incorporate movement and activity; they should also include thoughtfully planned activities that incorporate and reinforce student learning. 

Types of Assessments

Assessment is a tool used to determine student mastery of a concept. Assessments can be formal or informal and either formative or summative.

Formal assessments are the more traditional of the assessment types. They will either be criterion-referenced or norm-referenced.

  • Criterion-referenced assessments compare student performance with a set standard. For example, this might be a standardized test on which students are expected to get a certain number of the questions correct in order to be considered proficient. 
  • Norm-referenced assessments compare a student’s results to the results of other students. A “norm” is determined based on how most students perform. 

Informal assessments are curriculum-based, typically quick, and often based on the teacher’s observation or conversations in class. One common way to informally assess students is by using an exit ticket. Exit tickets usually contain one or two questions for students to answer and hand in as they walk out the door. The teacher can then use their answers to determine the class’s understanding of the day’s lesson. From there, the teacher can either plan to move on or revisit the information at the following class meeting. 

Assessments can be either formative or summative:

  • Formative assessments are used before and during a unit to guide instructions. The exit ticket is an example of a useful informal formative assessment. Student answers on an exit ticket will influence lesson plans for the following days. Pre-tests, on the other hand, are an example of a formal formative assessment.
  • Summative assessments are used when instruction is complete on a concept. These are not used to guide instruction but rather to determine how much the student learned within the designated time. An example of a formal summative assessment would be a unit test or a traditional state assessment. Summative assessments are unlikely to be informal because they are typically used to document and report on student mastery. 

Teaching Diverse Students

Students come to school from diverse backgrounds and with diverse needs. Effective teachers will be deliberate in their efforts to develop a safe and inclusive classroom. Teachers should consider student cultures, interests, and learning differences in their planning and classroom arrangement. 

Cultural differences: Promote diversity by choosing texts that represent a variety of cultures. Provide opportunities for students to share about their own cultures. 

Learning differences: Outside of specific required accommodations that are outlined in student-specific IEPs, a teacher can support student learning with how he or she arranges the classroom and by making thoughtful decisions about student placement in a seating chart. 

And that’s some very basic information about Subtest 1.

Subtest 2: Language Arts and Reading

Overview

Subtest 2 has 60 multiple-choice questions and you will have one hour and ten minutes to answer all of them. There are five competencies within this subtest. 

This subtest tests your knowledge of:

  • literacy and literacy instruction
  • fiction and nonfiction genres
  • foundational reading skills
  • language elements used for effective oral and written communication
  • literacy assessment

Let’s look at some specific concepts that are likely to appear on this subtest.

Learning the Alphabetic Principle

The alphabetic principle is the understanding that letters represent sounds and that those letters combine to form words. Phonics instruction is built upon this principle. Generally speaking, the alphabetic principle is the understanding of the relationship between spoken and written language.

While the basic concepts related to the alphabetic principle begin to develop early on through a child’s exposure to text, more advanced skills like letter-to-sound correspondence require direct, purposeful instruction. 

The basic approach to instruction of the alphabetic principle is as follows:

  1. First, use direct instruction of letters and their corresponding sounds. 
  2. Next, students need opportunities to practice the newly taught information. This will reinforce their understanding of the relationship between the letter and the corresponding sound(s).
  3. Finally, the new letter-to-sound relationship should be present and pointed out in books. This continued exposure is an important way to continue reinforcing the new information.

Phoneme Blending

Phoneme blending is the ability to combine separate sounds to form words. Young children use this skill to begin reading simple words. 

For example, in order to read the word “hat,” you blend the sounds /h/ /a/ /t/, or the sounds /m/ /i/ /t/ to form the word “mitt.”

Common Word Patterns

There are several common word patterns that children can memorize to make decoding easier.

CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words have a short vowel sound between two consonants.

Examples: hat, mop, can, etc. 

CVCC (consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant) words are a common word pattern that also contain a short vowel sound. 

Examples: math, past, film, lamp, etc.

CVVC (consonant-vowel-vowel-consonant) words can help the student spell words with a vowel pair in which the first vowel says its name or is a long vowel sound and the second vowel is silent. 

Examples: boat, mean, rain, fear, etc.

CVCe words contain a long vowel sound, made long by the silent e at the end of the word.

Examples: hate, mile, hole, etc. 

Pattern Books

Pattern books are books that repeat the same sentence or sentences, slightly altered throughout the book. These are important books for early readers because the sentences are predictable and help students develop reading confidence. 

For example, a pattern book might begin each page with the sentence stem “My happy dog likes to …” with a different action that matches a new picture on each page. This would allow a new reader to decode only the end of the sentence on each page.

Schema

Schema refers to the background knowledge that a student has on any particular subject. When encountering a new text, a student with a wealth of related background knowledge will comprehend the text more easily than a student with no related background knowledge. 

Schema is important and the teacher can work to activate, review, or develop the schema of his or her students. You may have heard the phrase “activate prior knowledge.” This relates to pre-reading activities designed by the teacher to remind the class of the related information that they already know before exposing them to new information. 

A teacher can help activate or develop a student’s schema through carefully selected questions, anticipation guides, or discussions over related videos, pictures, or other resources. 

Reading Fluency

Reading fluency describes the ability of a student to read accurately and at a reasonable speed. Fluency is key to reading comprehension, and one of the most efficient ways to improve a student’s comprehension is by improving their fluency.

There are three main components of determining reading fluency:

  • Accuracy – the ability to accurately pronounce the words on the page
  • Prosody – the ability to read with expression
  • Speed – the ability to read at an appropriate pace

Automaticity is sometimes used as a fourth component. Automaticity describes the ability to read words easily. It relates to the relationship between speed and accuracy. If a student can read words quickly and accurately, they have a high level of automaticity.

Stages of the Writing Process

There are five main stages of the writing process, but these stages do not always move in a straight line. Sometimes students will often go back and revisit earlier stages of the process prior to publishing. 

  1. Prewriting/Planning: Students will brainstorm, gather information, and/or create outlines for their writing.
  2. Drafting: Students will write a draft of their piece, elaborating and expanding on the ideas outlined in the prewriting stage. 
  3. Revising: Students will review their draft to determine strong and weak aspects, opportunities for elaboration or clarification, and organizational issues to address. Students are often paired with classmates to provide and receive feedback in the revision stage. 
  4. Editing: Editing and revising are sometimes confused or blended into a single stage. However, while revising focuses primarily on the ideas and organization of the piece, editing focuses on issues of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Most people benefit from an editing partner during this stage, as it is generally easier to spot errors in writing that is not your own. 

And that’s some very basic information about Subtest 2.

Subtest 3: Mathematics

Overview

Subtest 3 has 50 multiple-choice questions and you will have one hour and ten minutes to answer all of them. There are five competencies within this subtest, and you will also be provided an onscreen reference sheet.

This subtest tests your knowledge of math concepts, including algebraic thinking, number concepts, measurement, and spatial concepts. In addition, the ability to effectively teach mathematics is assessed.

Let’s look at some specific concepts that are likely to appear on this subtest.

Stages of Learning Math

All students learn math in a typical progression. Basic concepts are taught with concrete representations or manipulatives. For example, students learn about adding by holding blocks or small figures in two groups and counting the total. The teacher may ask them to get three blocks in a group and four blocks in another group. Then the students are asked to count all of the blocks together.

From the concrete stage, students begin semi-concrete or symbolic learning. On paper, they draw symbols, pictures, or dots to represent the problem and solve it. Using the previous example, students would draw three circles and four circles and then a total of seven circles. 

Once a student has mastered the symbolic phase of learning math, they can move into abstract learning. Abstract representation means using numbers in equations. In the example above, the student would be given 3 + 4 and asked to solve the equation. They continue to work in this stage until it is natural and becomes something they can do without much thought.

Geometric Sequences

Geometric sequences are sets of numbers that increase or decrease by a set ratio. For example, if you are given 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, you know that each number is the product of the number before it and 2. To find a geometric sequence, determine the ratio by putting a number over the number before it. In this example, 4/2 = 2. Double-check it with other numbers in the sequence; for instance, 16/8 = 2.

 The difference between a geometric sequence and an arithmetic sequence is that a geometric sequence increases by a ratio and an arithmetic sequence increases by a number. An arithmetic sequence increases by a set number that is added or subtracted from one number to the next. 2, 4, 6, 8 is an example, as 2 is added to each previous number.

An example of a geometric sequence is 3, 4.5, 6.75, 10.125. Each number is multiplied by 1.5, because  Another example is 21, 7, 2 ⅓, 7/9. Each number is multiplied by ⅓, because 7/21 = ⅓ and 2 ⅓ x ⅓ = 7/9.

Counting Techniques

Young children learn to count initially by memorization. The numbers have no meaning; rather, they know the words in order. Then they begin to recognize that each number has a meaning that represents a certain quantity. Once this association is established, students can learn a variety of counting methods that build on each other.

  • Counting by ones: This is the first and most basic method of counting and identifying an amount.
  • Counting on: Once students are able to count by ones, they learn to count on, meaning they can start from a number other than 1. This builds a foundation for addition. For example, if a student is asked what is 4 +3, they can count on from 4, saying 5, 6, 7, to reach the correct answer.
  • Counting backwards: Students learn to count down from 3, as this is used by teachers to end an activity. Then they learn to do this from any number and a foundation for subtraction is laid.
  • Skip counting: This is when students learn to count by 2, 3, 5, 10, etc. This introduces multiplication concepts.
  • Counting collections: This is a higher level of skip counting. Students learn to count larger groups of items and build on their multiplication knowledge.

Properties of Operations

There are four properties, or rules, that are applied to various math operations. 

  • Commutative: This applies to addition and multiplication. The numbers can “commute” or move positions without changing the result.
    • Examples: 71 + 22 = 93 and 22 + 71 = 93, or 6 x 7 = 42 and 7 x 6 = 42
  • Associative: This applies to addition and multiplication. The numbers can be associated with each other using parentheses in different ways without changing the result.
    • Example: 52 + (13 + 24) = 89 and (52 + 13) + 24 = 89, or 3 x (6 x 4) = 72 and (3 x 6) x 4 = 72
  • Identity: This applies to addition and multiplication, but in different ways. For addition, any number plus zero equals that number. For multiplication, any number times one equals that number.
    • Example: 37 + 0 = 37, or 9 x 1 = 9
  • Distributive: This only applies to multiplication. A number outside parentheses can be distributed among the numbers inside if they are being added or subtracted.
    • Example: 5(6 + 4) = (5 x 6) + (5 x 4) = 30 + 20 = 50, or 5(6 + 4) = 5(10) = 50

Dividing Fractions

Dividing by a fraction is simple if you know how to multiply fractions! To divide, flip the fraction to find the reciprocal and then multiply. When multiplying fractions, multiply straight across. This means that the answer is the product of the numerators over the product of the denominators. For example, . If the problem has a mixed number, then convert it to an improper fraction, find the reciprocal, and then multiply. For example, .

Volume of a Box

To find the volume of a box, you simply multiply the length by the width and height. The formula is V = l x w x h. The answer is always units cubed (noted by an exponent of 3 with the units), as the volume represents how many 1 x 1 x 1 cubes would fit in the object. Note: it does not matter which side is labeled as the height, width, or length, as the numbers are multiplied and this will not impact the product.

Example: Margaret has a toy box that is 24 inches tall. It is 36 inches long and 18 inches deep. What volume of toys can the box hold when the lid is closed?

V = l x w x h = 36 x 18 x 24 = 15,552 in3

Square Pyramid

A square pyramid has a square base with triangles connected to each side that meet at a point, or apex. The pyramid has 5 vertices, or points, 5 faces, or sides, and 8 edges. Finding the volume is simple if you follow the formula. Volume is found by multiplying 1.3 x area of the base (B) x height (h). B is found by squaring the side length of the square. h is the distance from the apex to the base. 

And that’s some very basic information about Subtest 3.

Subtest 4: Science

Overview

Subtest 4 has 50 multiple-choice questions and you will have one hour to answer all of them. There are five competencies within this subtest and you will also be provided an onscreen reference sheet.

This subtest tests your knowledge of science concepts and the ability to teach them. 

Let’s look at some specific concepts that are likely to appear on this subtest.

The Scientific Method

The scientific method is used to guide scientists as they perform experiments. Following these steps allows for fair trials that result in discoveries widely accepted by other scientists. This is not a linear process; rather, scientists can go back and repeat steps or revise steps as needed to reach an accurate conclusion. The following is a general order to follow, with examples.

  1. Identify a problem or ask a question.

Example: What type of water helps plants grow best?

  1. Make observations and do research about the problem.

Example: Read about other experiments and interview farmers and gardeners.

  1. Develop a testable hypothesis, or educated guess, as to the outcome of the experiment.

Example: If plants are grown with different types of water, then spring water will produce the tallest and most robust plants.

  1. Conduct the experiment using one independent variable. The variable is the one thing that is changed from one group to the next.

Example: One group of plants are grown with tap water, one group with spring water, one group with sparkling water, and one group with distilled water. All other variables are kept the same, such as soil amount and type, plant type, amount of sunlight, amount of water, etc.

  1. Record data.

Example: Record the height of the plants at set intervals, measure leaf size, take pictures to record leaf color, identify flower growth, etc.

  1. Draw conclusions.

Example: Determine the type of water that is the most effective based on the recorded data. At this point, the experiment can be redone with a new hypothesis and variable or with the same hypothesis to verify results.

Types of Rocks

There are three types of rock: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Each type of rock can be changed into the other types of rocks, depending on how they are changed. 

An igneous rock forms from molten rock that has cooled. Intrusive igneous rock forms inside a volcano and cools before it reaches Earth’s surface. Extrusive igneous cools on Earth’s surface. Rock must have been melted in order to be igneous.

Metamorphic rock is formed from extreme heat and pressure. Existing rocks are “morphed” or changed, which causes lines or streaks to appear throughout the rock. This occurs as different minerals respond differently to the heat and pressure. 

Sedimentary rock is formed by cementation and compaction. Current rocks are broken into smaller pieces and then compacted and cemented together. This creates a layered look or a conglomerate look where the small chunks are still recognizable but glued together.

Phases of the Moon

PhaseImage
New Moon
Waxing Crescent
First Quarter
Waxing Gibbous
Full Moon
Waning Gibbous
Last Quarter
Waning Crescent

The Moon revolves around Earth at the same rate it rotates. It takes about 28 days for this to occur. This means that from Earth, we always see the same side of the moon. The amount of the moon that is reflecting the sun varies and we call the different amounts of light seen moon phases.

 The main moon phases are the new moon, first quarter moon, full moon, and third or last quarter moon. The new moon reflects no light and therefore is not visible in the night sky, while a full moon is a bright, large circle. The right half of the circle is reflecting light during the first quarter moon and the left half is reflecting during the third quarter moon. 

The first quarter moon looks as if a capital D has been lit and a third quarter moon looks as if a capital C has been lit. When given a diagram, you can identify the main moon phases by remembering that to go to the moon, you must be a “DOC”: D for first quarter, O for full moon, and C for third quarter.

Between the main moon phases, the Moon continues to become more or less lit. When it is reflecting more light, it is called waxing. When the reflection is decreasing, it is called waning. The thin sliver of moon that is reflected before and after a new moon is a crescent moon. The mostly reflective moon before and after the full moon is a gibbous moon. Three to four days after a new moon, a waxing crescent moon is visible. Then the first week after a new moon ends with a first quarter moon. Three to four days after a first quarter moon, a waxing gibbous moon is visible. Then the second week ends with a full moon. This is the halfway point of the moon cycle. Three to four days after a full moon, a waning gibbous moon is visible. Then the third week ends with a third quarter moon. Three to four days after a third quarter moon, a waning crescent moon is visible. Then the fourth week ends with a new moon and the cycle begins again.

Weather vs. Climate

Weather consists of the daily conditions outside. The current temperature, precipitation, and cloud cover are part of the weather. Climate is the general weather trend over a period of time. The climate of an area is the average temperature, precipitation, and conditions over a longer period of time.

Heat Transfer

Heat can be transferred in three ways: conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction is the transfer of heat by touch. This can be seen when a pot on a stove is touching the electric burner. The burner conducts heat into the metal of the pan. Convection is the transfer of heat by a fluid (a liquid or gas). This occurs when hot air is blown onto food in a convection oven or the hot water at the bottom of a pot rises to the top and warms the cooler water at the surface. Radiation is heat being transferred by electromagnetic waves. The Sun heats the Earth by radiation.

Asexual Reproduction

Asexual reproduction is reproduction that requires only one parent, and which produces a clone. The offspring will have DNA identical to the parent. Bacteria, hydra, worms, strawberries, and some snakes can reproduce asexually.

In order for asexual reproduction to occur, the cell must go through mitosis. Mitosis has four phases that must occur sequentially: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase (P-MAT). During prophase, the nuclear envelope breaks down, spindles form, and the chromosomes condense. Then, in metaphase, microtubules attach to the chromosomes, which are lined up across the middle. Anaphase pulls the chromosomes apart and toward each end of the cell. Telophase then begins when the spindles disappear and a nuclear membrane forms around each set of chromosomes. The cell then goes through cytokinesis, during which it divides completely, resulting in two cells with DNA identical to the original or parent cell.

And that’s some basic information about the test.

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