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Testing Strategies for Teacher Certification Exams

What is the Indiana CORE?

The Indiana CORE Assessments are part of the teacher certification process in the state of Indiana. This certification exam program is designed to ensure that teacher candidates have the knowledge and skills necessary to become educators in Indiana’s public schools.  The examinations in the Indiana CORE program are the only tests that satisfy the testing requirement for teacher certification in Indiana.

The tests are objective-based and criterion-referenced. Each test measures a candidate’s knowledge and skills in relation to an established set of criterion, not against the performance of other candidates. The Indiana CORE assessments measure a candidate’s mastery of the knowledge and skill required of an entry-level teacher.

The Indiana CORE program consists of  the CORE Academic Skills Assessment (CASA), the developmental (pedagogy) area assessments,  and the content area assessments.

Who should take the Indiana CORE tests?

Anyone seeking certification as a highly qualified educator in Indiana must pass the Indiana CORE in order to become certified. The testing requirements and timeline will vary for candidates depending on the state-approved teacher preparation programs in which they are enrolled.  There are several potential avenues a teacher candidate may take to becoming certified in Indiana depending on his or her background. See below for a description of each:

  • Candidates seeking entry into Indiana educator preparation programs are required to demonstrate basic skills competency prior to admission to Indiana educator preparation programs. Candidates have the option of achieving passing scores on the CASA or through the ACT, SAT, or GRE.
  • Candidates pursuing an education degree from an Indiana college or university must pass the developmental area assessment for their desired grade level as well as the content area assessment for their desired subject area before they can become certified.

 Candidates seeking to add a content area to an existing license must pass the content area assessment that match the license.

When can a candidate take the Indiana CORE?

Candidates must take the CASA (or equivalent standardized admissions test) prior to enrolling in their educator preparation program.

Candidates should complete the Developmental and Content-Area Assessments prior to graduation from their certification program but after completing 90% of their coursework. This will ensure that candidates are prepared to begin their job search, but are also adequately prepared to succeed on the test.

For the best timeline, candidates should contact the academic advisor at their institution to find out each program’s requirements.

Which Indiana CORE Assessment Should I Take?

A list and description of each exam in the Indiana CORE program and the required exams for each content area is provided here. Most teaching candidates will need to pass at least two Indiana CORE assessments: the Developmental and Content-Area tests. Candidates entering an educator preparation program may also need to pass the Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA) before enrolling.

  • The CASA is designed to measure a candidate’s knowledge and skills in relation to the Indiana Education Standards for reading, mathematics, and writing.
  • The Developmental Area Assessments are designed to assess a candidate’s understanding of the skills and instructional techniques for certain sets of grade levels. Candidates must pass the developmental area assessment that matches the grade level in which they are planning to teach.

Content Area Assessments assess a candidate’s knowledge in the specific content area in which he or she is seeking certification. A complete list of content area assessments and descriptions is available through the Indiana CORE website.

Preparing for the Indiana CORE

Structure of the Exam

Both the developmental area assessments and the content area assessment consist of multiple-choice questions with some constructed-response assignments. The number of questions and length of the test varies by content area.

  • The Core Academic Skills Assessment (CASA) is a 3-part assessment consisting of sections in Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. The Reading and Mathematics assessments are each 40 multiple-choice questions and are 75 minutes in length. The Writing assessment consists of 42 multiple-choice questions and 1 constructed-response assignment, and is 105 minutes in length. For more detailed descriptions of the assessment, see the CORE CASA Assessment Guide.
  • The Developmental Area Assessments offer four potential certification areas: Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, P-12 Education, and Secondary Education. Each assessment consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and is 105 minutes long. For more detailed descriptions of each assessment, see the CORE Assessment Guide.
  • The Content Assessments vary in length and format. For specific guidance about your subject-area, see the Indiana CORE Content Assessment guide.

Registration

Beginning to prepare for the Indiana CORE exam starts with understanding the test you need to take and the timeline for your preparation and testing dates.

  • Identify which test you need to take prior to beginning your study plan. See the Indiana CORE test selection page to see which tests you must pass to gain certification.
  • Select a test date. Test dates and locations vary. The CASA is administered at test centers in Indiana. Developmental (Pedagogy) and content area assessments are available at test sites nationwide. Most tests are available year round by appointment. Monday through Saturday (excluding some holidays), at flexible times and locations. See the Indiana CORE test dates and sites.

Select score reporting options. During registration, you may select institutions to which you would like to send your score reports. Scores for all tests are automatically reported directly to the Indiana Department of Education. You can send additional reports at a later time, but it is more efficient to select your recipients during registration.

Develop a Study Plan

It is important to develop a study plan as part of your preparation for the Indiana CORE assessments. Each test contains many content areas, skills, and question types with which examinees should be familiar. The amount of time an examinee should spend study will depend on their familiarity with the content and skills assessed.

A general study plan should include the following:

  • Practice or diagnostic test: decide on a time to take a practice test to determine your current level of familiarity with the content and to see which areas you should prioritize in your study plan. For more information, see this post on the blog!
  • Prioritization of content or skills: based on the results of your diagnostic test, you will see the content areas or skills in which you are strongest and weakest. Your study plan should prioritize the skills, types of questions, or content areas in which you are weakest.
  • Schedule: only you can know how much time you should spend studying, but no matter how much time is required, you should create a schedule to help your plan stay on track. You may choose to study one hour a day for five days a week, or five hours a day for one day a week. The most important part of your schedule is consistency. It is easy to fall behind as distractions and other events come up, but maintaining a regular schedule will help you work around unexpected interruptions to your plan.
  • Study materials: determine which study materials you will use to prepare for the test. In addition to 240Tutoring’s study guides, you can also find sample questions on the Indiana CORE website.
  • Accountability: determine how you will hold yourself accountable to your plan. You may choose to keep a study log, to mark off study sessions on a calendar, or to set electronic reminders on a phone or device. Another technique that can be helpful when holding yourself accountable to goals is to share your plan with someone else. Consider peers or classmates who may also be preparing for exams, and make time to study together or check in with one another about progress. Consider family or friends with whom you can share your plan so that they can check in with you about your progress. The key is to build multiple levels of accountability into your study plan to ensure success!

Study

After creating your study plan, you need to begin studying! Using 240Tutoring’s preparation guides, you can begin learning more about the content and types of questions on each exam and completing practice questions using testing strategies.

  • Read test overviews and descriptions. Completing practice questions without guidance will not help you improve. Read the introductory information in each tutoring guide, including the overview for each content area. By understanding the content assessed in each section, you will have a more informed understanding of how to approach each question.
  • Learn about question types. Understanding the types of question on each assessment is essential to preparation strategies and time management strategies during the test. Each question type requires a different approach and method of preparation. For add
    • For multiple-choice questions, you will need to understand content very thoroughly in order to answer questions correctly. Your strategies should include eliminating wrong answer choices, skipping over but returning to the most challenging questions, and making educated guesses when possible.
    • For constructed-response questions, you will need to understand content knowledge, be able to analyze documents or problems in the moment, and to explain your thinking in a clear, concise way. Your strategies should include planning, drafting, revising, and using key words.
  • Complete practice questions with a timer. After you understand the content and question types you will face on your exam, you should then begin completing practice questions. When practicing, use a timer. Practicing without a time can be detrimental on test day—if you are not accustomed to the time limits and do not have a sense of how much time to spend on each question, you could easily run out of time on test day. Set a timer for each section of the test that aligns with the allotted amount of time for the official test. Even if you do not finish your within that amount of time at first, you will see whether you are spending too little or too much time on each part.
  • Check your answers and read explanations. After each practice test or section, check your answers against the key. Do not simply mark the number of questions you answered correctly or incorrectly, but analyze your performance by looking for patterns. Ask yourself:
    • Are there content-areas in which I consistently do well?
    • Are there content-areas in which I consistently struggle?
    • Do I answer more questions correctly at the beginning, middle, or end of a test/section?
    • Are there many questions on which I need to guess?

By identifying patterns in your performance, you can adapt your study plan to hone in on the areas in which you need to improve most.

For incorrect answers, be sure to read the answer explanation. You will see why each answer choice is correct or incorrect, and may notice details about the questions and answer choices that you did not notice in your first attempt. Reading explanations of incorrect answers ensures that you learn from your mistakes as you progress.

Test Day

What to Expect on Test Day

Your preparation plan does not end with studying—you should also have a test-day plan. This includes strategies should as taking a few days off from studying before the exam, taking care of yourself physically leading up to the exam, and looking up maps and directions in advance to ensure you arrive early to your site. You should also consider strategies to reduce test anxiety to be sure that your hard work and preparation are not overshadowed by nerves on test day.

Arrival and What to Bring

There are several steps you need to take prior to arriving at the test site to ensure you are set up admission to the testing center test day.

  • Verify your test location and reporting time. Reporting times will differ from testing times, and it is important to arrive early to ensure admission. Examinees should arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the examination to ensure enough time for check-in.
  • Print your admission ticket. Access and print your admission ticket in advance. You must bring your admission ticket to the center with you in order to be permitted to test. Electronic versions will not be accepted. To avoid technical problems that could delay the process, print your ticket the night before your exam.
  • Gather identification materials. All test takers are required to provide one valid form of identification. You will not be permitted to test without proper identification. Identification must by a current, government-issued identification printed in English, in the name in which you are registered, bearing your photograph and signature. Copies will not be accepted. For information about ID requirements and acceptable for of ID, see the guidance provided on the Indiana CORE website.

For more information about what you may or may not bring to the test center, see the Indiana CORE Policies  for test day.

Taking the Test

By now, you should be familiar with what to expect on the exam. All that is left to do is complete it, but that may not be as simple as it sounds once the test is in front of you.

If you feel anxious, remember 7 Reasons People Fail Their Certification Exam. If you have prepared using these tips and 240Tutoring’s study guide, you will have:

  • Learned the content
  • Reviewed testing strategies
  • Learned how to break down questions and answer choices
  • Learned how to write a constructed response
  • Developed strategies for reducing test anxiety.

Throughout the test, remember what you have learned, maintain a steady pace, and keep calm!

Test Scores

Score Reporting Dates

Scores are typically released within 10-20 business days of your testing date.

  • For the CASA Reading or Mathematics assessments, scores reports become available in your account within 10 business days.
  • For CASA Writing or the combined CASA assessments, score reports for all tests taken on that date will be available within 20 business days due to manual scoring.
  • For Developmental and Content Area Tests that are multiple-choice only, you will receive a preliminary score reports at the test center immediately after testing. Official score reports will be available in your account within 10 business days.
  • For Developmental and Content Area Tests that include constructed-response assignments, a receipt of completion is provided at the test center, and official score reports become available in your account within 20 business days.

For the most up-to-date calendar of score-reporting dates, see Indiana CORE’s test date guidance.

Sending and Canceling Scores

When registering for the Indiana CORE, you will have indicated which institutions or programs you to which you would like to send score reports. Your test scores will be automatically reported to you, the Indiana  Department of Education, and the institutions that you indicated when you registered. If needed, you may choose to send your scores to additional recipients. Learn more about requesting additional copies of your test results here.

If at the end of your paper-based test you do not want your scores reported or do not feel that you performed as well as you could have, you may cancel your test scores.

If you choose to report your scores to a certification institution, you will be unable to cancel them at any point and they will become an official part of your record. If you choose to cancel your scores, you will be unable to report your scores and they will never be reinstated to your testing record. Cancellation does not result in a refund.

Except for extreme circumstances, such as severe physical illness or overwhelming anxiety, it is not recommended that you cancel your scores.

Official Score Reports

Official score reports are posted to examinee accounts on the score report date according to the exam.  Examinees will receive an email notification when official score reports are available, and may access their Indiana CORE account to view their score reports.

Understanding Your Scores

Your official score report explains your score and whether you passed or failed. Your raw score and percentage of correct answers on the Indiana CORE are converted to a common measure called a scale score. A scale score allows multiple forms of a test to share a common minimum passing score. Test results are reported using a scaled score from 100 to 300.

See the Indiana CORE’s resources on interpreting your CASA scores and your Developmental and Content Area scores.

Passing Scores

The minimum passing scale score for tests is a scaled score of 220 or higher. For assessments that contain multiple subtests, examinees receive a separate score for each subtest and must pass each subtest meet the passing requirements. Information about the scoring of constructed responses varies by test. Information is available on the test information page for each assessment.

Retaking the Exam

In the event that you do not earn a passing score, you may retake the test to attempt it again. You must wait 30 days to retake any exam or part of an exam, but there is no limit to the number of times you may take an exam.

If you take a combined assessment and only pass one of the subtests, you will only need to retake the single subtest you did not pass. Once you have achieved a passing score on all subtests, you will have passed the entire assessment.

When registering for a retake, you should access your  Indiana CORE testing account to register to retake the exam, you need to reregister for the exam, so do so as quickly as possible. Take action immediately to be sure you meet your certification deadlines!

State Reciprocity and Out-of-State Licensure

If you are pursuing an education degree in a state outside of Indiana, or if you hold a valid educator’s license in another state, you may be able to transfer your licensure to Indiana.

Out-of-state graduates should create and account and submit credentials through Indiana’s License Verification  Information System. Your credentials will be reviewed and you will be notified if any deficiencies exist in your application. See the Out-Of-State Graduates guide for more information.

If you currently hold a valid teaching license in another state, you may be eligible for a temporary one-year reciprocal permits that allows you to begin teaching while you address any deficiencies in your credentials. Licensed educators from other states should also submit their credentials to the License Verification Information System for review. More information is available through the Indiana Department of Education’s licensing page.

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