TExES Principal as Instructional Leader Ultimate Guide2019-12-09T21:30:23+00:00

TExES Principal as Instructional Leader: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

Preparing to take the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader exam?

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You’ve found the right page. We will answer every question you have and tell you exactly what you need to study to pass the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader exam.

TExES Principal as Instructional Leader Quick Facts

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) adopted new principal standards in 2016. The new standards emphasize the critical role of the school principal with an increased emphasis on instructional leadership.

All candidates will need to pass the new TExES Principal (268) and complete the Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL) to obtain a standard principal certification starting on 9/1/2019. Additional information may be found using the link below:

https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Educator_Initiatives_and_Performance/Principal_Certification_Redesign/

Cost:

Exam Fee= $200.

Note: Registration for the new TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268) exam will open on April 30, 2019, for testing appointments available beginning July 29, 2019.

Scoring:

A score of 240 is required to pass this exam. Scores are reported within 28 days of testing.

Study time:

The amount of study time depends on the test taker. However, creating a workable plan, and breaking the study time into manageable time frames, is recommended. Of course, you will need more study time to review concepts with which you are less familiar or comfortable. The following tips will help you develop a study plan:

  1. Pre-assess your knowledge: What do you know? Not know?
  2. Consider the materials needed: What do you have? What do you need?
  3. Plan a date and time to study each concept.

Information and screenshots obtained from: http://www.tx.nesinc.com/content/docs/268PrepManual.pdf

School Culture

Overview

The School Culture domain accounts for about 22-23% of the entire exam, more specifically:

  • 12% of selected-response questions
  • 10% of constructed-response questions

This domain can be neatly divided into 2 competencies:

  • Establishing and Implementing a Shared Vision and Culture
  • Working with Stakeholders

So, let’s start with the first competency.

Establishing and Implementing a Shared Vision and Culture

This section tests your knowledge of creating and communicating a positive shared vision and campus culture with all stakeholders of the school.

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Building a Positive School Culture

The principal is the leader of the school, and he or she is ultimately responsible for a positive culture. Teachers, staff, students, and parents should feel proud to attend school. There should be a feeling of confidence that the leadership is able to do the following:

  • Build strong relationships
  • Teach essential social skills
  • Get on the same page
  • Be role models
  • Clarify classroom and school rules
  • Teach all students problem solving
  • Set appropriate consequences
  • Praise students for good choices

Developing a New Campus Vision

A campus vision may be as brief or detailed as desired; however, keeping the vision simple may help focus attention and promote memory. Here are two examples:

Lee High School, through focused instruction for all students, will be a Top 10 School in its comparison group.

The vision of Laura Bush Middle School is to maintain an exemplary climate, staff, and innovative environment designed to meet students’ unique needs in order to educate and equip all students with life skills to reach their fullest potential academically, socially, and personally.

Working with Stakeholders

This section tests your knowledge of how to work effectively with stakeholders through acknowledgement, recognition, and celebration.

Here are some concepts that are likely to appear on the test.

Managing Conflict

Conflicts may arise between students, staff members, etc. One example could be two teachers assigned to the same “team.” Perhaps one teacher is a veteran educator, while the other is fresh out of college. Their teaching styles differ. The veteran teacher wants the schedule to remain the same and use last year’s lesson plans, while the newly hired teacher wants to try new ideas. When the relationship begins to affect the students, the principal must intervene and mediate.

It is suggested to meet with both teachers, together, in a neutral setting. The principal must present the issues, ask for input from both teachers, and facilitate an action plan to resolve the conflict and move forward. The principal should avoid closed discussions with each teacher individually, and attempt to keep the conversation transparent to both involved parties.

Helping Caregivers Engage in the Education Process

Principals can encourage caregivers to engage in the education process. The principal should actively communicate and model examples, including:

  • Ask children about daily assignments
  • Monitor to make sure work is completed
  • Praise efforts
  • Support a routine and schedule for homework, sleep, etc.
  • Volunteer at the school/ in the classroom
  • Speak positively about other stakeholders

Leading Learning

Overview

The Leading Learning domain accounts for about 41-45% of the entire exam, more specifically:

  • 16% of selected-response questions
  • 25% of constructed-response questions

This domain can be neatly divided into 2 competencies:

  • Developing and Implementing High-Quality Instruction
  • Monitoring and Assessing Classroom Instruction

Let’s dive in!

Developing and Implementing High-Quality Instruction

This section tests your knowledge of collaborating to develop and implement high-quality instruction using research-based best practices.

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Best Practices in the Classroom

The principal should encourage and model best practices for high-quality instruction. These best practices include:

  • Clear, appropriate objectives are posted and/or stated
  • The teacher models new concepts

The following blog includes additional research-based ideas:

https://blog.edmentum.com/marzano-13-teaching-best-practices

Technology to Enhance Student Learning

Technology offers a great opportunity to teach. There are numerous ways to incorporate technology in the classroom. Principals should model, coach, and assess teachers’ use of technology to ensure that it reinforces the learning objectives of lessons. The principal should stay current on technologies and applications and act as a resource to teachers. Some ideas appropriate for all grade levels include Flipgrid, Google Classroom, Quizlet, Edpuzzle, and Kahoot.

Many applications are free, but the principal must also be aware of any district policies regarding the use of technology.

Monitoring and Assessing Classroom Instruction

This section tests your knowledge of monitoring and assessing classroom instruction to facilitate learning and achievement for all students.

Let’s look at some concepts that will most likely pop up on the test.

Observing Classrooms

A principal is observing many things while in a classroom. For example, related to the curriculum, the principal will want to consider the following:

  • Clear, appropriate objectives are posted and/or state
  • The teacher models new concepts
  • Lessons are focused and directed toward objectives
  • Evidence of continuity of lessons based on student need
  • Topics are appropriate to the developmental level of students

Note: Many school districts have an internal checklist for principals to utilize during an observation. This checklist will align with state standards and requirements.

Formative versus Summative Assessments

The principal should understand the difference between formative and summative assessments. The chart below summarizes each type:

Human Capital

Overview

The Human Capital domain accounts for about 18-19% of the entire exam, more specifically:

  • 14% of selected-response questions
  • 5% of constructed-response questions

This domain can be neatly divided into 2 competencies:

  • Providing Staff Evaluation, Supervision, and Professional Growth
  • Using Selection, Placement, and Retention Practices

So, let’s talk about those competencies.

Providing Staff Evaluation, Supervision, and Professional Growth

This section tests your knowledge of using evaluation and supervision to effectively facilitate professional growth for all teachers.

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Facilitating Teacher Self-Assessment

Part of the evaluation and feedback process should involve teachers completing self-assessment. Providing teachers with the observation checklist or rubric in advance allows them to self-assess and understand the expectations.

The following link also has a variety of teacher checklists that may assist new teachers:

http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/selfassessment/checklist/index.htm

Conducting Conferences with Teachers

Principals should foster a positive working relationship with teachers. It is important to establish trust prior to a formal conference. When a conference is needed, clear goals should be communicated. Each topic should have a direct connection to student success. If a problem arises, having objective data will keep the conversation on track. Teachers should have the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions. Confidentiality is important as well.

Using Selection, Placement, and Retention Practices

This section tests your knowledge of selection, placement, and retention practices to ensure high-quality staff.

Here are concepts that are likely to appear on the test.

Dismissal of Campus Staff

When the dismissal of campus staff is considered, it is critical to ensure that the proper procedures and documentation are in effect. Staff and faculty have different employment terms. It is important to understand who is under contract, what type of contract, who works “at will”, etc. The principal should consult with the district Human Resources department prior to taking action with an employee.

Current policies and guidance on this topic may be located on the TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) website: https://www.tasb.org

Creating Leadership Opportunities

Different teachers have different strengths. These strengths should be celebrated within the school in the spirit of collaboration. The principal should look for ways to promote and recognize all teachers, rather than always ask one or two teachers for their expertise. Teachers asked to take on too many roles can experience burnout.

A few leadership opportunities available within a school include:

  • Resource Provider
  • Instructional Specialist
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Mentor
  • Data Coach
  • Grant Writer
  • Department Chair
  • Committee Member/ Leader

Effective Leadership

Overview

The Effective Leadership domain accounts for about 6% of the entire exam.

This domain can be neatly divided into 2 competencies:

  • Communicating with Stakeholders
  • Improving Student Outcomes

So, let’s talk about those competencies.

Communicating with Stakeholders

This section tests your knowledge of developing relationships and communicating with all stakeholders in order to strengthen and support the campus.

Let’s talk about a concept that you will more than likely see on the test.

Ways to Communicate with Stakeholders

It is important to communicate information about the school on a regular and predictable basis using a variety of formats. Websites and social media accounts should be up to date and checked for accuracy. There may be families without internet access, or in need of special accommodations. The school leadership should survey parents and offer written communication in the preferred language when applicable.

Improving Student Outcomes

This section tests your knowledge of ways to improve student outcomes through community awareness and problem-solving.

Here are some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Socioeconomic Status and its Effect on Academic Performance

Research continues to link lower SES to lower academic achievement and slower rates of academic progress as compared with higher SES communities. Children from low-SES families are less likely to have experiences that encourage the development of fundamental skills of reading acquisition, such as phonological awareness, vocabulary, and oral language (Buckingham, Wheldall, & Beaman-Wheldall, 2013).

So, what can the principal do? Below are some ideas to improve academic performance for low SES students:

  • Hire highly-qualified teachers
  • Focus on improving teaching and learning
  • Create an information-rich environment
  • Build a learning community
  • Support continuous professional development, the involvement of parents, and increased funding and resources

Promoting Collaborative Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

The following best practices are recommended to promote collaborative decision-making and problem-solving:

Strategic Operations

Overview

The Strategic Operations domain accounts for about 6% of the entire exam.

This domain can be neatly divided into 2 competencies:

  • Determining Goals and Implementing Strategies
  • Resource Management, Policy Implementation, and Coordination of School Operations and Programs

So, let’s talk about those competencies.

Determining Goals and Implementing Strategies

This section tests your knowledge of determining goals and implementing strategies to support teacher effectiveness and positive student outcomes.

Here is a concept that you will more than likely see on the test.

Setting Measurable School Goals

Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This is known as the SMART approach.

Goals should be based on data. For example, if the second-grade reading comprehension scores across the campus are below the district or state expectation, a SMART goal could be created. Goals should align with student outcomes and support the school vision.

Resource Management, Policy Implementation, and Coordination of School Operations and Programs

This section tests your knowledge of resource management, policy implementation, and coordination of school operations and programs to ensure a safe, well-managed learning environment.

Check out these concepts.

Developing Campus Budgets

Budgeting is the process of allocating resources to the prioritized needs of the school. In most cases, the budget represents the legal authority to spend money. Adoption of a budget should consider the needs of the given campus. All decisions should be based on data. For example, the second grade state assessment scores in reading may fall short of projections. A new reading program may be proposed and budgeted if the leadership believes it addresses the specific reading needs of that student population. This is a data-driven decision.

Creating a Crisis Plan

A crisis plan communicates how a school will prevent, prepare, respond, and recover following a crisis. The crisis may result from natural causes (i.e., tornado) or any other dangerous situation (i.e., an armed intruder). Below are some key considerations when developing a crisis plan:

  • Effective crisis planning begins with top-level leadership to help set the policy agenda, secure funds and bring people from different agencies together
  • Crisis plans can’t be developed in a vacuum
  • Schools and districts should begin communicating and building relationships well before a crisis occurs
  • Plans should be developed with community groups including law enforcement, fire safety officials, emergency medical services and mental health professionals
  • Establish a clear and common vocabulary
  • Tailor plans at the district level to each school’s needs
  • Plan for the diverse needs of students and employees
  • Ensure teachers and staff have ready access to the plan
  • Train and drill

Ethics, Equity, and Diversity

Overview

The Ethics, Equity, and Diversity domain accounts for about 6% of the entire exam.

This domain can be neatly divided into 1 competency:

  • Providing Ethical Leadership

So, let’s talk about that competency.

Providing Ethical Leadership

This section tests your knowledge of ethical leadership. You should know how to advocate for all learners and act as a role model in your actions.

Check out these concepts.

Legal Guidelines Pertaining to Special Education

An ARD (Admission, Review, and Dismissal) Committee is an educational group that makes important plans and decisions for select students. The ARD Committee often creates Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for students with special education needs. An ARD Committee typically includes members representing regular education, special education, campus leadership, and parents or guardians.

Per IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), IEPs are required for children with disabilities, including preschool-aged children.

Educator’s Code of Ethics

The Educators’ Code of Ethics is set forth in the Texas Administrative Code to provide rules for standard practices and ethical conduct toward students, professional colleagues, school officials, parents, and members of the community.

As with many professions requiring a state license, the teaching profession—like law and medicine—is governed by a code of ethics. This code outlines standards of personal and professional conduct that you, a member of the profession, must uphold. Violating a standard can have serious consequences for your teaching certificate.

Integration (Constructed-Response)

Overview

There are 4 constructed-response questions on the exam. These questions require you to provide an in-depth written response to demonstrate your knowledge.

The questions are stand-alone “case studies.” A video or documentation may be provided to help you evaluate information and support your written response.

A holistic rubric, consisting of scores between 1 and 4, will be used to score responses. Below are some tips to assist you in this section of the test:

  1. Address all parts of the question
  2. Re-read your response for clarity
  3. Include evidence from the provided documents, supporting your response
  4. Check your response against the scoring rubric

And that’s some basic info about the exam.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

Practice Questions and Answers

Question 1

A local school has been designated as a school of needed improvement by the state. The principal of the school organizes a building leadership team to start unraveling the root of low academic performance. The team organizes a survey to be taken by students, parents, and teachers that will ask them to give perspective on factors that may be affecting learning. What is the best rationale regarding these stakeholder surveys?

  1. The survey can be analyzed for valid parent complaints against teachers and will provide the principal with a baseline of strategies to address teachers that don’t have good relationships with parents.
  2. The principal is implementing strategies to gain important stakeholder feedback to develop action plans. This will allow the school to use data and innovation to produce a more viable school culture.
  3. Survey results from students will reveal academic struggles. The leadership team can use a pull-out model for these students and work with them daily on all of their content needs.
  4. Stakeholder input from the surveys allows the principal to block off a week or two of their schedule to address all potential issues from all stakeholders.

Correct Answer: 2

Explanations:

  1. Addressing complaints is important, but is not the purpose of academic surveys. The principal should develop immediate action plans based on the data and address valid complaints when appropriate.
  2. Multiple forms of stakeholder data are important when addressing the needs of a school. The data is then used to modify or create strategies to promote academic achievement.
  3. Using a pull out a model for large amounts of the student population during instruction time would be disruptive and may create a complex inefficient intervention process for the school.
  4. Blocking off weeks at a time to address one facet of school improvement may not be realistic for school principals. Addressing issues from stakeholders needs to be accomplished simultaneously with other school improvement processes.

The following information will represent questions 2-5

Pemberton High School has recently been designated as a school of improvement by the state. The school district has hired Jennifer Reed as principal to take on a rigorous school improvement plan and replace some of the underperforming staff. Mrs. Reed is an experienced principal that has had similar challenges in similar types of schools and is ready for this big undertaking.

Mrs. Reed’s first step in improving the academic culture of the school is to develop a building leadership team that will examine data and create action plans targeting academic achievement. However, members of the building leadership team have shared some concerns from their colleagues regarding school direction and the evaluation process. To curb fear and answer pertinent questions from staff, Mrs. Reed calls a faculty meeting to discuss the school’s new focus on achievement.

Mrs. Reed created the following documents to reference during the meeting:

  1. Meeting Agenda
  2. School Demographics
  3. Recent Math English Science Assessment (MESA) Grade Level Data

Pemberton High School Faculty Meeting Agenda

  1. Introductions
  2. Table Talk Question #1- “What does proficient instruction look, sound, and feel like?”
    • Discuss at tables
    • Each table presents to the group
  1. Group Debrief- “How do you really know?”
    1. Student grade level data
    2. School Demographics
    3. Instructional Reflection

4. Table Talk Question #2– “What does evaluation mean to me, my students, and this community”?

    • Discuss at tables
    • Each table presents to the group
  1. Group Debrief
    • Self-development
    • Student achievement
    • Community service
  1. Mission Statement Development
    • Create an action plan
    • Departmental responsibilities
    • Timeline
  1. Meeting Wrap-Up
    • What did you learn about yourself?
    • What did you learn about your colleagues?
    • Agenda items for next meeting

School Demographics

MESA Grade Level Data Grade Level 11

Question 2

In the faculty meeting agenda, Mrs. Reed utilizes discussion at tables and whole group presentation to generate conversation. Which of the following best describes Mrs. Reed’s reasoning for using teacher talk during the meeting?

  1. Evaluate potential teacher leaders that can be fully responsible for meetings in the future
  2. Take note of teachers that are willing to participate and those that are resistant
  3. Establish a meeting process that is clear, consistent, and is developed solely by the principal
  4. Provide teachers a safe opportunity to collaborate and establish a collegial school culture

Correct Answer: 4

Explanations:

  1. Teachers should be involved in faculty meeting preparation and facilitation. Members of the building administration team should facilitate meetings with teachers to ensure meeting objectives are being met and will create a strong element of collaboration in the building.
  2. It is important for principals to monitor staff participation at meetings, but the main focus should be on the work products of the meeting and not staff buy-in.
  3. Meetings should not be developed in isolation by the principal and need to be developed in collaboration with other school leaders.
  4. Providing safe collaboration time promotes collegiality and peer feedback. A collegial and safe peer culture among teachers develops trust and may remove barriers in fulfilling building initiatives.

Question 3

Mrs. Reed uses student grade level data and school demographics as action items on the faculty meeting agenda. Which of the following best describes her rationale?

  1. Mrs. Reed wants to present low data points as being unacceptable and to inform teachers about new levels of accountability.
  2. When looking at data, teachers can focus on the students in each category that voluntarily underachieve and routinely create disruptions in class.
  3. Teachers will utilize multiple data sources to develop a shared vision of increased academic achievement and narrowing of learning gaps.
  4. The study of student demographics and grade level data can be used to develop varying levels of content rigor for each racial classification.

Correct Answer: 3

Explanations:

  1. Presenting data can utilize as a motivator or a vehicle to create a sense of urgency within a school. However, principals need to be conscious of staff feeling punished when utilizing this type of leadership and should look at data from a collaborative and not punitive view.
  2. Class disruptions and a lack of effort given by the student should be classified as a potential byproduct of a non-engaged learning environment. Teachers should focus primarily on the learning outcomes in their classrooms.
  3. Multiple data sources give teachers a baseline of information to analyze and disseminate. High levels of learning and achievement gaps taper when data points are examined collaboratively to inform instructional practice.
  4. School-wide content rigor should remain consistent across all racial groups. Pedagogy and differentiation strategies need to be established when developing culturally responsive teaching.

Question 4

Towards the end of the faculty meeting, Mrs. Reed presents the need for a mission statement that will keep their path to school improvement visible and on track. Departments are given time to develop departmental input and action plans regarding the creation of a school mission statement. How is Mrs. Reed utilizing this activity to promote student achievement?

  1. Teachers need to be given time to develop their own individual mission statements that describe their philosophies.
  2. Mrs. Reed is developing a collaborative structure that will facilitate the creation of a school mission statement that involves important stakeholder input.
  3. It is important that only members of the school be involved in creating school mission statements. Students and parents need to give input only in school procedure or communication issues.
  4. Setting a timeline allows the principal to demonstrate the strength and integrity of his/her school improvement planning. Systems should be developed with teacher reporting and management of collaborative planning in the forefront.

Correct Answer: 2

Explanations:

  1. Most teachers have a mission or goals that induce higher learning. The example above addresses the need to create a building-wide mission statement that generates a consensus amongst the staff and not individual philosophies.
  2. Mission statements are objective-based monikers that describe the values and direction of a school or organization.
  3. It is important to involve all stakeholders when developing missions and visions for a school. Schools were built to serve the students that attend and should not be improved only through staff input.
  4. The strength and integrity of a principal’s work should be evident in their work product. Systems based on staff reporting data with no linking action plans create a factory-like atmosphere and do not represent a successful learning organization.

Question 5

The Math, English, and Science Assessment (MESA) data highlights student performance toward the end of the school year. During a building leadership meeting, Mrs. Reed and staff recognize the need for other measures to assess student learning and create student interventions to support struggling learners. Teacher leaders have varying opinions on what plan of action to take. Some team members want to purchase another assessment program while others feel that one test during the year is sufficient in determining student outcomes. Select the two best methods for mediating this conflict.

  1. Mrs. Reed could use this conflict to discuss the importance of using formative assessments to inform instructional practice and how getting frequent up to date data points can lead to higher student achievement.
  2. The principal collaboratively develops a structured planning time for staff to align formative and summative assessments.
  3. Mrs. Reed should mediate the conflict by purchasing the assessment systems for the teachers that want to use it and let the other group of teachers produce their own assessments.
  4. Let teachers have an open debate during a faculty meeting. Mrs. Reed will take notes and decide to purchase the assessment system based on the results of the debate.

Correct Answer: 1, 2

Explanations:

  1. It is important for an instructional leader to utilize strategies that promote their understanding of assessment and how it is essential to high levels of learning. All forms of assessment are essential when developing units and/or lessons.
  2. Developing a structure for collaboration and design allows teachers to utilize the strengths of many to create work products that make increase learning in the classroom. This takes the systems development burden off teachers and gives them more opportunity to collaborate and create.
  3. Allowing teachers to utilize different methods of assessment can create division in a faculty group and also bog down school-wide alignment attempts.
  4. Having an open debate during a faculty meeting can lead to conflict and division among staff members. Having Mrs. Reed make the final decision based on debate results puts her in a difficult decision and is not collaborate in nature.
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