TExES Special Education Supplemental (163) Ultimate Guide and Practice Test
Preparing to take the TExES Special Education Supplemental exam?
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TExES Special Education Supplemental Quick Facts
This test is designed to assess the knowledge of an entry-level special education teacher in Texas public schools. Their knowledge should range from early childhood programs through twelfth grade and extension programs designed to assist students receiving special education services in transitioning to life after school.
The test is comprised of multiple-choice questions that have one, two, or three correct answers. If the question has more than one correct answer, the prompt will prompt the test taker to select more than one answer. Of the 100 questions, some may be field questions and will not count toward the final score. These questions will appear the same as any other question.
The fee to take the test is $116.
The test scores range from 100 to 300 and the passing score is 240.
The passing rate for this test is 83%, with an average score of 250 points.
This test is challenging because of the vast amount of information it covers. Break up the information so that you can master each category. Spending one to two hours on each topic should be sufficient and the topics should be spread over about three weeks.
What test takers wish they’d known:
- Each question has a “Review” button that can be clicked. This allows the test taker to mark which questions they wish to revisit at the end of the test.
- At the end of the test, all of the question numbers and the selected answer choices are displayed on a screen. You can check that every question has been answered.
- Any question can be revisited at any point in the test.
- The testing room may be cold, so you may want to dress accordingly.
- Bathroom breaks are allowed, but the clock does not stop.
Information and screenshots obtained from Pearson.
Domain I: Evaluation
The first domain consists of 20 questions. There are two competencies within this domain. Overarching concepts covered within these competencies include:
- Types of Disabilities
- Human Development
- Eligibility Procedures
Let’s explore a few specific concepts that are likely to be on the test.
The Major Categories of Disabilities
Describe the major categories of disabilities, as defined by IDEA:
- Visual impairment – Partial or total loss of eyesight that cannot be fully corrected with glasses.
- Hearing impairment – Hearing loss that can be corrected to some level with amplification devices.
- Deafness – Complete hearing loss that cannot be overcome even with amplification devices such as hearing aids.
- Deaf-blind – Both visual and hearing impairment that significantly affect the ability to communicate and learn, and needs that cannot be met by a program focused only on hearing impairment or visual impairment.
- Speech or language impairment – A disability in how words are pronounced, how they are understood, or how they are expressed. The disability can be articulation, stuttering, expressive language delay, or receptive language delay.
- Orthopedic impairment – A physical disability that negatively impacts a student’s ability to learn. Examples include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, polio, and amputations. To qualify as an orthopedic impairment, it must adversely impact a student’s ability to learn, so a child with one foot amputated may not qualify, but a student with both hands amputated may.
- Other Health Impairment (OHI) – A disability that impacts a student’s attention span, energy, or stamina, such as ADHD, epilepsy, diabetes, or asthma. In order to qualify in this category, the health impairment must impact the student’s ability to learn. For example, a child that needs to visit the nurse for frequent blood sugar checks due to diabetes may qualify, but a student with an insulin pump that does not need attention during the school day would not.
- Specific learning disability – A disability in this category impacts a student’s ability in reading, writing, speaking, listening, or reasoning. Examples include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, and math reasoning disorder.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – Students with ASD primarily struggle with communication and social skills. They may also struggle with behavioral issues.
- Intellectual disability – Students with an intellectual disability have an IQ of 70 or less that impacts them globally. They will struggle with academics, emotional maturity, self-care, and social skills.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – A TBI occurs as the result of an accident or injury. It impacts individuals differently depending on what part of the brain is injured.
- Emotional Disturbance (ED) – Most mental health issues fall under this category, including anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Multiple disabilities – A child that qualifies for more than one of the above categories would qualify as having multiple disabilities.
Texas General Process
- Observations by teacher/parent – The teacher or parent notices the student is consistently struggling and requests an intervention.
- RtI process – The teacher must design an intervention plan under which data can be collected to determine if the child needs more intense services.
- If interventions are unsuccessful, spEd teacher observes and begins the process of evaluation – If the teacher determines that RtI is not successful, they seek parent permission to begin a formal evaluation. This may include observations from the general ed teacher and special ed teacher, diagnostic testing, and reports from the parents and medical professionals.
- Eligibility determination – The Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee considers all of the evaluation information to determine if the child qualifies under one of the 13 categories of disabilities. If the child qualifies, the committee then develops an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The ARD committee includes a general education teacher, a special education teacher, parent(s)/guardian(s), an administrator, and a person who can interpret the implications of the child’s disability in an academic setting, such as a diagnostician. Other people familiar with the student can be allowed at the parent’s or school’s discretion.
- IEP – The IEP lays out goals for the child and lets the parent/guardian know how often they will be updated on progress. The goals must be measurable, attainable, and timely (one year or less to be accomplished).
- Annual meeting – The ARD committee must meet annually to determine new goals and review progress.
- REED – Every three years the ARD committee must also meet to determine if the child continues to need special education services. This meeting is called a REED, or Review of Existing Evaluation Data. If it is determined that the child continues to need services, then a new IEP will be developed.
After a formal evaluation is completed, the special education teacher must review the findings and then share the information with the parents and other stakeholders, such as teachers and administrators. While it is not necessary to share specific scores (unless requested), it is most important to share the implications of the evaluation. For example, if a child scores 80 on an IQ test, the teacher must understand and explain to the parents that while this score is in the average range, it is the lowest score in that range. It means the child will need to work hard to understand academic concepts and will need a lot of practice to master concepts. In addition to the IQ test, the teacher would relay information from observations and reports from the general education teacher. All of this information is considered when reaching a diagnosis.
And that’s some basic information about the first domain.
Domain II: Learning and Development
The second domain consists of 50 questions. There are five competencies within this domain. Overarching concepts covered within these competencies include:
- Learning Environment
- The IEP
- Cultural Impacts
- Life Skills
- Teaching with Technology
- Classroom Management
- Transition Planning
Let’s explore a few specific concepts that are likely to be on the test.
Collaboration and Instruction
During an annual ARD, the committee determines goals for the student and where the instruction will take place. The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is required by law and requires that the student be with typical, grade-level peers as much as possible. If a student is in a general education classroom, the teacher is responsible for ensuring that the child meets their goals and makes progress in the curriculum. The special education teacher is responsible for modifying the curriculum if needed and providing alternate curriculum if the child is unable to participate on grade level.
A student who qualifies for an emotional disturbance for anxiety will be in the general education setting for the entire day. They may go to a separate classroom for tests, where they may work with a small group or other assistance to help alleviate their anxieties, but their instruction is given alongside grade-level peers. A child with an intellectual disability might need a resource classroom for language arts and math but receive co-teach services for science and social studies in the general ed classroom. This means that they have a special education teacher in a separate classroom that provides instruction for LA and math that is on their level. Then they are in a typical classroom for science and SS, but a special education teacher is also in the room and modifies the curriculum so that they may participate. Finally, if there is a student with multiple disabilities who has a physical disability and a severe mental disability, then they may receive life-skill special education services. All of their core academic classes revolve around developing independent skills needed for life. Math may involve learning to create a budget based on income, and science may involve learning basic first aid skills. These students may attend elective classes such as art, music, and health fitness with typical peers if they are able to function independently enough.
When developing lesson plans for students with disabilities, their unique needs and strengths must be considered. The IEP will state what objectives the child must master. These may be behavioral or academic and they will be worked into the curriculum. Each lesson must be planned to incorporate the skills needed to master the goal. They may need modifications or accommodations. Modifications are changes to the curriculum, whereas accommodations are changes to the method of learning. In other words, modifications change what is learned, accommodations change how it is learned.
For example, if a student has a goal of increasing their reading level by one year, then the teacher must try to incorporate various reading activities into the daily lessons. The materials the child reads should be at the appropriate level and related to the subject matter. If the student is in 4th grade but reads at a 2nd grade level, the material would be modified. If the child is in 4th grade and reads at a 4th grade level, then no modification is needed. The child might need an accommodation, such as large print words, less on a page, or a colored overlay to help with reading.
Teaching and Culture – Cultural Differences
There are a variety of cultural factors that may affect students in school:
- Eye contact – Some cultures see eye contact as a sign of respect, while others see it as disrespectful or challenging.
- Punctuality – Punctuality is valued differently by different cultures.
- Asking questions – Some cultures encourage students to ask questions, while others see a more passive attitude as preferable.
- Collective mindset – Some cultures value a collective mindset in which the success of all is valued above individual success. Other cultures are more individualistic and value the idea of getting ahead of others.
- Directness – People from some cultures are very direct with their thoughts or feelings, while those from other cultures may be more private and discreet.
- Body language – There are different gestures and poses that mean different things in various cultures.
- Views on teachers and schools – In some cultures, teachers are revered and highly respected, while in others they are seen as less capable or worthy of less respect.
A teacher should set expectations for all students that help them develop social skills. During a lesson, a teacher may incorporate social skill work by asking students to share ideas with a partner, work in a small group, or participate by raising their hand in whole-group instruction. Before asking them to share with a partner, the teacher would talk through how to share ideas and listen to the ideas of a partner. Before small-groups work, the teacher would review the expectations of each member. During whole-group instruction, the teacher would praise those who raise their hand and remind those who shout out to wait with a hand in the air.
Categories of Assistive Technology
Assistive technology is any device that is used to help a student overcome a disability. It can be as basic as a colored overlay that helps students with dyslexia track letters, or as advanced as a computer communication device. Some specific examples are:
- Academic and learning aids – pencil grips, colored overlays
- Aids for daily living – adaptive eating utensils, gait belt
- Assistive listening devices/Environmental aids – hearing aid, amplification device
- Augmentative communication aids – picture board/book, computer-based communication device
- Computer access aids – voice-to-text software, adaptive keyboard
- Environmental control aids – electronic control of lights, TV, computer
- Mobility aids – wheelchair, cane, crutches
- Recreational and leisure aids – beeping balls or bases, large print books, switch adapted toys
- Seating and positioning aids – seat cushions, prone standers, adaptive chairs
- Visual aids – large print books, closed captions, talking dictionaries/calculators
Behavior Management Techniques
There are a variety of ways to manage behavior in the classroom and in the school as a whole.
Specific behavior management techniques are as follows:
- Positive behavioral intervention and support – a program that is implemented school-wide and uses the same expectations and strategies to enforce positive behaviors. There are three parts to the system:
- Primary – School-wide rules and expectations, such as walking quietly in the hallways when class is in session. Teachers can reward students who are following the procedure.
- Secondary – Individual support for students that struggle with behaviors, including contracts, individual practice, or check-ins.
- Tertiary – Intensive support for children with significant behavior problems that may include a daily chart or rewards for positive behaviors.
- Reinforcement – There are two types of reinforcement, both of which increase the frequency of the correct behavior: positive and negative.
- Positive – Offering a reward for a desired behavior, such as giving stickers to students who raise their hand
- Negative – Removing a negative stimulus to influence a behavior, such as a teacher stopping their chastisement of a class when they become quieter.
- Proactive strategies are strategies that prevent negative behaviors from occurring, including teacher proximity, establishing routines, and effective cues for getting the classroom’s attention.
- Reductive strategies look to reduce the negative behaviors that occur regularly. The most common ones include removing the audience and ignoring the behavior. Removing the audience means the child’s behavior is addressed privately in the hallway where they are no longer getting attention from the group. Ignoring the behavior is usually paired with reinforcing the correct behavior from another student. The teacher might ignore a student who shouts out and then thank a child with their hand raised and call on them for the answer.
Skills for Transitioning
Transitions can be very small, such as changing from math to reading within the same classroom, or very large, such as graduating from high school and moving to college. While all students will manage transitions differently, they can be especially difficult for students with disabilities. Planning ahead and letting the child know what is coming can be very helpful.
For example, it a class is getting ready to move on from one subject to another, letting a child know that they have three minutes to find a stopping point helps them prepare for the transition. Setting a timer may be more helpful for a student that finds this difficult on a daily basis. For bigger transitions, such as moving from middle school to high school, advance planning can be helpful as well. Discussing what middle school will be like and what things they will miss and not miss from elementary can ease the transition. Visiting the middle school and allowing the student to have a “practice” day can also ease anxiety around the change.
One of the biggest transitions students face is graduation from high school and moving on to college or employment. For students who are looking for a job, there is a lot of preparation work that the special education team helps with. The student can spend time in community-based instruction where they undergo on-the-job training with a teacher or aide. Often, the students will rotate through four to five job sites where they have different responsibilities. Responsibilities, which are dependent upon each student’s abilities, may include stocking shelves, folding clothes, greeting customers, or bagging groceries. They may spend half of the school day at the same site for six to nine weeks and then move to the next site. This allows the student to explore where they would most enjoy working and what responsibilities they can handle. By preparing the student for independence, staff can help them to enjoy a more fulfilling life and provide for some of their own needs.
Communication While Transitioning
Students are required to be a part of the ARD process when they turn 14. They may participate before then if the committee agrees. The reason for this is that the committee begins long-term planning and the student should be a part of the decision-making process. There are many options that depend upon the child’s abilities and interests, and the student and parents need to feel as though they have a voice. Ensuring that the child is ready for the next phase of life is important, and the school and family must agree on what the next phase looks like. Open and frequent communication that increases as the child nears graduation is expected. Sometimes there are issues that arise, such as a lack of interest in the plans that have been made. A student that was interested in employment may decide to pursue college, or vice versa. A student that seemed ready for independent living may regress and need assistance in daily tasks. When issues arise, it is important to stay in communication with families and amend plans if needed.
And that’s some basic information about the second domain.
Domain III: Roles and Responsibilities
The third domain consists of 30 questions. There are three competencies within this domain. Overarching concepts covered within these competencies include:
- Legal Basics
- Cultural Representation
Let’s explore a few specific concepts that are likely to be on the test.
History of Special Education
Special education is a somewhat recent development in American education. Prior to the 1970s, many schools did not have programs for students with learning differences. Public schools were not required to accept children with disabilities, nor to provide specialized programs. The following laws paved the way for the programs provided today:
- 1973 – Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – Provides protection against discrimination for those with disabilities. This law has been revised over the years to provide services for students with any disability, even those not covered under IDEA.
- 1975 – Education for All Handicapped Children (EAH) – Requires all public schools to create a program that provides educational services for children with physical and/or mental disabilities.
- 1990 – Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) – Comprised of six main elements to enhance EAH:
- Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) – Every child must receive an education specifically tailored to meet their needs at no cost to the family.
- Evaluations – Students must be evaluated by trained professionals and only given evaluations that will help in planning their educational pathway.
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – This is a written plan with goals to guide the education of the student.
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – The student must be served in the general education classroom whenever possible
- Parental involvement – Parents must be notified of meetings and are considered equal participants in the decision-making process.
- Procedural safeguards – These ensure that parents are notified about meetings and allow them to seek outside evaluations, and request mediation or due process if disagreements occur.
- 2001 – No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – Ensures that every child is making progress within the curriculum through routine assessments.
- 2015 – Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – Refined NCLB to raise expectations for all students and ensure that economically disadvantaged students have access to high quality education.
All students have rights that protect their personal information, especially students with disabilities. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the records of all students and their families. It allows parents to access to the records and the right to have records amended if needed.
Teachers play a crucial role in protecting student information as they communicate with other professionals. When communicating electronically, teachers must be cognizant that anything in writing can be considered part of the student’s record. Discussions must be professional and contain only the facts needed to make accurate decisions for a child. When talking to other staff and faculty members, only those involved in making decisions and providing services should be included, and the conversations must be fact-based.
Paraprofessionals are individuals who work with the special education team to provide services for students. They can assist students when they are working independently or in small groups, help with preparing materials for a lesson, or enhance the social interactions among students. Paraprofessionals may not be responsible for direct instruction or evaluating student progress.
Legalities and Healthcare
Students with medical needs must be provided a free public education without additional cost to the parents. Medical issues can be as simple as needing access to the nurse for allergy or diabetes care, or as involved as needing constant nursing care for a ventilator or feeding tube. In any medical situation, the school must provide the medical professional. The school can ask that insurance or Medicaid benefits help cover the cost, but the parents cannot be required to pay a copay or other fee.
Issues with Overrepresentation
Students from minority groups may have a disproportionately larger population receiving special education services. The issues begin with the identification process, as English Language Learners (ELLs) may not be tested in their native language or may not have taken formal assessments before. Students who are viewed as struggling may not have help from home if the parents do not speak English, or parents may not feel confident that they can advocate for their child. Teacher or diagnostician bias may also contribute to the overrepresentation.
And that’s some basic information about the third domain.