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Study Guide

Overview of the Program

The state of Arizona is committed to maintaining a body of educators capable of enhancing student achievement and meeting the demands and expectations of the state's dynamic and diverse society. In November 1997, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted rules regarding the evaluation of educators applying for state certifications. The rules require that applicants for teacher certification pass a test of subject knowledge. Candidates for teacher certification must also pass a test of professional knowledge. The Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments® (AEPA®) program has been designed to ensure that each certified teacher has the necessary knowledge to teach in Arizona public schools.

The tests in the AEPA program are criterion referenced and objective based. Criterion-referenced tests are designed to measure a candidate's knowledge and skills in relation to an established standard of performance (a criterion) rather than in relation to the performance of other candidates. The tests are designed to help identify those candidates who have the level of knowledge and skills required to perform satisfactorily as educators.

About the Arizona Custom Tests

The following tests in the program were custom-developed for use in Arizona:

About the NES® (National Evaluation Series™)

The following tests in the AEPA program are NES tests:

The NES is a nationally available teacher certification testing program. The NES teacher certification tests are comprehensive exams aligned to professionally accepted national learning standards, covering areas such as essential academic skills, reading instruction, and commonly taught elementary, middle, and secondary grade-level subjects.

Arizona has adopted the NES tests for certification in many content areas, and now uses the NES tests in place of many earlier existing tests for certificates and endorsements. Additional details for candidates and teacher preparation program faculty is available on the ADE Certification Unit's website link opens in a new window.

The Test Development Process

Creating customized tests for the AEPA program is a complex, ongoing process. The major steps in the process are outlined below.

Task Description
Develop the Test Objectives

The content of each test is developed and documented in the test objectives. Test objectives are organized into groups known as "subareas" that define the major content areas of the test. Each subarea consists of objectives that are accompanied by descriptive statements that further elaborate the content of the test objective.

During preparation of the test objectives, key state and national documents and Arizona educators are consulted. Committees of Arizona educators review the test objectives and make revisions, as necessary, to ensure that the test objectives are accurate, free of bias, job related, representative of the diversity of the state, and consistent with the purposes of the program.

Validate Test Content

A content validation survey is conducted, using randomly sampled practicing Arizona K–12 educators and teacher preparation program faculty to ensure that the test objectives reflect the knowledge and skills considered to be important for performing the job of an educator in Arizona.

Develop Test Questions

Test questions are developed to assess the content defined by the test objectives. Committees of Arizona educators are convened to review and approve the test questions. Test questions are field-tested in Arizona.

Set Passing Scores

A committee of Arizona educators is convened for each field undergoing development to recommend a passing score to the Arizona Department of Education for adoption.