Tarleton’s Master Education Program has a 100 percent pass rate on Principals Certification exam

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Alex Huerta/ The JTAC

The Tarleton Master of Education program recently achieved a 100 percent pass rate. This is partically accredited to them completely changing the program when the Principles Certification underwent a redesign.

In fall of 2019 graduate students from the Tarleton Master of Education program achieved a 100 percent rate on the Principals Certification exam. According to Tarleton’s Coordinator of the Principal Certification Program, Dr. Stephanie Atchley, since then four more students have taken the exam, and they passed as well, maintaining Tarleton’s 100 percent pass rate as of spring 2020.

The Principals Certification exam is an exam given to those who are looking to become future principals. In 2016, the test underwent a redesign that changed the standard. The test was redesigned to test student’s practical knowledge and see how they would act in realistic scenarios, rather than just check to see if students could memorize information.

During 2016, colleges were left uncertain on how to prepare students for this redesign because they didn’t know if these changes would stick. According to Tarleton’s Department Head of Educational Leadership and Technology, Dr. Randall Bowden, most schools continued with their standard curriculum rather than making radical changes. However, Tarleton took a gamble and completely changed its program during this time so that it would line up with the changes that Texas was looking to make to the exam.

One of the many changes that was made was extending 5398 Practicum 1 from a single semester class to a two semester class. Another big change that was made was that students in the program would have to take and pass the practice exam before being able to take the real exam. These practice exams that students take allows for the professors to understand what information students are struggling with. After the practice exams are taken students then receive personalized help from the professors allowing for each student to get help in the areas that they specifically need help with.

According to Atchley, once students are able to pass the practice exam, they then have to be approved by her personally in order to take the real exam.

“We want to make sure we prepare students sufficiently for the exam before allowing them to take it for many reasons. One reason is because one of the changes made to the exam was an increase in the cost to take the exam from around $150 to roughly $650. We want to make sure that no student has to take the test more than once,” Atchley said.

According to Bowden and Atchley, it was not only the courses that received major changes but also changes had to be made to the staff’s teaching style.

“We had our faculty attend every workshop, every seminar, and every webinar they could in order to prepare for these changes,” Bowden said.

These changes provided many challenges on the road to this monumental achievement.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced was trying to figure out how to sequence the course in a way that would be most beneficial to students so that the material presented in each course would build off of each other,” Atchley said. The other major challenge that was faced was not knowing at the time what direction the state would take with the new test.

“We believed that the state wasn’t going to make any radical changes right then and there, so we took the time to prepare our faculty for the changes,” Bowden said.

It is clear based on the continued success of the graduate students from the Tarleton Master of Education program that the gamble and hard work of all the faculty members has paid off.

“It is exciting to know that the graduate students will go out from here and make a difference by having an impact on the community and schools they end up working for,” Atchley said.

“We hope this success will allow for future growth for our program, facility and students,” Bowden said.