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Praxis™ School Psychology Exam Q & A
Administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS®)

Educational Testing Service (ETS) recently announced the release of a new version of the Praxis School Psychologist test (5402) which will be administered beginning in September, 2014. The new test has been revised to align more closely with the NASP 2010 Standards and will be offered exclusively as a computer-delivered exam unless accommodations for disabilities are necessary. ETS consulted with NASP during the initial stages of development to ensure that the exam reflects current national standards. For more information about the new exam, visit www.ets.org/praxis.

What is the purpose of the Praxis School Psychologist exam

In brief, the test measures whether entry-level school psychologists have minimum acceptable competency (knowledge) for professional practice. The Praxis School Psychologist exam is required by numerous state education agencies to work as a school psychologist. A passing score on the exam is also required by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) to meet criteria for the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential.

What is the new make-up of the Praxis exam?

The 2-hour-and-20-minute test contains 140 selected-response items covering four main content areas of the NASP Practice Model:

  • Professional Practices, Practices that Permeate All Aspects of Service and Delivery (approximately 42 items)
  • Direct and Indirect Services for Children, Families, and Schools (Student-Level Services) (approximately 32 items)
  • System-Level Services (approximately 22 items)
  • Foundations of School Psychological Service Delivery (approximately 44 items)

Each exam will contain pretest items that do not contribute to the candidate’s score.

Is there a new passing score

As recommended by the standard setting panel, the passing score set by NASP for the new exam is 147 (on a 100-200 reporting scale).

Why is the score lower than the previous passing score of 165?

Importantly, the lower passing score does not indicate a lowering of standards. The content of the test has changed; therefore, scores from the previous exam should not be compared to scores from the new exam. The passing score is expressed in terms of a scaled score (on a 100-200 scale) and not in terms of the raw score (i.e., number of items answered correctly on a particular form of the test).

How was the new passing score arrived at?

Research staff from ETS designed and conducted a multistate standard-setting study in November 2013 in Princeton, New Jersey. The standard-setting panel was made up of 17 panelists from 16 states that were selected based on (a) experience as either school psychologists or college faculty who prepare school psychologists and (b) familiarity with the knowledge and skills required of beginning school psychologists.

The standard-setting process utilized a probability-based modified Angoff method, which uses expert judgements to determine the likelihood that a “just-qualified candidate” will get each question right.

The question addressed in setting the passing score for the Praxis School Psychologist exam is “does the candidate demonstrate a sufficient level of knowledge to begin practice?” The question is not “how does this candidate compare to other candidates taking the exam?” The modified Angoff Method is not a norm-referenced method that utilizes a comparison of performance to other candidates. Rather, the passing score is established to reflect the performance standard (i.e., the level of knowledge as demonstrated on the exam) that differentiates between “just qualified” and “not quite qualified” candidates. Theoretically, all candidates can pass or fail.

Will my state use the same passing score as NASP?

The 147 passing score was recommended by the standard setting panel based on the standard-setting approach described above. This recommendation was sent to all state education agencies that utilize the Praxis in their state certification/licensing. However, it remains up to each individual state to determine whether to require the Praxis exam for certification/licensure and to set a passing score. We encourage all candidates to be aware of the passing score set by their state.

Is the new exam easier than the previous exam?

The new exam is based on the most recent standards, which are different from the standards which the previous exam was based. Once empirical data is available following operational administration of the, NASP will review the passing standard.

What about those that will have taken the exam prior to the new computer-delivered exam? Will the new passing score impact them?

The new passing score of 147 will only apply to those taking the new computer-based exam (5402) beginning September, 2014. Those who have taken the paper-based exam (0401) will still need a score of 165 or higher to qualify for the NCSP credential. It is anticipated that states will follow the same procedure. The previous paper-based exam (0401) will no longer be available when the new exam is released.

Should I wait to take the new exam, or should I hurry up and take the existing exam before the new one is released?

Candidates should consider factors such as timing (e.g., graduation, employment), whether they have begun studying for the previous exam using available materials, and the potential that pass rates may be slightly higher or lower on the new exam compared to the previous one. Additionally, those who have attempted the previous exam and plan to take it again may wish to take the previous exam given a degree of familiarity with the content, or prefer the new exam given its closer alignment to the 2010 NASP Standards.

Importantly, Praxis scores are available for 10 years, and states and agencies may continue to accept scores from the old test. Since each state may set different deadlines as to how long they will accept scores from a previously-offered test, candidates should check the requirements for the state in which they are seeking licensure/certification to be certain they are able to submit scores from the previous paper-based exam (0401) to meet current requirements.

How long will the new passing score be in effect?

The Praxis exams typically go through revision whenever standards change. However, NASP intend to regularly review data from all test takers to ensure that the exam functions as intended. NASP reserves the right to modify the passing score at any time based on available data.

How often will the exam be offered?

The Praxis School Psychologist exam will be offered during two-week windows each month of the year. Test centers may differ on which days Praxis testing is offered within that window, although this new schedule will substantially increase the opportunities for testing compared to the previous exam.

Where can I take a computer-delivered Praxis test?

All Praxis test, including the new School Psychologist exam, must be taken at established test centers that offer computer-delivered exams. For more information on test center locations and dates, please visit ets.org/praxis.

What advantages does the computer-delivered exam provide over the traditional paper-delivered exam?

Examinees will receive an unofficial score right at the test center on the day of the exam. Also, examinees can register up to 3 days before a test date without paying a late fee.

NASP Program Approval Questions

What score will the NASP Program Approval Board require?

As per NCATE/CAEP requirements, the NASP Program Approval Board requires an 80% pass rate on the Praxis School Psychologist exam based on either the state or national cut score (147 for the new exam) for full approval. Programs will need to identify the cut score the program has established but does not need to require that score from each candidate for a degree. Programs may elect to require a different cut score than NASP or submit data on a state exam, if that is required.

Will programs be required to submit Praxis data only based on the new exam?

No, programs can submit data from the different versions of the test. Programs seeking re-approval will still need to submit two applications of the Praxis exam for Assessment 1. However, this could mean that the program will submit data with one cohort taking the old version and another with candidates taking the new version of the exam.

Will data on category scores still be required?

Yes, even if candidates take different versions of the exam. The program will be able to interpret category scores for the respective administrations of the exam.

Will the Program Approval Board provide a summary of how categories are linked to the NASP standards?

The categories on the new Praxis exam directly match the 2010 NASP Standards.