American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)
The American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) was founded in 2001 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization supported by a grant by the federal Department of Education. The ABCTE was designed to offer a self-paced, self-guided alternative teaching certification program for candidates who already hold a bachelor's degree but who are unable to spare the time or money to enroll in a traditional Master's program in education. As of 2015, ABCTE offered certification in ten subject areas, and certification by the ABCTE was recognized by eleven states: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.
Function of the Test
Obtaining certification from the ABCTE requires passing two examinations: a Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) examination and a Subject Area examination. The PTK examination comprises 100 multiple-choice questions and a writing component. Subject Area examinations are typically multiple-choice only, but the English Language Arts test has a writing component.
ABCTE does not appear to have published exam pass rates in recent years. However, in 2007, it reported that 43% of candidates passed the PTK exam; 54% passed the English exam; 84% passed the General Science exam; 32% passed the Mathematics exam; and 51% passed the Biology exam. In the same report, ABCTE reported that the mean age of ABCTE candidates was 37, indicating that many candidates are mid-career individuals wishing to switch careers to education.
ABCTE certification is treated in different ways by different states. Typically, ABCTE certification is just one stepping-stone in the process of becoming a certified teacher in a given state. Recipients of ABCTE certification are typically eligible to receive a form of temporary teaching certification which enables them to be hired for a teaching position and begin teaching students. However, in some states, candidates may only be eligible to work as a substitute or secondary teacher rather than as the head teacher of a class.
In addition, new teachers with ABCTE certification must typically complete additional requirements within a strict time limit in order to graduate from temporary teaching certification to full teaching certification. Depending on the candidate's state, this may include requirements such as completing certain graduate-level coursework, participating in mentorship programs, completing state-sponsored online training programs, receiving positive teaching evaluations, and so on. Because requirements for full teaching licensure vary so broadly from state to state, and because ABCTE certification is treated so differently by different licensing boards, candidates must be sure to review their own states' requirements.
All ABCTE examinations are computer-based exams administered at Pearson VUE testing centers. The cost of one PTK exam and one Subject exam is included in ABTCE program participants' tuition fee, so no additional fee must be paid when candidates first attempt these examinations. Candidates who wish to take subject exams in more than one topic (for example, to become certified in both Mathematics and in Physics) must pay an additional $850 fee per extra subject.
The results of most ABCTE examinations are available immediately upon completion of the exam. However, the PTK exam and the English Language Arts exam contain writing sections which are graded by hand, so scores are not released until four to six weeks after the exam date. ABCTE encourages candidates not to take both exams on the same day. ABCTE suggests taking the PTK exam four to six weeks before attempting the subject exam.
Unsuccessful candidates who wish to retake one or more examinations must pay $195 per exam. Candidates may only take a given exam three times. Candidates who fail a subject exam three times must drop that subject and choose a new subject area to specialize in. Candidates who fail the PTK exam three times are ineligible to continue in the ABCTE program and cannot attain ABCTE certification.
Students in the ABCTE program must pass both examinations within 1 year of enrolling in the program. Students who require more time must pay additional fees. As of 2015, the cost of a 6-month extension was $389.