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Preparing for the Reading Specialist Praxis Exam with Test Prep Books

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

Preparing for the Reading Specialist Praxis Exam

I earned my masters in reading 10 years ago. When I started the program in 2008, just getting the masters and passing the six hour comprehensive exam required by my program was enough to get a reading specialist endorsement in the state of Virginia. At the end of my three years, as I was preparing to take my comprehensive exam, the state passed a new law requiring teachers to take a Praxis exam after finishing their masters in order to become a reading specialist. I was so pissed and so broke after getting my masters that I never took my praxis, and I wasn’t ready to leave the classroom so I didn’t care.

I am still not ready to leave the classroom, but I would like to advocate for changes for the struggling readers at my school and I feel that adding this endorsement to my license will give me the credibility I need to be heard. SO, ten years later, here I am trying to prepare to take the Praxis Reading Specialist test (5301).

I still have all of my graduate materials, and I plan on working my way through my old binders, but I also bought a test review book. There were not a lot of options, so I went with Test Prep Books’ Praxis Reading Specialist 5301 Study Guide. I tried to figure out which authors contributed to the book (actual researchers?), but the “authors” are just labeled generally as “TPB Publishing.” This made me a bit wary since I can’t exactly trust who put these materials together.

I am only on the first few pages but the book is only okay. It lacks depth and context, and I am finding that I need to heavily supplement the book with my own research. So, it’s better than nothing and it has given me a roadmap for my studying, but for anyone else who is rusty and needs more depth, here are the resources that I have used to supplement my understanding of each section.

Section 1: Assessment & Diagnostic Teaching

Page 9-Formal & Informal Assessments

Page 10-Planned Observations

“Writing Vocabulary” & “Hearing & Recording Sounds in Words” example assessment:

Page 10-“Phonics Assessments”

I would add DIBELs to the list of assessments mentioned. This is used in my county:

I would also add PALS to the list of assessments mentioned. We used PALS in the past in my county, but just switched to DIBELs:

Page 11- “Spelling Assessments”

My program labeled the developmental stages of spelling differently than what was in this book, so I checked out this resource from Reading Rockets. Reading Rockets also labeled the stages differently than what was in this book, but it was close enough and I was able to line it all up:

The authors do go into each stage later in the book, but they should use a parenthetical phrase to explain this so that readers don’t panic if they are feeling rusty about their knowledge of the levels of spelling development.

Page 15- “Practice Questions”

I thought these questions were put in the wrong section at first because two of the questions do not connect to any of the material presented in the pages before.

For question 1, you need to understand “Tier 1” interventions, which are not described or explained in the previous pages. RTI has also been proven through government-funded research to be an ineffective system intervention system, so, there’s that. Hopefully books, tests, and schools catch on soon.

So, anyway. Here are helpful handouts for the practice questions.

Question # 1: Response to Intervention & tiers:

"Reading & Writing Development”

“Oral Language & Communication Skills”

page 18 “Oral Language Structures”

Page 20: The one sentence in here about dyslexia is entirely underdeveloped.

“Uppercase and Lowercase Letters”

page 25: “The initial stage [to promote letter naming & identification] includes visual discrimination fo shapes and curved lines.” I thought this needed a little more development, so I went to this site:

page 28: the definitions for “vowel digraphs” and “diphthongs” are confusing and now well explained. The book says that “‘vowel digraphs” are sets of two vowels that spell a single sound. A diagraph (that is the exact incorrect spelling in the book) is not a sound. Examples of vowel digraph pairs are ow, ie, ae, ou, ei, ie (listed twice) and oo. Here is a handout that explains digraphs & diphthongs way better:

Word-Analysis Skills and Vocabulary Development

Page 32-”Semantics”-I read the definition but felt I needed a bit more clarification between “vocabulary” & “semantics.” This page was helpful:

…Okay. I gave up at this point. Overall, this book is lacking organization and depth. I recommended skipping it and instead completing this module on Reading Rockets.

If you have any tips, tricks and advice for others, please leave it in the comments below!

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