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Frequently Asked Questions About the ETS® NOTE Program

What is the goal of the ETS® NOTE program?

Our goal for the NOTE program is to transform licensure assessments to address critical teaching practices as they will be applied in effective teaching. We are designing and developing state-of-the-art teacher licensure assessments that better measure the specific skills and knowledge beginning teachers need in order to be prepared for the classrooms on their first day.

Who is developing the NOTE program?

The NOTE program was designed and developed by ETS and TeachingWorks, two leaders in research on effective teaching, working in collaboration with Mursion®, a leader in simulation technology. The instructional tasks that candidates are presented with on the assessment have been created and reviewed by test developers with experience in teaching and teacher education.

What does the assessment measure?

The ETS® NOTE Elementary Education: Practices for Teaching Content assessment is designed to measure beginning teachers’ ability to engage in high-leverage teaching practices (HLPs). For elementary teachers, the NOTE Elementary Education assessment focuses on practices central to teaching content in a classroom:

  • modeling and explaining content for students
  • leading group discussions on content
  • eliciting and interpreting student thinking about content

This is a set of practices that typical new teachers will be doing on their own throughout each day starting on day one.

These HLPs have been identified in multiple frameworks as important to effective teaching. There’s a growing consensus in the field that these HLPs are critical to student learning. There’s also a growing research base that identifies the difference between doing them well and doing them badly.

How is the NOTE program different from other assessments?

Traditional assessments focus on knowledge of the curriculum content and of pedagogy, including knowledge of child development and instructional strategies. This is important knowledge for teachers to bring to the classroom.

The innovative NOTE program places candidates "inside" the work of teaching, with performance tasks that put prospective teachers in grade-specific classroom simulations to show their ability to carry out key instructional practices in real-time. The NOTE program is designed to focus on HLPs of teaching, a set of classroom instructional practices central to classroom teaching at every grade level, and used across a broad range of subject areas.

How is the NOTE program administered?

The NOTE program consists of computer-based assessments delivered during testing windows throughout the year. Upon state adoption of the NOTE program, candidates will take the assessments in test centers equipped with workstations specially designed to support this interactive assessment.

How can candidates prepare for the NOTE program?

ETS is committed to helping candidates do their best and offers a variety of preparation materials. Free preparation materials, including sample videos, are currently available to help candidates feel confident on test day. Additional free and low-cost test preparation materials, including interactive practice tests, a Study Guide and webinars will be available later this year.

How is the NOTE program scored?

Candidates' performances on NOTE tasks are scored by education professionals certified and experienced in the area of teaching being assessed. These individuals are carefully trained and supervised to ensure they apply ETS scoring methods in a fair and accurate manner. Additional statistical checks are made to account for differences in difficulty across editions of a test.

How does ETS ensure the NOTE program is valid and fair?

With all ETS assessments, you can be assured that the scores you receive present an accurate picture of a candidate’s knowledge and skills, without any bias. As part of our mission to help advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, we put our assessment questions through a rigorous review process. Learn more about Fairness and Validity.