This is the first in a series of interviews with our members who have taken the Praxis Exam for Computer Science Teacher Certification. Pennsylvania now offers a CS Teacher Certification for grades 7-12. If you are currently a certified secondary teacher you can take the Praxis exam and add CS Certification to your PA Teaching Cert. If you have taken the exam and would be willing to be interviewed, please contact me at tpirmann at gmail dot com.
Q. What do you teach?
A. I'm a math and computer science teacher at Emmaus High School.
Q. How long have you been teaching computer science/computing courses?
A. I have taught introductory programming in various languages most of my career and within the last five years have stepped into teaching AP Computer Science A, and AP Computer Science Principles.   
Q. What is your preparation or background in Computer Science?
A. I have had no formal coursework in computer science other than a summer course in Pascal (best language ever). Before teaching AP CS A, I had no Java programming experience or coursework other than attending an AP summer institute.   
Q. How did you prepare to take the Praxis exam?
A. I was curious to see if teaching both AP courses prepared me enough to pass the test.  I looked at the sample questions and paid for the praxis study test ($19.95) offered when signing up for the test. I did the practice exam one time a few days before taking the real exam.
Q. What was your experience with the process of registering and taking the exam?
A. I registered online for the Praxis exam on Tuesday to take it that Saturday.  I took the test at home. The proctor took control of my computer and I had to show my entire room with the webcam. I was allowed to use a whiteboard and marker (no paper allowed). I could communicate with the Proctor via a text chat. 
Q. What are your thoughts on the test itself (not violating any non disclosure clauses)?
A. The programming, data, and computational thinking categories were straight forward. The only topics I wished I had reviewed were copyright, cybersecurity, and networks.  I scored the lowest on the impacts of computing category.  I expected questions related to pedagogy but it was almost entirely focused on content knowledge.  If you teach both AP CSP and AP CS A courses you will be fine with the exam. 
Q. What was the outcome?
A. I easily scored higher than the required 149 to pass the exam and now have my certification.  
Q. Any advice for teachers considering taking this exam?
A. You are not allowed to leave the testing location once started, so don't drink a lot before taking the test! 
A big thank you to Beth for volunteering to be our first interview!