What is the RICA?

Jessica Bosari

RICA® is an acronym for Reading Instruction Competence Assessment™. Teachers in California must pass this assessment test if they wish to become certified for teaching multiple subjects or special education. Applicants who seek Single Subject Teaching Credentials, Designated Subjects Teaching Credentials, service credentials or child development permits need not take the RICA® exam.

The RICA assesses five domains of skill sets using multiple choice questions.
The RICA assesses five domains of skill sets using multiple choice questions.

The RICA® was developed after California instated the California Reading Initiative, a law enacted in 1996 to improve the reading skills and performance of students. The law required the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to develop a test that would assess a teacher’s competence in providing reading instruction. CTC named the test they developed the RICA®.

The goal of the test is to document and verify a teacher's ability to develop competent and thoughtful readers who can utilize, understand, and appreciate every kind of English text. The test is meant to ensure that new teachers can deliver effective reading instruction. The assessment checks to see if teachers know and understand state and local reading standards for each grade level, represent a balanced and comprehensive reading curriculum and are sensitive to all students’ needs.

The RICA® assesses five domains of skill sets, including word analysis, fluency, comprehension, planning and vocabulary. It is similar to other important tests like the PSAT®, SAT®, ACT® and MCAT®, having multiple choice and essay questions. The test has 70 multiple-choice questions, four short essays, and one longer case study essay. The RICA® differs from other important tests in that it allows someone to take a video performance assessment instead of the written examination. Candidates may take a practice test through the RICA® website.

The multiple-choice section consists of questions relative to knowledge of reading instruction and application of that knowledge. Some questions will assess teachers' specific knowledge of reading and instruction. Others will assess the candidate's ability to apply the specific knowledge, by analyzing a given situation or performing a reading instruction-related task.

The essay portion contains four short essays, each in one domain of the test criteria. The "planning" domain assessment is not included in this portion of the test. The portion of the test including the case study essay relates to all five domains of instruction and requires a response between 300 and 600 words.

Teachers who do not wish to take the written portion may submit videos of themselves teaching reading to students. The video must demonstrate the same competencies as the written essay portion. Candidates must submit three video packets showing whole-class instruction, small-group instruction and individual instruction.

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