How to Pass the RICA Test

by Michelle Sweezey

    The Reading Instruction Competency Assessment, or the RICA as it is more commonly known across college campuses, is one of the three major tests that future educators must pass to earn their teaching credentials in the state of California. Designed to ensure that an individual has the necessary knowledge and skills to plan and deliver effective reading instruction, the assessment is available in either written form or via a video-performance assessment.

    The RICA measures competencies organized into four domains: planning, organizing and managing reading instruction based on ongoing assessment; word analysis; fluency; and vocabulary, academic language and background knowledge. The demonstration of these competencies varies by assessment. As opposed to simply measuring knowledge of the reading process, test evaluators are examining what the teacher will actually do with and for students.

    For those comfortable with written expression and who can articulate their ideas and understanding well on paper, the written assessment is a good option. Questions are a combination of multiple-choice and essay response, and test takers are provided with up to three hours and 45 minutes to complete the assessment. Prepare by taking a practice test, such one available on the exam website. When doing so, practice responding to questions in narrative format, speaking from the teacher's point of view and using an active voice such as, "I will provide students with..." or "My instructional plan will include..."

    While some prefer the written test, others choose a more active demonstration of skills and understanding through the video-performance assessment. Provided with up to 10 minutes per domain, candidates prepare and deliver an explicit direct-instructional lesson on domain one and their choice of domains two, four or five. Lessons should be narrow enough in scope to adequately demonstrate knowledge of the identified competency and should contain a specific objective. In addition to the videos, candidates must also respond to the questions detailed in the written component to the demonstration, which includes a lesson plan, assessment and instruction and student information.

    Practice with real students. The more time you spend engaging in reading instruction the more natural it will feel and the more accurate your responses will be on the assessment.
    Be specific in your test responses. Use examples and references whenever possible.
    Speak in the first person and from a grounded and knowledgeable place. If you are unsure of yourself, it will show up in your writing or speech. Be confident, no matter what you say.

    About the Author

    Based in Sacramento, Calif., Michelle Sweezey has been writing professionally for the last eight years. Backed by more than a decade of experience in the fields of education, administration, and training and development, Sweezey has put her Master of Arts in language and literacy to work writing for people and organizations across multiple platforms.

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