ASCD California

California considers overhauling test of reading instruction for teachers in training

05/24/2019 10:07 AM | Cheryl Casagrande (Administrator)

California considers overhauling test of reading instruction for teachers in training

Test's high failure rate contributes to teacher shortage, say some critics


MAY 23, 2019


California is considering overhauling a test intended to measure whether prospective teachers are prepared to be effective reading instructors.

That’s because the test, known as the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment, or RICA, is outdated, and there is no evidence that it contributes to more effective instruction. On top of that, although would-be teachers can take the test multiple times, it costs nearly $200 each time. That may discourage some from entering the profession at a time when the state is experiencing teacher shortages in several subject areas, and in schools with many high-needs students.

A passing score on the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment, meant to measure a teacher’s ability to teach reading, is required to get a credential to be an elementary school or special education instructor.

But the test hasn’t been revised since 2009 when it was aligned to the English Language Arts-English Language Development Framework put in place two years earlier to guide instruction in classrooms. Frameworks are blueprints for teachers and schools to use to implement state-adopted content standards in different subject areas.

When a new English Language Arts framework was adopted in 2014 the test was never revised to reflect the changes.

“In failing to align with the current standards and framework, the RICA does not reflect current research and instructional best practices in literacy,” said Mimi Miller, a professor from Chico State University, who is part of a literacy expert group convened by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to offer recommendations on the skills and knowledge prospective teachers need to teach reading and literacy.

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