Is it Time to Revamp California’s Reading Instruction Assessment?

Between 2012 and 2017, 33% of teacher hopefuls failed the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA). The test, which is meant to measure an educator’s ability to teach reading skills to others, is a requirement for elementary school or special education credentialing in California. Amid a statewide shortage of qualified teachers, the test could now be overhauled. After 10 years, California is finally considering changes to the RICA exam.

RICA does not appear to be a good indicator of teaching capabilities. There is no evidence that those who have passed the exam are any better at reading instruction than those who haven't. What’s more, failure rates disproportionately affect people of color, contributing to a lack of diversity among the state’s educators.

The test can be taken an unlimited number of times, but at a price of $171 each try. Prospective teachers who fail the test a first or second time may be dissuaded by the cost and give up on their ambitions altogether. That’s a big problem given the state’s current teacher shortage.

Experts say the test lags behind current state standards. Its multiple choice section also contains answers so similar that they confuse perfectly competent teachers.

The California Commission has been asked to either change or eliminate RICA completely. It is unlikely it would choose to do the latter, but a working group is now examining all options.

In addition to the reading instruction assessment, the Commission is considering changes to a number of other tests and assessments required for teaching credentials.

Read more about RICA and the possible overhaul here


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