How to Pass the RICA

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
California offers educators and prospective educators two RICA assessment options. Read on for study and preparation tips to help you pass whichever RICA assessment you plan to take.

How To Ace Your RICA Assessment

To pass the RICA, you'll need to demonstrate mastery of the skills and knowledge that are critical to teaching reading. You may do so either by taking a written exam or submitting videos of you teaching in a classroom setting. Whichever assessment you choose, you'll need to both have a solid understanding of the competencies measured by the RICA, and make sure you know the rules and guidelines for either your test day or your video submissions.

Master The Skills and Knowledge

The content of the RICA is broken down into five domains: comprehension; fluency; word analysis; vocabulary, academic language and background knowledge; and planning, organizing and managing reading instruction based on ongoing assessment. Before you begin to prep for the RICA, you'll need to completely understand the competencies you'll be expected to demonstrate within each of these domains. You can download the detailed content specifications from the California Educator Credentialing Examinations' website (ctcexams.nesinc.com).

RICA Prep Resources

Once you have reviewed the RICA content specs, you'll find several resources to help you refresh the skills and knowledge required. You may refer to notes or textbooks from courses you've taken, and check out a bibliography of books and other resources that is offered on the California Educator Credentialing Examinations' website.

A RICA prep course, meanwhile, is a convenient option that will eliminate the need to spend time gathering various resources and let you get on with studying. Study.com's self-paced RICA Prep and Practice course has 15 chapters that explore all five domains in detail. Each chapter features multiple lessons and short self-assessment quizzes so you can measure your abilities and progress. All lessons and quizzes are available online whenever you have free time.

Know The Rules And Structure Your Assessment

While content mastery is key to passing the RICA, make sure you don't derail your study and review by failing to fully understand what to expect when you arrive to take the RICA written exam and what is required of your RICA video assessment submissions. Below, you will find a brief overview of the rules and structures of the assessments. Further details can be found on the California Educator Credentialing Examinations' website.

The RICA Written Exam

The RICA written examination is actually a 4-hour computer-based test that includes 70 multiple-choice questions, four open-ended questions requiring essays ranging from 75 to 300 words, and a case study requiring a 300 - 600 word analysis. A practice exam is available for download on the California Educator Credentialing Examinations' website.

Other important things to keep in mind for your test day:

  • You will need a government-issued ID that includes a photo and signature.
  • You may not bring food, beverages or tobacco into the test room.
  • Cellphones, hats, watches, handbags and jewelry are prohibited.

To refresh your test-taking skills, check out these short lessons on strategies for answering multiple-choice questions and how to organize and essay.

The RICA Video Performance Assessment

The RICA video performance assessment requires you to submit three video packets demonstrating your ability to teach reading to classes, small groups and individuals. Each packet must contain:

  • An Instructional Context Form that explains the content of the video
  • A relevant 10-minute video of you instructing students
  • A Reflection Form, on which you analyze your instruction

It's also important to note that, to ensure that you'll do well on this assessment, each video must display evidence of specific competencies:

  • A video that indicates the use of word analysis and planning, organizing and managing reading instruction based on ongoing assessment
  • A video that displays the use of word analysis and vocabulary, academic language and background knowledge
  • A video that clearly provides evidence of the use of comprehension and planning, organizing and managing reading instruction based on ongoing assessment

To be considered, videos must be submitted in one of the following formats:

  • Mini digital video cassettes
  • DVDs
  • Mini-DVDs
  • WMV, QuickTime, AVI or MPEG-4 files that are not high definition and are saved on a flash drive, CD-R or DVD-R.

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