The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) test is a comprehensive and challenging assessment for men and women who want to teach reading in the state of California. The test was developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in consultation with an expert team of test administrators.
The content of the RICA test is divided into five domains: planning, organizing, and managing reading instruction based on ongoing assessment; word analysis; fluency; vocabulary, academic language, and background knowledge; and comprehension.
There are two versions of the RICA test, a written examination and a video performance assessment. The written examination consists of 70 multiple-choice questions and five constructed-response assignments, one of which is a four-page case study that incorporates information from all five content domains. The video performance assessment portion of the RICA test requires creation of a 10-minute video recording, as well as documents providing instructional context and reflection.
Candidates are allowed to decide which version of the test they wish to take. In each version of the exam, scores are placed on a scale of 100 to 300; the minimum passing score is 220. Candidates are allowed to take the RICA test as many times as is necessary to pass. Scores are made available approximately one month after the test date.
RICA Test Practice Questions
1. Which of the following answer choices best describes the sociocognitive approach to language development?
a. Learning to write clearly is the most important component of language development
b. Children have an innate ability to learn and produce language
c. Students must learn to express themselves linguistically in different social contexts
d. Children cannot obtain linguistic knowledge until they obtain fundamental motor and cognitive skills
2. David is a native Spanish speaker, although he has not yet learned to read in Spanish. He still needs a little help with short and long vowel sounds, but he is ready to begin building his vocabulary in content areas such as science and social studies. He also is capable of reading English books independently, as long as the vocabulary in the books is fairly simple. In which stage of English language acquisition is David?
a. Early production
b. Emergent literacy
d. Intermediate fluency
3. What percentage of the words in an independent reading assignment must a student understand?
4. What is one problem with reading instruction that focuses solely on phonics?
a. Students do not learn the meanings of words
b. Students have a hard time pronouncing words
c. Students have trouble with spelling
d. Students never hear words in context
5. What is the name for a morpheme appended to the end of a root?
1. C: According to the sociocognitive approach to language development, true competence is demonstrated by the ability to express oneself in different social contexts. Unlike the other approaches to language development, the sociocognitive approach emphasizes conversation in social contexts. The sociocognitive school admits that certain semantic, cognitive, and syntactical achievements must be made before language can be produced. Nevertheless, this approach asserts that social necessity is the primary motivator of language development. In other words, according to sociocognitivists, children develop their linguistic ability by engaging with different people. A student must learn to converse with teachers, parents, siblings, other students, and strangers. True language development is evident when a student can modify his expression in these different contexts. Clearly, then, the sociocognitive school does not emphasize writing, as in answer choice A. The idea that children have an innate linguistic ability is a tenet of the linguistic approach. The idea that certain motor and cognitive skills are prerequisite to language development is a part of the cognitive approach.
2. B: David is in the emergent literacy stage of English language acquisition. During this stage, language acquisition becomes less of a chore to the student, and the teacher should make an effort to find texts the student will enjoy. During the emergent stage of literacy, the student will be capable of holding simple conversations in the target language and will be able to write short passages. The other answer choices represent the other three stages in the acquisition of a second language. The order of the stages is as follows: preproduction, early production, emergent literacy, and intermediate fluency.
3. C: In order for independent reading to be effective, a student needs to understand 90 to 95% of the words in the text. As the name suggests, students should accomplish independent reading alone, without help from teachers or classmates. Accordingly, the text must be comprehensible enough for the student to discern from context the meanings of the words he does not already know. Literacy experts assert that the student must understand 90 to 95% of the words in the text for independent reading to fulfill its purposes of generating enthusiasm, solidifying reading habits, and improving fluency. Any less understanding will frustrate the student and negate the effects of independent reading; any more understanding will fail to challenge the student.
4. A: One problem with reading instruction focusing solely on phonics is that students do not learn the meanings of words. A phonics lesson can take many different forms, but it focuses on teaching the correspondence between the symbols used to represent words and the sounds of the words themselves. A lesson that focuses strictly on phonics does not include any discussion of word definitions. Words may be used in context, but explicit mention of word meaning does not occur. For this reason, reading instruction cannot focus exclusively on phonics. Nevertheless, the other answer choices suggest the positive aspects of phonics instruction. Students will receive many opportunities to pronounce words, and they will spend plenty of time evaluating spelling decisions. Of course, simple phonics instructions will not cover the exceptions and unique spellings that make English an opaque alphabetic language. Still, students will have many opportunities to hear the words used in context.
5. A: A suffix is a morpheme appended to the end of a root. A number of common suffixes exist in English. Examples include –tion, -ing, and –ment. The suffix of the word affects the word’s meaning. For instance, words ending in –ism refer to a school of thought or ideology, while words ending in –ly are almost always adverbs, which are used to modify nouns, adjectives, and other adverbs. Prefixes are morphemes that appear before a root word. Affixes are all morphemes besides root words; an affix can be either a prefix or a suffix. Graphix is a made-up word.