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California credentialing commission working on replacement for reading instruction test

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing staff and a team of educators with expertise in teaching literacy will spend the next four years developing and fine-tuning a performance assessment to replace the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment, also known as the RICA, in order for teachers to earn a preliminary multiple subject or preliminary education specialist credential.

Senate Bill 488, which became law in October, requires that the commission replace the RICA with a performance assessment by July 1, 2025.

The state’s current performance assessments allow teachers to demonstrate their competence by submitting evidence of their instructional practice through video clips or written narrative.

Commission Chair Tine Sloan hopes the development of the assessment will help drive instruction in teacher development programs.

“The success of this performance assessment is not just about creating a robust way for candidates to demonstrate their ability to conduct literacy instruction, it’s an opportunity for programs, one, to use something concrete to design their preparation around, and two, to have data and evidence of the way their candidates are engaging in literacy instruction,” she said at a commission meeting Friday.

The California reading instruction test has been a major hurdle for many aspiring teachers for years, prompting the legislation and efforts by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to look for alternatives. About a third of all the teacher candidates who take the test fail the first time, according to state data collected between 2012 and 2017.

Critics also have said that the test is outdated, racially biased and has added to the state’s teacher shortage. Supporters have argued that it ensures prospective teachers understand how to teach reading based on phonics.