Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CA credentialing: the RICA

It's true that people don't read for fun anymore. Nope, they read for "literacy."

The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (aka RICA) is a huge exam all California teachers need to take in order to get their credentials. It is one sick test - difficult too.

I took two semesters worth of language and literacy classes to prepare for the RICA, in addition to my own independent studying. But really, most of what I learned about teaching reading came from actually teaching reading, especially all the word knowledge and phonics work done in the first grade.

One of the major things I worked on in preparation for this exam was just understanding the definitions of all the wacky terms used in literacy. Homophones, the "schwa," what it means to be an "independent" reader (there is an actual number that goes with this definition!), and my favorite term to say: the dipthong! Even student interest in reading was analyzed down to a science.

You only need a 60% to pass. Which is a D, and a D is a passing grade. Barely. And here I thought teachers were being held to a higher standard?

Don't get me wrong, I'm ok with a 60% passing grade. I probably got something in the 60's or 70's (they don't tell you exactly - like the CSET, you've either passed or not passed). The policy just seems inconsistent to me. But then, the CCTC never really directly claims they are consistent.

But the craziest thing of all? Students themselves are learning these literacy terms that adults still have to look up. Honestly, never in my adult life have I cared about knowing the difference between superlatives and comparatives. Actually, to this day, I still pronounce "superlatives" wrong (I say, "SU-per-LA-tives" and then have to correct myself with "su-PER-la-TIVES").

Yep, students are tested on whether they know what the official definition of an adjunct is, more so than on how to use an adjunct effectively in writing. Some people think this is a waste of brain space, and I tend to agree.


vicky said...

you read Haruki Murakami?! my favorite is A Wild Sheep Chase.

vicky said...

i like this short story by him too:

bun2bon said...

Thanks for the link! I do like his work a lot. My brother has a collection of his works sitting around. One one bored day this past April, I decided to try them. =) Something different from the "dead Anglo-Saxon person" writer, right?