Section 6: RICA Written Examination Subtest 1
Sample Constructed-Response Questions
This section of the test consists of one focused educational problem and one instructional task. Read each assignment carefully before you begin to write. Think about how you will organize your responses.
Please note that symbols for long and short vowels are not available on the keyboard. If you need to refer to a long or short vowel, write out the description of the vowel (e.g., long a, short e).
Written responses will be evaluated based on the extent to which they demonstrate knowledge and skills important for effective delivery of a balanced, comprehensive reading program. Read each assignment carefully to ensure that you address all aspects of the assignment. Your responses to the assignments will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Purpose: The candidate demonstrates an understanding of the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge by fulfilling the purpose of the assignment.
Application of Content: The candidate accurately and effectively applies the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge.
Support: The candidate supports the response with appropriate examples, evidence, and rationales based on the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge.
The approximate weight of each of the individual assignments toward the total examination score is as follows:
- Assignment 1: 5%
- Assignment 2: 10%
The assignments are intended to assess knowledge and skills of reading instruction, not writing ability. Your responses, however, must be communicated clearly enough to permit a valid judgment of your knowledge and skills. Your responses should be written for an audience of educators knowledgeable about reading instruction.
The final version of each response should conform to the conventions of edited American English. Your responses should be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work. You may, however, use citations when appropriate.
You may work on the assignments in any order you choose, but be sure to allocate your time carefully to complete the entire test within the testing session. You may start uppercase NOT end uppercase use any reference materials during the testing session.
Sample Assignment 1
Use the information below to complete the exercise that follows.
A second-grade teacher frequently uses the following strategy when working with struggling readers who are performing below the second-grade fluency benchmark. The teacher selects a variety of supplementary texts that use a controlled vocabulary (i.e., nearly all the words are high-frequency sight words or easily decodable words). The teacher then has the students read these texts aloud quietly to themselves over a period of days as the teacher monitors their reading.
Using your knowledge of reading fluency, write a response in which you:
- identify what aspect of fluency (i.e., accuracy, reading rate, or prosody) this instructional strategy primarily develops; and
- explain how this instructional strategy promotes development of the aspect you identified.
Be sure to relate your response to specific features of the instructional strategy described above.
Sample Response for Assignment 1—Domain 3
This instructional strategy primarily helps develop students' reading rate. The selected texts help support development of reading rate because they use controlled vocabulary (i.e., primarily easily decodable words and high-frequency sight words). Research shows that reading texts with a high readability is more effective in enhancing reading rate than when readability is not controlled. The strategy also promotes reading rate because the teacher selects "a variety" of these texts and has the students read them "over a period of days." This provides the students with repeated practice reading the same words in a variety of contexts, which helps build their automatic recognition of the words. Automaticity in word recognition is essential for developing reading rate, which enhances fluency.
Evaluation of Sample Response
This assignment assesses competencies in Domain 3. The response fulfills the purpose of the assignment by identifying the aspect of fluency (i.e., reading rate) that this instructional strategy primarily develops and explaining how the strategy promotes this aspect of fluency. The response reflects an accurate understanding of fluency through its discussion of the role of appropriate texts in supporting development of reading rate and the importance of building automaticity to enhance reading rate and fluency. Support for the writer's argument is found in a clear explanation of factors that enhance reading rate (e.g., automaticity of word recognition).
Sample Assignment 2
Domain 2—Word Analysis
Use the information below to complete the exercise that follows.
At the beginning of the year, a fourth-grade teacher uses the following procedure as part of an informal assessment of students' word analysis skills.
In this assessment, the teacher asks individual students to read aloud from a list of 50 words. As students read, the teacher makes a record of their performance on a separate copy of the list, using check marks to indicate words a student reads easily and accurately and using simplified phonetic transcription to record any errors.
Below are some of the words used in the assessment, followed by the teacher's record of one student's reading performance.
A list of the following words with corresponding teacher notes. Word: stretch, Teacher note: check mark. Word: drape, Teacher note: check mark. Word: safety, Teacher note: pronounced saf et e. Word: begin, Teacher note: check mark. Word: opposite, Teacher note: pronounced oh po sit. Word: recess, Teacher note: check mark. Word: settlement, Teacher note: pronounced set lem ent. Word: deadline, Teacher note: check mark. Word: influenced, Teacher note: pronounced in flunked. Word: disagreement, Teacher note: pronounced die sag ree ment.
Based on your analysis of the assessment evidence provided, write a response in which you:
- identify one important need demonstrated by this student in the area of word analysis;
- describe an instructional strategy or activity to address this need; and
- explain why the instructional strategy or activity you described would be effective for this purpose, citing evidence from the student's performance to support your response.
Sample Response for Assignment 2—Domain 2
One need demonstrated by this student is difficulty using structural analysis to decode multisyllabic words. For example, the student doesn't seem to recognize roots (e.g., safe, settle, agree) and affixes (e.g., -ty, -ment, dis-) in words that contain multiple morphemes, so the student makes syllable breaks in the middle of morphemes (e.g., pronouncing "safety" as [săf-ət-ē].
One strategy that would help the student would be using explicit instruction to promote the student's automatic recognition of common affixes. For example, to build automatic recognition of the prefix dis-, the teacher should have the student practice reading it in isolation in short lists, in which several instances of dis- appear with affixes the student has already mastered. Next, the student practices reading dis- in word-reading exercises using short, decodable words (e.g., dislike, discard). The teacher gradually introduces increasingly complex words and short passage-reading exercises containing the target affix. The teacher repeats this strategy to teach other affixes the student doesn't recognize automatically and to reinforce affixes recently taught by including them among the mastered affixes in the exercises.
This strategy would be effective in addressing the student's need because automatic recognition of affixes will help the student decode multisyllabic words that contain multiple morphemes, including helping the student distinguish a word's root. The strategy provides ample practice and reinforcement reading target affixes in increasingly complex contexts.
Evaluation of Sample Response
This assignment assesses one or more competencies in Domain 2. The response fulfills the purpose of the assignment by accurately identifying a need demonstrated by the student in word analysis, describing an effective strategy for addressing this need, and explaining why the strategy would be effective. The writer demonstrates an accurate understanding of structural analysis and related terminology (e.g., morphemes) and also describes effective procedures for promoting automatic recognition of a target affix. The writer offers strong support for the response by providing appropriate, accurate details and an accurate rationale explaining why the described instructional strategy would be effective.
The following performance characteristics will guide the scoring of responses to the constructed-response questions. Focused educational problems and instructional tasks are rated on a three-point scale.
|Purpose||The candidate demonstrates an understanding of the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge by fulfilling the purpose of the assignment.|
|Application of Content||The candidate accurately and effectively applies the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge.|
|Support||The candidate supports the response with appropriate examples, evidence, and rationales based on the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge.|
Scoring Scale: Focused Educational Problems and Instructional Tasks
|Score Point||Score Point Description|
The "3" response reflects a thorough understanding of the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge from the applicable RICA domain.
The "2" response reflects an adequate understanding of the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge from the applicable RICA domain.
The "1" response reflects limited or no understanding of the relevant content and pedagogical knowledge from the applicable RICA domain.
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