The Goal:

Every teacher must become a teacher of reading, writing, and language. It is obligatory for school districts and colleges of education to prepare and advance teaching professionals to pass new, stringent examinations before being assigned the responsibility of teaching children to read and become subject-matter literate:

The Rule:

ADVANCED Reading Instruction Competence Assessment will be passed by all Kindergarten - 3rd grade classroom teachers and teaching specialists; the BASIC Reading Instruction Competence Assessment will be passed by all subject-area teachers grades 4 - 12.

The Responsibility:

Teaching candidates, who will become responsible for the early reading development of students in grades K-3 along with those specializing in Reading, ELL, Title I, and Special Education, must pass the Advanced Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (ARICA). A passing score on this examination earns the teaching candidate a Teacher of Reading Certification. Content area teachers in grades 4-12 must pass the Basic Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (BRICA) in order to instruct their students in how to become reading and writing literate in their subject areas.

To achieve these goals, key professionals and candidates in the field of education-especially those who are responsible for teaching reading and English language arts-need and deserve to have the most comprehensive knowledge about reading and language development, about empirically proven methods of teaching, about differences in reading development among children, and about how to use assessment data to chronicle and refine individual progress in reading development. These professionals need the highest quality instruction and substantive support to become skilled teachers of reading and writing. The specific requirements for three capacities of teachers, their respective Reading Instruction Competence Teaching Assessments, and the required knowledge and skills in each capacity are as follows:

  • "Teachers of Reading" are certified by the state and are hereby defined as highly skilled experts in foundational reading and writing development; reading and writing literacy; and, speaking, listening, and language skills. Teachers of Reading are qualified educational professionals who, having passed the teaching Advanced Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (ARICA), are permitted to teach foundational reading development skills to all children in grades K-3.
  • "Teaching Specialists" are certified by the state and are hereby defined as highly skilled experts in foundational reading and writing development; reading and writing literacy; and, speaking, listening, and language skills, along with the specialty licensure English Language Learners, Title I, and Special Education in grades K-12. Teaching Specialists must pass the teaching Advanced Reading Instruction Competence Teaching Assessment (ARICA) to become certified as Teachers of Reading. The assessment ensures that these teachers are highly skilled and knowledgeable in the integration of knowledge and understanding of reading literacy, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills for their field of students.
  • "Content Area Teachers" are grades 4-12 subject teachers who are licensed by the state in their area of expertise. These teachers must be knowledgeable in the foundations of reading, writing, language, speaking and listening development, and comprehension and integration of knowledge, so that their students may become literate in their content areas. Content Area Teachers will take exams to receive content area licensure and are required to pass the teaching Basic Reading Instruction Teaching Assessment (BRICA).

By virtue of passing the Assessments, these teachers will be deeply respected and honored as true professionals, able to use their knowledge, expertise, and evolving experience in dynamic and flexible ways during daily interactions with diverse student populations, thereby ensuring that all students achieve reading literacy and become lifelong learners.

The Reading Instruction Competence Teaching Assessment:

The reading instruction competence teaching assessment examination must measure the knowledge, skill, and ability of kindergarten, elementary, secondary, ELL, Title I, and Special Education teachers of reading in comprehensive, foundational reading development and instructions, and multitier support systems. The teaching-assessment examination is data-validated and composed of multiple choice and constructed response questions designed to measure reading instruction knowledge and skills. Test content areas assess foundations of reading development, development of reading comprehension, reading, screening, assessment and instruction, and integration of knowledge and understanding for reading literacy to diverse student populations.

The BASIC Reading Instruction Competence Teaching Assessment (BRICA):

All candidates for initial educator or professional educator licensure in Early Childhood Level Education (approximate ages birth through 8), Early Childhood through Middle Childhood Level Education (approximate ages birth through 11), Middle Childhood through Early Adolescent Level Education (approximate ages 6 through 12 or 13), and Special Education, and all persons entering or pursuing an approved certification as a teacher of reading as defined earlier shall pass a new exam covering basic knowledge of the foundations of reading development, development of reading comprehension, reading instruction, screening, and assessment, and integration of knowledge and understanding. The BRICA has at least 100 multiple-choice questions, worth 80% of the total possible points, and at least two open response questions, worth 20% of the total possible points.

BRICA is embedded in a comprehensive, multi-subject licensure exam, and there shall be a separate passing score for the reading portion of the exam. The foundations of reading portion of the BRICA consist of multiple-choice questions covering knowledge and understanding of:

  • Phonological and phonemic awareness, the understanding of concepts of print and the alphabetic principle, the role of phonics in promoting reading development, and the understanding of word analysis skills and strategies
  • Vocabulary development, the understanding of how to apply reading comprehension skills and strategies to imaginative/literary texts, and the understanding of how to apply reading comprehension skills and strategies to informational/expository texts
  • Formal and informal methods for assessing reading development, and the understanding of multiple approaches to reading instruction

Integration of knowledge and understanding will consist of at least two open response questions requiring organized, developed analyses on topics related to foundations of reading development, development of reading comprehension, and/or reading assessment and instruction.

Practice exams are available. The passing score for the BRICA shall not be lower than 75% of the total possible points or 85% of the total possible points for prospective Special Education teachers, reading teachers, and reading specialists. Persons entering or pursuing an approved program leading to certification as a reading teacher or reading specialist, who have previously passed the BRICA will not be required to retake the exam.

In-service teachers can request a provisional license for up to a one-year term should they fail the exam the first time and if they are actively involved in an approved remedial class or approved professional development as preparation for retaking the BRICA. No teachers can be accepted into or continue in a program teaching grades K-3 grade students, without passing the BRICA. State institutions of higher education are to provide free, approved remedial work for their candidates who fail the BRICA.

Districts will provide free, approved professional development for new out-of-state hires who fail the BRICA. The Department of Public Instruction requires districts to earmark a specific amount of funds annually for professional development in reading, based on the number of new out-of-state hires who have not yet passed the BRICA. Providers of the remedial work and professional development can only be approved by the Department of Public Instruction after consultation with an oversight panel consisting of persons with demonstrated mastery of the knowledge set forth in this certification.

As a measure to hold the colleges of education responsible for their preparing of new teachers and professional organizations as well, results of the BRICA are to be reported and made public annually, with first-time passage rates and overall passage rates tied to specific institutions of higher education for initial and professional license candidates and to individual districts for out-of-state hires.

The Teachers Knowledge and Skills Required to pass ARICA:

In addition to the requirements BRICA, candidates for initial educator or professional educator certified as a teacher of reading, Special Education teacher, Title I reading teacher, or ELL reading specialist shall pass the advanced level exam, ARICA, covering reading processes and development, reading assessment, reading instruction, reading support systems, professional knowledge and roles of the teachers of reading, Special Education, Title I, or ELL reading specialist (as appropriate to the candidate), and integration of knowledge and understanding.

*Foundational concepts about oral and written language learning include:

  • understanding and explaining the language processing requirements of proficient reading and writing, including phonological (speech sound), orthographic (print), semantic (meaning), syntactic (sentence level), and discourse (connected text level) processing
  • understanding and explaining other aspects of cognition and behavior that affect reading and writing, including attention, executive function, memory, processing speed, and graphomotor control
  • defining and identifying environmental, cultural, and social factors that contribute to literacy development, including language spoken at home, language and literacy experiences, and cultural values
  • knowing and identifying phases in the typical developmental progression of oral language (semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic), phonological skill, printed word recognition, spelling, reading fluency, reading comprehension, and written expression
  • understanding and explaining the known causal relationships among phonological skill, phonic decoding, spelling, accurate and automatic word recognition, text-reading fluency, background knowledge, verbal reasoning skill, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing
  • knowing and explaining how the relationships among the major components of literacy development change with reading development (i.e. changes in oral language, including phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, spelling, reading and writing fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension skills and strategies, and written expression),
  • knowing reasonable goals and expectations for learners at various stages of reading and writing development
  • understanding first and second language acquisition stages, the impact of culture on student performance, bilingual education and English as a Second Language programming and teaching methods, results of students' oral language proficiency in relation to the results of tests measuring academic achievement and cognitive processes, and results of similar or parallel tests given in more than one language

*Knowledge of the structure of language includes:

  • phonology (the sound system)-how to identify, pronounce, classify, and compare the consonant and vowel phonemes of English
  • orthography (the spelling system)-understanding the broad outline of historical influences on English spelling patterns, especially Anglo-Saxon, Latin (Romance), and Greek; defining "grapheme" as a functional correspondence unit or representation of a phoneme; recognizing and explaining common orthographic rules and patterns in English; knowing the difference between high-frequency and irregular words; and identifying, explaining, and categorizing six basic syllable types in English spelling
  • morphology-identifying and categorizing common morphemes in English such as Anglo-Saxon compounds; inflectional and derivational suffixes; Latin-based prefixes, roots, and derivational suffixes; and Greek-based combining forms
  • semantics-understanding and identifying examples of meaningful word relationships or semantic organization
  • syntax-defining and distinguishing among phrases, dependent clauses, and independent clauses in sentence structures and identifying the parts of speech and the grammatical role of a word in a sentence
  • discourse organization-explaining the major differences between narrative and expository discourse; identifying and constructing expository paragraphs of varying logical structures (e.g. classification, reason, sequence); and identifying cohesive devices in text and inferential gaps in the surface language of text

*Knowledge of SEEDS community and learning disorders includes:

  • understanding the most common intrinsic differences between good and poor readers (i.e. cognitive, neurobiological, and linguistic) recognizing the tenets of the NICHD/IDA definition of dyslexia and the U.S. IDEA 2004 definition of Specific Learning Disabilities
  • recognizing that SEEDS and other reading difficulties exist on a continuum of severity
  • identifying the distinguishing characteristics of SEEDS and related reading disorders (including developmental language comprehension disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disorders of written expression or dysgraphia, mathematics learning disorder, nonverbal learning disorder, etc.)
  • identifying how symptoms of reading difficulty may change over time in response to development and instruction
  • understanding federal and state laws that pertain to learning disabilities, dyslexia, and ELL

*Interpretation and administration of assessments for planning instruction includes:

  • understanding the differences among screening, diagnostic, outcome, and progress-monitoring assessments
  • understanding basic principles of test construction, including reliability, validity, and norm-referencing, and knowing the best-validated screening tests designed to identify students at risk for reading difficulties
  • understanding the principles of progress-monitoring and the use of graphs to indicate progress
  • knowing the range of skills typically assessed by diagnostic surveys of phonological skills, decoding skills, oral reading skills, spelling, and writing
  • recognizing the content and purposes of the most common diagnostic tests used by psychologists and educational evaluators
  • interpreting measures of reading comprehension and written expression in relation to an individual child's component profile

*Structured language teaching of phonology includes:

  • identifying the general and specific goals of phonological skill instruction
  • knowing the progression of phonological skill development (i.e. rhyme, syllable, onset-rime, phoneme differentiation)
  • identifying the differences among various phonological manipulations, including identifying, matching, blending, segmenting, substituting, and deleting sounds
  • understanding the principles of phonological skill instruction (e.g. brief,multi-component, conceptual, and auditory-verbal
  • understanding the reciprocal relationships among phonological processing, reading, spelling, and vocabulary,
  • understanding the phonological features of a second language, such as Spanish, and how they interfere with English pronunciations and phonics

*Structured language teaching of phonics and word recognition includes:

  • knowing or recognizing how to order phonics concepts from easier to more difficult
  • understanding principles of explicit and direct teaching: model, lead, give guided practice, and review
  • stating the rationale for multi-component and multimodal techniques
  • knowing the routines of a complete lesson format, from the introduction of a word recognition concept to fluent application in meaningful reading and writing
  • understanding research-based adaptations of instruction for students with weaknesses in working memory, attention, executive function, or processing speed

*Structured language teaching of fluent, automatic reading of text includes:

  • understanding the role of fluency in word recognition, oral reading, silent reading, comprehension of written discourse, and motivation to read
  • understanding reading fluency as a stage of normal reading development, as the primary factor in some reading disorders, and as a consequence of practice and instruction
  • defining and identifying examples of text at a student's frustration, instructional, and independent reading level
  • knowing sources of activities for building fluency in component reading skills
  • knowing which instructional activities and approaches are most likely to improve fluency outcomes
  • understanding techniques to enhance students' motivation to read
  • understanding appropriate uses of assistive technology for students with serious limitations in reading fluency

*Structured language teaching of vocabulary includes:

  • understanding the role of vocabulary development and vocabulary knowledge in comprehension
  • understanding the role and characteristics of direct and indirect (contextual) methods of vocabulary instruction
  • knowing varied techniques for vocabulary instruction before, during, and after reading
  • understanding that word knowledge is multi-faceted
  • understanding the sources of wide differences in students' vocabularies

*Structured language teaching of text comprehension includes:

  • being familiar with teaching strategies that are appropriate before, during, and after reading and that promote reflective reading
  • contrasting the characteristics of major text genres, including narration, exposition, and argumentation
  • understanding the similarities and differences between written composition and text comprehension, and the usefulness of writing in building comprehension
  • identifying in any text the phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, and academic language that could be a source of miscomprehension
  • understanding levels of comprehension including the surface code, text base, and mental model (situation model)
  • understanding factors that contribute to deep comprehension, including background knowledge, vocabulary, verbal reasoning ability, knowledge of literary structures and conventions, and use of skills and strategies for close reading of text

*Structured teaching of handwriting, spelling, and written composition includes:

  • knowing research-based principles for teaching letter naming and letter formation, both manuscript and cursive
  • knowing techniques for teaching handwriting fluency
  • recognizing and explaining the relationship between transcription skills and written expression
  • identifying students' levels of spelling development and orthographic knowledge
  • recognizing and explaining the influences of phonological, orthographic, and morphemic knowledge on spelling
  • understanding the major components and processes of written expression and how they interact (e.g. basic writing/transcription skills versus text generation)
  • knowing grade and developmental expectations for students' writing in the following areas: mechanics and conventions of writing, composition, revision, and editing processes
  • understanding appropriate uses of assistive technology in written expression

Executive Summary