Reading Writing and Ready! This English Course Focuses on College and Workforce Readiness While Engaging Students in Meaningful Activities

By Cline, Zulmara; Flachmann, Kim et al. | Leadership, May-June 2008 | Go to article overview

Reading Writing and Ready! This English Course Focuses on College and Workforce Readiness While Engaging Students in Meaningful Activities


Cline, Zulmara, Flachmann, Kim, Street, Chris, Leadership


"Far too many students are not adequately prepared for college. Too many of our high school students are not being adequately prepared for careers in the workforce today, and too many students, regrettably, are not being prepared to become effective citizens in our participatory democracy."

--Jack O'Connell (as quoted in EdSource, 2005).

Program improvement in California, like in all other states, has to follow No Child Left Behind guidelines, but there is room to tailor and define a program that meets local and state needs. In California, the Essential Program Components have been endorsed by the State Board of Education as California's response to the Program Improvement requirements.

The plan includes nine components, which are all essential for success. None of the nine components stand alone as a silver bullet, but working in tandem, the nine components offer schools and districts a blueprint for successful improvement that can make a significant difference in the way that education is approached in the state.

Implemented and overseen by the CDE, the nine components are:

1. Instructional program: standards-aligned English-language arts and mathematics textbooks and SBE-adopted pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 textbooks;

2. Student access to high school standards-aligned core courses (master schedule and pacing schedule);

3. Principals' instructional leadership training;

4. Teachers' professional development opportunities;

5. A student achievement monitoring system;

6. Ongoing instructional assistance and support;

7. Teacher/department and subject-matter collaboration;

8. Intervention programs for students performing below grade-level standards; and

9. Fiscal support.

As the nine components are implemented in schools and districts around the state, there is an expectation that schools and districts will increase college and workforce readiness as students are given the opportunity to acquire basic skills and meet the rigorous California State Standards.

An integrated system of standards, curriculum, instruction, assessment and supports provides a critical foundation for student success, leading to greater opportunities for all students. Setting clear guidelines supports a successful transition into postsecondary education and the workforce.

Efforts to transform high schools into personalized and engaging learning communities for all students should be the cornerstone of all Program Improvement sites. Establishing clear and rigorous standards aligned with entrance requirements for post-secondary education and the workforce will help high schools to not only meet their Program Improvement goals, but also help students become workforce ready.

The Expository Reading and Writing Course

In response to the need to help students get ready for college and the workforce, the California State University system, in collaboration with K-12 partners, has developed an Expository Reading and Writing Course aligned with the 11th and 12th grade English-language arts standards.

The course has an online component for professional development and community-building, and offers teachers a variety of best practices for teaching academic literacy strategies. The ERWC offers an opportunity for students to refine their reading and writing skills in the area of expository text by incorporating the tenets of rhetoric.

This curriculum, although not designed specifically for Program Improvement schools, meets most of the nine conditions for Program Improvement and shows great promise for helping students master the skills and standards needed to be workforce and college ready (Hafner & Joseph 2007).

Additionally, the curriculum is based on best practices for adolescent literacy, which goes beyond reading comprehension and decoding to include critical thinking, analyzing, synthesizing and questioning. …

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