Skip to: Content | Footer

California Postsecondary Education Data Home Page

Improving Teacher Quality - 2005: Academic Literacy in Secondary Education

The Academic Literacy Initiative (2005) was based on a series of national research studies that demonstrated two important truths: first, when teachers address underlying academic language issues in the classroom, content learning increases; second, time spent in content classrooms on academic literacy skills improves student's overall language skills. The specific requirements of the Initiative were derived from the California Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates' (ICAS) 2002 Report, Academic Literacy: A Statement of Competencies: "In order to be prepared for college and university courses, students need greater exposure to instruction and academic literacy than they receive in English classes alone. This need calls for greater coordination of literacy education among subject matter areas within high schools."

Eight awards were made spanning most disciplinary boundaries: one project linked literacy with the arts, a second focused on literacy and science, a third worked with teachers of both history and science studying their forms of evidence and argumentation, and several used English department resources to work with large populations of English Language Learners across the disciplines. During three years of program implementation, these projects provided 800 teachers with more than 13,000 hours of quality professional development.

Although these projects' scientifically based research studies are not yet complete, preliminary results are promising. The Accelerating Academic Literacy Project, collaboration between the UCI writing project and the Lynwood and Paramount USDs, has already published a significant paper in Research in the Teaching of English. Project CALLI (Content Academic Language and Literacy Instruction), a collaboration between CSU Bakersfield and Delano Joint Union High School District, was invited to present preliminary results at a conference and also has a contract to publish a book about the project. Several projects have developed novel instruments and research techniques for assessing student change.

  • 02-301 - English Language Development Professional Institute
  • 02-316 - Developing Rigorous Education in the Arts to Motivate (DREAM)
  • 02-319 - Redwood Area Academic Literacy Initiative (RAALI)
  • 02-335 - Reading, Thinking and Writing in History and Science
  • 02-339 - Literacy in the History Classroom
  • 02-342 - Access to the Core: Support for Secondary English Language Learners