Teacher Development Program Targets Students’ Proficiency for College

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow, 562-951-4806, cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu

July 17, 2006 — When Carolynn Middleton, an 11th-grade English teacher at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, hands out a pop quiz, she views the test as more than just a measure of what her students have learned, but also a functional tool specifically designed to improve their academic literacy and prepare them for college. Academic literacy is defined as those skills in critical reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking that students must possess to succeed in college.

Retooling quizzes and other common in-class activities to better enhance student academic literacy is just one of many strategies Middleton learned while attending Reading Institutes for Academic Preparation (RIAP). Designed by California State University, the program was created to help high school teachers further develop their college-bound high school students’ English skills.

“I’ve learned to view the classroom as a laboratory that bridges the gap from high school to college,” Middleton said.

RIAP was launched in 2002. Since then, more than 2,400 teachers have participated and 296 schools have been served. This year 575 teachers are enrolled in the program, which is being offered at 17 CSU campuses.

Middleton’s training also enables her to encourage critical thinking from her students, helps her improve their test-taking skills, and provides the support she needs to help her students work independently.

“We develop situations that require cooperation among groups. Each student has a role and is responsible for producing the parts of the assignments they are involved in,” she said.

Teachers who participate in RIAP learn strategies for improving their students’ performance in reading comprehension, vocabulary, academic language, and writing. Teachers also learn about leadership, standards-based instruction, and the CSU 12th grade Expository Reading and Writing Course.

“California high schools using these classroom strategies measurably outperform other schools in English proficiency,” said CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor for Teacher Preparation Beverly Young. “Ultimately, we expect to substantially reduce the number of CSU freshmen needing English remediation classes.”

CSU has been measuring the English and math proficiency of first-time freshmen for years. From 1998 to 2005, freshmen with college-level proficiency ranged from 51 to 55 percent. The CSU Board of Trustees has set a goal of 90 percent proficiency by next year.

To meet its goal, CSU created the Early Assessment Program (EAP), which tests students’ proficiency in English and mathematics in the 11th grade. The Early Assessment Program provides an early signal to students, families, and teachers so they can better prepare for the rigors of college-level work

“The strategies I learned from the program, and how I implement them in the classroom, will definitely help my students improve as they begin to make better connections between reading and writing,” said Middleton. “The goal is to help them become independent, lifelong readers, which will improve their overall ability to communicate in English both in writing and conversation.”

About California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 405,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees, about 84,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See www.calstate.edu.

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Last Updated: July 17, 2006

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