CAL conducted a project aimed at improving instruction and preparation for post-secondary education in Central Valley high schools with high enrollments of language minority students whose achievement does not keep pace with that of other students. The project also developed mechanisms to guide more of these students into post-secondary education and help them succeed there.
CAL worked with two school districts and their high schools, as well as community colleges, UC Merced, and local branches of the National Writing Project, to implement and document the program, develop community support, study the program’s effects, and disseminate the program and the study’s findings. Teachers from Selma High School and the two Madera high schools implemented the SIOP Model of sheltered instruction that research has found to be effective for supporting students’ language, literacy, and content area development. This model promotes development in all of the language modalities―speaking, listening, writing, and reading—but because writing is fundamental to school success and because writing tests are a barrier to high school graduation and progress through post-secondary education in California, the project foregrounded academic writing across the curriculum. This writing focus carried through into the post-secondary strand of the project in which CAL worked with developmental English instructors to address the particular needs of ELs. CAL also conducted a parent empowerment program to help parents understand the issues and navigate the procedures connected to enrolling their children in higher education.
In broad outline, this project aimed to improve schools’ ability to help students develop academic English skills so that they can succeed in content area classes, pass the exit exams, and go on to college.