CSUB and Delano Joint Union High School District partnership aiding students

November 7, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

A California State University, Bakersfield and Delano Joint Union High School District collaborative project to improve student performance has earned top-marks.

Researchers for the grant project titled Content Academic Language Literacy Instruction, or CALLI, noted a remarkable increase stating students are now passing the California High School Exit Exam at about a 70 percent rate. This shows a 25 percent increase over the last three years with the implementation of the grant program.

These results and other findings will be discussed during a workshop slated for Saturday, Nov. 8 in the Dezember Leadership Center, room 401 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the university campus. High school teachers from Delano will be in attendance to talk about the project. The public is welcome to attend.

CALLI provided 60 Delano teachers with intensive training and site-based coaching so they can strengthen the reading, writing, and speaking skills needed by their students to increase achievement. This program has impacted about 4,000 students.

CSUB was awarded the competitive four-year grant of $986,078 by the California Postsecondary Education Commission in November 2005, one of eight given statewide.

Emilio Garza and Debra Cook-Hirai are co-directors of CSUB's CALLI project and state the high percentage of English learners in the Delano Joint High School District pose a unique challenge for teachers in this area. "With over 31 percent of the families in this district identified as low poverty and 48 percent of students identified as English learners there is a definite need to increase student achievement through extensive staff development for all math and science secondary teachers in the area," Cook-Hirai explained.

Cook-Hirai said academic language is defined as English used in professional books and characterized by the specific linguistic features associated with academic disciplines. "It is the language used by teachers and students for the purpose of acquiring new knowledge and skills. Literacy is learning to read, academic language is reading to learn."

The CALLI researchers have been accepted to present their findings at the National Bilingual Education conference in Austin, Texas this year and the American Education Research Association conference in San Diego in 2009. There will also be several articles and publications produced detailing their results and providing educational resources for this field.

This final year of the grant will include further research and additional workshops.

The grant is part of the federal Improving Teacher Quality Program funded under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and a long-standing federal program aimed at improving student achievement through professional development for teachers. These grants require rigorous evaluation research to demonstrate how the professional development affects student achievement.

For additional information, contact Cook-Hirai at (661) 654-3129 or log on to www.csub.edu/calli/.