Using the Content Area Literacy Survey (CALS) to Meet the Demands of the Common Core Standards

Investigator: Joshua Lawrence

Funding: Hellman Fellowship Award

Until recently, math, science and social studies state standards focused narrowly on specific content topics, such as Roman history, linear equations, and genetics. While students need to know how to read, write and discuss content-specific topics in order master them, language and literacy demands were not articulated in the standards per se: until now. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, secondary teachers are being pushed to address language and literacy demands in every content area. School and district leaders are trying to support this shift, but know very little about how math, science and social studies teachers currently approach writing, reading and discussion in their classrooms. School and district leaders need timely data about the literacy work being done across departments so they can determine what resources their teachers need to meet the new demands of the common core. The Content Area Literacy Survey (CALS) provides these data. While a post-doctoral researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the researcher developed this free online tool with funding from the Carnegie Corporation to the Strategic Educational Research Partnership. Since CALS launch in 2012, it has been used by schools in 29 states to inform school-level decision making. Funding for the hosting of the CALS will end next academic year, before a systematic evaluation of how it is used by schools has been completed. The researcher will use funding from the Hellman Fellows Fund to host the tool for an additional two years, evaluate its use in five middle and high schools, examine trends in contents-area literacy across implementing sites nationally, and secure ongoing funding for continuing the work.