The Pathway to Academic Success: Enhancing Student Achievement Through the Common Core Standards

Principal Investigator and IHE Director: Carol Booth Olson, Associate Professor and Director of the UCI Writing Project


Project Coordinator: Catherine D'Aoust

Funding: California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC)

This project will serve all of the English/Language Arts and History/Social Studies teachers in two large intermediate schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD). In both schools approximately 98% of the students are Chicano/Latino, 90% are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch, and 60% are classified as English Learners. Both schools improved their API scores between 2009 and 2010, but neither school met requirements for 2010 Adequate Yearly Progress. The district’s 6-12 instructional focus is on academic writing and the district is developing a 6-12 Writing Guide that will roll out in grades 6, 7, and 8 from 2011-2013.

Project Goals

  • To create a sustained partnership between the UCI Writing Project (UCIWP), UCI School of Humanities (UCISH), Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), and Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD), which draws upon the expertise of each partner, to design and implement high-quality professional development (PD) focused on the California Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (CaCCSS-ELA) so that teachers can prepare students to meet these challenging new standards.
  • To improve the quality of literacy instruction in the targeted intermediate schools by linking two existing district literacy initiatives--the Pathway Project academic reading/writing strategies and Thinking Maps--to the CaCCSS-ELA, thereby enhancing teachers’ research-based content knowledge and pedagogical strategies.
  • To develop and guide teachers in the implementation of curricular materials that are aligned to the rigorous reading and writing anchor standards delineated in the CaCCSS-ELA. 
  • To provide one-on-one coaching to encourage participating teachers to enhance their classroom literacy instruction.
  • To promote collaboration and shared responsibility for literacy instruction between English/Language Arts (E/LA) and History/Social Studies (H/SS) teachers to develop mutually reinforcing skills and exhibit mastery of standards for reading and writing across a range of texts and classrooms.
  • To engage and train teachers in the development of their own model Common Core-aligned text-based writing lessons for grades 6-8, augmenting the forthcoming district Writing Guide for grades 6-8.
  • To groom a cadre of teacher leaders to serve as role models and trainers of other teachers as the Common Core Standards are implemented district-wide in all nine intermediate schools.

The Evaluation Plan focuses on two research questions:

  1. To what extent will teachers’ involvement in the Pathway to Academic Success Professional Development (PD) model enhance teachers’ self-efficacy and change observed teaching practices of interpretive reading and text-based analytical writing in ways that meet the rigorous new CaCCSS-ELA standards?
  2. To what extent will teachers’ implementation of the Pathway to Academic Success Common Core intervention improve academic outcomes for intermediate school students on measures of students’ reading and writing, including an on-demand direct writing assessment, district benchmark assessments, and standardized state assessments of English language arts?