California Students Improve Reading with New Elementary Curriculum

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Research Confirms Significant Gains for English Learners with Pearson's California Reading Street

Student gains across the country confirm independent research that children from all socio-economic groups learning with the innovative curriculum called Reading Street significantly increase their reading achievement from 30 to 50 percent -- often surpassing state requirements. And California is no exception. As reading scores continue to be a big challenge, state districts that have chosen Pearson Reading Street for California -- customized to new state standards -- are building strong foundational reading skills to set students on the path to reading success.

Pasadena Unified School District's Rosebud Academy Charter School, with an enrollment that is 74 percent African-American and 21 percent Hispanic, is one example of how this new curriculum from the education and technology company Pearson is making a difference. School Director Shawn Brumfield said, "After just one year with the California Reading Street program, our students' scores are significantly higher than other schools in the district. We attribute these gains to the fact that this program is aligned directly to our California content standards, including strong language arts components and, especially, the building of vocabulary skills." She added, "Pearson's California Reading Street program also has an English language component that has proven critical in helping our English learners jump ahead in all areas of reading - from vocabulary building to comprehension to reading fluency."

Brumfield continued, "The vocabulary development in Reading Street is incredible. We see our students' academic vocabulary increase day by day due to the program's Amazing Words component. Students have the opportunity to use these words in songs, stories and other teacher lead discussions. All these activities quickly build the students' ability to absorb the language and it really shines through in the many oral presentations that our students do."

Brumfield's experience is validated by stunning independent research results that found elementary school students using Reading Street's English Learning materials made "significant gains" in reading skills and in English language development. More importantly, many students were reclassified as "Fluent English Proficient" after just one year.

Pearson's vice president for California Vicky Bush said, "These gains represent a critical factor in learning that can play a key role in closing the achievement gap and reversing the disturbing high school dropout rate here in California."

Bush added, "Research tell us that if a child does not learn to read by age seven, he or she will most likely face a lifelong challenge with learning. This is especially relevant for the 25% of California's students who are learning English at the same time they are working to master content in all of their other core subject areas. We now have evidence that the Reading Street program is making a difference for these students -- not only improving their reading performance, but translating into higher scores in other subjects as well."

It has been six years since California school districts have purchased new reading programs, and researchers have made many strides in identifying new ways to enhance teaching and learning, especially in providing strategies and tools to help at-risk and struggling students as well as English learners. Curriculum design, a focus on new literacies, internet and digital larning, as well as recognition of diverse cultures are a few of the innovations addressed in the Pearson Reading Street for California program.

Bush said, "California is our country's most diverse state, with virtually every ethnic group in the world represented in our schools. California Reading Street speaks to all students about diversity through the involvement of Pearson author Dr. Sharroky Hollie of California State University, an expert in the field of cultural relevancy." Bush noted that the focus on cultural relevancy -- with children of many ethnicities seeing themselves reflected in the California Reading Street program -- sets this curriculum apart from all other reading programs.

Pearson Reading Street for California is a research-based, customized curriculum steeped in five years of research and development. The top-selling reading curriculum in the U.S., the program has been enhanced and customized for California to meet state requirements and also includes an entertaining and engaging digital path. Bush said, "We need to meet these digital natives on their own turf and ensure that teaching and learning embraces the technologies that are such a pervasive part of the world they live in. This component is one of the key differentiators of California Reading Street."

"Our authors represent the top reading experts in the nation and they infuse our programs with an unmatched credibility and quality," said Bush. In addition to the renowned core content reading authors, noted academics who have joined the California author team include:

  • Dr. Grant Wiggins, whose renowned leadership in curriculum design is revolutionizing learning
  • Dr. Donald Leu, the leading expert in the "new literacies," and how educators must meet the iPod generation on their turf - including effective use of the Internet, techniques for reading online, and projects to bring students around the globe together to communicate and learn from each other.
  • Dr. Jim Cummins, who leads the Pearson team in ensuring that English learners receive the same high quality education programs as their peers, provides his expertise in literacy development in multilingual school contexts, as well as on the potential roles of technology in promoting language and literacy development.
  • Dr. Connie Juel, professor of education at Stanford University, and expert in the powerful role vocabulary plays in reading comprehension, and in closing the achievement gap.
  • Jon Scieszka, the award-winning children's writer and recently-named Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress, has focused on the needs of boy readers, who as a group are in a crisis and falling behind girls in reading performance; and
  • Dr. Sharroky Hollie from California State University (as noted above), the leading expert on urban literacy whose contribution includes a focus on embedding relevant materials into curriculum programs that recognize the cultural differences among California's diverse student population

California Reading Street includes embedded intervention and assessment as well as professional development for teachers. The program is published in an identical format in Spanish.

Numerous other districts are beginning to teach with California Reading Street this school year. Schools also have the option of purchasing the program's companion intervention curriculum My Sidewalks.

To view a video on the Pasadena Unified School District's Rosebud Academy Charter School's success with California Reading Street, click here. For additional information, go to: http://www.californiareading.com.

About Pearson and California:
Pearson, the world's leading education services and technology company, has been providing education materials to California schools as far back as the 1800s. You may know us individually as Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Longman, SuccessMaker, NovaNet, Educational Measurement, Educational Assessment, Learning Teams, Achievement Solutions, and so many more - names in the world of education that are recognized and respected across the State and the globe. In fact, most teachers in California have learned their profession by studying with Pearson's Merrill or Allyn & Bacon textbooks, and many have benefited from our professional development programs. Today, nearly a thousand Pearson people are living and working in the State, providing educational materials that cover the gamut from birth through professional learning. Whether in science, math, social studies, music, middle/high school language arts, English as a second language, foreign languages, or AP courses, hundreds of thousands of California's preK-12 students are learning with our Pearson products every day. In addition to Education, Pearson's other major businesses include The Financial Times Group and The Penguin Group. For more information, go to: http://www.californiareading.com or http://www.pearsonschool.com.

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Kate Miller
Pearson
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