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California Technical Assistance and Training
CalSTAT Techincal Assitance and Training



Supporting Struggling Readers with Evidence-Based Practices in California

Revised: February 2011

Revised by: Kevin Feldman, Ed.D.


The revision of the Reading/Literacy Core Messages was based on significant advances in the national research community concerning best practices to improve reading and literacy (reading, writing, speaking, and listening across the curriculum areas). Two critical examples are the National Institute of Education Sciences1 and the What Works Clearinghouse2, which provide resources to objectively evaluate programs and practices according to accepted rules of science. In addition, the creation of national Common Core Standards3 along with the move towards organizing interventions in a Response to Intervention (RTI)4 framework have created exciting and challenging new opportunities for improving outcomes for California’s students.

It is important to note that Reading is a part of the larger context of Academic Literacy. Academic Literacy is defined as the skills of reading/writing/speaking and listening that all work together across the content areas. This unified concept is clearly aligned with the Common Core Standards that use reading and literacy across the curricular areas and present both as a shared teaching responsibility.  

Resources and Web sites

Background on Core Message Area:

A focus of past (1999 – 2013) federally funded State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG), awarded to the California Department of Education was to communicate common messages to the field about selected topics. These common, or core messages, articulate critical research findings and essential components of effective application. All core messages have been identified by experts in the field and have been approved by the California Department of Education, Special Education Division.

California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT), continues to utilize these core messages by supporting trainings and technical assistance, ( requests that reflect any or all of the Core Message Areas. After reading the Core Message Area topics on Reading/Literacy, just select any of the Resources and Web site links listed after each topic to view the messages and supporting research.


  1. Focus on Providing Explicit Reading & Language Arts Instruction for ALL Students, especially struggling readers.
    According to Archer & Hughes (2011), “Explicit instruction is characterized by a series of supports or scaffolds, whereby students are guided through the learning process with clear statements about the purpose and rationale for learning the new skill, clear explanations and demonstrations of the instructional target, and supported practice with feedback until independent mastery has been achieved.” Research has confirmed (Rupley et al. 2009) that explicit instruction is especially critical for struggling readers including English learners and students with special needs.
    Resources and Web sites
  1. Focus Reading Language Arts Instruction on the Common Core Standards
    Researchers and practitioners have converged on the Common Core Standards as a rigorous example of what all students must know and be able to do in Reading/Language Arts. Adopted by California in 2010, key aspects include explicit instruction focused on; phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, listening and speaking across both literature and informational texts. Struggling students need to be taught to the same standards, however they will require increased instructional time, more carefully scaffolded instruction, additional feedback and practice.
    Resources and Web sites
  1. Focus on RtI2 (Response to Instruction & Intervention) as a Site-based Strategy for Closing the Achievement Gap
    Response to Instruction and Intervention has emerged as a research supported model for organizing schools to support the full range of students. “In California, Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) is a systematic, data-driven approach to instruction that benefits every student. California has expanded the notion of Response to Intervention to RtI2. RtI2 is meant to communicate the full spectrum of instruction, from general core, to supplemental or intensive, to meet the academic and behavioral needs of students. RtI2 integrates resources from general education, categorical programs, and special education through a comprehensive system of core instruction and interventions to benefit every student.” (CDE Philosophy & Definition of RtI2, 2009)
    Resources and Web sites
  1. Focus on the Use of Evidence-based Practices and Programs
    California’s focus on “Evidence Based Practices” reflects the national philosophy of the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). The IES is charged with, “...identifying what works, what doesn't... to improve educational outcomes for all students, particularly those at risk of failure.”
    For too many years education has been buffeted by the winds of politics, fads, and subjective opinion. A national commitment to using “Evidence Based Practices” holds great promise in the development of “education science”.
    Resources and Web sites
  1. Focus on Providing High Quality Site-based Professional Development
    Improving the quality of reading and literacy instruction at the site level requires educators to move beyond the one shot “spray and pray” model of professional development. In alignment with the National Staff Development Council’s Professional Development Standards all educators deserve meaningful professional development to ensure “Evidence Based Practices” are manifest in every classroom.
    Resources and Web sites



Last updated: 04/27/2015


California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT)
is a California Department of Education, Special Education Division project supported through the Napa County Office of Education
1450 Technology Lane, Suite 200 Petaluma, CA 94954
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Napa County Office of Education

Last updated: 04/27/2015