Optimizing literacy instruction for exit exam success

The purpose of this project is to provide a curriculum model that addresses the needs of English Learners who are required to pass the California High School Exit Exam (CaHSEE) in order to graduate from high school. It addresses the problem of the fact that the English portion of the test is given with no accommodations for the language development levels of the students. This project includes a two- week research-based curriculum for a course that targets students in later high school who have not passed the English section of the California High School Exit Exam or similar high-stakes exit examinations given as a requirement for high school graduation. Research included a thorough analysis of the CAHSEE structure and a review of successful strategies and theories of language acquisition. The strategies implemented in the curriculum include SDAIE (Specifically Designed Academic Instruction in English) strategies as well as specific writing instruction targeted to the prompts typically given on exit examinations. attention is also given to providing model texts and writing projects that engage the students with culturally significant materials. The project is intended to be used by teachers who are not specifically trained in language acquisition, and includes activities that do not require such specialized knowledge. The result of this project is a short unit that can serve as a stand-alone lesson, or as a model for further lessons. Future plans include creation of a year-long curriculum that allows for maximum growth and engaging lessons, followed by a mixed-design study of the efficacy of the materials. With a completed semester or year-long curriculum, teachers of remedial courses for high-stakes exams can utilize the materials for their own classes