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Validating the Success of the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum

The Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC) was developed by a task force of California State University (CSU) faculty and high school educators interested in improving the literacy of high school seniors. Originally designed as a college preparatory grade 12 English course, the ERWC emphasizes the study of expository, analytical, and argumentative reading and writing.

In 2016, the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, in partnership with CSU and WestEd, received a U.S. Department of Education i3 Validation grant to further refine, scale, and validate the course. Through the grant, the ERWC will be revised for grade 12 and expanded to grade 11; approximately 50 high schools in California and Washington are participating.

Key Research Questions

  • Does enrollment in the ERWC in grade 11 have a positive impact on ELA/literacy skills?
  • To what extent are key components of the ERWC being implemented with fidelity?


WestEd researchers are using a randomized controlled trial to assess how the grade 11 ERWC impacts student achievement as measured by the Smarter Balanced ELA/literacy summative assessment. Students assigned to ERWC are the treatment group and students assigned to a non-ERWC “English 11” course are the control group.

Intended Impact

In 2015, WestEd researchers published findings from an i3 Development grant indicating the impact of enrollment in the ERWC in grade 12 was positive and statistically significant. The current study will inform decisions about curriculum adoption for grades 11 and 12.