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Adoption of, Enrollment in, and Teacher Workload for the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum in California High Schools

By Min Chen-Gaddini, Tony Fong, Niufeng Zhu, Anne Porterfield


School systems throughout the country are developing new courses and supports to prepare students to succeed in college. One example is the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC), a grade 12 English course developed by California State University (CSU) to better prepare students for college-level English. A 2015 study found that the ERWC has a statistically significant positive impact on student achievement.

The CSU system and K–12 partners are refining the ERWC and updating outreach strategies to make the curriculum more widely available in California.

To inform these efforts, REL West analyzed the characteristics of schools that have adopted the ERWC, demographics of students enrolled in the course, and teacher workloads for the course, compared to other grade 12 mainstream college preparatory English courses. The study, which analyzed data from the 2016/17 school year, found that:

  • Slightly more than half of California high schools had adopted the ERWC as of 2016/17.
  • The adoption rate was lower in rural schools than in city, suburban, and town schools. The adoption rate increased as schoolwide enrollment increased.
  • Among schools that reported having students in the ERWC and students in at least one other grade 12 mainstream college preparatory English course, a higher percentage of Hispanic students and a lower percentage of White students were in the ERWC than in other grade 12 mainstream college preparatory English courses.
  • Among these same schools, class sizes were larger, on average, for ERWC classes than for other grade 12 mainstream college preparatory English classes.

This study’s findings will inform the work of the organizations involved in developing and implementing the ERWC as they seek to improve the course’s reach and effectiveness in California. The findings could also inform a wider audience of policymakers and educators across the country who are interested in strengthening postsecondary readiness by improving and expanding opportunities for high school students to take courses similar to the ERWC.

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Copyright: 2019
Format: PDF
Pages: 37
Publisher: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences