ERWC Awarded a 15 Million Dollar EIR Grant

The Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC) steering committee is pleased to announce a 15 million dollar Education, Innovation and Research (EIR) grant awarded to the Fresno County Office of Education. The grant, Reading and Writing for College and Career Success: Expanding the Reach of the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum was awarded to expand and enhance ERWC with a primary focus on Integrated and Designated ELD for 9th and 10th grades. The CSU is pleased to partner with WestEd and Fresno County on this exciting opportunity to provide new curriculum for the 9th and 10th grade with an emphasis on helping students develop excellent literacy skills.


The proposed project will establish leadership teams at state levels, develop high-quality curriculum to expand ERWC, refine course pedagogy, and scale and implement robust professional learning. Additionally, the project will validate the success of the ERWC through rigorous research and understand the cost effectiveness of implementing ERWC throughout high school. The expected outcomes are for students assigned to an ERWC course to score higher on a standardized assessment and to score at least 10% higher on measures of academic motivation than students enrolled in comparison English courses.


 To improve the literacy skills of high school students, particularly high-need students, the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC) was developed 20 years ago through an important collaboration between college professors and high school teachers and administrators. 


The curriculum, which aligns with the California Standards for English Language Arts and English Language Development, is currently being taught in about 1000 high schools across the state, is available for free, and comes with free online, in-person and hybrid professional development opportunities for teachers. Teachers who complete a required professional development workshop get certified to teach the curriculum, which grants them lifetime access to the curriculum through the ERWC Community website.  In recent years, ERWC has also spread to several other states, including Hawaii, Washinton, New Mexico, and West Virginia.


The spread of the ERWC has been aided by an Investing in Innovation (i3) Development grant in 2010. Rigorous research over the past decade has found that the ERWC improves students’ English language arts (ELA)/literacy achievement. In 2015, a quasi-experimental study found that the ERWC improved grade 12 students’ performance on the English Placement Test (EPT), which was the standardized placement exam used by the California State University (CSU) system to place incoming first year college students into either a credit-bearing English course or a remedial English course. Moreover, the ERWC program has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) as effective in meeting its highest evidence-based standards in its 2022 report, "Expanding the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum: An Evaluation of an Investing in Innovation Validation Grant."


The third edition of the curriculum, funded in 2016 by an i3 Validation grant, comprises full-year college preparatory English courses for grades 11 and 12 students. Teachers and schools build and personalize the yearlong courses by selecting from approximately 30 modules per grade level to meet rigorous, college-preparatory learning goals in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, while promoting student interest and motivation. 


The core structure of all of the modules—the Assignment Template progresses along an “arc” from reading rhetorically (preparing to read, reading purposefully, and questioning the text) to preparing to respond (discovering what you think) to writing rhetorically (composing a draft, revising rhetorically, and editing). The Assignment Template embodies the ERWC’s core ideas and practices: reading and writing rhetorically, the transfer of learning, the cultivation of expert learners, and language exploration and awareness. The repeated turns that students take through the Assignment Template over the course of a year afford them frequent opportunities to internalize the rhetorical literacy skills, language resources, and academic habits of mind that are essential to postsecondary success.


We, the members of the ERWC community, are extremely excited by this opportunity. If you are interested in being part of the pilot at the 9th and 10th grades, please contact Lisa Benham at Fresno County Office of Education