Schools seeing results from CALI Reads
May 22, 2023
The following article was written by Susan Van Zant and Shelia Wells, Southern California co-regional coaches with CALI Reads, and Sonaleena Hargrove, Melinda Pierson and Tori Sanchez, site coaches for CALI Reads.
Middle school can be a difficult transition for students, especially those who have not developed sufficient reading skills to read grade level texts with confidence. For these students, reading is frustrating and often leads to disruptive classroom behaviors.
Despite the fact that the pandemic had an impact on education in general, some schools did not have a dramatic drop in reading skills. Nine of the lowest achieving middle schools in three Southern California districts were able to maintain and even improve reading achievement levels over the past four years. These schools participated in the California Adolescent Literacy Initiative (CALI Reads), a five-year project that was designed to improve literacy outcomes for adolescent students and funded through the Napa County Office of Education.
The Southern California schools participating in CALI Reads program included middle schools in Azusa and Moreno Valley along with three junior high schools in Anaheim. These schools demonstrated an increase in the number of students who met or exceeded standards by more than 4 percent on the CAASPP English Language Arts state test between spring of 2018 and 2022.

The CALI Reads project provided a site coach who was responsible for working with site administrators, instructional coaches and 10 or more content area, special education and intervention teachers at each of the participating schools. Site coaches provided guidance in analyzing data, making sound instructional decisions, literacy training and follow-up coaching. Co-regional coaches worked in concert with the district instructional leaders to help ensure that the goals and objectives of the CALI Reads grants were implemented with integrity.
Over the course of the grant, site coaches worked with teachers to implement a series of reading comprehension strategies designed to enable students to become confident readers. To support this effort and to allow California schools and districts to benefit from this project, the Napa County Office of Education plans to leave the E-Learning Modules online. Each module displays one of the seven research-based literacy practices that have been shown to help middle school students improve their literacy skills. Each module takes about two to three hours to complete and can be found at
The CALI Reads program also provided specific professional development for special education and special education teachers. Recognizing the important role that parents play in improving literacy, the project included an annual family workshop that provided literacy training and resources. To ensure that the progress made toward ensuring that middle school students had the skills needed to meet the expectation of the high school content area courses, the CALI Reads schools developed sustainability and growth plans.
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