Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

California Literacy

Guidance and resources for teachers and families in Preschool through twelfth (P–12) grade schools regarding evidence-based literacy instruction.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond reading a book to students in a classroom.

California's approach to literacy instruction is grounded in the science of reading, learning, and development, including decades of research applicable to our diverse and multilingual learners. As a dynamic state with extraordinary global influence and unsurpassed cultural and linguistic resources, California is committed to ensuring that students are reading by third grade and are fully literate when they graduate from high school. Reading by Third Grade and Beyond is a key part of State Superintendent Tony Thurmond’s Transforming School Initiatives.

Explore below to learn more about California’s literacy policy, initiatives, and resources that include evidence-based practices aimed at achieving reading by third grade and beyond.

Announcements

Re-Centering California’s English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework Webinar Series

Join the California Department of Education (CDE) for an exciting nine-part webinar series designed to re-center the English Language Arts(ELA)/English Language Development (ELD) Framework for California Public Schools as the primary guidance for teaching California students from transitional kindergarten through grade twelve to read, write, speak, listen, and use language. Through presentations and interactions with the Framework, the series will also highlight the promotion of multilingualism and biliteracy, culturally and linguistically affirming and sustaining instruction, and developmentally appropriate instruction for early learners.

Project ARISE

Project ARISE provides a series of self-paced online courses that offer a whole-child approach to literacy instruction. Engage in content addressing executive functions, research-informed best practices for reading instruction, and a process for intensive intervention. This virtual professional learning opportunity can be accessed at any time and is free to all California educators. Project ARISE is led by the Contra Costa County Office of Education which partners with the San Diego County Office of Education and Glenn County Office of Education, and is supported by the California Department of Education.

Project ARISE Spring Workshop Series

Join the Project ARISE team for a free three-part virtual workshop series on April 18, May 2, and May 16 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.! The first session will cover executive functioning and literacy, the second session will cover foundational reading skills, and the third session will cover intensive intervention.

California Dyslexia Initiative (CDI) Conference

You're invited to virtually join colleagues from June 11 to June 12 for the CDI conference, Screening, Instruction, and Intervention in a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Framework!

Science of Reading Academy

Based on science of reading research, the Science of Reading Academy is designed to introduce teachers and other interested professionals to fundamental knowledge and skills needed for effective reading instruction and assessment practices. Knowledge and skills taught in this course are aligned with the California ELA/ELD Framework and California Dyslexia Guidelines. The Science of Reading Academy, offered by the California Department of Education, Diagnostic Center, Central California is for professionals working in an educational setting and seeking increased understanding and skill in effective reading instruction. Registration for the summer session, scheduled from June 14 through June 21, 2024, will conclude on May 31, 2024.

California Literacy and Policy Guidance

Standards

English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (PDF)
The California English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects standards define the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire in each grade-level in English Language Arts and Literacy.

California English Language Development Standards (PDF)
The California English Language Development Standards (CA ELD Standards) amplify the California State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy (ELA/Literacy) in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. The CA ELD Standards, when used in tandem with state content standards, assist English learner students to build English proficiency, refine the academic use of English, and provide students access to subject area content.

Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Learning Foundations
The California Preschool/Transitional Kindergarten Learning Foundations (PTKLF) outline the key knowledge and skills that most children ages three to five and a half years old can achieve when provided with the kinds of interactions, instruction, and environments that research has shown to promote early learning and development. They provide preschool/TK educators, parents, and the public with a clear understanding of the wide range of knowledge and skills that children typically attain when given the benefits of a high-quality preschool program, whether it be in center-based, home-based, or TK settings. The new PTKLF will be released in the summer of 2024.

Guidance

English Language Arts (ELA)/English Language Development (ELD) Framework
Approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) in 2014, the ELA/ELD Framework provides a blueprint for the implementation of two sets of interrelated standards: the California Common Core State Standards: ELA/Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects and the California ELD Standards. The debate about how to teach literacy has gained much attention in the nation and the state in recent years. The ELA/ELD Framework, however, has long advocated for a comprehensive and integrated model of literacy that offers evidence-based literacy instruction in the classroom, including explicit instruction in phonics, phonemic awareness, and other decoding skills, as well as the development of vocabulary, comprehension, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Resource Guide to the Foundational Skills of the California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS) for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (PDF)
The purpose of this document is to elucidate and highlight selected key concepts and guidelines from the ELA/ELD Framework regarding the foundational skills of reading and to direct readers toward specific discussions of the foundational skills in the framework. The ELA/ELD Framework should be read for additional information and detail. See especially the Foundational Skills and the Supporting Students Strategically sections in the Overviews of the Span in chapters 3–7. See also the Foundational Skills discussions in each grade-level section of chapters 3–7.

California Dyslexia Guidelines (PDF)
The purpose of California’s dyslexia guidelines is to provide educators, parents, and other stakeholders with a road map for supporting students with dyslexia in California’s public schools.

California Literacy Roadmap External link opens in new window or tab.
The California Department of Education, in consultation with the SBE, is currently developing the California Literacy Roadmap per Section 117 of the Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill 114. The Literacy Roadmap will help educators apply the ELA/ELD Framework to classroom instruction, navigate the resources and professional development opportunities available to implement effective literacy instruction, and improve literacy outcomes for all pupils with a focus on equity.

California English Learner Roadmap
California English Learner policy including a focus on literacy and biliteracy for English learners, as well as the importance of home language. It is a guide to assist local educational agencies to implement California's 21st century college-and-career-ready standards, curriculum, instruction programs, and assessments.

Legislation

Screening for Risk of Reading Difficulties External link opens in new window or tab.
The Screening for Risk of Reading Difficulties allows for early identification and intervention of reading difficulties, including dyslexia, for students in kindergarten to grade two. Education Code 53008 requires all California local education agencies (LEAs) to adopt a screening instrument by June 30, 2025, and implement screening beginning no later than the 2025–2026 school year. The LEAs select their screening instrument from the list approved by the Reading Difficulties Risk Screener Selection Panel (RDRSSP) appointed by the SBE. Learn more about the RDRSSP.

Literacy and Reading Program Standards and Teaching Performance Expectations External link opens in new window or tab.
Senate Bill 488 (Chap. 678, Stats. 2021) required the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Commission) to update their Multiple Subject, Single Subject in English, and Education Specialist program standards literacy and reading standards for the preparation of candidates and their corresponding Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs). Additionally, the bill requires the Commission to review teacher preparation programs and certify that they are providing instruction according to the updated standards and TPEs, as well as to develop a new literacy performance assessment to replace the current Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA). The commission has opted to extend these requirements to the PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist instruction credential.

Initiatives

Current Grant Work

Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant (2019–2024)

  • Summary: This $37.5 million federal grant funds the California Department of Education (CDE) and seven county offices of education (COEs) that serve as local literacy lead agencies (LLAs), to support development of students’ literacy birth through grade twelve. This grant also funded development of the Comprehensive State Literacy Plan, which aligns and integrates statewide literacy initiatives, content standards, and guidance documents.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Four LLAs focus on supports for birth through grade three.

Educator Workforce Investment Grant (EWIG): Effective Language Acquisition Programs (20232025)

  • Summary: This $10 million state grant funds the Sacramento COE, Los Angeles COE, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, and the Orange County Department of Education to provide professional learning to support effective language acquisition programs for identified English learner students.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Supports the needs of English Learner (EL) students throughout the state.

California Dyslexia Initiative (2019–2024)

  • Summary: This $4 million state grant funds the Sacramento COE to build statewide capacity to provide early intervention services and supports for students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, including identifying effective identification and treatment models and developing and delivering professional learning.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Provides training on supporting students with disabilities, including identifying and supporting students with dyslexia in the early grades.

Early Literacy Support Block Grant (2020–2024)

  • Summary: This $50 million state grant funds the CDE and 34 local educational agencies (LEAs) with 73 eligible participating schools that have the highest percentage of students in grade three scoring at the lowest achievement standard level on the State Summative English Language Arts (ELA) assessment. An additional $3 million funds the Expert Lead in Literacy (Sacramento COE) to support identified LEAs to conduct a root cause analysis, prioritize identified needs, and develop literacy action plan to implement over three years. The grant supports LEAs to provide high-quality literacy teaching and interventions as well as and family and community engagement. The Expert Lead in Literacy’s work ends in November 2023.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Supports students in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through grade three in the areas of access to high-quality literacy teaching, support for literacy learning, pupil supports, and family and community supports.

Reading Instruction and Intervention Grant (2021–2026)

  • Summary: This $10 million state grant funds the Contra Costa COE to generate and disseminate professional learning opportunities in the areas of evidenced-based literacy, intensive literacy interventions, and support of students’ executive functioning skills. The professional learning is intended to help teachers be successful in teaching reading and providing needed supports to students struggling to read.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Provides funding for professional learning to help teachers be successful in teaching reading and providing needed supports to students struggling to read.

Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Program and Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Educator Training Grant (2022–2027 and 2023–2028)

  • Summary: The 2022–2027 program provides $250 million to LEAs to develop school literacy programs, employ and train literacy coaches and reading and literacy specialists, and develop and implement interventions for students in need of targeted literacy support. $225 million funds eligible LEAs, and $25 million funds the Sacramento COE through the Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Educator Training Grant to support those LEAs and to develop and provide professional learning for educators to become literacy coaches and reading and literacy specialists. The 2023–2028 program provides an additional $250 million to LEAs for the same purposes. $248 million will fund eligible LEAs, and $2 million will be allocated to the Sacramento COE.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Provides funding to elementary school sites to increase the number of literacy coaches and specialists and to develop and implement school literacy programs.

Prior Grant Work

EWIG: EL Roadmap Policy Implementation (2019–2023)

  • Summary: This $5 million state grant funds Californians Together and the California Association for Bilingual Educators to build the capacity of LEAs across the state by providing training in EL Roadmap policy implementation. Professional learning resources developed by the grant remain available on the grantees’ websites.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Supports the needs of EL students throughout the state, including students in TK through grade three.

EWIG: Special Education (2019–2022)

  • Summary: This $5 million state grant funds the California Coalition for Inclusive Literacy to build the capacity of California local educational agencies to create, design, and deliver professional learning opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals in literacy development and Universal Design for Learning to provide access for students with disabilities to their grade-level content.
  • Literacy Campaign Support: Provides training to teachers in Universal Design for Learning, which supports all students, including those struggling to read.

Webinars

English Language Arts (ELA)/English Language Development (ELD) Framework Webinar Series Playlist

This 9-part series is designed for all school, district, county, state, and higher education educators who want to learn more about California's recommended literacy policies and practices, as well as why the English Language Arts/English Language Development (ELA/ELD) Framework is as relevant today as it was in 2014. The series will explore how it is organized, what it offers, how it can be used, and how it supports Superintendent Thurmond's Literacy Campaign of "Reading by Third Grade and Beyond."

Register via Zoom to attend an upcoming webinar External link opens in new window or tab.

Session 1: Overview Comprehensive Literacy
Session 2: Foundational Skills
Session 3: English Language Development
Session 4: Language Development
Session 5: Meaning Making
Session 6: Effective Expression
Session 7: Content Knowledge

Access the complete webinar series playlist External link opens in new window or tab.

Resources

Literacy Newsletter

A primary objective of California’s federally funded Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) grant program is to bring coherence to California’s system of literacy supports to improve student outcomes, birth through grade twelve. This newsletter supports this objective by providing information on literacy-focused activities happening within the California Department of Education (CDE), the Statewide System of Support, and at local educational agencies (LEAs) to help achieve the goal of aligning state and local literacy initiatives.

Subscribe to this newsletter by sending a blank email to join-cde-literacy@mlist.cde.ca.gov. If you have a literacy-focused event or resource that you would like to see highlighted in this newsletter, reach out to the CLSD team at CLSDP@cde.ca.gov.

Related Documents

California Comprehensive State Literacy Plan (PDF)
In 2019, the CDE was awarded $37.5 million through the federal Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) grant program. The California Comprehensive State Literacy Plan (SLP) is the foundational element to achieving the objectives of the grant. The purpose of the SLP is to align and integrate state literacy initiatives, content standards, and state guidance documents to support teachers of students birth through grade twelve.

California Practitioners’ Guide for Educating English Learners with Disabilities (PDF)
Guide provides recommendations, which are based on best practices, but represents non-binding guidance. Identifying, assessing, and differentiating instruction for English learners with disabilities require educators first to understand the complex interrelationships of language, culture, home, and school factors that affect learning and behavior and then to consider these factors when making decisions about students’ unique characteristics and needs so that they may thrive at school. Leaders and educators will best be prepared to meet student needs by collaboratively developing and implementing a process for educating English learners with disabilities.

CDE Biliteracy Pathway Recognition
The Biliteracy Pathway Recognitions may be awarded to preschool through grade eight students on the path to the State Seal of Biliteracy. You will find optional criteria and guidance for recognition.

CDE State Seal of Biliteracy
The State Seal of Biliteracy is a recognition awarded to graduating high school students who have achieved a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English. The requirements for earning the State Seal of Biliteracy are established in California Education Code Section 51461.

Digital Learning Integration and Standards Guidance
Guidance to support schools to effectively implement technology to support learning and to address critical areas of instructional focus.

Executive Summary External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This executive summary provides highlights from the framework and directs readers to resources in the document. It begins with a broad overview of the standards and California’s vision for their implementation, features important grade-level guidance, and highlights selected topics crucial for effective implementation.

Improving Education for Multilingual and English Learner Students (PDF)
Guide presents current evidence-based pedagogy and practices in the areas of developing multilingualism, early education, assets-based environments, English language development, and the creation of systems that support the implementation of these practices. Further, it provides a deeper dive into accessing actionable examples of how evidence-based pedagogy and practices may be implemented in districts, schools, and classrooms to positively impact multilingual and English learner students.

Resource Guide to the Foundational Skills (PDF)
The purpose of this document is to elucidate and highlight selected key concepts and guidelines from the ELA/ELD Framework regarding the foundational skills of reading and to direct readers toward specific discussions of the foundational skills in the framework. The ELA/ELD Framework should be read for additional information and detail. See especially the Foundational Skills and the Supporting Students Strategically sections in the Overviews of the Span in chapters 3–7. See also the Foundational Skills discussions in each grade-level section of chapters 3–7.

Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) Curriculum Checklist External link opens in new window or tab.
Details elements to consider when choosing and implementing a curriculum for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and preschool programs serving majority four-year-old children. Specific sections are devoted to language and literacy instruction including development of key skills, importance of book read-alouds, literacy small-group instruction, and literacy centers.

Questions:   California Statewide Literacy Office | statewideliteracycampaign@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Friday, April 12, 2024
Trending in California Literacy
  • California Literacy (this page)
Recently Posted in California Literacy
No items posted in the last 60 days.