Preparing Teachers to Teach Reading Effectively

Elements of Comprehensive Reading Instruction

CSU reading professors ensure that teacher candidates become effective teachers for all students, including English learners and students with special needs, by providing instruction and public school classroom experiences that address the following broad categories: re-search and theory, learners, assessment, and curriculum and instruction.

Research and Theory

The Reading Process: Candidates study and demonstrate understanding of historical perspectives, current and classic research studies, and theories that address the nature and processes of reading acquisition and development; the linguistic, sociological, cultural, cognitive, transactional, and psychological bases of the reading process; and the interrelatedness of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Candidates learn that literacy development begins at birth and is a lifelong process.

Effective Teaching Practices: Candidates study and demonstrate understanding of historical and current research that addresses effective teaching practices in reading and language arts. Candidates understand that teaching is more than a collection of isolated instructional strategies. They understand the rationale, selection, and appropriate application of teaching practices.

Language: Candidates study and demonstrate understanding of the relationship of linguistics (phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics) to the reading process; first and second language acquisition, and oral language development; and how to teach reading and language arts to linguistically diverse students, many of whom have a home language other than English. They learn the powerful role of first language proficiency on second language development.

Classroom Applications of Theory and Research: Candidates apply what they have learned from theory and research by working with children and adolescents in public school settings under the supervision of cooperating teachers and university faculty, and they reflect on their own teaching practices as well as those they observe.


The Role of Family, Culture, and Community: Candidates learn that family, culture, and community greatly influence students' literacy development and use this knowledge to plan and teach effective lessons that honor and capitalize on students' diverse backgrounds.

Personal Factors that Impact Reading Development: Candidates learn about the physical, emotional, social, linguistic, and intellectual factors that influence children's and adolescents' literacy development and use this information to plan and teach effective lessons that take into consideration the individual needs of learners.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice: Candidates learn that curriculum, instructional practices, and classroom organizational patterns appropriate for students at one stage of development often are not appropriate for students at another stage of development. For example, some strategies that are suitable for engaging learn-ers in the middle childhood years are not suitable for engaging preschoolers, nor are they likely to be appropriate for adolescents. Candidates learn to recognize and use developmentally appropriate teaching practices for different age groups of learners.


Purposes of Assessment: Candidates learn that assessments are used for a variety of purposes, including to determine learners' existing knowledge and skills (entry-level assessments), to monitor students' progress toward learning goals (progress monitoring assessments), and to determine mastery of goals (summative assessments). They learn that assessment is inextricably linked with instruction and that assessments must guide their instructional decisions.

Multiple Measures: Candidates learn how to use and interpret multiple measures to assess students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Measures include, but are not limited to, family input, diagnostic instruments, standardized tests, classroom observations, and student input.

Statewide Assessment System: Candidates learn about California's statewide assessment system, including the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program, the Early Assessment Program (EAP), the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), and the California English Language Development Test (CELDT). They learn the strengths and limitations of these assessment tools and how to interpret scores.

Identification of Special Learners: Candidates learn formal and informal means to identify students who may have reading difficulties or disabilities and students who may be advanced learners in order to plan and provide appropriate instruction and to seek support from education specialists.

Curriculum and Instruction

Word Recognition Instruction: Candidates study and demonstrate understanding of the critical role of word recognition in reading and how to assess and explicitly teach its various components including phonemic awareness, phonics, the alphabetic principle, word identification strategies, spelling, orthographic knowledge, and structural analysis. Candidates also learn how to support readers as they apply these skills in a variety of reading situations.

Fluency: Candidates learn about the importance of fluent reading, the relationship of fluency to comprehension, how to assess fluency, and ways to develop readers' fluency (such as rereading familiar books and choral reading).

Comprehension Instruction: Candidates learn that comprehension is the goal of reading. They study and demonstrate understanding of how to assess, explicitly teach, and model its various components including the flexible use of reading strategies (such as predicting, inferring, summarizing, and questioning), comprehension skills (such as comparing and contrasting, drawing conclusions, and identifying key ideas), comprehension monitoring, and analysis of text structures and genres. Candidates also learn how to support readers' application of these strategies and skills with a variety of reading materials in a variety of reading situations.

Vocabulary and Academic Language Instruction: Candidates learn about the importance of well-developed vocabulary, its role in comprehension, how to assess vocabulary, and how to teach vocabulary both explicitly through word study (including examination of morphology and etymology) and indirectly through the use of wide reading, rich oral language interactions, and context. Candidates learn that vocabulary is one aspect of academic language (the rich, complex, abstract, and specialized language of books), and they learn how to facilitate student learning of academic language through reading, discussion, and writing.

Literature and Other Texts: Candidates learn to select and appropriately use different texts (including narrative text, expository text, poetic text, predictable text, and decodable text) for different purposes based upon students' needs and lesson objectives. They learn to encourage and assess readers' responses to literature, engage readers in literary analysis, and use instructional approaches such as literature circles, readers' workshops, and Socratic seminars. In addition, candidates learn to assist students to analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate text and to read rhetorically.

Content Area Reading: Candidates learn how to prepare children and adolescents to learn from content area texts. Candidates learn strategies for developing students' background knowledge and language of the particular discipline, ability to navigate complex text of a variety of forms and organizational patterns, and ability to strategically and critically read across the curriculum.

Independent Reading: Candidates learn the importance of providing opportunities for students to engage in daily reading of extended text for authentic purposes and how to promote and model reading as a pleasurable and beneficial activity.

Documents That Guide the Teaching of Reading and State-Adopted Materials: Candidates become familiar with state and federal policies and curriculum documents, and they learn to use these to guide their short- and long-range planning. They learn about and work with state-adopted instructional materials.

Organizing and Managing Literacy Instruction: Candidates learn how to organize and manage their classrooms for effective literacy instruction, including small and large group instruction, flexible grouping patterns, and individualized lessons.

Differentiation and Intervention: Candidates learn how to differentiate instruction to ensure that all students are provided access to the curriculum. They learn strategies for modification of curriculum and instruction to challenge and stimulate advanced learners and meet the learning needs of students whose primary language is not English. They learn intervention strategies to assist students who are experiencing difficulty.

Partnerships and Resources: Candidates learn how to establish partnerships with other school personnel, families, and the community to optimally and collaboratively serve students. They learn how to make use of technological resources and other media to enhance teaching and learning, and they become familiar with a variety of instructional materials and approaches for diverse student needs.