NWP College-Ready Writers Program Study Shows Program Significantly Impacts Teacher Practices and Student Outcomes In High-Poverty Rural Districts

Washington, D.C., March 15, 2016 — For today's young people, learning to write for a variety of purposes is a key component for college, career, and civic life. States have adopted new standards that include expectations for extensive writing at each grade level and teachers are expected to incorporate more writing into their instruction. To support teachers in helping students meet these new writing demands, the National Writing Project (NWP) designed the College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) with teacher-leaders from across the country. The goal was to assure more teachers had the ability to teach college and career-ready writing—with a specific emphasis on writing arguments based on nonfiction texts; an important skill every young adult needs.

Twelve Writing Project sites provided CRWP professional development for secondary teachers in 22 high-poverty rural school districts in 10 states (AL, AZ, AR, LA, MO, MS, NY, OK, SC, and TN). A two-year random assignment evaluation from SRI International, an independent research firm, found that CRWP had a positive, statistically significant impact on student writing.

"By participating in the CRWP, I have changed the way I teach. I no longer separate writing and reading. It's all one subject and my teaching is not just focused on literature. I also incorporate informational text and now, my students' writing communicates perspective and effectively uses evidence to make arguments. I am increasingly confident in the tools my students will have to engage with society in the future." —Sydney McGaha, Pontotoc High School, MS

Key Findings: The CRWP evaluation is one of the largest and most rigorous studies about teacher professional development to find evidence of impact:

  • An overwhelming number of teachers (76% across 22 districts) consistently participated in at least 45 hours of professional development. This significantly impacted:
    • the instruction students received; and,
    • the proficiency of students on complex writing tasks such as connecting evidence to an argument.
  • CRWP students outperformed students in control districts on four attributes of argument writing—content, structure, stance, and conventions.

"Our longstanding commitment to creating, strengthening, and supporting a strong teacher-led infrastructure across the U.S. shows that modest, targeted investments in professional development can leverage the expertise of teachers so students can succeed in even our most challenging school districts," concluded Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, NWP executive director. "We look forward to working with key partners to replicate and scale up similar models of success."

An executive summary of the SRI report can be found here.


March 15, 2016

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National Writing Project