Tuesday, March 8, 2022
The National Writing Project (NWP) has released findings from a recent SRI International 1-year random assignment evaluation of its College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP), a program implemented by the Greater Madison Writing Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison along with teachers in the Gresham, Niagara, Suring, and Tigerton school districts. The Greater Madison Writing Project provided professional development and instructional resources to help teachers and students read critically, explore multiple points of view on contemporary topics, identify credible evidence, and take a stand on important issues in their lives and communities. SRI’s study identified strong, positive gains for students at schools who participated in the program.
For today’s young people, learning to write for a variety of purposes is a key component for college, career, and civic life. To support teachers in helping students meet these new writing demands, NWP designed C3WP 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.
Gresham, Niagara, Suring and Tigerton school districts were four of 47 rural, high-need districts across the country that were included in the most recent SRI International evaluation. The evaluations were part of a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) scale-up grant to test C3WP in new contexts and is the third evaluation of C3WP in secondary grades, all of which have found positive and statistically significant effects on student achievement on the four attributes of writing measured by the Analytic Writing Continuum for Source-Based Argument Writing (AWC-SBA): content, structure, stance, and convention.
“My experience with C3WP has had positive effects on me, my students, and my school community,” said Jess White, Gresham Middle School English teacher. “My students have become better thinkers and now have the tools to articulate an argument with effective reasoning. I have changed the way I teach writing, switching to a formative assessment based approach that allows me to focus on teaching new skills based on what students demonstrate in writing. I have attended numerous professional development trainings in the past and tried to implement new programs in my classroom, but none had the kind of impact as the C3WP program."
Newell Hafner, superintendent of the Gresham School District, said the C3WP program has had multiple positive effects for students.
“We saw so much growth not only in students' writing, but in their confidence in their abilities as writers,” Hafner said. “They've been able to transfer skills to their writing for other classes and on state tests. After taking the ACT last year, multiple juniors commented that they'd used skills they learned from C3WP on the writing portion of the exam.”
“At a time when young people are constantly exposed to social media and a wide range of media, these findings are significant because they prove C3WP teaches students how to think critically about information they receive and gives them tools to express their own opinions and arguments with evidence and impact,” said Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, NWP Executive Director. “C3WP does more than improve practice in the teaching of writing, it also helps prepare students for a future of civic engagement, teaching them at an early age that their opinions matter.”
To learn more about the Greater Madison Writing Project and opportunities to bring C3WP professional development to your school, visit the project’s website or contact Mark Dziedzic at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscriber submission: Mark Dziedzic, Greater Madison Writing Project director and outreach specialist