The National Writing Project’s (NWP) College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP) is designed to improve students’ argument writing through intensive teacher professional development, instructional resources, and formative assessment. In 2016, based on evidence of C3WP’s prior success in improving student achievement, NWP received a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-up grant to test C3WP in new contexts. As part of this grant, SRI International (SRI) conducted a random assignment evaluation of C3WP and investigated the process by which NWP scaled C3WP to new contexts.
This is the third evaluation of C3WP in secondary grades, all of which have found positive and statistically significant effects on student achievement. The size, scale, rigor, and independence of these three studies provide a strong evidence base to support C3WP’s effectiveness in improving students’ secondary writing achievement at scale and in diverse contexts.
Full description of project work
By 2013, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had adopted college- and career-ready standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. One key change in these new standards is the centrality of argument writing viewed as necessary to prepare students to be college students, professionals, and engaged citizens in an information-rich society. Changing state standards to focus on source-based argument writing provided a necessary but insufficient step towards improving students’ argument writing skills. For students to be college- and career-ready, teachers require more support to successfully translate these new academic standards into practice.
To meet these needs, SRI partnered with the National Writing Project (NWP) to evaluate their College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP). C3WP provides instructional resources, a formative assessment tool, and aligned professional development for secondary teachers with the goal of improving students’ source-based argument writing. C3WP, under its prior name CRWP, was subject to two rigorous evaluations, both of which found positive and statistically significant impacts of C3WP on student achievement.
The C3WP study
In 2016, based on evidence of C3WP’s prior success in improving student achievement, NWP received a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-up grant intended to replicate C3WP’s findings in secondary grades, develop and test C3WP in upper elementary grades, and investigate the process by which NWP scaled C3WP to new contexts.
In spring 2018, SRI randomized 48 rural, high-need districts into either early or late start conditions. Early start districts received C3WP training for Grades 7–10 ELA teachers in the 2018–19 and 2019–20 school years and for Grades 4–5 in the 2019–20 school year. Late start districts received C3WP training for Grades 4–10 in the 2020–21 school year. All districts participated in data collection. Our measure of student achievement comes from a source-based argument writing task administered at baseline (fall 2018 for Grades 7–9, fall 2019 for Grades 4–5) and outcome (spring 2019 for Grades 7–9). In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted data collection, originally scheduled for March–May 2020. Reporting on student impacts for this project therefore focuses on the impacts of 1 year of C3WP on Grade 7–9 student achievement.
SRI’s data collection also included:
- Surveys of professional development providers
- Surveys of English language arts (ELA) teachers
- Weeklong instructional logs from ELA teachers
- Records of teacher participation in professional development on writing instruction
- Interviews with NWP leadership, professional development providers, district leaders, and teachers
Funding acknowledgement: This report was prepared by SRI International with funds provided by the National Writing Project under an Investing in Innovation Scale-up grant from the U.S. Department of Education (grant #U411A160004). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the U.S. Federal Government.
- Research Brief: SRI Finds Positive Effects of the College, Career, and Community Writer’s Program on Student Achievement
- Evaluation of the College, Career, and Community Writers Program: Findings from the i3 Scale-up Grant