SRI Authors: Nicole Arshan, C.J. Park
In an independent evaluation, SRI International found that a two-year implementation of the National Writing Project’s College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP) had a positive, statistically significant effect on a validated measure of students’ source-based argument writing (Gallagher, Arshan, & Woodworth, 2017).In response to policymakers’ and district leaders’ questions about the intensity of resources used, the National Writing Project partnered with SRI to test the efficacy of a short-cycle implementation of C3WP. In this study, SRI randomized two classrooms of 31 teachers into either C3WP or business as usual. These were seventh- or eighth-grade classrooms in 12 urban and rural high-needs schools across five states. (One teacher withdrew from the study.) The teachers had six months to use C3WP curricular materials and formative assessment tools in their C3WP class before measuring student writing outcomes in both classes.
Teaching students to write arguments developed through reasoning and supported by the use of evidence from source material is complex. This study showed a positive, statistically significant impact on two attributes of student source-based argument writing, demonstrating promise for the short-cycle version of C3WP professional development in impacting students’ ability to engage in such writing. The findings were less robust than those from the two-year version of the program, however. This suggests that although schools may see results from C3WP in a single school year, a longer term investment may produce a greater impact. This study also expanded C3WP into urban contexts, demonstrating potential effectiveness for a broader range of students.