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Impact Evaluation of National Writing Project SEED Program
SRI is conducting a randomized controlled trial to examine changes in teacher professional development and student writing across a national sample of elementary schools.
For the Meeting Challenging Writing Standards in High-Need Schools evaluation, SRI Education conducted a randomized controlled trial to estimate the effects of Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) professional development on teachers’ writing instruction and student argument writing across a national sample of elementary schools.
Adoption of the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSS-ELA) has brought a new prominence to writing instruction. Additionally, the CCSS-ELA increase the focus on argument and informational/explanatory writing. To facilitate elementary teachers’ transition to this new emphasis on writing in general, and on argument and informational writing specifically, the National Writing Project was awarded a one-year U.S. Department of Education SEED grant. Through the SEED grant, the National Writing Project supported its local Writing Project sites in offering intensive and sustained professional development during the 2012–2013 academic year. The professional development was for teachers in grades 3 through 5 in high-need schools.
As the grant’s evaluators, SRI Education conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial to estimate the effects of the SEED professional development on teachers’ writing instruction and student argument writing in a national sample of high-need elementary schools. The evaluation also documented the implementation of the SEED program and the contexts in which the program was executed. To collect information on implementation and changes in instructional practice, we conducted telephone and in-person interviews with professional development providers, teachers, and school leaders; administered a teacher survey; gathered data on the intensity and focus of the professional development; and observed professional development events. Student outcomes were measured by responses to on-demand writing prompts.
Through this mixed-methods approach, SRI triangulated data on program implementation, understood contextual factors that influenced implementation, and assessed the impact of the program on teachers and students.