Communication is central to any list of essential “21st-century skills.” As such, policymakers and educators need targeted information on the effectiveness of strategies to improve the quality of writing instruction and student writing. SRI investigated one such strategy in a national evaluation of National Writing Project school partnerships at the middle grades. In this evaluation, SRI used a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) to estimate the effects of an emerging area of practice—school partnerships—on teacher practices and student writing. The evaluation also used multiple methods to document how partnerships were developed and implemented in participating schools and Local Writing Project sites.
During the four-year study, in which partners had one year to plan and three years to implement the professional development, SRI collected data on school context, professional development, teachers' instructional practices, and student outcomes from both treatment and control schools. In addition, SRI collected data on partnership formation, planning, and implementation from treatment schools and Local Writing Project sites. To gather these data, SRI used multiple data collection strategies including teacher surveys, teacher logs, teacher assignments, student work, on-demand writing prompts, interviews, and document review.
SRI produced four annual reports on study design and preliminary findings. The final report, published in October 2012, provides a comprehensive description of the evaluation questions, methodology, and findings (see links to right).
SRI has conducted two subsequent randomized controlled trials on National Writing Project work: The Impact Evaluation of the National Writing Project SEED Program and an i3 validation randomized controlled trial of the College-Ready Writers Program.