National Writing Project

The Effect of Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute Professional Development on the Writing Achievement of Ninth-Graders

By: Sherry Swain, David Morse, Richard L. Graves
Date: 2006

Summary: Using data collected through interviews and classroom audits, this study compares the teaching practices of five program-school teachers with the teaching practices of five comparison-school teachers. Results showed that program students outperformed the comparison students in all areas. This study is part of the NWP's Local Site Research Initiative's Cohort II.


Excerpt from Report

Since the inception of the fourth and seventh grade state writing assessment in 2000, mean state scores have risen from a state average of 2.0 in 2000 to an average of 2.3 in 2004. Yet at the same time, state scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress writing assessment, which is more aligned with NWP principles of what constitutes good writing, have remained low, with 13 percent of Mississippi students scoring at proficient or above as compared to 30 percent nationally (Mississippi Department of Education 2003). In fact, the state writing rubrics—which have greatly influenced the writing curriculum for many teachers—may be counterproductive. Teachers working solely toward higher scores on the state assessment do not focus on the best that is known about composition and rhetoric, and do their students a disservice by emphasizing short-range, temporary goals as opposed to long-range, lasting improvement in writing.

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