National Writing Project

Building Leadership for a Sustained Districtwide Writing Improvement Program

By: Nancy Robb Singer, Diane Scollay
Date: February 23, 2010

Summary: This study examines the effects of a three-year professional development program conducted in the Mehlville School District (MSD) near St. Louis, Missouri, from 2004 through 2007. Gateway Writing Project (GWP) provided the inservice program, which was based on established National Writing Project principles.


Excerpt from Report

An accepted strategy in professional development is to train those teachers who are highly motivated (as evidenced by their willingness to volunteer) and then to hope that their enthusiasm for the strategies will "percolate" and be shared/adopted among nonparticipants. This seems to have happened in this study: Teachers were asked to participate in the professional development—and in the study—on a completely voluntary basis, and they then shared GWP strategies with their colleagues in the district. Arguably, this form of organic and informal teacher leadership will help sustain writing-instruction improvement in the district over time. This sharing of strategies that drive effective instruction is often "invisible" to traditional research methods.

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