National Writing Project

NWP Site Bulletin

By: Richard Sterling
Publication: NWP Site Bulletin
Date: July 3, 2002

Dear NWP Site Directors and Co-directors:

As I write this letter, writing project summer institutes are in full swing all across the country. Directors and teachers are taking the time to focus on the theory and the practice of the teaching of writing in the midst of many competing demands for school improvement and professional development. Providing time for teachers to learn together continues to be one of our most important contributions to the field, and I thank you again for your hard work and dedication to the writing project.

Turning to the larger picture, we may be on the verge of a whole new era in the teaching of writing with the recent announcement of changes in the SAT for 2005. Below are links to some online resources for your information. I particularly want to invite you to think with me about new opportunities and new demands on our network as a result of what will almost certainly be increasing attention to the teaching of writing and to student achievement in writing.

The national focus on education research provides us with an opportunity to design research and evaluation studies that will demonstrate the impact of our work and that will help us make it even better. Over the course of the next year, Inverness Research Associates will be helping us develop several programs by conducting intensive "critical issue" studies. These will involve interviews, focus groups, and short surveys to help us get a handle on the vast amount of knowledge that our network collectively holds. The first two areas we have asked them to focus on are new teachers and state network development. In fact, during the next month they will be in phone contact with you for a very brief interview about your experiences with new teachers. As always, your knowledge and insights are needed in order for us to develop and shape new areas of work with writing project sites.

The increase in our budget means that for the first time, local sites will be able to conduct evaluation studies as part of a coordinated national effort. The demands for studies that involve student achievement data will continue to grow and we have the opportunity to shape local studies that will help meet these requirements along with other possibilities. We will be developing an RFP process for future work in this area, and I will be talking about this and other research at the NWP annual meeting.

Finally, the growing recognition of the importance of writing means that local sites are likely to be asked to do even more to help improve the teaching of writing in their communities. Over the past year, we have been invited to a number of national meetings at which the success and accomplishments of our network have been acknowledged. Further, we have been asked to think about how to apply that success to reach even more teachers and students in the nation's schools. As a network, we have new opportunities to connect writing with learning to read critically, to support new teachers in the teaching of writing, and to articulate to policy-makers the connection between sustained high quality professional development and the goal of improving literacy. We will need your help in participating in and further developing all of these opportunities.

Our mission to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools is clear; the recognition that writing, along with reading and mathematics, is critical to students' success is long overdue. I know that together we can continue to make a difference.

Please share any responses you have to these ideas. I look forward to seeing all of you at our 2002 Annual Meeting in Atlanta this November.


Richard Sterling
Executive Director

Online Information about the New SAT

"Overhauled SAT Could Shake Up School Curricula," by Sean Cavanagh, Education Week, July 10, 2002.

"New SAT Writing Test Is Planned," by Tamar Lewin, The New York Times (free registration), June 23, 2002.

Statement of UC President Richard C. Atkinson on a Vote by College Board Tustrees to Revise the SAT, June 27, 200.

From The College Board Website

"....The writing test will add great value to the SAT I," said Linda Clement, chair of the College Board Trustees and vice president of the University of Maryland at College Park. "Research has shown that the addition of a writing test provides increased validity in predicting college success, but, more importantly, it sends a loud and clear message that strong writing is essential to success in college and beyond...." Press Release, The College Board, June 27, 2002.

" '....the new SAT I will only improve the test's current strengths by placing the highest possible emphasis on the most important college success skills - reading and mathematics, and, now, writing,' Caperton said...." The New SAT 2005, The College Board


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