SOURCE: SRI International

October 17, 2007 09:00 ET

SRI International to Evaluate Effectiveness of Teacher Professional Development on Middle School Student Writing Performance

MENLO PARK, CA--(Marketwire - October 17, 2007) - SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development organization, today announced the launch of a four-year study to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher professional development on improving teacher practices and student writing performance in grades 7 and 8.

SRI's study, titled National Evaluation of Writing Professional Development, will be conducted in collaboration with the National Writing Project (NWP), the only federally funded program that focuses on the teaching of writing. The NWP has a network of approximately 200 local sites hosted by universities and colleges throughout the United States.

SRI will collect data on school context, teacher professional development, instructional practices, and student writing outcomes. A range of evaluation instruments will be used, including teacher surveys, logs, and assignments; student writing samples; and interviews with administrators, teachers, and local NWP site staff.

The study will capture and evaluate data from 40 schools in 15 local writing project sites across the country. During the summer of 2007, 33 local NWP sites nominated more than 100 middle schools for the study. Forty schools from across the nation were randomly selected to participate. Half of the designated schools will partner with their local NWP site and half will serve as a comparison group.

For the schools randomly selected to form a partnership, the first year (2007-08) will be devoted to planning a three-year partnership with the local NWP site. The partnership will be implemented in the three subsequent years. The comparison schools will refrain from participating in writing professional development beyond what is required by district and state policies during this time, but those schools will have subsidized access to NWP professional development when the study is complete. All participating schools receive an annual award of either subsidized professional development from the NWP as part of their partnership, or funding to devote to school improvement by any means other than writing professional development.

The National Writing Project conducts many research studies of its professional development programs. Many of these studies are conducted by the NWP's own Research Unit, while some are done at local sites, and others are conducted by outside independent firms such as SRI International. Local site-based research conducted in twelve states shows significant gains in writing achievement for students of teachers who have participated in NWP programs. Previous national evaluations and other research studies have also found positive results. This new, four-year study being conducted by SRI is expected to provide the most conclusive evidence to date on the effectiveness of NWP professional development because of its broad scope and rigorous methodology.

For more information on NWP, its research studies, and teacher professional development, visit: www.nwp.org. Information on this and other education policy studies conducted by SRI International can be found at http://policyweb.sri.com/cep/.

About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International (www.sri.com) is one of the world's leading independent research and technology development organizations. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, SRI has been meeting the strategic needs of clients for more than 60 years. The nonprofit research institute performs client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, and private foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships, and creates spin-off companies.

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