National Writing Project

At a Glance

National Office: 
2105 Bancroft Way #1042 University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1042
Phone: 510-642-0963

Judy Buchanan
People Served: 
1,500,000
Year Founded: 
1974
Tax ID: 
94-3130846

Focus area(s):

K-12 Reform
Teacher & Principal Training
After-School & Out-of-School

Description

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation’s schools and in other settings. NWP is the only literacy-focused national organization with the capacity to provide high-quality, locally defined and delivered professional development to improve writing on a national scale. NWP reaches teachers in a variety of disciplines and at all levels, from early childhood through university. Through its nearly 200 university-based sites serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the National Writing Project develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. 

Impact and Outcomes

NWP sustains and retains high-quality teachers in education. 77% of teachers who participate in NWP’s intensive leadership professional development remain in the classroom for at least two years following the Invitational Institute and 97% remain in the field of education. On average, teachers who participate in the Invitational Institute teach for 22.7 years.
NWP prepares and engages teachers in leadership roles. Writing Project participants who leave the classroom go on to play a variety of leadership roles in education with 3.2% becoming school administrators, 3.1% playing district leadership roles, and 11% working in higher education, often in teacher education.
NWP professional development creates a positive impact on students’ writing achievement, a key skill for college and career. 17 studies, including one randomized experiment, demonstrate the positive impact of NWP’s programs on student writing achievement in high-need schools from different geographic regions, at different grade levels, and in urban, rural, and suburban areas. Students in classrooms where teachers participated in NWP professional development showed small to medium size gains when compared with students in similar classrooms.

Mission & Goals

Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. The National Writing Project (NWP) envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world. NWP focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation's educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.

Unique in breadth and scale, the NWP is a national network of university-based sites serving teachers across disciplines and at all levels, early childhood through university. Co-directed by faculty from the local university and from K–12 schools, nearly 200 local sites serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sites work in partnership with area school districts to offer high-quality professional development programs for educators and additional local youth and family programs focused on writing. 

Program

The NWP has been developing strong, effective teacher-leaders in the teaching of writing since it began in 1974 with 25 teachers at a single, local Writing Project site. Writing Project sites work with school leaders to design programs that provide research-based strategies for teaching writing, utilizing the expertise of K-12 teacher-leaders in the local community.

Developing and maintaining the human capital to provide sustained, high-quality classroom instruction sits at the core of many current education reform strategies. NWP contributes to this process through a well-articulated program design, developed and refined through ongoing feedback, evaluation, and research studies. NWP Connect, NWP’s networked community of practice, provides a platform for rapid deployment of online supports for social learning that are consistent with the NWP model and capable of delivering a wide range of learning experiences.

The NWP model at each local Writing Project site includes three basic components: 1) developing local teacher leadership to address the teaching of writing in all its complexity; 2) using that leadership to conduct professional development programs and to provide leadership in local schools and districts; and 3) providing extensive face-to-face and online continuing education programs to teacher-leaders to enable them to address emerging needs and important innovations.

NWP’s core principles provide the basis for ongoing program development and innovation. 

Impact

NWP teacher-leaders provide more than 7,000 professional development activities annually, reaching 100,000 educators and, through them, 1.4 million students in approximately 3,000 school districts. Additional youth, family, and community programs reach 50,000 participants.

NWP evaluation studies include both quasi-experimental studies and third-party quantitative outcome evaluations. Since the 2004-2005 school year, NWP and its local Writing Project sites have conducted 18 experimental and quasi-experimental studies of intensive in-service professional development. Of these, 17 focus on NWP’s work with teachers and schools serving concentrations of high-need students.

  • Across 17 studies student results are consistent, strong, and favorable in those aspects of writing that the NWP is best known for, such as development of ideas and organization.
  • Students in Writing Project classrooms gained more often than their peers in the area of conventions, suggesting that basic skills also benefit from the NWP approach to teaching writing (NWP, 2010).
  • In studies with statistically significant results, effect sizes on gains in a holistic measure of student writing performance ranged from .32 to .81, which are considered moderate to large. Effect sizes represent a standardized measure that allows for quantitative comparison of effects across studies that use different measures of student or teacher impact. These effect sizes are also commensurate with those reported in Writing Next (Graham and Perin, 2007), a well-regarded meta-analysis of studies focused on writing instruction.

Collectively, these experimental and quasi-experimental studies, which were designed to support causal inferences, show that NWP’s programs have moderate evidence of effectiveness as defined by the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program. They demonstrate the positive impact of NWP’s programs on student writing achievement in high-need schools from different geographic regions, at different grade levels, and in urban, rural, and suburban areas. These studies show that NWP is well-positioned to offer high-quality professional development to increase the quality of student writing.

NWP has made an ongoing commitment to studying the impact of its work with teachers and students. During 2012-13, SRI International is conducting an independent, multi-site cluster randomized trial to study intensive professional development focused on informational and argumentative writing in grades 3-5. This efficacy study involves 44 high-need elementary schools and 14 local Writing Project sites. 

Growth Plan

Economic Model

The NWP provides a national improvement infrastructure (St. John & Stokes, 2008) for teacher professional learning and curriculum development. The NWP national office raises funds for the network of local sites and pursues new opportunity development. To ensure the sustainability of the national office, NWP is in the process of diversifying its revenue base in several ways. NWP is diversifying sources of funding, increasing contributed income, and creating new earned and contributed revenue models.

To sustain themselves, local Writing Project sites were designed to operate with a 1:1 funding match between federal funds and a variety of locally-secured funding sources. An average local Writing Project site budget is approximately $60,000 per year. Currently, local Writing Project sites are sustainable at this basic level. Despite NWP’s loss of designated federal funds in March 2011, Writing Project sites have stayed in business.

Going forward, there is a significant opportunity created by the widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for the NWP network to expand professional development in the teaching of writing to serve additional high-need schools and to increase the number of well-prepared local teacher-leaders to meet the challenge of these higher performance expectations.

 

Growth Plan

NWP seeks to continue to raise funds nationally to leverage local funding to develop new teacher-leaders, provide sustained professional development services in high-need schools, develop online learning opportunities and resources for teachers, and add new sites to the NWP network. To implement its growth plan, NWP requires $15 million annually to scale the work of the nearly 200 local Writing Project sites.

Expected outcomes for participating teachers and students are: 1) a broadly shared understanding and implementation of curriculum and instruction in writing aligned to challenging standards such as the Common Core State Standards for ELA; 2) improved teacher practice in the teaching of writing; and 3) improved student writing achievement in informational and argumentative writing.

Over a three-year period, NWP will work toward the following growth targets:

1. Increase the number of teacher-leaders prepared to improve the teaching of writing.

NWP will support the development of 3,000 locally-based expert K-12 teacher-leaders in the teaching of writing annually. As experienced teachers retire or accept leadership positions outside of the classroom, there is a constant need to develop expert K-12 teacher-leaders.

2. Increase sustained Writing Project professional development services to schools and districts serving high-need students.

NWP will increase sustained Writing Project professional development services to 100 new schools and districts serving concentrations of high-need students as defined by free-and-reduced lunch and Title I eligibility.These services, which involve at least 30 hours of professional development per school, focus on helping students meet challenging standards in writing for college- and career-readiness.

3. Increase Online Learning modules and Digital Literacy resources available to teachers nationwide.

NWP will assist teachers and schools in strengthening curricula and practice related to challenging standards for college- and career-readiness through the development of 20 learning modules annually to be accessed by teachers more broadly through NWP’s open-access online community of practice, NWP Connect.

4. Beginning in Fall 2015, NWP will add up to eight Writing Project Sites to the National Network annually.

There are currently 25 applicant universities who have expressed interest in becoming Writing Project sites. Additionally, NWP seeks to establish a Writing Project site within 50 miles of every teacher in America.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
2105 Bancroft Way #1042 University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1042
Phone: 510-642-0963
List of locationsMap of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:

Alaska

Alabama

Arkansas

Arizona

California

Colorado

Connecticut

District Of Columbia

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Iowa

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Kentucky

Louisiana

Massachusetts

Maryland

Maine

Michigan

Minnesota

Missouri

Mississippi

Montana

North Carolina

North Dakota

Nebraska

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

Nevada

New York

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Puerto Rico

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Virgin Islands

Vermont

Washington

Wisconsin

West Virginia

Wyoming

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2013

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$81,500
Foundation Grants: 
$2,556,109
Government Funding: 
$10,173,057
Contributions from Individuals: 
$125,400
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$40,000
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$157,653
Other Revenue: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$13,133,719

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$7,345,279
Occupancy: 
$364,582
Travel & Entertainment: 
$1,429,610
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$250,550
Telephone & Communications: 
$83,034
Payments to Affiliates: 
$3,535,000
Other Expenses: 
$0
Total Expenses: 
$13,008,055

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$125,664

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2012

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$81,500
Foundation Grants: 
$2,420,615
Government Funding: 
$11,546,868
Contributions from Individuals: 
$114,475
Program Services Fees: 
$23,403
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$147,620
Other Revenue: 
$0
Special Events: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$14,334,481

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$6,613,232
Occupancy: 
$331,755
Travel & Entertainment: 
$1,237,644
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$224,485
Telephone & Communication: 
$74,637
Payments to Affiliates: 
$5,866,378
Other Expenses: 
$0
Total Expenses: 
$14,348,131

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$-13,650

Major Funders

The Robert Bowne Foundation

Carnegie Corporation of New York

The College Board

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

National Science Foundation

U.S. Department of Education

The Wallace Foundation/New York Community Trust