WWC review of this study

Evaluation of the expository reading and writing course: Findings from the Investing in Innovation development grant.

Fong, A. B., Finkelstein, N. D., Jaeger, L. M., Diaz, R., & Broek, M. E. (2015). San Francisco, CA: WestEd. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED559522.pdf Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED559522

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
     examining 
    4,941
     Students
    , grade
    12

Reviewed: July 2020

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Overall writing quality outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

California English Placement Test

Secondary Writing vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
4,941 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
5
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 51%
    Male: 49%
  • Race
    Asian
    23%
    Black
    5%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    46%
    Not Hispanic
    54%
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    California

Setting

The study takes place in 24 California high schools in 9 school districts, focusing on eligible 12th grade students.

Study sample

Sample characteristics for the intervention and comparison conditions were identical for the analytic sample: 51% female, 5% black, 23% Asian, 46% Hispanic, and 13% took AP English in 11th grade.

Intervention Group

ERWC is a yearlong English Language Arts course for 12th grade high school students. It consists of 12 modules. Teachers receive the specified curriculum, professional development training on the course, and materials to support the curriculum. To teach the course, a teacher must complete 20 hours of professional learning activities. Only 10 of the 56 ERWC teachers in the study (17.9%) taught at least 8 of the modules (meaning at least one activity in each of the module's 6 strands). 62.5% of the teachers taught at least 5 activities from at least 8 of the modules. The study assessed fidelity of the intervention by collecting implementation feedback charts, coaching logs, and professional learning community logs from teachers. The study also conducted a qualitative survey with ERWC teachers to receive feedback on their teaching experience with the course.

Comparison Group

Comparison students were enrolled in a non-ERWC English course. For the weighted analytic sample of 3,309 comparison students, 62.57% were enrolled in English 4, 25.26% were enrolled in AP English Literature, 10.85% were enrolled in world literature, and 1.32% were enrolled in other English courses such as English literature or Mexican Chicano literature. None of their teachers were concurrently teaching ERWC classes.

Support for implementation

ERWC teachers all participated in a 20-hour professional learning course. They also had the opportunity to attend a two-day summer professional-learning session, participate in professional learning community meetings, and receive coaching sessions. The study concluded that 82.1% of the teachers participated in sufficient professional-learning components of the intervention and all teachers received the curriculum materials.

Reviewed: August 2016

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Academic achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

English Placement Test

Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Full sample;
3,002 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
4
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 52%
    Male: 48%
  • Race
    Asian
    27%
    Black
    4%
    White
    24%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    45%
    Not Hispanic
    55%
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
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    • W
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    • a
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    • y

    California

Setting

This study took place in nine California school districts, with a total of 24 participating high schools. In the primary analyses, there were a total of 56 teachers in the Intervention condition (ERWC) and 58 teachers in the comparison condition. The number of teachers in the analytic sample from sensitivity analysis #3, which is reviewed here by the WWC, is not reported.

Study sample

The overall sample included 52% female, 4% African American, 27% Asian, 45% Hispanic, and 24% White students.

Intervention Group

The intervention condition was a year-long academic reading and writing course implemented by teachers who a) agreed to participate in the intervention group and b) attended both summer professional development for the intervention training and ongoing, professional development while teaching the intervention course. The intervention condition was an Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC) designed to improve students' English language arts skills. Teachers participated in two days of face-to-face summer professional development prior to implementing the ERWC. Intervention teachers also received curriculum materials for use in their classrooms; these materials were developed specifically for the ERWC. Students in the ERWC course received instruction designed to improve reading and writing skills, with a special focus on reading and writing rhetorically. The curriculum modules were built along three primary domains: a) reading rhetorically, b) connecting reading to writing, and c) writing rhetorically. Students also practice analytical writing skills (e.g., summative essays, timed writing exercises, and writing in response to prompts).

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was a business-as-usual and included students' participation in their non-ERWC English language arts courses.

Support for implementation

Teachers in the intervention condition participated in two days of summer face-to-face professional development as well as ongoing, yearlong professional learning communities and development opportunities during the intervention year. During their professional development, teachers learned to use the curriculum materials, were immersed in the Expository Reading and Writing course objectives and curriculum, and had opportunities to work with other intervention group teachers. Activity logs were kept, and teachers were encouraged to participate in professional learning communities at their school sites along with other intervention group teachers. Teachers were in communication with the research team, and had ongoing opportunities to ask questions and receive support as they worked to teach the ERWC in their schools.

 

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