Even on a 20th Century test, the effect seems positive.
The CSAP scores are in for the 2008-09 school year. As a function of our pilot effort entitled "Powering Up the Writer's Workshop," we are investigating test scores to look for any changes in achievement. The five schools that participated in the project (East, Field, Hopkins, Moody and Whitman) engaged in school-wide training on the Lucy Calkin's Writer's Workshop while the 5th grades had the additional support(and challenge) of using netbooks in the writing process. Students were to not only learn new 21st Century skills, but also to use netbooks and web 2.0 technologies to facilitate better writing skills.
Interviews with students and blog post responses suggest that students write more and are more interested in writing when they have netbooks in class. While it was not realistic to anticipate any measureable results in year one of the implementation, there may very well be an effect as shown in the charts above. The green lines linking test performances in 2008 and 2009 represent the 2008-09 4th grades in the participating schools while the purple lines link the 2 years of CSAP scores for the 5th grades. The bar charts represent the percent of student earning proficient or advanced status on CSAP in the two years. In this way, we can look at how approximately the same group of students fared in the two administrations of CSAP and look for differences. Since all teachers in the schools were equally trained on the Writer's Workshop and we are comparing the same group of students' performances across two years, we are controlling for many of the variables that impact achievement. One variable of high interest is the use of netbooks for writing in the 5th grades.
East, Field and Hopkins elementaries all showed increases in the percent of students earning proficient or advanced CSAP writing scores in 5th grades outpacing increases shown in the 4th grades. During our visits, we observed that these schools were demonstrating an exemplary implementation of the netbooks. Indeed, several of the teachers involved have been nominated for state-level awards and recognized with invitations to present at the TIE conference over the summer.
It is impressive to see significant gains both from the literacy initiative involving the Writer's Workshop as well as Powering Up Writing in just one year. And it is very exciting to see what looks like a compounding and positive effect for the 5th grades in particular. Of course, this is just one point on a future trend line we hope to see, and we cannot make any conclusions from this data. But, the indicator is strong that something positive happened here and with so many of the variables controlled by the setting, we can have cautious optimism that the effort is positively improving writing achievement, even on paper and pencil tests.
These data strengthen our resolve and commitment to the Inspired Writing project which is our "going-to-scale" effort already underway.
2 comment(s) so far...
By Joe Miller on
Re: Notable Results
Interesting stuff. I am curious how these schools compared to control groups. Was there a difference? What about on CO Growth Model data? Growth model is more representative of actual growth. Curious to see what the evaluation shows. Good luck!
By Dan Maas on
Re: Notable Results
Thanks for the comment. I am very much in support of the growth model but I would point out that it is based on a percentile which means if the entire group struggles, performing in the upper 50th percentile might not mean as much. From a standards-based perspective, the CSAP status measure is more rigorous which is why I was so pleased to see real improvements... albeit on a single data point. We will certainly take other looks at the data including growth percentiles and matched cohorts, but it was exciting to see status improvements after year one!
The best control group is actually the 4th grade in the same schools because the CSAP tests were re-scored some time ago to allow for alignment across grades. Since these schools were the ones that had the netbooks and the writing pedagogy training, we would introduce more variables into the mix by comparing schools that did not have the training program.
Naturally, we're looking at data from every angle we can think of and will post more results as we figure them out.