Writing development and education standards in cross-national perspective


  • Jill V. Jeffery Leiden University Centre for Linguistics
  • Nikolaj Elf University of Southern Denmark
  • Gustaf Bernhard Skar Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Kristen Campbell Wilcox University at Albany, State University of New York






The importance of writing ability for academic and career advancement is increasingly a focus of education research and policy globally. In response to concerns regarding students' writing competence, policymakers and curriculum designers have begun placing more emphasis on writing in nationwide academic standards. However, given the complexity of writing as a cognitively dynamic and socioculturally situated activity, representing the development of writing competence in standards that vary by grade level is challenging, and little is known regarding how educational systems vary in approaching this challenge. In response to calls for more worldwide writing research, we undertake a cross-national examination of writing standards with the aim of informing policymakers, those involved in the research and development of writing standards, and researchers interested in writing development, by comparing how three educational systems (in Denmark, Norway, and the US) have represented writing development in curricular standards. To that end, we ask: (1) How do the three educational systems variously frame writing development in grade-level distinctions for writing standards? (2) How do the developmental pathways implicated in these grade-level distinctions relate to theory and research on writing competence and its development?

Author Biographies

Jill V. Jeffery, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics

Jill V. Jeffery is Associate Professor of English Language and Culture Department of English at Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, The Netherlands.

Nikolaj Elf, University of Southern Denmark

Nikolaj Elf is Associate Professor Department for the Study of Culture at
the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Gustaf Bernhard Skar, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Gustaf Skar is Associate Professor Didactics and Educational Assessment at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Kristen Campbell Wilcox, University at Albany, State University of New York

Kristen Wilcox is Associate Professor Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University at Albany, State University of New York, USA.


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How to Cite

Jeffery, J. V., Elf, N., Skar, G. B., & Wilcox, K. C. (2019). Writing development and education standards in cross-national perspective. Writing and Pedagogy, 10(3), 333–370. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.34587



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