Professional Development and High-Stakes Testing
Disparate Influences on Student Writing Performance
Keywords:professional development, high stakes testing, writing
The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of professional development at a site of the National Writing Project (the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project), on student writing achievement. Student writing samples were collected at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year from 22 classes of students in grades 3-12. Statistical analysis, using Repeated Measures ANOVA, of a stratified random sample of papers from each class, revealed significant differences between students in classrooms of writing project trained teachers and students in classrooms of closely matched control group teachers, with students in treatment group classrooms demonstrating higher writing achievement at the end of the year. Effect sizes for the treatment group were consistently higher than those of the control group. Significant differences were not in evidence until April, two months after the state writing assessment, following which the teachers had changed their practices from a prior focus on test preparation. Results from statistical analysis and teacher interviews suggest that the pressures and requirements which educators and legislators believe will improve writing performance may actually impede teachers from doing their best work, and consequently, the students from achieving their best writing performance.
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