Independent Study Shows Significant Student Gains with Innovative, Standards-Based Writing Program

Columbus, OH – Writing skills are now more critical than ever with the rigor of new standards and assessments. An innovative writing program, Strategies for Writers, developed by Zaner-Bloser, produces marked student improvement in writing skills. That’s according to the results of an independent learner-verification study by the University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center. During the 2012–2013 school year study, students who used Strategies for Writers—versus those using alternative materials, including stand-alone writing programs and basal reading programs—showed significant gains in their writing abilities.

The study participants included more than 700 students in grades four and seven from 22 schools in eight regionally diverse states. Researchers divided participating students into two sets of classrooms per grade level; one set of classrooms received Strategies for Writers and the other set of classrooms used their schools’ existing writing materials. The writing of both sets of students in both grade levels was assessed by Educational Testing Services at the beginning and end of the school year using their independent Criterion® system.

Students wrote essays for each of the text types required by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—narrative, informative/explanatory, and opinion or argument—and each essay was evaluated according to a 6-point scale (1 = unsatisfactory; 6 = excellent). In all three text types, students’ mean scores improved significantly when using Strategies for Writers. Students using Strategies for Writers made greater gains than students using other materials in informative/explanatory and opinion or argument writing, the text types most critical to college- and career-readiness.

Following the study, the teachers who participated were given a survey, in which 100 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that Strategies for Writers helped them to become better writing teachers. Compared to teachers using other writing instruction materials, Strategies for Writers teachers rated the program more effective in a wide variety of areas, including its ability to engage students and to enable teachers to meet students’ varying needs.

Pam McAndrews, a fourth-grade teacher from Louisville, KY, who used Strategies for Writers in the study, stated, “I had a wonderful experience implementing Strategies for Writers and my students’ writing pieces and language and mechanics were better than the other fourth grade classes.”

The study results help to illustrate the importance of direct, explicit writing instruction in preparing students for success with the CCSS, on next-generation assessments, and in college and career.
In his new white paper, “The Write Stuff: Preparing the Next Generation of Writers,” Scott Miller, M.Ed., Consulting Author for Strategies for Writers, notes, “Preparing students for the more rigorous expectations of the CCSS will be instructionally demanding…The limited writing instruction included in reading programs and literature anthologies will no longer suffice…Lending primacy to writing instruction will undoubtedly result in higher academic achievement and greater economic success for our students. We cannot afford to wait.”

To learn more about the learner-verification study, visit

About Strategies for Writers
Strategies for Writers is a proven-effective, standards-based writing and grammar solution that teaches students to use the writing process and six traits of writing to become effective writers—and how to apply this knowledge to written assessments. The Next Generation Assessment Edition of Strategies for Writers equips educators with the tools they need to raise writing results.

About Zaner-Bloser
Zaner-Bloser, a wholly owned subsidiary of Highlights for Children celebrating 125 years of experience in education this year, is an educational curricula and digital resources provider in language arts/literacy, 21st century learning, and social-emotional learning. Zaner-Bloser provides flexible solutions and services that improve results and inspire students to become lifelong learners and is committed to meeting schools’ needs today—and in the future.

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