Certain teacher professional development could have a positive impact on academic writing by English learners in grades 7-12, according to a study from the University of California, Irvine.

Students of teachers who participated in the Pathway Project, which includes 46 hours of training in the “cognitive strategies” instructional approach, scored higher on an academic writing assessment and had higher pass rates on the California High School Exit Exam than students whose teachers did not receive the training.

During the academic writing assessment, secondary school students composed timed, on-demand essays interpreting themes from fiction and nonfiction texts. It was designed for the Pathway Project to measure analytical literacy skills. The high school exit exam – since suspended – gauges California students’ competency in reading, writing and mathematics.

The two-year study appears in the January issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology.

(Next page: The study’s lead author interprets research findings)