In putting together this special report on how writing instruction can and should build on the science of reading, Education Week reporters read through dozens of studies and spoke to leading researchers in the field. From this reporting, we landed on four main research takeaways, each of which is worth reiterating here and consulting as school districts assess the strength of their own writing programs. 1. Reading and writing are intimately connected. Research on the connections between the two disciplines began in the early 1980s and has grown more robust with time. Although there are elements specific to each, like handwriting, that need to be practiced on their own, reading and writing instruction appear to be effective when combined. Among the newest and most important additions are three research syntheses conducted by Steve Graham, a professor at the University of Arizona, and his research partners. One of them examined whether writing instruction also led to improvements in students' reading ability; a second examined the inverse question. Both found significant positive effects on reading and writing. A third meta-analysis gets one step closer to classroom instruction. Graham and partners examined 47 studies of instructional programs that balanced both reading and writing —no program could feature more than 60 percent of one or the other. The results showed generally positive effects on both reading and writing measures. 2. Writing matters even at the earliest grades, when students are learning to read. Studies show that the prewriting students do in early […]
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