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Evaluating REL Pacific’s Secondary Writing Toolkit


  • Writing is an important component of a successful life, but teachers aren’t getting the necessary training and it shows in student assessments.
  • Abt is evaluating the effectiveness of the Department of Education’s Secondary Writing Toolkit.
  • Findings will help determine best practices for training educators to teach writing.
The Challenge

Literacy—including writing—is closely tied to student success throughout K–12 education, impacting high school graduation and, ultimately, income after graduation. But students across the United States perform poorly on assessments of writing and, despite the important role writing plays in life and learning, educators report they receive insufficient training on teaching writing, both prior to entering the field and while working. To address this problem, the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Pacific supported by the U.S. Department of Education, is developing a Secondary Writing Toolkit to support teachers in implementing evidence-based instructional strategies to improve writing among students in grades 6–8. Abt will rigorously evaluate both the implementation and impact of the Toolkit.

The Approach

Abt will conduct the Toolkit evaluation in 40 schools in Hawai‘i that include approximately 200 6th-8th grade ELA teachers. Abt will randomly assign use of the Toolkit to half of the schools and the other half will continue providing standard writing instruction during the 2024-25 school year. Abt will collect students’ scores on the writing portion of Hawai’i’s state test—the Smarter Balanced Assessment— to evaluate the Toolkit’s effectiveness. Abt will also collect implementation data using teacher and administrator surveys, and teacher focus groups.

The Results

For district and school leaders who are considering strategies to improve writing among secondary students, Abt will report on the Toolkit’s effect on teacher and student outcomes. The report will also provide guidance for schools and teachers who want to use the Toolkit.

The study schedule is as follows:

  • Toolkit development and piloting: School year 2023-24
  • Toolkit implementation and evaluation: School year 2024-25
  • Analysis and reporting: School year 2025-26
  • Final report released: May 2027