New White Paper Explores How To Fix Our National Writing Crisis

Feb 04, 2013, 09:43 ET from Zaner-Bloser

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Writing is no longer a strong suit for our younger population, according to one of the nation's senior writing researchers. According to Steve Graham, Ed.D., a professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, a focus on teaching reading and math has left little time for teachers and students to devote to writing instruction and practice.

Published by Saperstein Associates, Dr. Graham's newly released white paper—It All Starts Here: Fixing Our National Writing Crisis From the Foundationargues that writing must be made a priority early in a child's education. "We barely teach composition and we spend little time on teaching writing strategies and skills," said Dr. Graham. "We have to make it a priority."

According to the College Board, while participation in college admission exams is at an all time high, only 43 percent of the class of 2012 who took the SAT are ready for college-level work. 

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tells a similar story: In 2011, only 27 percent of 8th and 12th grade students scored at or above proficient on the writing portion of the NAEP. In the same assessment, 20 percent of 8th graders and 21 percent of 12th graders scored "below basic," meaning they were unable to perform at even the minimum standard for their grade level.

According to Dr. Graham, these statistics point to a national writing crisis. "Writing is one of the primary ways we persuade and inform both socially and professionally. We interact through tweets, texts, blogs, emails, presentations, and other forms of formal and informal writing."

Dr. Graham suggests writing instruction is critical for the following reasons:

  • Students face new standards and assessments
  • Writing increases academic success
  • The 21st century workplace demands writing competence

According to a growing body of research, foundational skills such as handwriting, spelling, and vocabulary development help set the stage for writing achievement in higher grades. Dr. Graham recommends fixing the foundation at the earliest grades with the following suggestions:

  • Provide ample time for writing
  • Use frequent assessment to inform instruction
  • Explicitly teach writing skills and strategies
  • Write across the curriculum
  • Integrate appropriate technology
  • Establish a positive environment for writing

"If we want to set our students up for success on the new assessments and the Common Core State Standards, not to mention for success beyond the classroom, we can't afford to skimp on writing instruction. Students need to have ample time and explicit instruction in writing across all grade levels," says Dr. Graham.

The research for this white paper was funded by Zaner-Bloser and the full document can be viewed at

About the Author

Steve Graham, Ed.D., is the Mary Emily Warner Professor in the Division of Leadership and Innovation in Teachers College at Arizona State University. Dr. Graham is the former editor of Exceptional Children and Contemporary Educational Psychology as well as the current editor of Journal of Writing Research. He is the author of numerous articles and coauthor of several books, including Handbook of Writing Research, Handbook of Learning Disabilities, Writing Better, and Making the Writing Process Work.

About Saperstein Associates

Saperstein Associates is a research firm based in Columbus, Ohio. Using time-honored and innovative research methodologies, its veteran staff transforms data into information, and information into intelligence. Saperstein Associates provides clients with a valuable tool for making data-driven decisions. To learn more, visit

SOURCE Zaner-Bloser