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UAlbany Professors Study State of Writing Instruction In Schools Across Nation

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 19, 2007) -- Judith Langer, distinguished professor, founder and director of the Albany Institute for Research in Education (AIRE) and co-director, Center on English Learning & Achievement (CELA), and Arthur Applebee, distinguished professor and chairman of the Department of Educational Theory and Practice, and co-director, Center on English Learning & Achievement (CELA), will study writing instruction in 20 middle and high schools in five states with a nearly $500,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation. The study is the next phase of the National Study of Writing Instruction, led by Langer and Applebee, which is a three-year project examining the general state of writing instruction in grades six through 12.

The study will contextualize students of individual schools as part of a national portrait of writing instruction. A national sample of public school teachers in grades six through 12 will examine the extent to which influential factors in the 20 schools apply across grades and subjects at a national level, the impact of specific state level policies, and the relationships between teachers' practice, their previous experiences, and their perceptions of the students they teach.

"Writing is the primary foundation for learning and working in college, in the workplace, and in the community," said Interim President George Philip, "and we are proud that two of our most renowned professors are leading this significant and pivotal study."

"This research will provide the necessary foundation for a comprehensive research agenda contributing to meaningful reform of writing instruction across the nation," said School of Education Dean Susan D. Phillips.

The National Study of Writing Instruction -- which has received nearly $850,000 in grant funding to date -- is a collaboration with the National Writing Project, the Education Trust, the College Board, and CELA. The project's goal is to lay the groundwork for rethinking middle and high school writing instruction in order to prepare students to meet the demands of higher education and the workplace.

The study's first report, based on a reanalysis of existing data bases from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), shows that writing achievement has held steady across the years and, despite more emphasis on writing across the curriculum, middle and high school students still spend little time each week on writing, especially extended writing.

The UAlbany School of Education is one of the leaders of literacy research and instruction in the nation and houses several large-scale nationally funded research projects on literacy, including the Center on English Learning & Achievement, the Child Research Study Center, and the Capital District Chapter of the National Writing Project. The School is also a leader in mathematics and science education, including the National Science Foundation studies of equity in mathematics education, and leadership on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) international panels and the New York State Math Education panel. It recently joined IBM's Transition to Teaching initiative to help fill the nationwide need for qualified math and science teachers.

The Spencer Foundation, established in 1962 by Lyle M. Spencer, has provided grants totaling about $250 million. The Foundation has been dedicated to the belief that research is necessary to the improvement in education. The Foundation is committed to supporting high-quality investigation of education through its research programs and to strengthening and renewing the educational research community through its fellowship and training programs and related activities.

The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine schools and colleges, and an honors college. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit theUniversity at Albany. Visit UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts.

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