Tweeting Tweens and Teens Improve Skills with New High-Tech Writing Coach

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Program's Virtual Tutor Personalizes Learning, Dramatically Improves Each Student's Proficiency in Grammar and Writing

Schools nationwide now have access to a new high-tech tool, Writing Coach, to help middle and high school students keep their writing and grammar in tip-top shape, preparing them for college and future careers. Announced by the global education and technology company Pearson at the FETC conference today, the comprehensive Writing Coach program allows teachers to easily customize for students' individual needs, whether they are on-level, advanced, struggling learners trying to catch up in class, or the growing number of English language learners. See video:

"There's growing concern that our young people's writing and grammar skills are suffering because of the pervasiveness of text messaging and online writing shortcuts. Our job as educators is to ensure that these students graduate high school with the proficiency they will need for college-level work," said Doug McCollum, who heads Pearson's Literacy and Literature programs. "By integrating innovative technology and proven teaching strategies, Pearson's Writing Coach will zero in on each student's needs, ensuring all learners will be able to meet the rigorous demands of individual state standards as well as the new Common Core State Standards."

Through a unique digital writing "coach," the interactive program gives immediate feedback -- right down to the paragraph level of essays -- to ensure middle and high school students grow into independent writers. The tool looks at a student's work in progress, one paragraph at a time, and analyzes the ideas, topic support, and organization in their essays.

The online tutor gives students instructions for each step of the writing process along with links explaining the writing terminology. As students work, they can refer to model essays as a tool for improving their writing.

Immediate feedback like this can improve student writing up to 30 percent. Middle school students in North Carolina's Iredell-Statesville School District using the assessment technology embedded in Writing Coach improved their proficiency as writers from 65 percent to 97 percent during the 2009-2010 school year.

The benefits Iredell-Statesville district saw with the technology included:

  • An increase in sentence fluency;
  • An increase in the length of written responses;
  • An increase in the judged quality of the writing product--adding details, organization, and style;
  • Instant revisions, students received feedback right away rather than waiting weeks for a teacher to grade drafts; and
  • Greater interest and motivation in the writing process.

"Writing Coach is not about electrifying the old model of writing and grammar learning. It's about getting to each student on an individual level and making him or her a better writer because we know one size doesn't fit all in education," McCollum added.

To get at the heart of grammar instruction, Writing Coach automatically assigns targeted instruction and practice for each student based on the results of an online diagnostic test. With the program, teachers can target their instruction and lessons around the 20 most frequent grammatical errors that students make while writing.

In addition, Writing Coach's digital assets enable teachers to customize instruction at the classroom level and the program saves them hours reviewing papers and planning lessons.

"Writing and grammar are critical to students' success in English courses but also affect their performance in every other subject area and, in turn, their college and job opportunities," Kelly Gallagher, Writing Coach author, said. "There's no time to waste in today's classrooms, and Writing Coach helps teachers and students quickly recognize stumbling blocks and provides comprehensive resources, online and in print, to help get students on the path to college and career readiness."

To equip students with writing and grammar skills expected in the workforce, Writing Coach also incorporates project-based lessons that build collaboration, communication and media fluency. Students tackle real-world activities such as creating advertisements, developing film scripts that can be turned into video, and developing Web sites.

Learn more about Writing Coach at or see more at For more on all of Pearson's Common Core solutions, go to

About Pearson
Pearson has a vision of effective education: a virtuous circle of learning where powerful technologies enable teachers to assess students unobtrusively, diagnose their learning needs swiftly, prescribe personalized learning, and monitor student progress. This ongoing cycle of feedback to students, teachers, and parents begins by optimizing assessment data and putting it to work for continuous improvement in student progress and teaching effectiveness. For more, visit

Press Contact: Kate Miller, kate.miller(at)pearson(dot)com, 800-745-8489

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