UC Irvine Writing Project Partners with Inquiry By Design to Provide Teacher Training to Improve Academic Performance of English Learners

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Professional Development Institutes Will Focus on Best Practices for Teaching Close Reading and Writing Skills

"...we know that all students can achieve significant performance improvements through the use of engaging, relevant curriculum and teaching practices that make reading and writing meaningful," said John McMillan.

Inquiry By Design, a provider of curriculum and professional development for English language arts, will conduct a series of 10 professional development institutes in Spring 2015 in support of a four-year research initiative conducted by the UC Irvine Writing Project.

The Pathway to Academic Success project recently received an $11 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation competition to expand the reading and writing intervention program to four Southern California school districts with predominately low-income populations. Over the next four years, the program will encompass 240 middle and high school teachers and touch approximately 105,000 students.

“The project aims to close the achievement gap for English learners by providing high-quality professional development to teachers,” said Carol Booth Olson, director of the UC Irvine Writing Project and associate professor of education. “The teachers involved in our project are incredibly dedicated but overworked and must deal with large class sizes and other challenges. We provide professional development support, materials and ideas for helping them address the academic requirements of California Common Core State Standards and improve their students’ reading and writing skills. Our goal is to create professional learning communities at each of our school sites.”

“Too often, we have high academic expectations for some students, but not for those who may struggle,” said John McMillan, president and founder of Inquiry By Design. “However, we know that all students can achieve significant performance improvements through the use of engaging, relevant curriculum and teaching practices that make reading and writing meaningful. We’re excited to partner with UC Irvine to provide teachers with the support and resources they need to bring high- quality teaching and learning to all students.”

Inquiry By Design offers an inquiry- and discussion-based instructional approach for supporting students as they read and write about complex texts. Teachers learn how to support students as they move from a foundational comprehension of a text to a more interpretive position that incorporates sufficient text support. In turn, these text- and discussion-based progressions support students as they interpret and write text-based arguments—a direct aim of the research project.

The project’s success will be measured using a range of factors, including pre- and post-project essay assignments, English language test scores, and high school graduation rates.

About Inquiry By Design

Founded in 2007, Inquiry By Design is committed to student-centered literacy and language learning anchored by close work with complex texts and featuring significant amounts writing, reading, and discussion. Inquiry By Design’s work is predicated on the notion that all students want and deserve meaningful and rigorous work. The company’s curriculum is based on this premise and designed as an alternative to traditional textbooks and worksheet-based activities. To help teachers—and their leaders—move toward collaborative classroom environments, Inquiry By Design also offers professional development to support its unique inquiry-based curriculum design.

Representative school partners include Alameda (CA) Unified School District, Cupertino (CA) Union School District, Lewisville (TX) Independent School District, Thompson (CO) School District, and Half Hollow Hills (NY) School District.

For more information, visit http://www.inquirybydesign.com or email info(at)inquirybydesign(dot)com.

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Linda Galloway
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