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A two-year study by the University of California, Irvine, has detected a relationship between teacher’s professional development and English learners’ (grades 7-12) academic writing improvements. Pathway Project is a 46 hours training provided in “cognitive strategies” instructional approach. It taught teachers how to integrate cognitive strategies into their current language arts curriculum.

Pupils of teachers who participated in this training scored higher in an academic writing assessment and secured higher pass rates on the California High School Exit Exam than those pupils whose teachers did not. In the academic writing assessment, secondary school students had to compose on-demand, timed essays explaining themes from non-fiction and fiction texts. It was created for the Pathway Project to evaluate analytical literacy skills.

And, the California High School Exit Exam assessed students’ expertise in mathematics, reading, and writing. "These robust findings demonstrate the impact of teacher training on student outcomes. There is stronger growth in student achievement after two years of teacher participation, highlighting the importance of sustained professional development” said Carol, Booth Olson, the study lead, who is also the designer of the Pathway Project.

The study’s findings are published in the Journal of Educational Psychology

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