Preparing Students for the Common Core State Standards in Writing


July 22, 2013


Student looking down at a book writing on a page

With all but a handful of states having adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), schools and districts nationwide are now working to ensure effective implementation. The standards demand that all students have access to the high-quality instruction needed to meet college- and career-ready expectations. In writing, students must be able to demonstrate proficiency at their grade level in both the K–12 English Language Arts Standards and the Grade 6–12 Standards for Literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This means that teachers in all subject areas will be held responsible for increasing students’ writing proficiency.

A quarter century ago, Education Northwest pioneered an analytic scoring system that has since helped educators worldwide transform the way they teach and assess writing. Today, our 6+1 Trait® Writing Model of Instruction & Assessment provides K–12 teachers with a powerful framework for preparing students for the CCSS. “We have adapted our 6+1 Trait professional development offerings to assist teachers in understanding the relationship between the expectations in the standards and the traits of good writing. For example, workshop participants use rubrics to plan grade-specific instruction that aligns with the CCSS,” says Education Northwest’s Kit Peixotto, who leads the organization in these efforts. In 2012, more than three dozen local education agencies from California to Massachusetts contracted with us to hold 6+1 workshops for their staff members.

Julie Peters, a high school teacher and English department coordinator from Meade, Washington, attended a recent 6+1 Trait training of trainers and found the emphasis on the CCSS extremely valuable. “This [training] has been a huge help because what is being asked of us across our whole district is to organize our instruction around the CCSS. I love the traits. I love what it does for writers—for kids,” said Peters. “Understanding how the model is aligned [with CCSS] solidifies for me that this is the direction we need to go.”

An Investigation of the Impact of the 6+1 Trait Writing Model on Grade 5 Student Writing Achievement, a scientific study conducted by REL Northwest in 74 Oregon elementary schools, showed that the 6+1 Trait Writing Model caused a statistically significant increase in student writing scores during the year in which it was studied.

For more information about 6+1 Trait Writing, contact Jacqueline Raphael. Learn more about the CCSS in our Spotlight on the Common Core State Standards series.