The Noyce Foundation's Every Child a Reader and Writer Initiative (ECRW) seeks to improve literacy achievement for students in K-5 utilizing the key strategies of system-wide professional development, classroom coaching and assessment of student work. ECRW began in 2000 and focuses primarily on the teaching of writing through a writing workshop approach.
The initiative delivers a wide range of in-depth professional development based on the work of nationally recognized consultants and authors in the field of literacy instruction, and designed in consultation with writing consultants, district coaches, and administrators. The professional development supports district and site administrators as well as teachers with the aim of infusing writers' workshop throughout each participating district. Teachers who are new to the initiative receive intensive induction training during the summer with follow-up instruction in exemplar classrooms throughout the school year. Additionally participants have attended a special speakers series and an advanced assessment workshop. Principals attend workshops focused on instructional leadership, and administrators collaborate to create coherent and cohesive professional development programs within their schools.
Literacy coaches as well as teacher leaders from the participating districts receive professional development on writing, writing pedagogy, coaching strategies and presentation skills. These coaches then support teachers at their respective school sites and throughout their districts. In addition to coaching individuals, coaches plan and lead professional development for effective implementation of the writing workshop.
All students at participating schools are expected to develop a portfolio of their work to demonstrate what they have learned as writers. Two categories of student work are collected. These include: a collection of four pieces, one in each of three genres to demonstrate accomplishment across a range of genres; and three pieces sampled from the beginning, middle, and end of the year, all in the same genre, to demonstrate growth. The portfolios are used for several purposes. For students - and for their parents - the portfolios are a record of accomplishment and pride, a tangible history of learning to write. Teachers use the process of choosing work for the portfolio as a strategy to help students learn to self-assess. Administrators learn much about the strengths of their writing programs by reviewing a sample of student portfolios. Every year the initiative collects a statistical sample of portfolios to assess how students are progressing across the initiative.
In 2006-07 the Noyce Foundation supported 34 schools in 5 Core Districts in Silicon Valley school districts with grants and direct professional development. Students in the program come from ethnically and economically diverse backgrounds; approximately 40% of the students in the program are not native English speakers.
The program started in 6 schools and has rolled out to new schools each year. Beyond the 34 schools in the Core Districts that now participate, another 40 schools in 10 districts in the Bay Area have instituted writing workshop using the ECRW model. Using tools such as the Writing Workshop Implementation Scale and Living the Life of a Writer studies, these schools and districts have begun to replicate the practice that is taking place in ECRW classrooms in Core Districts.
The Noyce Foundation is "stepping back" as districts utilize the knowledge of their literacy coaches, teacher leaders and principals to independently continue the expansion and implementation of writing workshop within their district schools.