Community Alliance for Learning Overview
Target demographics: WCC helps middle school and high school students develop their writing and critical-thinking skills.
Direct beneficiaries per year: For 2013-14, 2,230 students at ten schools in four school districts raised their writing proficiency with 18,808 individual writing conferences delivered by 723 trained community-volunteer writer coaches. The program is serving additional students and teachers for 2014-15, with expansion to Kennedy High School in Richmond and within Berkeley High.
Someone who had 3 hours of volunteer time could: ...work with two to three students throughout the school year, if the volunteer has three hours per month to devote to WCC. A volunteer who is unable to commit to a regular schedule could devote three hours to serving as a substitute coach.
Geographic areas served: WCC serves 11 schools in four East Bay districts, working with students in Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, and Oakland.
Programs: WriterCoach Connection, the sole program of the nonprofit Community Alliance for Learning, trains community volunteers to work one-on-one with students, in class, on their teachers' writing assignments. Every student in a class we serve has an individual writer coach throughout the school year.
Year after year, WCC has improved the quality of student writing, increased students’ ability to complete state standards-based assignments, helped raise students’ grades, helped teachers strengthen the writing curriculum, and given volunteers great satisfaction, according to systematic annual assessment surveys. (The 2013-14 WCC Assessment Report is available at writercoachconnection.org/results/html.)
These annual surveys of all the students, teachers, and volunteer coaches who participate in the program provide a benchmark for measuring success. The students' and teachers' surveys, all of which invite written comments as well as numerical ratings, are designed to monitor perceptions of the coaches' helpfulness in key areas, such as organizing ideas, understanding what's working, and understanding the assignment. The coaches' survey probes their degree of satisfaction with their coaching experience and their training, and encourages them to express any concern or discomfort. The Program Assessment Reports, tabulated and analyzed by schools as well as in the aggregate, are overseen by Research and Evaluation Consultant Krystal Dong, Ph.D. Site coordinators and trainers as well as program administrators use these reports to monitor the effectiveness of the program and to identify new challenges at new coaching sites.
These annual program assessments consistently demonstrate that WCC generates overwhelming support among students, teachers, and volunteers. Year after year, surveys show that WCC improves the quality of student writing, increases students’ ability to complete state standards-based assignments, helps raise students’ grades, helps teachers strengthen the writing curriculum, and gives volunteers great satisfaction, In the most recent assessment surveys, 93% of students responded that coaching was helpful, and all teachers, without exception, reported that coaching was beneficial for their students. Teachers observe that the program helps all students to become better writers, and that it is especially helpful to struggling writers.
Wherever possible, WCC also compiles hard data, which demonstrates the program is helping to produce successful academic outcomes, from district-wide writing assessments, WCC's own writing assessment tests, and standardized English Language Arts tests. The California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which includes a separately scored essay component, provides a strong objective measure of students' writing skills.