Community Alliance for Learning Overview
Target demographics: WriterCoach Connection (WCC) serves middle school and high school students and especially targets under-served urban schools with high proportions of low-income students.The program serves all students in a given grade level at a given school, regardless of writing skill level, with multiple individual writing conferences throughout the school year.
Direct beneficiaries per year: Direct program beneficiaries are more than 1,500 middle and high school students and 29 teachers in 58 classes at nine East Bay middle and high schools, for the 2011-12 school year.
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 stuffing envelopes for a fundraising campaign, assisting with a volunteer training session, or distributing and collecting assessment surveys.
Geographic areas served: East Bay Region of the San Francisco Bay Area
Programs: WriterCoach Connection is the sole program of the nonprofit Community Alliance for Learning.
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 2010-11 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 Phyllis J. Hallam, 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 (2010-11), 94% of students responded that coaching was helpful, and all 19 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.