Wakefield Elementary School – South Kingstown, RI
Implementation of Project Read Program 2003-2010


Writing Scores Soar at Wakefield Elementary School

At a recent Learning Walk at Wakefield Elementary School, principals and administrators congregated to analyze how professional development, instructional practices, and curriculum worked in concert to raise fifth-grade NECAP writing proficiency levels from 61% in 2005 to 93% in 2007.

Developing excellent writers is clearly a focus at Wakefield. Examples of students’ written work fill hallways and classrooms. Students and adults alike take time to read the displays.

Teachers across grade levels, including resource teachers, integrate the objectives outlined in “Write Traits? writing curriculum with explicit scope and sequence developed by Project Read® Written Expression. Curriculum implementation is responsive to the needs of students in each classroom. The multisensory, systematic approach found in Project Read® material breaks through memory and language barriers that can prevent students from successful writing production.

Professional development for teachers has been critical. In the fall of 2006, Wakefield Elementary/South Kingstown Schools initiated a partnership with the Dunn Institute to bring a Project Read® training to South County. 90% of Wakefield teachers spent three days participating in the Written Expression strand. Simultaneously, teachers participated in district-wide "Write Traits" training over the course of two years.

Internally, a Writing Committee (led by fifth-grade teacher Robin Wildman and first-grade teacher Jeanne Congdon) set assessment schedules connected to grade-level benchmarks. Grade-level teams assessed student writing and analyzed specific areas of student strength, weakness, and aggregate trends. Alison Bateson-Toupin, SLP, provides leadership for the Project Read® curriculum by mentoring, co-teaching, and helping teachers deliver content with fidelity.

By working together, teacher-leaders take pressure off the faculty by streamlining processes, focusing teachers and keeping things as simple as possible. They also strive to support faculty creativity and innovation with respect to lesson delivery.

Bateson-Toupin credits Project Read® Written Expression curriculum with empowering teachers in the general classroom setting, providing the necessary effective support for partially proficient writers to reach benchmark levels while decreasing the number of students who require intensive intervention. She also believes that the systematic scope and sequence has simultaneously enabled proficient writers to reach distinction benchmarks.