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Middle School Writing Project: March 2012 – December 2017

Written Language Problems in Middle School Students: A Randomized Trial of the Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) Model Using a Tier 2 Intervention

U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences






Who participated?

243 6th-grade students participated in this study over 4 years. Our partnering schools and districts included Orange County, Chatham County, and Kestrel Heights in North Carolina.

What did we learn?

  • Our findings provided strong evidence for the use of SRSD with 6th-grade students at-risk for writing disabilities.
  • This is consistent with available evidence supporting the use of this intervention with middle school students to improve their writing skills.
  • These large effect sizes for significant gains were achieved over a relatively short period of time (< 9 hours) in a Tier 2 setting.
  • Executive Functions appear to be a key moderator of instruction, with students with higher EF showing better performance on Story Composition post-intervention. Consequently, cognitive functioning needs to be considered when assessing and teaching writing.
  • At 6 to 8 months post-intervention, the treatment group did not maintain their gains in writing. This is not surprising given there were only 9 hours of instruction, and it reinforces the need for deliberate practice and the use of booster sessions to reinforce SRSD practices.
  • SRSD instruction needs to be delivered regularly in middle school classrooms, particularly for students at-risk for writing disabilities.

Want to learn more?

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Middle school boy writing.

In this project, we extended the research on the Self-Regulated Strategy Development instructional model by examining its effectiveness with middle school students at-risk for writing disabilities. Additionally, we looked at the specific conditions under which this intervention can be successful and the effects SRSD instruction can have on students’ cognitive processing and their beliefs about writing.