Page images

from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and, to a lesser extent, many other national and local foundations are testimony to the great respect and admiration the National Writing Project has received over the past two decades, but support from the private sector will come to a close in March 1992. In an effort to make the project more self-supporting, the National Writing Project established, in 1984, a national sponsorship campaign to generate support from the institutions and the teachers who participate in and profit from the work of the National Writing Project. This campaign pays for itself and helps support some needed programs, but such support — from the pockets of classroom teachers

will never be sufficient to

support this national project to improve the writing abilities of America's students.

The Need for the National Writing Project: For the past two decades, the United States has faced a crisis in English writing in schools and in the workplace. By the mid-70's, the nation's press was reporting that universities across the nation were increasingly concerned over the growing number of entering freshmen who were unable to write at a level equal to the demands of college work. American businesses and corporations were also concerned over the limited writing skills of entry-level workers, and a growing number of middle-level managers were reporting that further advancement was denied to them because of inadequate writing abilities. The writing problem in this nation has been further magnified by the rapidly changing student populations in American schools and the growing number of students who are now 'at risk' because of their limited proficiency in English. Since 1974, the only national program to address the writing problem in the nation's schools has been the National Writing Project. The National Writing Project was established in 1973-1974 at the University of California, Berkeley to address a number of serious problems — local problems that were echoed across the country:

• In 1973, close to 50% of UC Berkeley's entering freshmen — bright students who had graduated in the top 12% of their classes were required to enroll in the university's remedial course in writing.


• In 1973, most teachers in the schools — elementary and secondary —— had not been trained to teach writing. Teachers were trained to teach reading but not writing. Writing — the second 'R' been historically neglected.

[ocr errors]

• When the National Writing Project was established in the early 1970's, there was little writing asked of students. A major study on writing in the secondary school (Appleby, 1981) found that while students were engaged in writing-related activities 41% of the time during the typical school day, they were asked to write at more than sentence length only 3% of the time,

• Writing can improve learning and thinking, but there had been little use of writing for this purpose in the schools.

• Before establishment of the National Writing Project, there was no effective dissemination network to inform and teach teachers of important developments in the field of written composition. • Before the beginnings of the writing project, neither the universities nor the schools offered systematic staff development programs for the continuing education of classroom teachers.

The National Writing Project—What It Does: Each year at all National Writing Project sites, successful teachers of writing, kindergarten through university, are identified and invited to university campuses for intensive five-week Summer Institutes. The aims of the institute are simple: to provide teachers a setting in which they can demonstrate their own best practices; to tap the knowledge about the teaching of writing that comes from the experience of exemplary teachers; to help teachers broaden the grounds of their teaching through an examination of writing theory and research; to give teachers of writing an opportunity to become writers themselves; and finally, to identify and train a corps of writing teachers who can effectively teach the approaches and processes of teaching writing to other teachers.

After the summer institutes, the participating teachers join previous participants to plan and conduct year-long staff development workshops in project-sponsored programs in the schools. By policy, these workshops are voluntary. Typically, they are scheduled after school hours for 10 threehour sessions spaced at intervals throughout the year. Because these workshops are so well attended, schools frequently continue these writing project programs year after year.

The National Writing Project teacher-teaching-teachers reform program identifies and promotes what is working in the classrooms of the nation's best teachers. It is a positive program — not a deficit model - that celebrates successful teaching practice and successful teachers and—through its staff development work in the schools steadily increases the nation's corps of effective classroom teachers.

[ocr errors]

The Impact of the National Writing Project:

(1) Number of Teachers Trained: Classroom teachers across the nation have responded to the NWP model of teachers-teaching-teachers in ever increasing numbers. The project began with 25 teachers in 1974; currently over 100,000 teachers voluntarily attend National Writing Project programs each year. To date, 733,703 teachers from throughout the world have attended NWP summer and school year programs.

(2) Nationwide Replication of the Writing Project Model: The widespread admiration of the National Writing Project model by classroom teachers and university faculty nationwide is also evident in the extraordinary expansion of the project over the past eighteen years. Since 1973, the National Writing Project has grown into a national and international network that currently numbers 164 sites in 44 states and Puerto Rico; 10 sites in 6 foreign countries (Canada, England, Australia, Sweden, Norway, and Finland); and 4 sites overseas that serve American teachers who teach in Department of Defense Dependents' Schools and in US. Independent Schools.

(3) Replication of the NWP Model by Subject Matter Projects in Other Disciplines: The National Writing Project model has been the prototype for the American Mathematics Project. In California, the California Writing Project serves as the model for the statewide subject matter projects in mathematics, science, literature, arts, foreign languages, and history and social studies. The National Council of Teachers of English has estimated that over 200 staff development programs in the nation refer to themselves as "based upon the writing project model."

(4) Evaluation: At the conclusion of a three-year outside evaluation of the National Writing Project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Michael Scriven, the director of this evaluation stated that the writing project "appears to be the best large-scale effort to improve composition instruction now in operation in this country, and certainly is the best on which substantial data are available. In 1983, the National Writing Project published the NWP Evaluation Portfolio, a collection of 32 evaluation studies conducted at sites of the National Writing Project that document through data that is statistically and educationally significant the positive impact the writing project has had on improving the teaching and learning of writing. Evaluation of project impact continues as a required component of the National Writing Project model.

Benefits to the Nation: Federal funding will result in the following benefits to the nation:

• The nation's teacher corps will be trained to teach writing.

• The nation's students, with improved writing abilities, will be better prepared to enter the nation's colleges and universities and the nation's workforce.

[ocr errors]

Student learning will improve with increased attention throughout the curriculum

to writing's power to improve thinking

• Students' self-esteem will improve as students learn how to effectively express themselves in writing.

• An expanded National Writing Project network will guarantee that teachers in all regions of the country will be informed of new developments in research and in the practice of teaching of writing. • The National Writing Project's honored Teachers-Teaching-Teachers model of university-school collaboration will serve as a staff development model for teachers in all disciplines.

• The professional accomplishments of effective teachers throughout the nation will receive long overdue recognition. Teacher morale will be improved.

• Because of cost sharing requirements to match federal support, state legislatures and and other state and local agencies will increase dollar support to the nationwide effort to resolve the national writing problem.

Honors and Recognitions:

• In 1978, the University of California, Berkeley Bay Area Writing Project received the annual Western Electric Award in Education "in recognition of outstanding achievement in meeting today's educational needs."

•In 1984, at the culminating event of the American Association for Higher Education's Annual Conference on Higher Education, the National Writing Project was honored "as an outstanding and nationally significant example of how schools and colleges can collaborate to improve American education."

•In 1987, at the final meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention, the National Writing Project was honored and recognized by the Council as "an exemplary national


•In 1989, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) granted the profession's annual premiere recognition of achievement, the Distinguished Service Award, to the National Writing Project Director.




Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, my name is Dr. Frank B. Ashley. I am an assistant professor of health and physical education at Texas A&M University and project administrator of the National Youth Sports Program ("NYSP") project at Texas A&M. I appreciate this opportunity to testify in support of an FY 1992 NYSP appropriation of $20 million.


Since the inception of the NYSP in 1968, the lives of over one million participants from poverty target areas from Fargo to Miami and Los Angeles to Boston have been immeasurably enriched through participation in the unique educational and sports activities offered by the NYSp. Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, we thank you for your generous investment in the future of these youngsters.

Those of us who work directly with NYSP participants are excited about the NYSP's ability to address a wide variety of problems facing our nation's young people. I want to tell you about the program's accomplishments this past year, the new directions in which the NYSP is moving, and the financial needs of the program.


In his budget message to Congress this year, President Bush spoke of investing in the future and helping members of the next generation maximize their human potential. Making U.S. students first in the world in science and mathematics by the year 2000 is prominent among his national educational goals. National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA") has submitted a proposal to the Department of Energy ("DOE"), which is seeking to increase math and science achievement among minority students, for a pilot NYSP math and science enrichment program for about 150 students at each of 25 NYSP projects. The goal of this program is to increase participants' awareness of the career opportunities that exist in science and math, motivate them to pursue such careers by involving them in hands-on science experiments, and develop their analytical and critical thinking skills. Last year, the NYSP project at South Carolina State College conducted a similar pilot program, in conjunction with the DOE and the Westinghouse Savannah River Company.

Educational and career opportunities always have been part of the NYSP enrichment curriculum and the math/science focus fits in well with the NYSP philosophy of motivating youngsters to stay in school, pursue higher education, and better their opportunities for the future. We estimate the cost of implementing the math/science enrichment program at each NYSP project for 150 youngsters, fewer than half the enrollees at most projects, to be about $25,000 per project. To institute this program at the 125 projects not covered by the proposal to DOE would cost about $3.125 million.

Funding also is needed for the Extended NYSP, which is conducted from October to May. Initiated in 1989 at 45 institutions on a pilot basis with funding provided under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, the Extended NYSP allows projects to maintain contact with participants and to continue delivering the NYSP's anti-drug message throughout the year. It also enables youngsters to be on

campus when the college or university in In full operation and even greater resources and opportunities are available. The Extended NYSP continues to operate on a pilot basis, at 55 campuses (just over one-third of all NYSP institutions) this year. We are prepared, and are seeking funding, to operate the Extended NYSP at 100 (or about two-thirds) of the institutions sponsoring summer projects in 1992. The cost of doing so would be about $1.8 million (average cost of $40,000 per project x another 45 Institutions not now participating)

Both the summer and Extended NYSP give special emphasis to drug education. This component of NYSP is successful for several reasons, among them the commitment and concern of the staff, who provide positive role models for the youngsters, and the multifaceted nature of the program, which uses sports to build participants' self-esteem and to teach them essential life skills. Another area to which special attention is being given is the relationship between the NYSP and public housing developments. The NYSP provides a positive alternative to drugs and crime for many young people living in public housing. A survey conducted last summer by the NCAA found that over 20,000 boys and girls (over onethird of summer NYSP participants) were public housing residents, and that over eighty percent of NYSP projects served such youngsters. Continued efforts will be made to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and, in local communities, with public housing authorities to offer even greater opportunities to these young people.

Last year, an estimated total of 65,000 economically disadvantaged young sters, ages 10-16, participated in summer and Extended NYSP projects at 139 colleges and universities in 122 cities in 41 states and the District of Columbia. We are pleased that this year, 150 NYSP projects will be conducted on 148 college and university campuses nationwide (representing more than half of the country's historically black institutions), an increase of eleven projects (and about 3,500 needy young people). The 55 Extended NYSP projects being conducted this academic year (1990-91) represent ten more than last year. These increases will enable additional economically disadvantaged youngsters in underserved and unserved communities to have an opportunity to receive the free daily USDAapproved meals, free medical examinations and follow-up, high quality instruction in competitive and lifetime sports, and enrichment experiences that the NYSP provides.

Despite our positive message about the effort to assist previously unserved young people, including many who live in public housing, many NYSP projects continue to be oversubscribed and must turn away youngsters who would benefit from the program. For example, at Jackson State University in Mississippi, the need for the NYSP is so great that the NYSP project there is being broken into two separate projects to accommodate more youngsters. The projected enrollment for each Jackson State project is 500 youngsters, well above the average NYSP enrollment of 350.

This surge in demand for the program is occurring throughout the country. NYSP project administrators are calling to request additional funding, as some are nearly doubling their projected enrollments. A record number of colleges and universities, as well as community agencies and park and recreation departments, have called to inquire about sponsoring NYSP projects. The need for NYSP services is growing, and we are asking this Committee to provide the funds necessary to offer the NYSP to additional qualifying youngsters. We propose to address this problem of unmet demand by offering more NYSP projects in areas of need and by increasing the budgets of many existing projects, so that they may more youngsters. Between 30-35 new projects could be instituted at an



estimated cost of $60,000 each (including technical assistance and training), for a total cost of $1.8-$2.1 million. Providing an average of an additional $10,000/project to between 90-120 projects would enable them each to accommodate about 100 more youngsters. Additional federal funding beyond these amounts, which would be matched by nonfederal contributions (see below), would allow even greater numbers of economically disadvantaged, at-risk young people to participate in the NYSP.

Finally, we are requesting funding to address the urgent problem of salaries. We are grateful for the increased funding this Committee has provided, and we have used it to restore some of the lost services, to strengthen the anti-drug abuse component, and to serve more youngsters. The resources have simply been insufficient to improve the very low salaries for all NYSP staff, and we cannot defer action any longer. Beyond their professional credentials, most NYSP staff members are dedicated individuals who truly care about the youngsters. Many of them are residents of poverty target areas. The salary ceilings, now in place for a seventh year at 1985 levels, are unrealistically low. NYSP auxiliary staff (including the drug education specialist, the enrichment coordinator, and the activity director) and professional staff are required to have a college degree, except for the medical coordinator, who may be a certified health provider. Salaries for professional staff are capped at between $250 to $300/week, far below what summer school and other employment opportunities offer. To provide an average increase of just $250 per employee ($50 to $63/week) would cost $1.25 million.

We recognize that the cost of meeting the needs we have identified must be shared. Nonfederal contributions to the NYSP are increasing proportionately to the increase in federal funding, and we expect that trend to continue. This year, with a two-percent increase in the federal contribution, the contribution of the NCAA, which administered the NYSP free of charge as a community service, is being increased sixteen percent. Rawlings Sporting Goods and other equipment manufacturers also are increasing their donations. The NYSP has been, and remains, a cost-effective use of federal funds. Participating colleges and universities commit not only to make their own contribution to the NYSP, but also to secure community and private sector support for the program. The budget for the 1991 NYSP is about $31 million, of which $10.832 million is the federal (FY 1991) appropriation.

The NYSP truly is a special program. It has community acceptance, trust, and support, among both parents and participants. It is a reproducible program that is easily adapted to urban and rural settings and provides services to diverse populations. We urge each member of this Committee to visit an NYSP project, either at home or here in the District, and to see how the NYSP makes a difference in the lives of at-risk youngsters in communities across America. Those who participate in making the NYSP possible from the institutions,

[ocr errors]

which contribute facilities and staff instead of offering financially rewarding sports camps, to individuals, who begin working six months in advance to organize NYSP projects and spend countless hours outside of actual NYSP activities working on plans and paperwork believe that the sacrifices involved are far outweighed by the benefit to tens of thousands of needy youngsters each year. The program's new logo sums it up: The Right Start.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

For the foregoing reasons, we request that you recommend an FY 1992 appropriation of $20 million for the NYSP.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify this morning.

« PreviousContinue »