The National Writing Project believes that access to high-quality educational experiences is a basic right of all learners and a cornerstone of equity.
We work in partnership with institutions, organizations, and communities to develop and sustain leadership for educational improvement. Throughout our work, we value and seek diversity—our own as well as that of our students and their communities—and recognize that practice is strengthened when we incorporate multiple ways of knowing that are informed by culture and experience.
A Network of University-Based Sites
Co-directed by faculty from the local university and from K–12 schools, nearly 175+ local sites serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sites work in partnership with area school districts to offer high-quality professional development programs for educators. NWP continues to add new sites each year, with the goal of placing a writing project site within reach of every teacher in America. The network now includes two associated international sites.
A Successful Model Customized for Local Needs
NWP sites share a national program model, adhering to a set of shared principles and practices for teachers’ professional development, and offering programs that are common across the network. In addition to developing a leadership cadre of local teachers (called “teacher-consultants”) through invitational summer institutes, NWP sites design and deliver customized inservice programs for local schools, districts, and higher education institutions, and they provide a diverse array of continuing education and research opportunities for teachers at all levels.
National research studies have confirmed significant gains in writing performance among students of teachers who have participated in NWP programs.
History of National Writing Project
NWP began in 1974 in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where James Gray and his colleagues established a university-based program for K–16 teachers called the Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP).
Gray, a teacher educator and former high school English teacher, was motivated to create a different form of professional development for teachers, one that made central the knowledge, leadership, and best practices of effective teachers, and that promoted the sharing of that knowledge with other teachers.
In partnership with Bay Area school districts, BAWP created a range of professional development services for teachers and schools interested in improving the teaching of writing and the use of writing as a learning tool across the curriculum. The structure of this first writing project site’s programs formed the basis of NWP’s “teachers-teaching-teachers” model of professional development.
By 1976, the NWP had grown to 14 sites in six states. Over the next 15 years, the network continued to grow, with funding for writing project sites made possible by foundation grants and matching funds from local sources. In 1991 NWP was authorized as a federal education program, allowing the network to expand to previously undeserved areas.