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Exceptionality A Special Education Journal ISSN: 0936-2835 (Print) 1532-7035 (Online) Journal homepage:

Exceptionality

A Special Education Journal

Exceptionality A Special Education Journal ISSN: 0936-2835 (Print) 1532-7035 (Online) Journal homepage:

ISSN: 0936-2835 (Print) 1532-7035 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/hexc20

Strategic Persuasive Writing Instruction for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities

Margo A. Mastropieri, Thomas E. Scruggs, Nancy Irby Cerar, Mary Guckert, Catherine Thompson, Danette Allen Bronaugh, Jill Jakulski, Latif Abdulalim, Sara Mills, Anya Evmenova, Kelley Regan & Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino

To cite this article: Margo A. Mastropieri, Thomas E. Scruggs, Nancy Irby Cerar, Mary Guckert, Catherine Thompson, Danette Allen Bronaugh, Jill Jakulski, Latif Abdulalim, Sara Mills, Anya Evmenova, Kelley Regan & Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino (2015) Strategic Persuasive Writing Instruction for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities, Exceptionality, 23:3, 147-169, DOI: 10.1080/09362835.2014.986605

Published online: 30 Jul 2015.

Published online: 30 Jul 2015.

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Exceptionality , 23:147–169, 2015 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0936-2835 print/1532-7035 online DOI: 10.1080/09362835.2014.986605

print/1532-7035 online DOI: 10.1080/09362835.2014.986605 Strategic Persuasive Writing Instruction for Students with

Strategic Persuasive Writing Instruction for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities

Margo A. Mastropieri, Thomas E. Scruggs, Nancy Irby Cerar, Mary Guckert, and Catherine Thompson

George Mason University

Danette Allen Bronaugh

James Madison University

Jill Jakulski and Latif Abdulalim

Fairfax County Public Schools

Sara Mills, Anya Evmenova, and Kelley Regan

George Mason University

Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino

Illinois State University

Expressive writing is important for school and life success , but remains challenging for many students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Emerging evidence reveals promise for teaching students with learning and behavioral issues to improve written expression with self-regulated strategy development instruction. In that research, stude nts are taught to criterion performance (e.g., demonstrating mastery performance for each lesson) for instructional periods sometimes as long as 50 days (see Mastropieri et al., 2009). What is unknow n, however, is given the more limited time constraints within a school setting, whether students with emotional disabilities, many with comorbidity, can successfully improve within a school’s allocated time for teaching persuasive essays. The current study used a waitlist comparison condition and randomly assigned 32 eighth graders to either an immediate intervention or a waitlist de layed intervention condition during which an organizational and planning strategy for writing p ersuasive essays was taught. Findings revealed students were able to successfully learn and apply the strategy within a reduced time

Correspondence should be addressed to Margo A. Mastropieri, Special Education, College of Education and Human Development, MSN 1F2, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444, USA. E-mail: mmastrop@gmu.edu Color versions of one or more of the figures in the article can b e found online at www.tandfonline.com/hexc.

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period as evidenced by statistically significant higher qua lity essays that contained more essay elements, words, sentences, and transition words. Student interviews revealed positive attitudes toward instruction and strategy use. Two months following p osttesting, surprise maintenance mea- sures were administered that yielded equivocal results sug gesting periodic review sessions may be appropriate. Implications for the classroom practice are d iscussed.

Teachers face challenges in meeting all the needs of student s with emotional and behavioral disabilities (EBD), because these students frequently req uire assistance with academic, social- emotional, and behavioral goals. It is widely acknowledged that such students frequently experience challenges in getting along in school with peers and their teachers (e.g., Kauffman & Landrum, 2008), but less widely acknowledged is that many o f these students also encounter difficulties learning academic content, including masteri ng the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic (e.g., Lane, 2004). Many students with EBD fail to meet academic standards (e.g., Nelson, Benner, Lane, & Smith, 2004), have secondary disabilities such a learning disabilities or attention deficits, and have failed high-st akes testing. Forty-six percent of eighth grade students with disabilities compared with 9% of studen ts without disabilities performed below the basic level on the National Assessments of Educati onal Progress (NAEP) writing assessments (U.S. Department of Education, 2008). Disappo intingly, fewer than 7% scored at the proficient level indicating preparedness to perform grade level work successfully. As students progress to the middle school and secondary levels, these academic difficulties become increasingly complex. Students with EBD who experience such failures drop out of school more often than other students with disabilities; reported dropout rates have been as high as 52% for students with EBD compared with 32% for other disability areas (U.S. Department of Education, 2011; Wagner et al., 2005). Studen ts with EBD are less likely to pursue postsecondary education resulting in large unemplo yment rates compared with other disability areas (Bradley, Doolittle, & Bartolotta, 2008) . One approach to change this downward trend is to increase success in school for students with EBD. Communicating using written language is a valuabl e tool that when mastered can enhance lifelong success for all students. However, 30% of eighth graders reported spending only up to 15 minutes writing a day and 3% reported not writing at all (Nations Report Card: Writing 2011). Unfortunately, these data did not reveal breakdowns by students with and without disabilities. However, it might be assumed that stu dents with disabilities are highly represented in the lower figures for time spent writing in Eng lish classes. A simple solution is to increase instruction and time spent writing during sch ool. NAEP (2011) provided writing prompts in persuading, explaining, and conveying informat ion to eighth and eleventh graders. The Common Core Standards on the middle school level include argumentative writing, a skill similar to persuasive writing (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010a, 2010b). Therefore these areas need to be taught in schools. Expressive writing requires the ability to arti culate thoughts in writing. Persuasive writing shares features found in argumentative essays and i s intended to convince readers to agree with the writer’s viewpoint. For example, writers state a position and offer supporting evidence. Persuading others has been seen to be a more seriou s weakness for many students with EBD. Until recently, writing has been relatively absen t from the EBD intervention research literature (e.g., Mason & Shriner, 2006). Since these students often struggle to articulate their ideas coherently, writing instruction may prove beneficial for assisting students to express their

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ideas more thoughtfully in an organized fashion. With persu asive writing, students use words to convince readers to agree with their position. Good persuasive essays provide supporting facts and details for taking a side on a particular argument and frequently offer counterarguments that are refuted within the essay to further strengthen the suppo rt (Caine, 2008). Finally, persuasive writing skills may be very useful for students with EBD, in learning use of persuasion as an alternative to less socially desirable strategies such as aggression (Mastropieri et al., 2010). Several meta-analyses of writing intervention research have identified the major approaches

to writing instruction as (a) the process approach; (b) direct explicit instruction of strategies or

skills; (c) scaffolding instruction, and (d) technologically based approaches (see, e.g., Gersten

& Baker, 2001; Gillespie & Graham, in press; Graham & Perin, 2 007). Findings indicate overall

that writing instruction that produced the highest effect sizes included explicit instruction in

writing steps and structures for different writing genres, and feedback during planning, editing, and revising steps. Graham, Harris, and their colleagues have provided a wealth of high quality evidence-based practices using self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) to improve students’ expressive writing across numerous genres (e.g., Graham & Perrin, 2007 ; Harris, Graham, Mason, & Friedlander, 2008; Rogers & Graham, 2008). SRSD provides in struction in writing strategies with embedded self-regulation instruction. This combinat ion systematically instructs students

to use new written expression strategies while providing go al setting, self-instruction, self-

monitoring, and self-evaluation strategies to facilitate long-term strategy usage. SRSD includes

the following six stages of instruction: (a) developing and activating background knowledge; (b) discussing; (c) modeling; (d) learning strategies; (e) supporting students’ learning, and (f ) independent practice (see Harris et al., 2008). Although numerous studies exist in SRSD expressive writing with students with learning disabilities and students considered at risk for academic f ailure, far fewer studies have been conducted with students with EBD. This is unfortunate, because SRSD instruction may be

particularly helpful for this population due to the embedded self-regulation strategies throughout the academic planning and organizing strategies. Outside of investigations based on SRSD instruction of stud ents with EBD, research is limited, with few replications. For example Anderson and Keel (2002) investigated a direction instruction writing curriculum with students with learnin g and behavioral disorders; and Regan, Mastropieri, and Scruggs (2005) studied the use of dialogue journals to promote expressive writing. However, a recent series of studies using SRSD procedures have provided some positive preliminary evidence suggesting students with EBD not only benefit from writing instruction but also have reported enjoying and appreciating the benefit s of instruction. For example, Adkins (2005) successfully taught three second and third gr aders with EBD to improve their story writing skills using a multiple baseline design to teach a planning strategy (POW D Plan, Organize, Write) and a genre specific-writing strateg y for stories WWW W D 2 and

H D 2 (what, where, who, what happens, what do the characters do and how do the characters

feel, and how does the story end). After 19 to 25 instructional sessions students improved on most writing measures. Lane and colleagues (2008) replicat ed those findings with six second graders at risk for behavior difficulties who were taught ind ividually the SRSD story-writing strategy combined with Positive Behavior Intervention Sup port (PBIS). Performance gains were observed in improved story quality, length, and elemen ts. Little and colleagues (2010) replicated and extended the Lane and coauthors study with second graders with behavior and

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writing difficulties. Mason and Shriner (2008) reported similar positive findings when six elementary students at risk or with EBD were taught strategi es for writing persuasive essays using an SRSD model. After eleven 30-minute sessions it was r eported that 4 of 6 students improved in overall essay writing on immediate measures, bu t that maintenance follow-up data were mixed. Although these elementary studies appear promising, it is i mportant to determine whether similar evidence also exists with older students with EBD. Fortunately, more recent studies have been conducted at the middle school level with students with EBD who are taught in self- contained and separate setting schools. This type of studen t typically experiences a comorbidity of issues and requires more complex interventions combinin g social-emotional, behavioral, and academic strategies. In a series of studies, Mastropieri, Scruggs, and their colleagues have taught such students to write persuasive essays using the SRSD model, and reported very positive outcomes on quality of essays, number of words written, and n umber of essay elements included (Mastropieri et al., 2009, 2010). Twelve eighth graders wit h EBD participated in a multiple baseline design study in which they were taught the SRSD model of instruction using the strategy POW C TREE, with POW representing the planning and organizing str ategy of plan, organize, and write (Mastropieri et al., 2009). TREE was the persuasive essay genre-specific strategy with T D topic sentence, R D reasons, E D ending, and E D examine. Students were taught to mastery performance, followed by testing and a fluency phase. Fluency instruction required students to use the same planning and organizing st rategies, but to prepare a simpler one paragraph response during a shorter 10-minute period. I nstruction occurred an average of 50 C days during 30-minute, four-days-per-week remediation cl asses. Findings revealed that all students not only mastered the strategy but were abl e to apply their skills to both untimed and fluency conditions. In addition, students were successful at maintenance and generalization measures that were administered three mont hs post treatment (Mastropieri et al., 2009). A follow-up design study involving 10 students with EBD who were taught using similar procedures over 55 days of instruction replicated these find ings (Mastropieri et al., 2010). In all cases, these students were taught performance criteria that, in these studies, meant writing two essays containing all elements without using the graphic organizer or strategy sheets. Students who had difficulties meeting criteria were provided with add itional instruction. These separate setting school findings were replicated and extended with students with EBD in inclusive schools. The students exhibited less severe emotional and behavioral disabilities and performed higher academically than in the previous investi gations. In the first study, 12 seventh and eighth graders were taught similar instructional procedures using SRSD procedures and the POW C TREE strategy, but were also taught to include the use of coun terarguments in their essays in the first instructional phase (Mastropieri et al., 2012). In a second instructional phase, students were taught to write more fluently using a ten-minut e period to plan and write. Findings revealed all students improved dramatically from baseline to both postintervention phases on measures of essay quality, length, and components. In addit ion, students successfully included counterarguments, applied those skills to the fluency phase, and reported seeing the value of and enjoying the new writing strategy. In a multiple baseline design study, Mason, Kubina, Valasa, and Cramer (2010) taught five seventh and eighth graders with EBD a quick write SRSD strategy for planning and writing short persuasive responses within 10 minutes. Students wer e instructed individually for 30- minute sessions over five days and three ten-minute sessions over a couple of weeks. All

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students improved on immediate essay measures following in struction, but findings were less robust on maintenance assessments. In a more recent study Hauth, Mastropieri, Scruggs, and Regan (2013) taught eight eighth graders to improve their persuasive essay writing. Students were first taught the POW-TREE strategy using similar SRSD pr ocedures as in the previous studies. However, in a second phase students were taught to apply that strategy to writing persuasive essays using civics content. Findings demonstr ated improved performance across all students in all writing areas of quality, length, and essay components for both the regular and civics content persuasive essays. Hauth and colleagues also reported that students’ planning and writing time increased significantly from baseline to po stintervention. These findings provide important preliminary information about what is possible when teach- ing middle school students with EBD when given unlimited instructional time. Unfortunately, however, teachers are currently under more stringent teach ing schedules. In some cases, the amount of time allocated to persuasive essay instruction is limited to two weeks. In order to assess whether the procedures used in previous studies co uld be taught using the school’s curriculum guidelines, the following study was conducted. Specifically, we were interested in determining whether we could implement these procedures wi thin a middle school’s existing structure and achieve similar findings. It was also importan t to address the school’s wishes for us to teach all eighth graders the intervention. Since a resear ch design using a one group only pre- posttest has limited quality and internal validity, we deci ded a better design to accommodate the school’s wishes in involving all students was to use randomi zed assignment involving a waitlist condition. Students in the waitlist condition would receive the intervention following completion of the first condition’s intervention (e.g., Goodwin, 2009) . Thus, the true effectiveness of the intervention should be determined through a randomized exp eriment, while no students in eighth grade would be denied access to the SRSD writing strat egy. The following research questions were addressed.

1. Does SRSD instruction in POW C TREE improve persuasive writing as measured on

quality and quantity indicators for students in a self-cont ained school for adolescents with EBD in an abbreviated instructional timeframe?

a. On immediate posttesting measures?

b. On maintenance posttesting measures?

2. Will students value the strategy, and be able to report how the strategy helped their writing?

3. Does SRSD instruction in POW C TREE improve students’ self-concept in writing?

METHOD

Design

Due to the school’s concerns that all eighth graders with EBD receive this writing intervention, and to enhance the quality and internal validity of a one grou p pre-posttest study, random as- signment to a waitlist control condition was used. Waitlist control condition experimental design permits experimental-control comparisons, while at the same time providing the opportunity for the participants in the waitlist control condition to receive the intervention following the

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experimental condition (see, e.g., Rosnow & Rosenthal, 201 2; McNeil, Capage, Bahl, & Blanc, 1999). The design offers an alternative to a no-treatment co ntrol condition, and may also be useful in an applied setting (Goodwin, 2009). In order to con trol writing ability across treatment conditions, students were stratified into two groups—lower-ability and medium-ability writers, based on a schoolwide writing assessment for all eighth-grade students administered during the first month of the school year—and then randomly assigned to intervention start dates. A three-step process was used to classify students into medi um- or lower-level writers. First, writing performance on a schoolwide writing assessment was used to rank order students by performance levels. Second, that rank-ordered list was rev iewed with school personnel who made recommendations to maintain or move individual studen ts’ rankings. Finally, the entire list was divided into higher- and lower-performing groups. This allowed stratification by ability grouping to help control for writing ability prior to random assignment. Following random assignment, the treatment first condition included 16 students, with nine lower-level writers and seven medium-level writers. The waitlist condition includ ed 16 students, with eight lower-level writers and eight medium-level writers. The treatment first condition received the intervention, followed by posttesting, after which the waitlist conditio n received the identical intervention and testing procedures. Interventions took place during a 3 0-minute period over two weeks for each condition, while instructional time across both co nditions was held constant. When students were not involved in this writing intervention, th ey received remedial math instruction and no writing instruction.

Setting

The setting for this study was a middle school for students wi th emotional and behavioral disabilities. The school is located within a large metropol itan school district on the east coast of the United States, with more than 150,000 students. All th e students in this school are taught by special education teachers as well as paraprofessionals. A schoolwide positive behavior support system was implemented in which students have tailo r-made vouchers containing student-specific targeted behaviors (Alberto & Troutmen, 2 008). Points were awarded for good behaviors, including class preparedness, respect of other s, class participation, and maintaining appropriate class behaviors. School counselors and crisis teachers were available to provide counseling services to students as needed. Core academic classes were offered daily in math, science, English, and history. Elective classes and physical education were also offered. The adopt ed textbook for English emphasized more literature than writing (Beers, 2005). At the time of th e study, 98 seventh- and eighth-grade students, of whom 83% were male, were enrolled in the school. The student body was racially and ethnically diverse, with 37.8% Caucasian, 25.5% African American, 23.5% Hispanic, 7.1% from other racial/ethnic groups, and 6.1% Asian. Fifty-thr ee percent of the students received free and reduced lunch, while 22% of the school’s students were characterized as limited English proficient.

Participants

Students were selected by the school administrators to part icipate in the investigation. The 32 eighth graders who were all classified as having emotional and behavioral disabilities

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TABLE 1 Behavioral and Academic Individualized Education Program Goals

Behavioral Goals

Academic Goals

Social Problem Solving Social Awareness, Self-Advocacy Accepting Responsibilities Peer Interactions Self-Regulation, Coping Skills, and Control Emotional Reactions Reducing Anxieties Stress Reduction Strategies Following Directions On Task

Written Language and Written Expression Reading Comprehension Reading Decoding Math Computation Math Problem Solving

as primary disabilities participated. All had been placed b y their respective individualized education plan (IEP) teams into this separate setting schoo l for students with EBD, after having been unsuccessful in more inclusive environments. Some were also classified as having learning disabilities and/or attention deficit hyperactiv ity disorders ( N D 6; 3 per condition). The 25 boys and 7 girls were an average age of 14.3 years of age ( SD D 0.52) with a range of 12.35 to 15.38 years. Participants were racially an d ethnically diverse, including 13 African Americans, 12 Caucasians, and 7 Hispanic student s. Students had a mean Full Scale IQ score of 96.31 ( SD D 11.33), with a range from 70 to 125 on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (4th ed., WISC IV; Wechsler, 2003), and mean scores on the Broad Writing of 75.96 ( SD D 10.05) that has a standardized test mean of 100 (Woodcock Johnson III Test of Achievement) (Woodcock, McGrew, & Mather, 2001). Social emotional behavioral goals that were identified on students’ IEPs incl uded: social problem solving, social awareness, accepting responsibilities and self-advocacy (all students); self-regulation, coping skills, controlling emotional reactions (90% of students) ; reducing anxieties, stress reduction strategies (75% of students); and following directions and improving on task behaviors (94% of students). Although 31% of the students did not have academi c IEP goals, school staff indicated all students needed assistance with basic skills of reading , writing, and math based on direct observations of performance in school. Specific academic IEP goals identified included written language and written expression (69%), reading comprehension (45%), reading decoding (30%), math computation (50%), and math problem solving (75%). Tab le 1 presents behavioral goals of the sample.

Project Staff

The project staff included a research team from a local university. Two faculty (one female and one male, both Caucasian) and advanced graduate students, all female (four Caucasians, two Hispanic) who had an average of 10 years of teaching experien ce working with individuals with disabilities and were an average of 37 years of age. Proj ect staff delivered the instruction throughout the intervention. In addition, two female Caucasians were observers and recorded fidelity of treatment. All staff had participated in teachin g writing instruction using SRSD

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training and had at least two years’ experience teaching stu dents with EBD written expression using the SRSD procedures.

Materials

All training materials were based on previous SRSD material s used to teach students persuasive essays using the POW C TREE strategy (see Mastropieri et al., 2009 for a descriptio n). POW

is the organizing strategy to plan, organize, and write. TREE represents the genre-specific

persuasive essay strategy, with letters representing topi c sentence, reasons, explanations, and examine. The SRSD lessons were adapted to be delivered in a mo re rapid timeframe to fit

within the school’s curriculum model for teaching persuasive essays. In addition, multiple self-regulation procedures were embedded within the instr uction. Researchers (project staff ) and students had folders with all required materials. Charts containing the POW C TREE strategy were included, depicting POW stands for: P D Pick your idea, O D Organize your notes, W D Write and say more; TREE stands for: T D Topic,

R D Reasons (3 or more), E D Explanations (say more about each reason), E D Ending and

Examine (check paper again). The chart included a picture of a tree along with an explanation

of what the letters in POW C TREE represented. Graphic organizers listing POW C TREE

across the top with spaces by each strategy step for students to write notes when planning essays were also included (see Figures 1 and 2 for examples). Sample transition words, self- statements, and self-monitoring record sheets were also in cluded. Transition word lists included “starter words” such as first, second, and third, but included blank spaces for students to insert their own transition words (e.g., “All things considered, : : : ”). Self-statement sheets contained sample statements to help students remain on task (e.g., “I t ry to keep my mind clear”), but included blank spaces for students’ own self-statements (e.g., “I try to think of good ideas”). Finally, the self-monitoring recording sheet listed the st rategy steps to be checked off when the task was completed, and students rated their daily perfo rmance as excellent, good, fair, or poor. Lesson plans were included for researchers, which contained all materials for teaching the writing strategy using the SRSD instructional procedur es including developing background knowledge, discussing, modeling, learning the strategy, supporting student use, and independent practice. Lesson plans were printed and placed in three-rin g notebooks but also were made available electronically for all researchers. Student con tracts, large laminated posters of the strategies and graphic organizer, and sample essays were al so included for presentations. The procedure section provides additional implementation det ails lesson by lesson.

Data Sources, Administration, and Scoring Procedures

Standardized test. The Fluency subtest of the Woodcock Johnson Writing Test (Wo od- cock et al., 2001) was administered to all students at the beg inning of the study to ensure equivalency of conditions. This is a timed seven-minute test that requires students to write sentences in response to pictures using three provided word s. The test provides an indicator of ability to formulate complete coherent sentences within a l imited amount of time.

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STRATEGIC PERSUASIVE WRITING 155 FIGURE 1 Pictorial representation for persuasive writing strategy POW C TREE. Writing

FIGURE 1 Pictorial representation for persuasive writing strategy POW C TREE.

Writing prompts and essay elements. Writing prompts were used at pretesting, posttest- ing immediately following each condition’s instruction, and at maintenance approximately two months following posttesting, to measure students’ persuasive essay writing. Two prompts were provided to students, who were asked to select one and write a persuasive essay using paper and pencil. No graphic organizers or other writing assistan ce devices were provided during testing. The writing prompts were selected from a pool of pro mpts used by Mastropieri and colleagues (2009, 2010, 2012) with similar student populat ions.

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156 MASTROPIERI ET AL. FIGURE 2 Graphic organizer.

FIGURE 2 Graphic organizer.

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Essay scoring. In order to compare these findings with previously conducted research, the essay scoring procedures employed were identical to ear lier studies (e.g., Mastropieri et al., 2012). These scoring procedures examined the individual essay components, such as essay length, number of sentences, and transition words, but also assessed whether essays adhered to the specific genre, in this case persuasive essays, by evaluating the essay elements or parts of persuasive essays included in student responses. Finally, an essay quality scoring procedure was used to assess the overall degree of excellence, including t he logic of reasoning and explanations included in essays. All essays were scored multiple times to calculate the total number of words, sentences, paragraphs, transition words, and elements of t he essay; and essay quality based on a scoring rubric. Essay elements scoring included, for example, counting the topic sentence, reasons, corresponding explanations, and ending. Standar d model essays were used as scoring guides and points from 1 to 10 could be awarded for essay quali ty. To obtain high-quality ratings, essays had to contain topic sentence, more than thr ee reasons with corresponding explanations, ending sentence, a logical sequence, and coh erence. Low scores were awarded when essays contained fewer elements (e.g., missing topic sentence, reasons, corresponding explanations, or ending sentence) and the essay’s sequence appeared weak, limiting the overall persuasiveness. Raters were trained to score sample essays using the standard essays as a guide as well as essays from previous research studies prior to sco ring the essays for the present study. Raters underlined and tallied components on the essays during scoring. In addition, when questions arose, raters would consult with other project researchers. This method was found to be highly reliable and employed in previous research (see Mastropieri et al., 2009, for additional procedures and examples). Reliability of scoring was completed by having two scorers rate each essay. When discrepancies existed, scorers met to resolve discrepancies, which resulted in a final inter-rater agreement of 100%.

Interview and social validity data. Following all instruction, students were interviewed to determine their knowledge and attitudes toward instruct ion. Items included, for example, “Name the strategy you were taught,” “How did the strategy help you?”, and “Would you use the strategy in other situations?” Interview data were scored b y two independent scorers. Scoring rubrics were developed and open-ended responses were classified into discrete categories. First all responses were read. After reading responses to each item, general categories were developed. For example, when asked how the strategy helped, findings were categorized into responses indicating the strategy had (a) helped them o rganize their writing; (b) helped them pick ideas for their writing; (c) helped them learn persuasive essay elements to be included; (d) made writing essays easier; and (e) helped them slow down and think about what they were writing. Responses were reviewed and scored using those categories. In addition, raters indicated if new response categories were required. When new categories were added, interviews were reviewed and scored again for all response categories. This procedure was followed for scoring all interview data. When disagreement s occurred scorers met to resolve discrepancies. This resulted in a final scoring percent agreement of 98%.

Writing self-concept. A 12-item writing self-concept scale was administered to bo th conditions before and after the intervention. The measure, containing both attitude and self- efficacy items, was developed by Graham and colleagues and used for the purposes of this study (see Graham, Schwartz, & MacArthur, 1993; Graham, Har ris, & Mason, 2005). The

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scale required students to select from four choices: (1) ver y different from me, (2) different from me, (3) like me, (4) or a lot like me, to items that were bot h positively and negatively worded with respect to attitudes toward writing. The scale contained practice items that were read aloud to students. One sample item for each wording direction included: “I do not like to write” and “When I write, it is easy for me to get ideas for my paper.” The direction of the negatively scored items was reversed during scoring to repr esent a positive score. All items were then computed together to form one self-concept toward writing score. Reliability of the pretest measure was given at alpha D 0.993, suggesting a single construct was being measured.

Fidelity of treatment, class observations, and reflections. Throughout instruction trained observers were present to record treatment fidelity and to write anecdotal observational notes. Project staff used both “live” observations of project staff role-playing instruction and video recordings to train observers to use the fidelity of treatment measures. Once observers had mastered 100% criteria on coding, they were considered q ualified observers. Fidelity checklists that corresponded to the lesson plans were used as guides during observations to ensure instruction was implemented well and as intended. Each major lesson component was placed on the sheet with a space for indicating whether that component was implemented and how well the component was implemented. At least one observer was present at all times, while two observers were present 35% of the time. Percent of agreement across observers was high and yielded a 96% agreement.

Procedures

First, consent or assent was obtained from the school distri ct, parents, children, and school personnel; and Human Subjects Review Board approval was obt ained from the university. All students were then administered the Woodcock Johnson Wr iting Fluency subtest and the self-concept measure. Second, stratification into high er- and lower-performing groups was completed based on student writing levels and school person nel reports. This was completed to help ensure equivalency across treatment first and waitlist conditions. Next, random assignment using the stratified ability groups took place such that half were assigned to the treatment first condition and half to the waitlist condition. Then, student s in both groups were assigned by ability into small instructional groupings of three to fo ur students per group. Students in the treatment first condition received the intervention, wh ile students in the waitlist condition received remedial math instruction. Trained researchers w ho were all experienced in delivering SRSD instruction were assigned to teach each of the four smal l groups of students in the treatment first condition. Following completion of the intervention, posttesting was administered to the treatment first condition. Posttesting consisted of administering two writing prompts with directions to select one prompt and write an essay. Stud ents were also interviewed regarding their strategy usage and administered the self-concept toward writing measure. Then, the identical instructional procedures took place wi th students in the waitlist condition who were also taught in four small groups while remedial math instruction was delivered to the treatment first condition. Following intervention fo r the waitlist condition posttesting, strategy interviews and self-concept toward writing measu res were administered to those students. Approximately two months after instruction and p osttesting, surprise maintenance essay measures were administered to students in both condit ions.

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Intervention condition. All students were tested using the same procedures during wh ich they received two essay prompts, and were asked to write persuasive essays during pretesting, posttesting, and maintenance testing. Following the pretest, instruction occurred during a 30- minute schoolwide remediation period, and was conducted over a two-week time period. Instruction proceeded using the SRSD model. Since student p erformance and progress was monitored daily, decisions using those data were made to rev iew and spend additional time on lesson components with which students experienced difficul ties. For example, some students required more time learning the required essay components, and that instructional time was inserted into the next day’s lesson. Lesson 1 included developing and activating background knowledge. This lesson specifically included: (a) students signing contracts; (b) describing and discussing what makes a good persuasive essay; (c) introducing the TREE chart and discussing what each letter represents; and (d) introducing the TREE graphic organizer and examinin g an essay. Students identified the parts of an essay with teacher assistance while the teach er wrote the parts on note format in the graphic organizer (GO). Typically, the GO is introduced in Lesson 3, but it was introduced here due to the reduced two-week intervention period. Final ly, students practiced learning the strategy steps verbally, practiced the TREE reminder, and t hen wrote what each letter of the strategy (POW C TREE) represented. During Lesson 2, the emphasis was on self-monitoring, self- regulation, and discussing the purpose of writing persuasive essays and how the strategy wo uld assist in planning, organizing, and writing essays. Review of the POW C TREE components and strategy was provided. The transition word chart was introduced. Students were then required to locate parts of persuasive essays independently. A discussion on how to improve the essays took place, with an emphasis on inserting additional reasons, explanations, and elabor ations. The student record sheet was introduced and teachers guided students on how to complete t he record sheet with the essay sample examined. Following this, discussion was held on the importance of establishing goals for writing persuasive essays. During Lesson 3, modeling was emphasized. However, pending student performance from the previous lesson, some instructional groups revisited l ocating the parts of an essay first. Student performance guided decisions to include additional review. For example, when stu- dents responded consistently accurately, instruction moved forward. Conversely, when students responded inconsistently, additional review was included . Researchers modeled writing and self-regulation strategies through a think-aloud format. Students observed teachers use POW C TREE, the graphic organizer to organize ideas prior to writi ng, transition words, self-statements, and observed the teacher transfer the notes into writing. Researchers also explained how to organize the essay into five paragraphs. Researchers then in troduced the self-statement chart and asked students to identify statements used while she was writing the essays. Then, students were asked to write some things they could say to themselves o n their individual self-statement sheets, using the class chart as a reference. During Lesson 4—Support it, researchers reviewed POW C TREE verbally as a class, with student partners, and with students writing responses. Then collaborative writing took place. All students used the same essay prompt, but were encouraged to p roduce their own planning ideas and to write their own essays using their planning notes. Stu dents were provided assistance as needed. By the end of these lessons, students had completed t he whole process of writing an essay using all the supportive materials and graphed their p erformance.

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During Lesson 5, students worked more independently. Altho ugh instruction began with a review of POW C TREE, all supportive materials including the graphic organ izer and transition word charts were removed. Teachers modeled how to write down a reminder mnemonic, POW TREE, at the top of the page. Students were encouraged to construct graphic organizers and compare with earlier used organizers. Class discussion focused on which parts were included and which parts were missing. Brainstorming as many transit ion words as possible in two or three minutes was completed, and comparisons were made with previously employed transition word charts. Students were given two practice prompts and were asked to select one to respond to. They then wrote notes and reminders on the paper, planned their essays, and wrote essays independently. This independent practice with teacher feedback continued for the remainder of the two-week instructional period. When students encountered difficulties with specific essay components, remedial instruction was provided on required areas. Following two weeks of instruction students in the treatmen t first condition, essay prompts were administered postinstruction in the same fashion as th e pretest and asked to write a persuasive essay. Following the posttesting, the treatmen t first condition received remedial math instruction and instruction immediately began for student s in the waitlist condition, following identical procedures.

Waitlist condition. Students in the waitlist condition received remedial math i nstruction while the treatment first condition received the interventi on in SRSD writing. The math instruc- tion was delivered by their assigned teachers. This remedial math period was assigned to all students during the academic quarter the study occurred. No writing instruction was provided. Once the immediate treatment condition concluded with thei r instruction and posttesting, the waitlist condition began the identical instructional sequ ence described previously.

ANALYSES AND RESULTS

Treatment Fidelity

Treatment fidelity was analyzed and yielded high fidelity wit h scores ranging from 95%–99% with a mean of 98%, indicating that the intervention was impl emented in the way it was intended faithfully.

Standardized Test Prior to Intervention

Students in both conditions were administered the Woodcock Johnson Writing Fluency subtest prior to intervention. Students who received the intervent ion first condition obtained a mean scaled score of 76.69 ( SD D 10.14) with a range of 50 to 92, while waitlist students received a mean scaled score of 75.25 ( SD D 10.24) with a range of 61 to 96. These data were entered into a t -test for independent samples and yielded a nonsignificant d ifference, t (30) D 0.40, p > 0.05, which indicated that the conditions were not statisti cally different prior to starting the intervention. In addition, the generally lower overall scores validated a need for a writing intervention with this sample of students.

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Essays

Descriptive data by test and type of essay component are in Table 2 and a sample representative pre and post student essay are in Table 3. Data were analyzed i n several ways. First, the pretests across the two conditions were compared to determine whether any statistical differences existed prior to intervention for either condition. Then tests were conducted to assess the effect of training using posttests and maintenance tests on immediat e intervention condition with the pretests of the waitlist condition (comparison A). Finally, after intervention had been delivered to the waitlist condition, those posttest and maintenance scores were compared with the pretest of the immediate treatment condition (comparison B).

Pretest comparison results. Pretest performance of students in the immediate inter- vention condition was compared with pretest performance of those in the waitlist control condition using independent sample t -tests. T-tests across all essay scoring procedures were not significant, all t s 1.34, all p s > 0.05. The t -test for number of words written was t (30) D 0.34, p D 0.37, for number of sentences written; t (30) D 1.11, p D 0.20, for paragraphs written t (30) D 0.99, p D 0.22, for number of transition words written t (30) D 1.34, p D 0.072, for number of essay elements t (30) D 0.22, p D 0.81, for overall essay quality t (30) D 0.29, p D 0.95. These findings indicate that the two conditions were no t statistically different on the pretest essay writing measures.

TABLE 2 Mean Essay Scores by Condition (SD)

Test

Immediate Treatment

Waitlist Treatment

Pretest Words Sentences Transition Words Paragraphs Essay Elements Quality of Essay Posttest Words Sentences Transition Words Paragraphs Essay Elements Quality of Essay Maintenance Words Sentences Transition Words Paragraphs Essay Elements Quality of Essay

(N D 16) 56.31 (41.12) 3.56 (3.22)

(N D 16) 61.69 (48.45) 5.28 (5.29) 1.56 (1.83) .69 (0.79) 4.00 (3.01) 2.94 (1.81) (N D 16) 130.69 (86.98)* 10.88 (7.62)* 3.63 (3.01)* 2.62 (1.93)* 6.31 (2.01)* 5.00 (1.51)* (N D 11) 89.09 (61.34) 6.09 (3.91) 1.36 (1.50) 1.09 (0.70) 5.27 (2.10) 3.82 (1.54)

.94

(1.24)

.44 (0.63)

3.88

(2.70)

2.75

(1.81)

(N D 16)

133.25 (55.54)*

11.06 (4.73)*

4.81

(3.45)*

2.81 (1.87)*

7.00

(2.01)*

5.38

(2.03)*

(N D 13) 71.62 (45.22) 5.38 (4.61)*

1.92

(2.72)*

.92 (1.32)*

5.23 (1.88)*

4.08

(1.80)*

* p < 0.05.

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TABLE 3 A Representative Sample Pre- and Post Essay

Pretest Essay

Posttest Essay

Is it better to live in the city or the country? It Better to live in the city Both are good cuz ya They Both have great aspects.

Would you rather receive a $30 gift card as a gift or receive a s weater as a present? Thirty dollar gift card is better than a sweater. First you ca n buy anything thirty dollar and under with a thirty dollar gift card. Secon d you can always buy a sweater with the gift card. Third you could grow out of th e sweater, but you can’t grow out of the gift card. also you can get a receipt if you buy something with the gift card. There are many reasons why a thirty dollar gift card is better than a sweater. First, you can buy anything thirty dollars and under with a th irty dollar gift card. You dont have to buy a certain thing with a gift card. Sec ond, you can always buy a sweater with the gift card. because if you dont wa nt anything else why not buy a sweater. Third, you could grow out of your sw eater, but you can’t grow out of the gift card. The sweater might not fit, but you can always use the gift card. Also you can get a receipt if you buy s omething with the gift card. If you get a receipt for something and don’t open it you can return it. In conclusion, I’t is better to have a thirty dollar gift card than a sweater.

Immediate results. Posttest essay scores of students in the immediate interven tion con- dition were compared with the pretest scores of students in t he waitlist condition using independent sample t- tests (comparison A). The tests for all methods of scoring essays were statistically significant favoring students who had received the treatment condition immediately compared with students in the waitlist condition pretests, all t s 3.24, all p s 0.003. The t -test for number of words written was t (30) D 3.88, p D 0.001, for number of sentences written t (30) D 3.26, p D 0.003, for paragraphs written t (30) D 4.19, p D 0.000, for number of transition words written t (30) D 3.33, p D 0.002, for number of essay elements t (30) D 3.24, p D 0.003, for overall essay quality t (30) D 3.59, p D 0.001. All these effects resulted in large effect sizes including for number of words ES D 1.38, for sentences ES D 1.15, for transition words ES D 1.23, for paragraphs ES D 0.80, for essay elements included ES D 1.20, and for overall essay quality ES D 1.27. Performance of students in the waitlist control condition after receiving the intervention was compared with students in the immediate treatment condi tion at pretest (comparison B) in order to determine whether the waitlist condition improved significantly even though they experienced a delayed period. Scores for all essays were compared using independent sample t -tests, which yielded all statistically significant differ ences, all t s 2.85, all p s 0.008. The t -test for number of words written was t (30) D 3.01, p D 0.004, for number of sentences written t (30) D 3.53, p D 0.001, for paragraphs written t (30) D 4.32, p D 0.000, for number of transition words written t (30) D 3.31, p D 0.002, for number of essay elements t (30) D 2.85, p D 0.008, for overall essay quality t (30) D 3.58, p D 0.001. All these significant effects resulted in large effect sizes, including for number of word s ES D 1.16, for sentences ES D 1.35, for transition words ES D 1.26, for paragraphs ES D 1.71, for essay elements included

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ES D 1.03, and for overall essay quality ES D 1.28. This indicates the treatment was similarly effective for students in the waitlist and immediate intervention conditions.

Maintenance results. Maintenance essays were administered two months following in- tervention (see Table 1). Three students from the treatment first condition and five students from the waitlist condition were unavailable for testing du e to moving, transferring, or school expulsion. Maintenance scores were compared with preinter vention scores. Students in the treatment first condition performed significantly higher on the number of sentences, transition words, paragraphs, essay elements, and overall essay quali ty ( ps < 0.05) from preintervention

to maintenance. Their scores on essay length did not reach st atistical significance although

were descriptively higher (56.31 vs. 71.61 words preintervention to maintenance, respectively). Conversely, none of the performance differences for studen ts in the waitlist condition were statistically significantly different from preinterventi on to maintenance (all ps > 0.05). Again, however, as can be seen in Table 2, all maintenance scores for essay length, sentences, transition words, paragraphs, elements, and overall quality were descriptively higher than preintervention levels (e.g., 61.69 vs. 89.09 for words between preinterven tion and maintenance).

Interview, Social Validity, and Strategy Data

Students were interviewed following the training and testi ng to determine whether the strategy had been learned, how well they liked the strategy, and if they would use it again themselves. Twenty-nine students were available for the interviews. Wh en asked to name the strategy, 27 out of 29 students correctly recalled the POW C TREE strategy. When asked whether the strategy helped, 12 responded with improved essay organization, other students responded that the strategy helped them select and express better ideas ( N D 4), assisted with knowledge

of critical essay components ( N D 5), made writing paragraphs and essays easier ( N D 4),

and assisted with writing mechanics including writing bett er transitions ( N D 1). Students overwhelmingly reported ( N D 22) that use of the graphic organizer was the most helpful aspect of instruction because it facilitated essay organization, kept them on topic, and made it

easier to write more and better organized essays. Fewer stud ents offered any suggestions for changing the instruction. However, those who did mention making the sample essays shorter, having more essay prompts to choose from, and having edible r einforcers. When asked if they

had used the strategy in other classes, 13 students indicated that they had used it in English,

at home and on the state wide high-stakes testing. Finally, w hen students were asked how

this strategy might help other students, 19 students offered replies including that the strategy would help with knowledge of essay components, organizing essays, providing better steps for writing, and making writing generally easier. Table 4 contains comments students made about the essay writing strategy.

Self-Concept toward Writing Data

A self-concept toward writing measure was administered pri or to and following instruction.

Findings were mixed. Students who received treatment first h ad significantly higher self-concept toward writing scores compared with those students in the waitlist condition. Students in the

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TABLE 4 Student Strategy Reports

“I think POW C TREE was the best thing. Teach kids in fourth or third grade so they have it through now.” Student suggestion—“Add a letter for proofreading—to remind [us] at the end of the acronym.” One student used POW C TREE for pre-essay writing. He got an A on the paper (in Englis h)—a better grade than he normally gets. This student also reported he made a “d raft” before writing in English and got 9/10. “Usually I just write instead of picking what I want to talk ab out, [with] no summary or draft, and the strategy has help me break down the steps.” This strategy “Helped me organize and write more because I us e it instead of just going from my head.” “POW C TREE made my ideas more understandable and I have been better able to express my ideas.” “It [the strategy] gave me time to plot and think instead of ju st going ahead, gave me space to think of other ideas and get a foundation for what to write.”

treatment first condition were compared with the pretest sco res of students in the waitlist condition using independent sample t- tests (comparison A). The self-concept toward writing scores were statistically significant, favoring students w ho had received the treatment first, compared with students in the waitlist condition pretest, t (30) D 2.16, p D 0.003.Comparison B, of the waitlist self-concept toward writing posttest wit h the treatment first pretest, was not significant, t (30) D 1.73, p D 0.09.

DISCUSSION

Findings from the present classroom application revealed t hat all students whether instructed immediately or following a waitlist condition performed si gnificantly higher compared to their peers on postintervention essays. Results were mixed on a su rprise two-month maintenance test, indicating that although initial performance was high, many students’ performance declined, indicating a need for periodic review sessions to help reinf orce the strategy instruction over time. Student strategy reports indicated that the overwhel ming majority of students not only recalled the persuasive writing strategy but also saw the importance of prewriting planning with a graphic organizer. Most important, these positive fin dings were observed after only two weeks of instruction during the typical allocated time for l earning persuasive essays. Self- concept toward writing findings were mixed, in that students who received treatment first obtained significantly higher self-concept toward writing scores. Surprisingly, those treatment first condition students also performed significantly better on the maintenance test indicating that perhaps the heightened self-concepts toward writing may have assisted in not only elevating their immediate writing performance but also maintaining i t over the two-month interval. This study took place within the regularly allocated teachi ng time for persuasive essays of approximately two weeks. Waitlist conditions were utili zed in order to ensure all students enrolled would have an opportunity to participate in the instruction but also to maintain some experimental rigor. During the waitlist time, students received remedial math instruction and no writing instruction. These findings revealed significant immediate and mixed two-month maintenance effects with a substantially shorter interven tion period than in the previously reported studies employing similar students with EBD (e.g., Mastropieri et al., 2009, 2010). On initial posttests, all students in both the immediate and waitlist treatment conditions improved

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significantly in essay quality, essay elements, length, sen tences, paragraphs, and transition words. There are several potential explanations for the find ings with the decreased instructional time. First, the previous studies taught SRSD instruction t o criterion performance, or ensured that each student mastered all lesson components before advancing to subsequent lessons (see Mastropieri et al., 2012). Because the present study was limited in time, the total number of instructional sessions was reduced. In the present case, the sessions were adapted to fit within the two-week period (e.g., the graphic organizer was introduced during the first lesson and reviewed daily, rather than waiting until Lesson 3). Oth er studies that covered all lessons in a shorter time period appeared to have higher-functionin g samples (see also Lane et al., 2008; Mason, Kubina, & Taft, 2011). It may be the current samp le represented students who were functioning higher academically and/or were less severely affected with emotional and behavioral disabilities, even though they attended a self- contained school for students with EBD. Although the students with EBD were enrolled in a similar separate setting school as in the present study, these students were all performing sub stantially higher academically than the samples in the two earlier studies (see Mastropieri et al ., 2009, 2010). The higher academic functioning coupled with an ability to attend to task better may have enabled the instruction to proceed at a more rapid pace (see also Hauth et al., 2013). Add itionally, although students still were diagnosed with EBD, there were fewer comorbidity issues in the present sample, which also might have facilitated students’ abilities to attend and learn in a truncated time period. Students’ performance was somewhat lower during the maintenance testing following a two-month delay interval. Students in the treatment first co ndition performed significantly higher on essay quality, essay parts, sentences, paragraph s, and transition words, but not on overall essay length. However, the waitlist comparison con dition performed only descriptively higher, but not significantly higher on all measures. Althou gh this finding was observed in earlier studies, the level of decline for some students was substantially more in the case of the students in the waitlist condition. Several potential explanations exist for this decline. First, the study lost several students to attrition followi ng a two-month delayed testing period. Unfortunately, many students with EBD experience transiti ons, such a relocating with families, and suspension and expulsion, during an academic year. However, such a loss of participants also weakened statistical power. SRSD writing instruction research has documented consistent declines on maintenance measures (e.g., Mason & Shriner, 20 08; Mastropieri et al., 2009, 2012). Previous researchers have indicated a need for perio dic review sessions during which writing strategies are reviewed and practiced. This type of review and supplemental practice may be particularly critical for students with disabilities who experience more challenges in learning and behavior. Nevertheless, the manipulations sp ecific to this investigation including accelerated pace of instruction may have facilitated more r apid learning, but less longer-term retention than was observed in some previous lengthier stud ies (e.g., Mastropieri et al., 2012) or with higher-functioning students (e.g., Hauth et al., 20 13). In addition, some students in this study also had comorbidity with learning or attention d ifficulties. Although all students performed significantly higher on immediate tests, these ad ditional learning challenges may have hindered their longer-term retention. More recently, research has found that students with EBD in inclusive middle schools successfully learned and ap plied this type of writing strategy in an average of only 9.5 sessions, which is encouraging because of the substantial reduction in required instructional time (Hauth et al., 2013). However, in that study, students were taught to write using single paragraph responses rather than multi ple paragraph essays. In addition, in

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the present study, students in the treatment first condition demonstrated significant increases in self-concept toward writing, while the waitlist treatment condition demonstrated no significant improvement on the writing self-concept measure. It may be t hat the improvement in self- concept toward writing contributed to a more improved maint enance effect. Future research could examine more closely the relationship between writin g self-concept and maintenance writing measures. Persuasive writing may be an extremely important area to teach students with EBD. If students learn to think clearly and express their positions coherently, they may be more able to avoid personal confrontations that often accelerate int o unpleasant situations. The fact that the students in the present study all appeared to recognize t he value of the planning and organization prior to writing might be helpful as an initial step in guiding students to think and plan prior to acting without planning or thinking. Persu asive writing, as employed in this investigation, shares many features with argumentative wr iting, described by the Common Core State Standards as written arguments to support claims usin g clearly stated reasons and relevant evidence (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010a, 2010b). Argumentative writing is al so commonly thought to include use of counterarguments, and replies to these arguments (Purdu e Online Writing Lab, 2013). It may be that future writing research should address argumentative writing. Although available time and preskills of this sample precluded teaching all relevan t elements of argumentative writing in this investigation, students nevertheless learned many of the important components, and made significant progress on their way to becoming competent writers. Since schools struggle with teaching writing to all students, and the task is even mo re challenging for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities, it may be particularly valuable to include more writing instructional time for such students (see Mastropieri & Scr uggs, 2014).

Limitations

Limitations of this research include that this particular i ntervention covered only one aspect of writing, that of persuasive essays. Many aspects of writi ng need to be taught, including narrative, descriptive, argumentative, and expository. A dditionally, the mechanics of writing were not addressed in this study, even though this is also an i mportant issue for many students with EBD. Recent studies have begun to address lengthier wri ting revision phases to improve overall writing quality (see Mills & Mastropieri, 2012). Th is study also did not address a specific revision instructional phase. More recent research investigating the use of computer- assisted graphic organizers to facilitate writing has also yielded some promising findings (see Evmenova, & Regan, 2012). However, technology was not used i n the present study. It is clear that the students in the present study could also benefit from extended writing instruction covering all of these areas (see also Gersten & Baker, 2001; G illespie & Graham, in press). Finally, the inclusion of specially designed review sessio ns administered periodically throughout the academic year may prove beneficial for maintaining learn ing gains.

Educational Implications

There also appear to be some educational implications from t his growing body of research for classroom practitioners. Teachers can implement this specific strategy training including the

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use of the planning and graphic organizers with their studen ts. When teachers monitor not only their instructional procedures but also student performan ce, they may observe improvements in planning, organizing, and writing simple persuasive essays (see also Harris et al., 2008). Since maintenance findings were mixed in this study, it is str ongly recommended that teachers include periodic review sessions after teaching a writing strategy to help ensure long-term retention and use. Future research is needed to examine how w riting instruction such as the present can be included within the Common Core Curriculum. Future research is also needed to determine whether these findings can be replicated with respect to overall instructional time, and improvements in writing quality, self-concept in writi ng, maintenance performance, as well as performance on high-stakes and standardized tests.

FUNDING

Partial support for this research was provided by grants Grant No. R324A070199-07 from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sci ences awarded to Pennsylvania State University with a subcontract to George Mason University, and Grant Nos. H325D070008 and H325D120036 from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Content reported in no way reflects an endorsement from the fu nding agencies.

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