Project: National Writing Project

Authors: Mark St. John

Type: Lecture

Publication: November 1999

The National Writing Project Model: A Five-Year Retrospective on Findings from the Annual Site Survey (pdf, 26 pages)


This paper is based on a talk given by Mark St. John, President of Inverness Research Associates, at the1999 annual meeting of the National Writing Project in Denver, Colorado. Over 800 site directors and other key NWP leaders from the 154 NWP sites gathered at the meeting. In his talk, Dr. St. John highlighted findings from five years of survey data gathered annually from all NWP sites, and folded the findings into an easy-to-understand story that explains the significance of key features of the NWP model. The purpose of this paper is to capture the main ideas and reflect the tone of that presentation.

Over the last decade, Inverness Research Associates has studied dozens of other professional development projects – and it is very clear that the National Writing Project is quite a different phenomenon. The NWP concentrates on slow and steady growth so that over many years the NWP as a whole builds its own capacity to do work that is ever-increasing in both its quality and its quantity. Analysis of survey data over time suggests that the NWP model is not really best defined as a federally funded model, but rather as a lightly subsidized, market-driven model. Further, the NWP is better able to build cumulative capacity to do the steady work of reform not only because of its structure and organization, but primarily because it has made its belief in the power of teachers to teach one another into a reality.

Intended Audience

The National Writing Project, Federal, State, and Local Policy Makers, Funders, Educators, Teachers, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research, Inc.

Distribution Policy

Inverness Research Inc. grants permission to print and distribute copies.