“Reading and writing should be a right, not a privilege.”

— Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author

2023 Quick Report: Black/African American Students Show Largest Gains in Writing Assessment

Full Report (PDF)

At 826, we have seen how more time and resources devoted to writing education leads to tremendous growth in writing ability. In contrast to the post-pandemic decline in national reading and math scores, writing assessment scores in 2022 from students in 826 Network programs showed a statistically significant improvement of 6% over the course of programming. And, Black/African American students saw the most improvement in their writing, gaining 12%, double the average for the whole group. This data reveals a promising trend: despite ongoing struggles facing the writing education field, 826 is narrowing the gap in writing proficiency, especially among students from historically underserved communities. In this report, we dig into the findings from the 826 writing assessment, highlighting significant growth across demographic groups and diving further into the implications of those findings.

The 826 Writers’ Room: A Room Where I Can Be Who I Am

Executive Summary (PDF)
Full Report (PDF)

826 Writers’ Rooms are dedicated third spaces housed within partner schools where students immerse themselves in the writing craft, build their writing skills, and explore the depths of their imaginations on the page in a creative, supportive environment. We have seen firsthand how the Writers’ Room program benefits students in writing skills, social and emotional learning, creativity, leadership, and so much more. Now, we have external research to back up our observations. Drawing on research conducted by Northeastern University, this report provides evidence of positive outcomes and details the essential elements of a Writers’ Room so that students and schools everywhere can experience what makes these writing spaces so special.

2022 Quick Report: Creativity Gains in Student Writing

Full Report (PDF)

A key tenet of 826’s pedagogy is supporting and growing students’ creativity through the power of writing. Through writing, students practice flexing their creativity muscle: they imagine themselves as superheroes or scientists, create inventive solutions to everyday problems, and engage deeply with new concepts and information.

Research shows that creativity can benefit students in many ways, including by promoting adaptability and problem-solving, building confidence, and creating lifelong learners. And yet, how to assess creativity, particularly in the classroom, remains largely unclear.

This report shares 826’s first steps in contributing to this area of research by piloting a creativity assessment using student writing. Our initial results are positive, showing evidence that 826 programs lead to gains in student creativity across three attributes essential to creativity: Originality, elaboration, and task appropriateness.

The Truth About Writing Education in America, Part 2: Raising Teacher Voices

Executive Summary (PDF)
Full Report (PDF)

In 2020, 826 National published a report on the state of writing education in the United States, calling out the challenges facing the writing education field, the benefits of writing for students, and the opportunities available to elevate the field. Now, we’re following up with our second report, The Truth About Writing Education in America Part 2: Raising Teacher Voices, which shares findings from a survey of over 200 teachers nationwide. This report confirms many of the findings from our first paper and provides strong evidence that the challenges in writing education remain, but digs in deeper to the teacher experience of teaching writing, particularly during the ongoing pandemic.

Publishing Student Writing: “This is more than a book.”

Executive Summary (PDF)
Full Report (PDF)

Publishing student work is an essential part of 826’s approach to writing education. It not only provides an opportunity for students to see their ideas reflected and valued in a tangible way that amplifies their voices to new and diverse audiences, but also increases their confidence and pride in themselves and their writing as they begin to see themselves as authors with words worth reading. We’ve seen that publishing student writing is beneficial, and the research agrees. However, although teachers see value in student publications, our own research shows that the majority of teachers are not publishing or sharing student writing. This report first explores why publishing student writing is so essential to writing education, and then dives deeply into 826’s unique approach to student publication, sharing best practices and students’ own thoughts on being published.

2021 Quick Report: Learning Gains in Writing During a Pandemic Year

Full Report (PDF)

In a year that presented challenges in all aspects of our lives, education is an area greatly affected by the pandemic. With most instruction across our nation becoming virtual, many reports show a “learning loss” in highly tested subjects such as reading, math, and other subjects. But what about writing? Writing is a critical tool, especially in challenging times, as it allows for self-expression, communication, reflection, and, when needed, an escape. In this Quick Report, we share the learning gains in writing that we’ve seen in 826 students during the pandemic.

As we reflect on this past year and prepare for the year to come, we wanted to share what we’ve seen across the 826 Network. This report showcases the role that writing plays in supporting students through the challenges of the past year, and how writing can continue to support students as we transition back to in- person and hybrid learning.

The Truth About Writing Education in America: Let’s Write, Make Things Right

Executive Summary (PDF)
Full Report (PDF)

Equal access to quality writing education has been a longstanding challenge in the United States and not enough has been done to move the field forward in recent years. In this report, we at 826 National aim to bring writing education to the forefront of public, policy, and funding conversations by examining its current state and issuing a call to action to the field. In the summer and fall of 2020, we interviewed 19 writing education experts, including authors, researchers, and educators, about the current state of writing education in the United States. We distill their reflections on the benefits, challenges, and inequities of writing education, and then draw on those reflections to outline recommendations for the field.

After-School Tutoring Evaluation

In October 2013, 826 National contracted Arbor Consulting Partners to conduct a national study on the impact of the 826 network’s after-school tutoring (AST) program on participating students.

Young Authors’ Book Project Evaluation

Beginning in the fall of 2012, Arbor Consulting Partners observed and evaluated one of the network’s hallmark programs, the Young Author’s Book Project. The evaluation was conducted with a group of 826 Boston students out of the Boston International High School.

Creating a Community Writing Center

In 2020-2021, Catherine Calabro Cavin from 826michigan partnered with YpsiWrites, a collaborative community writing center, to survey other local education non-profits, families, students, and library patrons to assess interests and best approaches for providing writing support community-wide. Based on their findings, they then began piloting different kinds of writing programming for a range of age groups, which is briefly described in the report.

Independent Reports

Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs From Urban Youth and Other Experts

In the fall of 2013, the Wallace Foundation featured 826 National (along with 826NYC and 826 Valencia) as one of eight “exemplary” after-school programs. Contained in their report and research are the ten success principles they outlined as contributing to highly effective programs.