All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Text Size: A A A  


Writing is an often overlooked component of literacy, but the ability to write clearly and communicate effectively is critical to students' classroom and workplace success. Thoughtful writing assignments can provide a means to enhance students' vocabulary, comprehension, and spelling skills.

See additional sources of reading research.

Sort by: Date Title

Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively

Graham, S., Bruch, J., Fitzgerald, J., Friedrich, L., Furgeson, J., Greene, K., Kim, J., Lyskawa, J., Olson, C.B., & Smither Wulsin, C. (2016). Teaching secondary students to write effectively (NCEE 2017-4002). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE website:

This practice guide presents three evidence-based recommendations for helping students in grades 6–12 develop effective writing skills. Each recommendation includes specific, actionable guidance for educators on implementing practices in their classrooms. The guide also summarizes and rates the evidence supporting each recommendation, describes examples to use in class, and offers the panel’s advice on how to overcome potential implementation obstacles. This guide is geared towards administrators and teachers in all disciplines who want to help improve their students’ writing.

The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2007

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics.

This report presents the results of the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) writing assessment, which was administered to a sampling of 8th and 12th graders in U.S. public and private schools. Average writing scores were higher in 2007 than in previous assessments in 2002 and 1998.

For 8th graders:

  • The average writing score was 3 points higher than in 2002 and 6 points higher than in 1998.
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Basic level increased from 85 percent in 2002 to 88 percent and was also higher than in 1998
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Proficient level was higher than in 1998 but showed no significant change since 2002.

For 12th graders:

  • The average writing score was 5 points higher than in 2002 and 3 points higher than in 1998.
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Basic level increased from 74 percent in 2002 to 82 percent and was also higher than in 1998.
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Proficient level was higher than in 1998 but showed no significant change since 2002.

Writing Next

Graham, S. and Perin, D. (2007). Writing Next. New York: Carnegie Corporation.

Writing well is not just an option for young people — it is a necessity. Along with reading comprehension, writing skill is a predictor of academic success and a basic requirement for participation in civic life and in the global economy. Yet every year in the United States large numbers of adolescents graduate from high school unable to write at the basic levels required by colleges or employers. In addition, every school day, 7,000 young people drop out of high school, many of them because they lack the basic literacy skills to meet the growing demands of the high school curriculum. Because the definition of literacy includes both reading and writing skills, poor writing proficiency should be recognized as an intrinsic part of this national literacy crisis. This report offers a number of specific teaching techniques that research suggests will help 4th- to 12th-grade students in our nation's schools.

Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading

Graham, S., and Hebert, M.A. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence for how writing can improve reading. A Carnegie Corporation Time to Act Report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Writing to Read is a new Carnegie Corporation report published by the Alliance for Excellent Education which finds that while reading and writing are closely connected, writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills and content learning. Writing to Read identifies three core instructional practices that have been shown to be effective in improving student reading: having students write about the content-area texts they have read; teaching students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text; and increasing the amount of writing students do.

Writing, Technology and Teens

Lenhart, A., Arafeh, S., Smith, A.,and Macgill, A.R.,(2008). Writing, Technology and Teens. Washington, DC: The Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project and National Commission on Writing surveyed teens and their parents about teens' definitions of writing, the influence of e-communication—email, text messaging, etc.— on traditional writing skills; the types and frequency of writing assignments students receive; and ways that writing instruction could be improved.

« Back to all Research & Reports