CA District Implements Software To Improve Writing Skills

Saugus Union School District of Santa Clarita, CA, has implemented the MY Access! writing software from Vantage Learning in order to help its fourth-grade students improve their writing skills.

The Web-based software is a writing assessment tool that requires students to write essays based on a teacher's assignment and then to submit the essays to the system. It then analyzes each essay for more than 350 characteristics associated with writing quality and scores the essay in several categories, including focus, organization, content, language use and style, mechanics and conventions, and overall writing proficiency. The scores and comments derived from the software's analysis provide immediate feedback to students, saving teachers valuable class time.

"MY Access! is a perfect complement to what we consider an elite suite of technology tools in our classrooms.  The immediate feedback and detailed targeted instruction [the software] provides is invaluable," said Arlene Anderson, educational technology curriculum specialist for SUSD. "It enabled teachers to devote more personal attention to the kids, and helped everyone focus their efforts on truly mastering our English curriculum."

Teachers at SUSD elementary schools said they have noticed significant improvements in many students' writing ability since the software was implemented. Anderson also cited the value of Vantage Learning's technical and professional support, the professional development training the company offers in conjunction with the software, and the software's multiple language support, which is especially useful in districts like SUSD with a substantial number of students learning English as a second language.

SUSD serves about 11,000 students in grades K through 6 in the Santa Clarita Valley north of Los Angeles, including nearly 1,600 fourth-graders currently using the MY Access! software.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.