Each month, IDEA collects and celebrates student writing as a means of recognizing and rewarding exemplary student and campus writing achievement on district-wide assessments or supplemental prompts that are designed for students to showcase their outstanding writing skills.
The competition, aptly named I Am a Writer, is unique because it provides a platform to celebrate student writing throughout the year, highlighting curriculum-based assessments that require extensive writing skills.
Individual campuses celebrate student writing achievement through campus-wide announcements and pep rallies where students are presented with a certificate of achievement. In student competitions, one winner from each grade level is then chosen to represent their campus at the regional level.
Regional competitions see one piece of writing per grade level chosen as the overall winner for the region. Regional winners are invited to monthly regional celebrations, where students are awarded special prizes and honored for their achievements. Additionally, all regional winners advance to IDEA’s monthly national competition, where one piece of writing per grade level is chosen as the national winner.
National winners are awarded $100 toward college upon graduation from IDEA and are also featured on the IDEA website.
“We believe it is important to celebrate student achievement in writing, as we know our students have thoughtful ideas and compelling ways of communicating those ideas,” says Colleen Stearns, IDEA’s Director of English Language Arts. “We also know scholars need a lot more opportunities to write about the things they care about, to an authentic audience. Ultimately, we want our scholars to practice using their voices to write compelling pieces that go beyond the classroom.”
Stearns also notes semester exam data shows that student writing performance is improving this year over last year including a 12-point improvement on Approaches and 13-point improvement on Masters in 4th grade writing, a 2-point improvement on Approaches and 2-point improvement on Meets in 7th grade writing, and a 3-point improvement on Approaches and 2-point improvement on Meets in 9th grade English Language Arts.
Statistics like these suggest IDEA is on track to ultimately improve student writing scores on end-of-year assessments, demonstrating a strong spike in student organization and presentation.
“I am excited to see the time [spent on the essays] and excitement in the essays from our scholars,” says Joann Brant, Assistant Principal of Instruction at Rio Vista Academy in El Paso. “More and more are turning them in typed, the presentation is neater, and their penmanship is improving as well!”
For more information on the I Am a Writer program, or to view a current list of national winners, please visit https://ideapublicschools.org/i-am-a-writer/.