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ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Zooming in on the vertical progression in writing

ANet blog

As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, our primary concern is helping ensure equitable opportunity for all students.

Working alongside schools, we’ve learned that great teaching is grounded in standards, data, and insights shared among educators. We believe a blog can help us make a difference by spreading the ideas and effective practices of educators we work with.

We’re proud of the expertise our team has built over our ten years, and we'll be featuring contributions from ANetters across the org on topics in which they’ve immersed themselves.

Help us spread opportunity for all students: please share posts that you find valuable with your colleagues. And please add your thoughts in the comments: we would love this blog to facilitate knowledge-sharing in all directions.

Zooming in on the vertical progression in writing

Jeff Odell

by Sarah Tierney

You’d be hard-pressed to find a school that isn’t focused on improving student writing. And that’s not surprising—it takes a lot of practice to transfer thoughts into writing, and to do so in a clear, compelling way.

One of the ways we can help students become better writers is by deepening our understanding of the way standards connect and build on one another as students move from from one grade to the next. When we only look at the standards for our own grade, it can be challenging to understand how this learning fits within the scope of a year or across the multiple years students will spend learning to hone their writing skills. In a way, we're looking at the standards in a vacuum. 

Studying the vertical progression allows us to see where students need to make cognitive leaps, such as moving from writing about their opinions to crafting arguments.

But when we look at the progression of standards across grades, we’re able to contextualize our grade-level learning goals and ensure the tasks we're putting in front of students are rigorous. Improving writing in our classrooms is no small task. It requires that we strategically support that builds on previous learning, such as using dialogue and descriptions, or using transition words to connect ideas.

Learning to write well can take a lifetime. But we want to give our students a solid start. See the resource page for ideas.


We’ve spent ten years learning from thousands of leaders and teachers across the country about the things that make a big difference for schools. Now, we want to give you the opportunity to do the same. We’ve organized these Lessons From the Field in a new section of our website by our main areas of focus—everything from harnessing the power of formative assessments to fostering a culture of adult learning.

Sarah is a director of new partnerships and former coach at ANet. She’s leading the Lessons From the Field project.

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