DC Students argue better…and it’s a GOOD THING!

Argumentative Writing now seen as a critical skill for college readiness.

An innovative program to help students argue better, run by One World Education, a non-profit based in Washington, DC, may be an academic game changer… rather than a parent’s nightmare!

Over the last two years, One World has taught DC teens how to research, argue, and write. Now the data is back and the end product of all this work–students’ argumentative essays–indicates statistically significant gains in more than 85% of the schools using the program during the past two years. Argumentative writing is one of the most important skills that students need in higher education, and yet surprisingly, this skill is often not taught in middle or high schools.

The research, completed earlier this month, also shows that lower-performing DC students benefited the most from the program at a time when only 9% of low-income students of color are college-ready, according to an ACT study released in early September. The evaluation of One World’s program was completed by Quentin Wodon, a Lead Economist at the World Bank, as part of pro bono work done with the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill, and Edward Comstock, a Senior Professorial Lecturer at American University. Their evaluation is based on writing assignments before and after the program from more than 1,100 students in 21 schools.

“Students are showing significant progress in making a claim, providing evidence to support their claim, understanding and rebutting differing points of view, and drawing conclusions,” said Quentin Wodon. An evaluation of One World’s impact during the 2015-2016 school year, with a qualitative analysis of feedback from participating students and teachers, was recently published in English Journal, the flagship publication of the National Council of Teachers of English.  

“A big reason for One World’s success is that often for the first time in students’ entire school careers, they are allowed to choose to write about social justice topics relevant to their own lives,” said One World CEO Eric Goldstein.  “If teenagers aren’t engaged, they aren’t going to learn.”

One World provides professional development and curriculum, and teachers deliver the program. This past year, students wrote about topics including police brutality, climate change, the electoral college, and much more. Visit www.oneworldeducation.org to see examples of student work.

Each spring, students participating in the One World program learn public speaking skills and compete on-stage to see who can make the most compelling presentation of their essays.  Last year’s event was held at the Howard Theatre. Community leaders judged the performances, and winning students took home $23,000 in scholarships. Students across the District are just starting their 2017-2018 essays.