Case Study

Monroe City Schools


Case Study

Achieving Progress Through Partnership

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Monroe, Louisiana

TWR envisions a world in which all children possess the writing skills necessary for academic and professional success. Our partnership with Monroe City Schools (MCS) in Louisiana provides a model for how students can develop these skills – and excel academically – with explicit writing instruction.

At a glance
  • Monroe City Schools (MCS) is a historically segregated, predominantly African-American school district with one of the highest poverty rates in Louisiana. 
  • MCS has almost 9,000 students in three high schools, three junior high schools, 18 elementary schools, and one alternative school.
  • Nearly 85% of these students are Black or African-American, and nearly 47% are economically disadvantaged, far above the national average of 16.3%.

Elementary Schools

Junior High Schools

High Schools

Alternative School


2010–2016: Before the Revolution

In the early 2010s, Louisiana schools had seen improvements in student performance and graduation rates, but some local districts still struggled, including MCS.

In 2011-2012, MCS ranked 45th out of 69 local school districts, with a District Performance Score of 96.3, compared to the State’s score of 100.5. Elementary students scored up to 80% in ELA proficiency assessments, but older students didn’t perform as well.

  • Eighth-grade students and high-school students in the district scored 53% and 58%, respectively, on ELA proficiency assessments
  • The average ACT score among MCS students was 18.5 compared to 20.3 statewide and 21.1 nationwide
  • Among Monroe high school graduates attending college, 44% required non-credit remedial courses.

A key component of ELA assessments is evaluating students’ writing skills. Like many educators, MCS teachers recognized the importance of writing, but had never been trained to deliver effective, explicit writing instruction to their students.

2017-2018: The Seeds of Revolution Are Planted

Monroe City Schools educators were first introduced to TWR in 2017, when a group of teachers attended a presentation of the Hochman Method at the Teacher Leader Summit in Louisiana. They thought it was exactly what they needed to teach their students how to write.

They spoke to Serena White, then-Director of Curriculum and Instruction, about receiving training in the Method. To cover the cost of training, the district applied for a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) grant, a three-year federal grant aimed at improving the reading and writing skills of students grades K-12.

After MCS received the grant, TWR traveled to Monroe in February 2018 to train a cohort of ELA teachers. TWR returned to the district throughout the year to provide additional coaching to teachers and to review the materials teachers were creating to ensure they properly aligned with the writing strategies outlined in the Method.

Training in the district began with introductory courses given to ELA teachers in grades 3-12. It later extended to teachers in grades K-2, as well as math and science teachers. This created a common language around writing instruction within schools and across the district, which would create a consistent approach to teaching writing across all grades and subject areas.

2019: A Revolutionary Team Emerges

MCS teachers who had received training began implementing writing instruction immediately. The revolution had begun; the next step was to determine how to sustain it. In 2019, TWR and MCS created a “Revolutionary Team” to “revolutionize” the content in Louisiana’s state-created ELA Guidebooks and make it available to educators throughout the district.

The team, which consisted of educators from grades 3-10, identified areas in which TWR strategies could be implemented into the existing curriculum. Next, they participated in a day-long workshop, during which TWR walked them through the process of embedding TWR strategies into ELA Guidebooks.

After the workshop, TWR continued working with the Revolutionary Team to ensure they fully understood the process of implementation and were able to train other teachers in their schools. For example, when a teacher created new classroom materials that included writing instruction, the TWR team would review the materials and give feedback on how to sharpen them to fully align with the Hochman Method.

TWR also hosted teacher leader summits to ensure school and district leaders understood TWR writing strategies and were able to support implementation in their schools. Brittany Robinson, Principal, Clara Hall Elementary School, embraced her role in supporting the initiative. “Principals, they have to go through this training,” she said. “Because being able to talk with authority about TWR, that’s going to just create and change the entire culture of your school.”

By the end of 2019, the Revolutionary Team had revolutionized the ELA curriculum for grades 3-12. They sent their newly-created materials to district leaders, who then distributed them to every teacher and school leader in the district. Now, MCS educators were able to pair their training with vetted TWR materials, resulting in effective explicit writing instruction throughout each classroom in the district.

“Principals, they have to go through this training,” she said. “Because being able to talk with authority about TWR, that’s going to just create and change the entire culture of your school.”

Brittany Robinson

Principal, Clara Hall Elementary School

2020–2022: The Revolution Spreads Statewide

MCS students were already receiving explicit, TWR-vetted writing instruction by the time they took the LEAP assessment in 2019. When MCS was recognized for being one of the most improved districts in the state, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) took notice and contacted TWR and the MCS Revolutionary team to revolutionize the statewide curriculum.

TWR and MCS Revolutionaries worked with educators across the state to identify areas where writing instruction could be implemented into the curriculum. Educators followed up by creating course materials that combined the two, which were then reviewed by the TWR team.

LDOE launched a pilot program in a handful of districts in March 2022 to assess the curriculum. In a follow-up survey*, 81% of teachers found that the TWR activities prepared their students for the Culminating Writing Task in the LEAP assessment. The revised ELA Guidebooks Grades 3-5 curriculum was released in August 2022.

To prepare Louisiana teachers for the implementation of the new ELA Guidebooks, TWR launched an online, asynchronous workshop that trains teachers in grades 3-5 how to teach the writing strategies embedded in the curriculum. The workshop provides an opportunity for Louisiana teachers to learn the Method when it’s convenient for them and implement it in a way that maintains statewide adherence to the Method.

Since their launch, the ELA Guidebooks have been recognized by Knowledge Matters as one of only eight curricula in the U.S. suitable for their capacity to build knowledge and improve reading comprehension.

2023: The Monroe Transformation

The impact of TWR writing strategies had led to improvements in previous LEAP assessments. The results of the 2022-2023 LEAP assessments demonstrated the long-term impact of writing instruction.

For example, among students in grades 3-6 at Sallie Humble Elementary School:

  • Average LEAP scores exceeded statewide averages.
  • Writing proficiency scores also outperformed state averages, exceeding 50%.
  • Writing scores among Black and economically disadvantaged students improved at a greater rate than in the state overall.

Three years after learning TWR writing strategies, MCS students, particularly those from historically marginalized backgrounds, showed significant improvements in reading comprehension and writing. Many Monroe educators see a connection between the two.

Although the improvements in assessment scores were impressive, they weren’t the only outcome of explicit writing instruction. Educators also saw a difference in how students approached writing and writing assignments. When I see students being given writing prompts, they no longer sit back and hesitate,” Ms. White said. “They now know how to begin.”

“When I see students being given writing prompts, they no longer sit back and hesitate. They now know how to begin.”

Serena White

Chief Academic Officer, Monroe City Schools

2024: Planning for the Future

As MCS students continue to develop and strengthen their writing skills, MCS educators continue to build on the partnership they’ve built with TWR.

In Summer 2023, MCS launched a K-2 Revolutionary Team tasked with integrating the Hochman Method into their Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) curriculum. This will ensure that all K-5 students receive explicit writing instruction and develop essential reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.

In January 2024, Natalie Wexler, co-author of The Writing Revolution and author of The Knowledge Gap, visited Monroe City Schools to observe the implementation of TWR in K-12 classrooms. She spoke with MCS educators who shared their insights on how TWR has revolutionized writing instruction in their classrooms and its positive effects on their students’ learning outcomes. 

Today, MCS educators in all grades and subjects continue to receive training in TWR strategies. ELA teachers regularly attend asynchronous online ELA Guidebooks workshops to ensure consistent writing instruction across grades 3-5. Other educators attend TWR courses targeted to STEM teachers, or classroom planning and implementation workshops for teachers and school leaders.

The ongoing partnership between Monroe City Schools and TWR has become a model for how schools and districts can work together to teach the writing strategies that are crucial for future success in school, in the workplace, and in life.