Students Build 21st Century Writing and Reading Skills With New Update of Pearson’s Award-Winning Online Writing Tool


BOULDER, Colo. – Aug. 26, 2009 – Today’s students text, blog, “tweet,” and sometimes they even write with pencil and paper. To ensure that all students build the literacy skills required for success in today’s information-based world, Pearson, the education and technology company, today launched the newest version of its award-winning Web-based writing and reading comprehension tool, WriteToLearn™.

            With WriteToLearn, students develop essay writing and summarization skills, and their improvement is measured by Pearson’s state-of-the-art Knowledge Analysis Technologies™ (KAT) engine. The KAT Engine is a unique automated assessment technology that evaluates the meaning of text, not just grammatical correctness or spelling.

            “In today’s world, literacy has become a more critical skill than ever before, and all students must develop strong writing and reading comprehension skills to be successful in school, work and the world,” said Lynn Streeter, president of the Knowledge Technologies group of Pearson. “The new capabilities in WriteToLearn 5.3 offer learners of all abilities greater support for developing these literacy skills and give teachers more flexibility in how they use our powerful online tool to support instruction.”

In addition to choosing from more than 100 essay topics that come with WriteToLearn, teachers can now create their own topics to assign to their students. And, beyond the broad assortment of essay writing activities in WriteToLearn, teachers can select from nearly 600 reading passages across subject areas for summary writing activities.

WriteToLearn 5.3 also provides students with increased support when writing summaries. Many of the summarization activities now include “hints” to help students identify the important ideas in a reading. Hints are text-specific questions that help scaffold student learning. When a student is struggling with a particular section, a hint is available to help the student focus on the main idea of that section. Using this feature over time helps students to think critically about the main ideas in the texts they read. Teachers can control this feature, turning it on or off, as they feel appropriate.

At Troutman Middle School, which serves 400 students in North Carolina’s Piedmont region, students of all academic abilities are taking their writing skills to new heights with the help of WriteToLearn. Debbie Craven is a special education teacher at the school, and Perry Justice co-teaches an inclusion class with her. “Some of our students couldn’t focus to put together simple sentences, and writing was very difficult and frustrating for them,” said Craven. “Since we introduced them to WriteToLearn, we have seen a dramatic change. They think nothing of sitting down to write for an hour. Kids who used to struggle with one or two paragraphs are composing entire essays.”

            In the past, Craven and Justice would introduce an essay topic, spend time explaining and encouraging their students and allow for two weeks of writing with paper and pencil. This year, they took their students to the computer lab once a week to use WriteToLearn, and they were off and running at log-in. “The papers they wrote were just fabulous – it blew my mind,” said Justice. “They finished them in a day and a half instead of two weeks, and they were working on them at home, too.”

            Craven pilot-tested WriteToLearn’s new teacher-created essay topics capability with her students. “To prepare my students for writing persuasive essays on the state assessment, I entered a teacher-authored topic. It was extremely easy, took just five minutes to learn, and WriteToLearn led me through the process,” she said. “It was great to have the option of creating unique writing assignments.”

All schools and districts with current WriteToLearn accounts will receive the updates free of charge. More information about WriteToLearn is available at



About Pearson

Pearson (NYSE: PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, reaches and engages today’s digital natives with effective and personalized learning, as well as dedicated professional development for their teachers. This commitment is demonstrated in the company’s investment in innovative print and digital education materials for preK through professional learning, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher development, career certification programs and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. The company’s respected brands include Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Addison Wesley, Benjamin Cummings, the Stanford Achievement Test series, the Wechsler family of assessments, SuccessNet, MyLabs, PowerSchool, SuccessMaker and many others. Pearson’s comprehensive offerings help inform targeted instruction and intervention so that success is within reach of every student at every level of education. Pearson’s commitment to education for all is supported by the global charitable giving initiatives of the Pearson Foundation. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information, go to


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Adam Gaber, Pearson, 800-745-8489,

Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182,

Lisa Wolfe, L. Wolfe Communications, 773-227-1049,