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Direct Instruction in Written Expression: The Effects on English Speakers and English Language Learners with Disabilities


Requests for reprints should be sent to Kim Viel-Ruma, Educational Psychology & Special Education, PO Box 3979, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302. Electronic inquiries should be sent to


Students with disabilities often struggle with writing tasks. In order to improve the written expression performance of high school students with deficits in written expression, a Direct Instruction writing program was implemented. The participants were six high school students in programs for individuals with learning disabilities. Three of the six students were served in programs for students who are English Language Learners. Using a multiple-probe across-participants design, the effect of the writing program was examined. The intervention was implemented over a 5-week period with maintenance checks conducted 2 and 4 weeks after the termination of instruction. Results were variable, but there appeared to be a positive trend in student writing performance as measured by correct word sequence, length of text, and the TOWL-3. Implications for practice and future directions are also provided.