Lake Pend Oreille School District Adopts “Step Up to Writing”

Author:  Kathleen Mulroy

Sandpoint, ID – At its recent annual Summer Sunset Fundraising Gala, the Panhandle Alliance for Education announced the funding of an exciting comprehensive writing instruction program, to be taught in all grade levels throughout the Lake Pend Oreille School District.  Called Step Up to Writing, the program was chosen by Superintendent Shawn Wilson and Dr. Becky Meyer, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, with input from district teachers. 

Woodward says of the program, “This is a solid writing approach, grounded in the basics, with measures to ensure competitiveness in the job and college markets.” Step Up to Writing supports specific standards in writing, vocabulary, language, reading, speaking and listening.  The program is designed to be the core writing instruction throughout our district, creating a common, age-appropriate writing program from kindergarten through 12th grade.  Teachers are trained to use the Step Up strategies, and they receive lesson plans and assessment guides which are adaptable to each grade level.

Why is a district-wide writing program important for our community’s students?   Idaho’s high school seniors are consistently among the lowest in the nation in college-placement testing (SAT) scores; and last year their writing scores dropped.  Students with below-average reading and writing scores struggle in their college courses, and may drop out during or after their first year.  High school graduates who go into technical training programs or directly into jobs find that lacking language arts skills makes it more difficult to succeed in their chosen field. 

A website titled “Skills You Need (for Employability)” sums up the necessity for possessing good writing skills in the business world:  “The ability to communicate both verbally and in writing with a wide variety of people,…write clearly and succinctly, demonstrate a varied vocabulary and tailor your language to your audience are all essential skills that employers seek out.” 

The “Step Up to Writing” program will be incorporated into the curriculum of all grade levels in the Lake Pend Oreille School District in the fall of 2015.

The Panhandle Alliance for Education is a nonprofit organization composed of local citizens, businesses and educators.  PAFE’s mission is “to promote excellence in education and broad-based community support for the Lake Pend Oreille School District. As an independent organization, we will create and sustain an endowment to provide resources in support of effective teaching, learning and school management.”  Donations are distributed as a working pool of money used to fund teacher grants, READY! for Kindergarten, the new “Step Up to Writing” program and other strategic programs. To learn more about PAFE, or to make an on-line donation, please go to  You may also call the Executive Director, Marcia Wilson, at 208-263-7040.