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SAN DIEGO, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Effective writing is one of the most difficult skills for students of all ages to master. A new solution is now available from CompassLearning for grades 3-12, which promises to make a marked difference in the quality of student writing. The product is available immediately.

CompassLearning has launched CompassLearning Odyssey(TM) Writer-based on scientific research and extensive review by top educators. The product breaks down the writing process into simple, more accessible steps like prewriting, drafting, revising, and publishing.

Odyssey Writer is an essential component of CompassLearning's language arts strategy. Using the widely recognized Butler and Turbill structure for reading development, the product was developed based on the parallel thought processes of reading and writing. Unlike other products currently on the market, Odyssey Writer has a flexible, non-linear structure, providing students with a wide range of approaches and tools to help them become more comfortable with the writing process and leading them to the development of solid writing skills. Students can use any or all of its components, in the order and method that best suits their own work styles. Most importantly, Odyssey Writer is not just a language arts tool but is designed for use across all content areas.

"Odyssey Writer makes writing a simple, manageable, and understandable endeavor by incorporating tools that will take the student through the process," said Sloane O'Neal, vice president of CompassLearning. "We know that the actual process of writing is fluid and circular, and Odyssey Writer really allows students to work that way. With the SAT planning to add a writing component in 2005, Odyssey Writer offers timely assistance to focus on this important skill."

"We have a real break-through product with Odyssey Writer," said Rajeev Puri, president of CompassLearning. "By combining Odyssey Writer with our reading and language arts curriculum and electronic content from our sister companies, Weekly Reader(R), World Almanac(R) for Kids, Gareth Stevens, and we have delivered a solution that gets to the heart of the problems associated with writing -- making it easy and exciting."

In the tradition of all CompassLearning products, Odyssey Writer was developed using scientifically-based research combined with current best practices. Odyssey Writer meets all national standards and addresses No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reading and language arts requirements. It is aligned to all 50 states' testing rubrics, the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) English Language Arts standards, and substantiates accountability on the local, district, and state levels.

Odyssey Writer features assessment tools that encompass analytic and holistic rubrics for use by students and teachers. These tools (note card outliner, graphic organizer, drafting instrument, and assessment rubrics) not only provide the support for students to learn, they help teachers actively facilitate and assess each student's writing. Through a direct online prompt, students are given an assignment, work on it, and then self-assesses their own work. Teachers can meet each student's individual needs by and through the use of a variety of structural tools. For instance, teachers can give feedback as well as monitor students' self-assessments; multiple projects can be worked on simultaneously; and students are able return to projects, from school or home, and continue to work on them.

The feature that allows and encourages students return to a project and continue working on it is one of the strongest and most important aspects of Odyssey Writer. All students' work is stored in individual digital portfolios, providing a chronological yearlong reference of what has been accomplished. The teacher, student, or parents can access this portfolio. It can also travel with the child throughout his academic career. According to research conducted by NAEP, "students experiences with writing more than once draft of a paper, and students whose writing was saved in portfolios or folders achieved higher than their peers who did not." In addition, this feature helps strengthen the home-school connection, which is vital mandate in meeting NCLB requirements.

"One of the elements we are especially pleased with is how easily Odyssey Writer translates to other subjects," O'Neal concluded. "Few people end up actually writing for a living, yet virtually everyone needs to write as part of their work and their day-to-day life. We believe this is the only product on the market that bridges this chasm. And of course, that's really what CompassLearning is all about -- improving student achievement."

CompassLearning is a member of WRC Media, Inc., a leading publishing and media company that creates and distributes innovative supplementary educational materials for the school, library, and home markets. WRC Media's product suite includes some of the best-known brands in education, recognized for their consistent high quality and proven effectiveness, including Weekly Reader(R), World Almanac(R) Education Group, and AGS Publishing.

CompassLearning(R) is the leader in research-driven, standards-based innovative learning solutions that provide choices to help teachers manage student performance, personalize learning, and connect communities of learners. With over 8,000 hours of curriculum and instruction, more than 20,000 schools use CompassLearning solutions.

Information in this press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding our expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies that involve a number of risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. Should any of the risks or uncertainties develop into actual events, or our assumptions prove to be inaccurate, actual outcomes and results could differ materially from what is expressed in such forward-looking statements and these developments or inaccuracies could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Risks and uncertainties relating to WRC Media's and its subsidiaries' businesses are set forth in the documents and reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CompassLearning Odyssey(R) Writer Fact Sheet

Odyssey Writer offers students the ability to experiment with different writing processes and strategies, all the while giving them flexibility to approach the process as they wish and determine what works best for them. This new product, now available for grades 3-12, breaks down the writing process into simple, more accessible steps. Odyssey Writer guides students through pre-writing activities, drafts, edits, all the way through to a final end product.

Odyssey Writer's features empower teachers to develop challenging and fun writing assignments that in turn, meet national and state standards. Teachers can create customized assignments, set individual grading rubrics, identify common errors, and evaluate results analytically and holistically, as part of the overall learning process.

Special features of Odyssey Writer include:

-- Odyssey Writer Note Card and Outline Tool allows students to
brainstorm and organize their ideas, and capture them on Electronic
Note Cards. Information from cards can then be "pasted" into the
Drafting Tool. Once there, students can continually add to what they
have already written.
-- The Graphic Organizer lets students develop ideas by using web-based
tools. Like the Note Card, this work is "pasted" into the Drafting
Tool. Work saved on the Graphic Organizer is automatically "mirrored"
in the Note Card/Outline tool. For example, if a user created an idea
box with the title "animals" and then makes corresponding notes, both
the title and the notes are created in the Note Card and Outline view.
-- The Drafting Tool is much more than a word processor, giving the
students an area to write, in addition to providing strategic help and
lesson instructions. Note Cards and Graphic tools remain open on the
left side of the screen, for constant access.
-- The Self-Assessment Tool encourages students to continually revise
their writing, carrying out self-evaluation of their work using a
predetermined rubric. Students can compare their work side-by-side to
the rubric criteria, adding, substituting, deleting or moving
sentences and paragraphs to produce "quality" work.
-- The Teacher Evaluation Tool allows teachers to work through the
evaluation process in much the same way students do. During the
evaluation process the teacher has access to the following tools to
help the child master writing skills: general analytical and holistic
rubrics, comments, annotations, and holistic grade.
-- The Rubric Creation Module lets teachers customize the scoring tool,
listing the criteria against which a piece of work will be judged.
Criteria for analytical and holistic rubrics can be inserted directly
from state rubrics, modified, or created from scratch.
-- Odyssey Writer Templates are generic templates for teachers and
students to support various modes of writing including expository,
narrative, persuasive, and descriptive.

CONTACT: Dawn Dankner Rosen, +1-914-238-2731, Tricia Gibney, +1-212-682-4100, both for CompassLearning

Source Citation
"CompassLearning Launches New Web-Based Writing Product; Odyssey Writer Gives Students the Tools and Skills to Become Strong Writers." PR Newswire 17 Mar. 2004. Academic OneFile. Web. 31 Oct. 2009. .

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