About

BetterRhetor

I am President & Co-Founder of BetterRhetor, a company dedicated to closing the college-readiness gap. We place special emphasis on college-ready writing, since writing is a foundational skill essential for success across disciplines.

The majority of students entering college are not ready for college-level work. The consequences are severe. Our mission is to prepare more students for college-level academics & to help them gain access to schools that believe in their success. We believe everyone should have the opportunity for a college education, regardless of their income or background.

College-Ready Writing Essentials

To help bridge the gap between high school and college-level writing, BetterRhetor has developed College-Ready Writing Essentials, a teacher-facilitated, online instructional resource for use in high school and early college classrooms and programs. CRWE is designed on deeply researched, evidence-centered principles, so that schools and instructors might have a high degree of confidence that their students are acquiring the competencies they will need most for college writing success. CRWE is delivered via Canvas. A “home” version for individuals is also available, delivered via Teachable.

Our Backstory

I used to be part of the standardized testing problem. For nearly ten years, I worked at ACT Inc.—one of the two major college entrance exam companies. Back then, as Director of Writing Assessments, I helped develop the tests.

In 2014, ACT began conducting field studies for its upcoming, revamped Writing Exam. We piloted our new test at a number of high schools around the country, including Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Arizona. Interviewing the bright young students there—eager to get to college, many from low-income households, mostly Latina/o and Native American—I came face-to-face with the reality that the kinds of tests ACT and SAT have been pushing for nearly 60 years are NEVER going to help the kids who need help most. In fact, I found a kind of anti-education at work—standardized testing itself was teaching these students to hate writing and to do it poorly, if they had to do it at all.

Flash forward to today. Bit by bit, my wife, Becky, and I (and now our son, Walker, too) have been building a company, BetterRhetor, dedicated to giving kids like those at Sunnyside—and all over the country—a better chance at college entrance and college success. 

The place we call home now is no longer Iowa City, Iowa, but Prescott, Arizona. That visit to Sunnyside High School changed our lives in so many positive ways. We’re determined to return the favor. You can read more about my journey from Sunnyside to now in my introductory blog post, “Welcome to the Sausage Factory.

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