English Teaching: Practice & Critique, 04 December 2017, Vol.16(3), pp.391-406
Purpose The purpose of this work is to describe the current sociopolitical context and complex consequences surrounding elementary literacy education in one Midwestern US state and consider how power works through language. Design/methodology/approach Using qualitative methods and critical discourse analysis as a theory and method, surveys and interview data from teachers, administrators and parents, policy documents and other artifacts were analyzed and described to explain the sociopolitical climate. Findings Using Fairclough (2015) and Gee’s (2015) tools, the authors identified the discourses of deficiency, efficiency and gatekeeping in the data. Foucault’s ideas about governmentality and regimes of truth are used to explain the ways teachers took up the policies and resisted them. Research limitations/implications The authors argue that a new testing regime is on the move, and more unity and critique by elementary and secondary teachers and administrators will be important for restoring and sustaining quality literacy instruction and decision-making in all classrooms. Practical implications Continued research is needed to understand how particular reading assessments exacerbate and perpetuate the ranking and sorting in schools and the loss and struggle children face when they are denied literacy experiences that validate their lives outside of school and give meaning and purpose to reading in school. Originality value As the reality for secondary education language arts teachers begins to shift to a more restrictive curriculum, a loss of academic freedom and frequent testing, the authors see an opportunity for new professional alliances to form in support of a complex theory of literacy.
Literacy ; Assessment ; Critical Literacy ; Elementary ; Secondary ; Education
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