Theses Doctoral

"I'm Not Teaching Writing, I'm Just Assessing It" : Exploring Assimilationist Writing Pedagogies in a New Graduate School of Education

Nagrotsky, Kathryn

This qualitative multiple case study provides insight into how teachers make sense of the teaching of writing within the context of a prescriptive curriculum designed by Excellence Academies, a prominent no excuses charter management organization. Drawing from Ivanič’s discourses of writing (2004) and the tenets of culturally sustaining pedagogies (Alim & Paris, 2014), the study relies on multiple data sources to make sense of the discourses that teachers have access to: the teacher education curriculum, their school level writing curriculum, primary teacher interviews, and secondary administrative interviews.
A critical curriculum content analysis reveals that while the genre and process discourses are present at the macro level in graduate coursework and institutional materials, these discourses are muted by an emphasis on literacy as a tool for college readiness. My analysis reveals how literacy as a primarily skills-based endeavor becomes entangled with a coherent instructional model aimed to achieve college readiness through the acquisition of high test scores. The objectification of students and their capacities to be literate only in the ways valued by direct writing assessment constrained teachers from accessing a robust understanding of discourses of writing.
Findings also reveal a lack of teacher knowledge and training devoted to the teaching of writing which results in students being subjected to underprepared teachers who are more susceptible to and reliant on harmful prescriptive skills-based writing pedagogies, curricula, and assessment practices. Additionally, the study reveals the paradox of an Advanced Placement course that appears to be a rigorous college preparatory learning experience, highlighting meso and macro level discourses that work to restrict student opportunities for meaningful writing experiences and tangibly benefit the charter management organization’s expansion rather than students themselves. Recommendations for policy, practice, and research are provided.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Sealey-Ruiz, Yolanda
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2020