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ERIC Number: ED519907
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 775
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-7354-9
Continued Variation Amid Standardization: The Effects of School Program Improvement Status and of Participation in the South Coast Writing Project (SCWriP) on Teachers' Curricular Sensemaking and Enactment
Null, Suzanne Y.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
Recent school reforms such as NCLB have focused on standardizing learning outcomes, and in the process have stimulated many schools to standardize curricular content, particularly if those schools are in Program Improvement (PI) status as a result of not meeting testing targets. But these attempts at standardization have ignored the fact that schools are organized around variation. The students who attend public schools vary, and the local, social, and political expectations schools face vary as well. This paper explores how both state standardization and the effects of "third socialization" professional opportunities such as the South Coast Writing Project (SCWriP) affected teachers' sensemaking about their teaching and how both affected their curricular decisions. This study researched the sensemaking and curricular decisions of 9 Language Arts teachers at five middle schools or junior high schools. Four of those schools were designated for PI, and one (which was selected for comparison purposes) was not. In all but one of the schools, one teacher had participated in SCWriP and one had not (the fifth school only had a SCWriP teacher). Qualitative coding (using NVivo 8 software) was used to analyze fieldnotes from classroom observations and recorded interviews from the teachers. Testing mandates didn't seem to reduce instructional variability; in fact they added an additional variable into the already dynamic school environments, which seemed to create further opportunities for variation. Moreover, the SCWriP fellows exhibited the greatest ranges of curricular variation. They generally used a greater variety of sources, used more techniques to teach writing, created a greater frequency of and more sustained opportunities for students to learn interactively, and had classrooms characterized by more types of teacher-student interactions. These results indicate that instructional variation may be an integral aspect of writing instruction in U.S. schools, and that standardization efforts could be unlikely to change this "deep structure" of school organizations. Third socialization or professionalization opportunities seemed to be better equipped to help teachers within schools' loosely coupled systems improve their practices while remaining responsive to their students and the local contexts within their schools. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001