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ERIC Number: EJ1053240
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 39
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 131
ISSN: ISSN-0147-1635
Diving in or Guarding the Tower: Mina Shaughnessy's Resistance and Capitulation to High-Stakes Writing Tests at City College
Molloy, Sean
Journal of Basic Writing, v31 n2 p103-141 Fall 2012
Mina Shaughnessy continues to exert powerful influences over Basic Writing practices, discourses and pedagogy thirty-five years after her death: Basic Writing remains in some ways trapped by Shaughnessy's legacy in what Min-Zhan Lu labeled as essentialism, accommodationism and linguistic innocence. High-stakes writing tests, a troubling hallmark of basic writing programs since the late-1970s, figure into conversations involving Shaughnessy and her part in basic writing administration as today we continue to see their effects. This article explores how Shaughnessy shaped the rise of such tests at City College, and asks whether they also shaped her. Relying on archival sources, and using Shaughnessy's 1975 "Diving In" speech as a framing lens, I examine the diving-in pedagogy that was developed in the City College SEEK program where Shaughnessy taught from 1967 to 1970, and which formed the foundation for her open admissions basic writing program starting in September of 1970. Next I trace the roots of the first high-stakes writing test at City College and Shaughnessy's conflicted responses--from 1968 when Shaughnessy mocked traditional essay exams as "attic furniture," to November 20, 1972 when she embraced this high-stakes test as a valid measure of her basic writing program and the abilities of its students.
Kingsborough Community College City University of New York. Available from: Boyd Printing Company, Inc. 49 Sheridan Avenue, Albany, NY 12210. Tel: 800-877-2693; Tel: 518-436-9686; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A