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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Politics of High-Stakes Writing Assessment in Massachusetts: Why Inventing a Better Assessment Model is Not Enough

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

What happens when government officials conspire with a national testing company to control literacy standards for teacher preparation students on a statewide level? This essay documents the politics of the Massachusetts teacher test story, focusing on the flawed process that led to a writing test that excluded the participation and negotiation of stakeholders. I argue that as a discipline, we need to learn to play politics better, faster, and with a strong disciplinary commitment to promoting assessment models that are fairly negotiated. Writing professionals should organize in order to participate directly in good faith discussions with powerful interests so as to promote locally developed and decentralized assessment models.

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