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Educator Views on Writing and the Common Core State Writing Standards: A Case Study

  • Author(s): Harrison, Michael Arthur
  • Advisor(s): Sperling, Melanie
  • et al.
Abstract

ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION

Educators’ Views on the Common Core State Standards

by

Michael Arthur Harrison

Doctor of Philosophy, Graduate School of Education

University of California, Riverside

Dr. Melanie Sperling, Chairperson

The most recent reform of education in the United States, the Common Core State Standards, seeks to produce students who are college and career ready. One of the strategies to help students become prepared for life after secondary school is to develop their skills in writing. The goal of this qualitative case study was to help us understand the range and nature of educators’ beliefs and attitudes about the nature of writing and writing instruction in order to gain insight about how they responded to the CCSS writing standards. The participants were employees of one school district including district office personnel, school administrators, English teachers and math teachers. For this case study, I conducted interviews with the Director of Curriculum, two teachers on assignment working at the district office, the principal and assistant principal at one school site, a focus group of English teachers, one additional English teacher, a focus group of math teachers and one additional math teacher, all also at the school site. I used three epistemological positions -including formalism, structuralism and dialogism- as the conceptual framework to examine the beliefs, attitudes and values of the participants on the nature of writing and writing instruction. In addition, I determined how these views affected the educators’ responses to the CCSS writing standards. The results of the study indicate that a range of views on writing existed in the school district which led to an uneven response among participants to the new standards. There was also a mismatch between the teachers and the district office personnel in their interpretation of the standards, contributing to the varied responses to the CCSS. Despite this conflict, there was agreement that the state-wide assessments were the driving force in affecting changes in curriculum. This study implies the need for those who design reform policies to account for the current views of educators tasked with implementing new policy in order to best meet the challenges in new reform policy.

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