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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Shifting the Locus of Control: Why the Common Core State Standards and Emerging Standardized Tests May Reshape College Writing Classrooms

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

In 2010 the Common Core State Standards, a set of outcomes-based standards detailing core skills for K-12 English Language Arts and Math classrooms across the US, were released. This was followed by the release of related standards-based assessments, most notably the large-scale standardized tests developed through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Because the Standards and their attendant standardized tests are limited to the K-12 curriculum, they are generally thought of as something happening within our elementary and secondary schools, not something that may have a direct effect on how we teach writing at the college level. By mapping the increased control of professional development networks for teachers by private philanthropists and testing companies, vertical alignment of K-20 standardized tests, and new approaches to funding education reform and research, we can begin to see how and why the Standards and emerging standardized tests will reshape our college writing classrooms. Understanding this shift is crucial to reasserting teacher agency at all levels of the curriculum and reinforcing assessment as primarily a teaching and learning practice, not a system of accountability and control.

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