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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Micropolitics of Pathways: Teacher Education, Writing Assessment, and the Common Core

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

Within writing assessment scholarship, disciplinary discussions about the politics of pathways regularly question how reforms mediate education and affect education actors. This article complements and complicates these conversations by attending to the micropolitics of pathways: how local education actors mediate reform-related standards, and, in the process, pave what they believe to be locally-meaningful pathways. Taking the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as our point of departure, our study centers on one important site for micropolitical work that has, to date, gone unstudied in CCSS-focused writing assessment research: teacher education, which involves coordination between secondary and postsecondary actors who might differently interpret and engage with externally-imposed reforms. Our findings suggest that while standards may be politically intended to mediate education and standardize pathways, teachers micropolitically interpret and repurpose those standards--strategically drawing on them as a means to communicate about local writing instruction and assessment. For this reason, we argue conversations about pathway-related reforms can benefit from adopting a micropolitical perspective, sensitive to the participation of teachers in locally constructing and maintaining educational pathways.

Keywords: Micropolitics of pathways; Common Core State Standards; Teacher education; Writing assessment; Local interpretation

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