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Caught in the Current: A Self-Study of State-Mandated Compliance in a Teacher Education Program

by John Kornfeld, Karen Grady, Perry M. Marker & Martha Rapp Ruddell - 2007

Background/Context: The nationwide preoccupation with accountability continues to grow, with teacher credentialing programs facing growing scrutiny through state-mandated accountability systems. In response to Senate Bill 2042 passed by the California state legislature in 1998, the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) established new standards to which all credentialing institutions in the state must comply.

Implementing credential programs aligned to the new standards could have an enormous impact on teacher education in California. The way we use language in particular contexts not only represents perspectives, but creates them as well. Therefore, California’s new teacher education standards, replete their highly prescriptive language, could conceivably result in a new standardization of the way teacher educators conceptualize and implement programs throughout the state.

Focus of Study: The authors examine the impact of California's state-mandated revision of teacher education programs on their department's—as well as on individual faculty members'—approach to teacher education. They explore the extent to which faculty were able to uphold their department's ideals of a progressive, learner-centered teacher education program—in spite of the state’s stringent new requirements.

Setting: The research took place in the secondary teacher education department at a California State University.

Participants: The participants were all ten full-time faculty members in the department at the time of the program revision.

Research Design: In this qualitative self-study, the authors conducted and analyzed interviews with department members, and analyzed discussions in department meetings, program documents, and conversations (formal and informal) among the authors themselves. Drawing from critical discourse theory, the authors investigate the ways that the discursive practices in state regulations governing teacher education variously positioned members of the department, making particular teacher educator subjectivities available, and examine how faculty members both adopted and resisted these subjectivities as the department developed and implemented the new state-required program.

Findings: In spite of claims by faculty that the standardization process had little impact on their approach to teaching, the authors' analysis of interview and conversational data and documents suggests otherwise. Faculty members' increased use of technocratic language and terminology reflecting compliance with the new state standards reveals a substantive shift in the ways they think about what they do.

Conclusions: The authors argue that no one should assume he or she is immune to the effects of top-down standardization; but they note that this type of self-study process can enable faculty to realign their actions with their beliefs, to regain control of their discourse and of their identities as a teacher educators.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 8, 2007, p. 1902-1930
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14067, Date Accessed: 7/25/2021 6:30:35 AM

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About the Author
  • John Kornfeld
    Sonoma State University
    E-mail Author
    JOHN KORNFELD is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Education at Sonoma State University. His research in curriculum, children's literature, school/university collaboration, and the politics of schooling has been published in such journals as Theory into Practice, Teacher Education Quarterly, and Theory and Research in Social Education. His recent publications include "Framing the conversation: Social studies education and the neoconservative agenda" in The Social Studies, and "Envisioning possibility: Schooling and student agency in children's and young adult literature" in Children's Literature in Education.
  • Karen Grady
    Sonoma State University
    E-mail Author
    KAREN GRADY is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education at Sonoma State University. She has published in the areas of textual politics, adolescent literacies and the schooling of linguistically diverse students in the TESOL Journal, The International Journal of Social Education, and in Education, Policy and the Politics of Identity in the New Latino Diaspora edited by S. Wortham, E. Hamann, & E. Murillo.
  • Perry Marker
    Sonoma State University
    E-mail Author
    PERRY M.MARKER is Professor and Chair of the Department of Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education at Sonoma State University. He has made presentations at international, national and state education conferences, and has written numerous articles related to curriculum studies that have appeared in journals such as Teacher Education Quarterly, The Social Studies, and Theory and Research in Social Education. Most recently, he has contributed two chapters to the Defending Public Schools series edited by E. W. Ross, Kevin Vinson and Katharine Kesson. His current research interests are in the application of future studies to social studies curriculum, and the standards movement in education.
  • Martha Ruddell
    Sonoma State University
    E-mail Author
    MARTHA RAPP RUDDELL is recently retired Dean of the School of Education and Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. She taught in the secondary teaching credential program and the graduate Reading and Language advanced credential and degree programs. Dr. Ruddell is author of numerous articles and books, including the 4th edition of Teaching Content Reading and Writing (Wiley) and articles/book chapters "Literacy Research and Educational Reform: Sorting Through the History and the Myths," (Defending Public Schools, Praeger), and "ruok2dA? (Are you okay today?): Literacy and Literate Contexts in the New Millennium," (Wisconsin Reading Association Journal). Dr. Ruddell is Past President of the National Reading Conference, an international educational organization devoted to research in language and literacy. In 1996, she was inducted into the California Reading Association Reading Hall of Fame, and in 2003 she was honored with the Albert J. Kingston Service Award of the National Reading Conference.
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