Public narratives about middle school literacy utilize high-stakes assessment results to categorize students, often in unilateral and unproductive ways (Franzak, 2006; Vasudevan & Campano, 2009). In contrast, empirical evidence suggests middle school students who fail to meet proficiency benchmarks represent a variety of skill profiles (Dennis, 2013; Lesaux & Keiffer, 2010) and interact with peers, texts, and teachers differently based on their identities and perceived identities (Hall, 2009; 2012). Despite this evidence, broad categorizations of students play a role in the design of many middle school instruction programs. Classroom literacy practices are influenced by teachers' interpretations of this information as well as other historical and local factors as they construct uniquely situated local literacy practices. This dissertation, structured as three separate but related papers, examines the intersection of a social practice view of literacy and a social construction view of disability. By documenting the literacy practices observed, the teachers' aims in constructing them, and the participation of students who are identified as struggling, this dissertation particularized what reading disability and difficulty meant for two students across multiple contexts in one middle school. Implications of this research suggest that understanding students with reading difficulties and disabilities from multiple perspectives, centering on their expertise, will enable teachers to enact more inclusive practices and contribute new viewpoints to research.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2015. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Deborah Dillon. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 220 pages.
Middle School Literacy Practices, Teachers who Construct them, and Students who Experience Reading Difficulties and Disabilities.
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