Call for Papers
Special Issue of Journal of Writing Assessment
Politics of Pathways: Articulation Agreements, Graduation Requirements, and Narrowing of Curricula
Diane Kelly-Riley and Carl Whithaus, Editors
The Journal of Writing Assessment solicits articles that address the multiple ways in which writing assessments interact with high school graduation requirements; articulation agreements across high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities; and, students’ pathways through postsecondary education.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have reshaped secondary English Language Arts (ELA) curricula across the United States. Through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) assessments, as well as through changes to writing assessments in states which have created their own assessment instruments or rely on commercial products, the CCSS have shifted writing curricula towards a greater focus on connections between provided informational (i.e., nonfiction) texts and the writing that students produce on these formal assessments.
Passing these CCSS-influenced ELA assessments are now graduation requirements in many states, which has lead to articulation agreements that require at least their public community colleges–if not their state-level comprehensive universities and/or flagship research institutions–to acknowledge high school graduates as “college ready.” That is, according to the policies set by many state legislatures, high school graduates should not be placed into remedial writing courses but should enroll in first-year composition courses. In addition, there has been a growth in dual credit, early college initiatives, AP, and IB programs. These all shift aspects of developing college writing skills into secondary schools.
At the same moment high school graduation requirements are being shaped by CCSS and articulation processes among high schools, community colleges, and universities are changing, there is a robust debate emerging around the pathways students take through postsecondary education, particularly through community colleges. In Redesigning America’s Community Colleges (2015), Thomas Bailey, Shanna Smith Jaggars, and Davis Jenkins have mapped out a reform plan for improving America’s community colleges. Their “guided pathways” model has been critiqued by UCLA’s Mike Rose (2016) who argues for allowing students multiple chances, multiple “blunders” and “transgressions” as they explore opportunities at postsecondary educational institutions. For Rose, Bailey et al.’s model is too limiting; it excludes students who opt to enroll one course at a time, to develop their occupational and academic trajectories in ways that fit within the messiness and complexities of their lives. National efforts led by nonprofits and philanthropic organizations with strong legislative support–like Complete College America and the Gates Foundation–are moving to change and restructure pathways into higher education. Their emphasis on lowering credit limits for postsecondary general education requirements, structuring students’ schedules, standardizing advising requirements, and limiting courses students complete within disciplines to specific “pathways” all have the same effect of removing disciplinary diversity, student choice, and faculty autonomy. Again, writing assessment instruments and practices are central players in discussions about pathways into and through postsecondary education.
Needless to say, these policy changes are affecting community colleges and four-year universities as well as secondary ELA instruction. Understanding the roles that writing assessments are playing in relationship to students’ pathways through postsecondary education is a necessary and timely research endeavor. Writing assessment instruments are at the fulcrum of these practices.
JWA calls for articles in which researchers, teachers, and administrators respond to the dynamics around current high school graduation requirements, articulation processes, and efforts to facilitate students’ paths through postsecondary education. Writing assessments play crucial parts in determining “college and career readiness,” in placing students into basic or first-year writing courses, and in providing guidance or constraints as students move along their pathways to completing postsecondary education. Understanding the dynamics around these writing assessments, particular on local or state levels is an essential undertaking. It will add immense value to the research literature and to practices that impact not only writing assessment but also curriculum and instruction at the high school and college levels.
The Journal of Writing Assessment invites manuscripts that explore the following: How are secondary teachers revising their teaching methods? How are community colleges and four-year universities shifting their writing placement practices? How are the placement agreements working? Where are there problems with them? We seek articles that examine how writing assessments interact with:
high school graduation requirements;
articulation agreements among community colleges, comprehensive state universities, as well as public and private research universities; and/or,
students’ paths through postsecondary writing curricula, particularly those influenced by guided pathways models proposed by Bailey et al.
We are interested in manuscripts from a variety of viewpoints including, but not limited to, empirical, historical, theoretical, qualitative, experiential, and quantitative.
For inclusion in JWA 10.1, proposals (200-400 words) are due by Feb. 17, 2017. Please submit your proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org. Full drafts of articles will be due by May 30, 2017. Queries may be addressed to the JWA editors, Diane Kelly-Riley and Carl Whithaus, at email@example.com.
For more information, visit JWA online http://www.journalofwritingassessment.org/.
Bailey, T., Jaggars, S. S., & Jenkins, D. (2015). Redesigning America’s community colleges: A
clearer path to student success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
Rose, M. (2016). Reassessing a redesign of community colleges. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved