Call for papers for a Special Themed Issue of Literacy

Contributions are invited for a Special Themed Issue of Literacy on “Assessment, Accountability and Policy” - April 2017


Worldwide, in English-speaking contexts, governments are taking an increasingly active role in determining how the outcomes of literacy education should be assessed, and how educators and institutions should be held to account for these outcomes.

In England, 2011, Lord Bew was invited by the government to lead an independent review of the testing, assessment and accountability measures for children leaving primary education. This report describes that while teachers are invested with freedom and autonomy for how and what they teach, this ‘freedom’ is accompanied by robust accountability measures. It further recommends that a system of fair, external accountability measures should be utilised to bring about pupil progress. This system of external accountability now exists for different elements of children’s achievement in literacy, and alongside it runs a powerful inspection regime where judgements about institutions and teaching are firmly based on the analysis of test and other assessment data. However, despite these robust external measures, teachers in England are now expected to make and report judgements about children’s progression in literacy without recourse to an agreed national system for understanding how children develop as readers, writers and communicators.

While this example is drawn from the English perspective, it resonates with examples of external accountability and policy interplaying with the assessment of children’s literacy and progression elsewhere. In the USA, the Common Core State Standards of 2010 (CCSS) call for higher, more sophisticated standards of reading and writing. Educators openly question the ability of teachers to teach to these higher standards, noting a gap between what students are expected to achieve and what teachers are prepared to teach. High stakes assessments accompany these standards. Australia, concerned about declining PISA and PIRLS scores, has instituted the controversial National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) to increase accountability.

We therefore invite contributions that respond to these observations for a Special Themed Issue of Literacy on “Assessment, Accountability and Policy”. We will welcome submissions that explore how the development and assessment of literacy is conceptualised and politicised; how the assessment of literacy interplays with accountability and policy in a variety of national and local contexts; how policy impacts on the experiences of educators and students; and how policy is interpreted, implemented and resisted. In particular, the following kinds of papers are invited:

  • Reports of recent and current research in the field of literacy and assessment;
  • Informed and analytical accounts of innovative practice;
  • Critiques and examinations of recent policy developments involving assessment and accountability in literacy;
  • Discussion about the interplay between research, policy development and classrooms both nationally and internationally

Deadline for submissions: 31 July 2016

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