(un)intended Outcomes of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards: A Narrative Inquiry into the Learning Experiences of English Learners' Teachers

Open Access
Mooney, Angela J
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 13, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Esther Susana Prins, Dissertation Advisor
  • Esther Susana Prins, Committee Chair
  • Davin Jules Carr Chellman, Committee Member
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Member
  • Jeanine M Staples, Committee Member
  • adult learning
  • elementary teachers
  • Common Core State Standards
  • English Learners
  • authoritative policies
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a key piece of current reform efforts to reshape the U.S. educational system. Critics contend that the related Revised Publishers’ Criteria (RPC), coupled with the authoritative power of the CCSS, will de-professionalize teachers, directing their practice from a distance. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe how teachers of elementary English Learners were experiencing and responding to CCSS implementation. Few studies consider teachers to be adult learners or explore their informal workplace learning. Therefore, this study also examined the participants’ informal learning in relation to the intended teacher learning outcomes of the RPC. Combining narrative inquiry and critical discourse analysis, the study analyzed the RPC and three teachers’ narratives collected during multiple interviews. The findings revealed that prior to CCSS implementation, the participants characterized themselves as creative, effective teachers who cared about students’ personal lives. After interacting with many of the RPC’s 88 teacher learning outcomes present in their reading curriculum, the teachers described their focus as drilling skills required for standardized testing. The teachers also learned unintended outcomes such as doubting their professional effectiveness and seeing students as test scores. They learned to rely on their professional knowledge to resist when the intended outcomes conflicted with their deeply-held beliefs about helping students. The study provides evidence that Illeris’s comprehensive model of learning is beneficial for understanding teacher learning that occurs outside of formal professional development offerings. The findings also illustrate how authoritative policies are, and are not, able to influence practice.