On and Off Script: A Teacher’s Adaptation of Mandated Curriculum for Refugee Newcomers in an Era of Standardization

Rabia Hos, Beth Kaplan-Wolff


English Learners (ELs) make up 9.6% of the total student population in the U.S. (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019). Students with interrupted formal education (SIFE) are a subgroup of ELs who have had at least two fewer years of schooling than their peers, and function at least two years below grade level in reading and mathematics (DeCapua, Smathers, & Tang, 2007). To meet the demands of high stakes testing, schools have been increasingly implementing commercially published, scripted programs for ELs/SIFE (Reeves, 2010). Against this backdrop of the standards-driven and testing-based system, this article reports one of the key findings of a yearlong classroom ethnography of SIFE in an urban public secondary school in the United States, focusing on the experiences of the students and their teacher with two types of curriculum. Drawing on critical theory and culturally relevant/responsive pedagogy, the data tools include classroom observations, interviews with students and the teacher, and the videos of classroom interactions. Findings from our analysis demonstrate that the teacher played an active role in ensuring students learning through her role as a negotiator of the scripted curriculum. This study reaffirms that teachers can find ways to resist the totalizing effects of scripted curriculum.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jct.v9n1p40


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