Lowndes, Anthony Peter
Exploring intertextuality: a study of a teacher's implementation of the Key Stage 1 reading SATs.
The Open University.
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The use of Standard Assessment Tasks (SATs) to test six- and seven-yearold children is a contentious feature of the English and Welsh education systems. This study investigated a teacher’s implementation of the 1997, 1998 and 1999 Key Stage 1 reading SATs and involved 57 children. 1 SATs were selected for detailed analysis using criteria which aimed to achieve a balance between the grades awarded, girls and boys, year cohorts, and a different reading book for each child. Data was collected from audiotapes of the SATs, field notes, written records and interviews with the teacher. 15 pupils who took their reading SAT in 1999 were also interviewed. The selected SATs were transcribed and analysed using discourse analysis. The focal question posed by this study was to discover which were the most salient discourses in a teacher’s implementation of the Key Stage 1 reading SATs. The concept of intertextuality was used to examine the relationship between these discourses. Intertextuality was defined as signifying the ways in which discourses are associated in particular contexts and cultures with other discourses (intertexts) through similarities in categorisation, semantics, syntax and genre. The analysis indicated that five main discourses were present throughout the SATs. These were the teacher’s interpretation of the SATs handbook, pedagogical techniques, the pupils’ discourse, the reading book, and background and linguistic knowledge. Other situational, institutional and societal factors were pervasive but these tended to act as covert influences upon the main discourses. The teacher found that some of the instructions in the handbook were confusing and contradictory. Her predominant criterion in awarding grades was the number of errors made by the child when reading a selected passage, although the handbook appeared ambivalent on this point. The children’s enjoyment, enthusiasm and ability to answer questions about the book made little or no difference to the grade they received. It was also found that the pupils’ responses had to meet the teacher’s criteria for being an appropriate intertext in order to avoid being classified as incorrect or irrelevant. Most children appeared to enjoy their reading SAT and, with one possible exception, there was no evidence of any anxiety or reluctance to participate in this formal educational testing procedure.
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