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This study analyses how discourses in regional contexts affect the development of curriculum-based literacy standards for adolescents in schooling. A comparative case-study research design enabled the influences of discourses at the regional level to be analysed. The case studies include the development of curricula to define a minimum literacy standard for the final years of schooling for adolescents in Ontario, Canada, and South Australia, Australia. Critical discourse analysis of key texts associated with the development of literacy standards in each region reveals how globally shared meanings about standard setting for schooling interact with other discourses operating in local contexts to produce curricula that define literacy standards. The results indicate that, while a global discourse about standards-based reforms may be foregrounded in curriculum, locally generated discourses can challenge key ideas associated with a simplistic discourse about standards. Discourses about literacy in Ontario and South Australia contest the assertion that literacy at the end point of schooling can be defined as a basic competency and local meanings associated with literacy are emphasised within the curriculum for each location. Language choices, involving particularly lexical cohesion, complex noun groups and nominalisation, are used to ensure that local meanings inform literacy standards for the endpoint of schooling.


School of Education

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Journal Article

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